Carlisle United's rivals Forest Green have axed long-serving boss Mark Cooper in a bid to salvage their promotion hopes.

The Gloucestershire club tonight announced they have ended Cooper's near five-year reign after a run of five defeats from six games.

Forest Green have long been in the promotion shake-up this season but have slid to sixth.

Their defeat at struggling Walsall yesterday has prompted the club to bring 52-year-old Cooper's tenure as head coach to an end.

Under-18s boss Jimmy Ball has been put in caretaker charge for the rest of the campaign.

Chairman Dale Vince said the club "needed a change".

He said in a statement: “This decision we’ve made today is about giving ourselves the best chance of securing promotion with six games left.

"Despite our collective efforts we’ve been unable to halt our slide in form, which has the potential to take us out of contention this season.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Mark these last five years, he’s made a big contribution to the club and will always be a friend.

"In football sometimes you just need to make a change - and with Mark’s contract ending next month, and us needing a change in the next six games - this feels like the right decision.”

Assistant boss Richard Dryden has also left.

Forest Green did a league double over Carlisle this season, winning 1-0 at the New Lawn in December before a 2-1 victory at Brunton Park in February.

They are four points above 10th-placed United having played a game more.

Cooper is a former Hartlepool United team-mate of Blues boss Chris Beech.