Forest Green 1
Bristol Rovers 1
FOREST Green and Bristol Rovers shared the Vanarama Conference points in a full-blooded West Country derby at the New Lawn.
Watched by a record league crowd of 3,781 and in front of BT Sport cameras, Darrell Clarke's Bristol Rovers deservdley nosed ahead after the break when Andy Monkhouse nodded home, but Ady Pennock's team showed their resilience for Jon Parkin to bundle Marcus Kelly's deflected strike home.
Earlier, Forest Green named an unchanged line-up for the fifth consecutive game against a Bristol Rovers side, who were buoyed after their first league victory over AFC Telford on Saturday.
The Gas started on the front-foot. Inside sixty seconds, Lee Mansell forced Sam Russell to glove his free-kick away after Luke Oliver had fouled Adam Cunnington.
Forest Green responded. Parkin released Lee Hughes down the right. The former Premiership star ghosted past Tom Parkes, but his ball into the danger zone failed to pick out a Forest Green man.
With the rain falling, tempers boiled over. Chris Stokes found his way into the book for a lunge at Monkhouse.
Bristol Rovers were holding sway and the dangerous Mansell glanced a header just wide from a Lee Brown cross.
Clarke's side continued to boss the game, but in a rare Forest Green attack, Adam Lockyer was handed a yellow for an over-zealous challenge on Stokes.The card school continued with Oliver going into the book.
Bristol Rovers pressure was beginning to tell. A flowing move on 38 minutes saw former Forest Green striker Matty Taylor bundle in, but an offside flag curtailed his joy.
Moments later Taylor slashed wide as the Gas finished the first half in the driving seat.
However, Bristol Rovers were almost caught cold on the cusp of the interval. Hughes' high cross picked out Rob Sinclair and his header dropped agonisingly wide at the back-post.
Forest Green boss Pennock was looking for a bright second half start, but the Gas were cooking and took a deserved 55th minute lead. Monkhouse nodded home from a Brown cross past the sprawling Russell to send the 1,886 travelling fans into ecstacy.
Pennock had seen enough and made a swift double substitution with Kelly coming on for Elliott Frear and fans’ favourite James Norwood replacing Sinclair.
Bristol Rovers remained a threat. Taylor stung Russell’s gloves from the edge of the box.
Questions were asked of Forest Green’s flat-footed defence when an unmarked Taylor saw his superb header bring an outstanding finger-tip save and brave follow-up block from his former team-mate Russell.
Forest Green netted parity in somewhat fortunate circumstances. The ball fizzed around the box and Kelly’s deflected shot came off Parkin for a 68th minute goal.
A direct three-pass move almost conjured Forest Green a goal. Norwood’s pass from his own box picked out Hughes, who pinged a through ball to Parkin and his stabbed effort was turned away for a corner.
With 11 minutes to go veteran Hughes made way for Luke Rodgers. Minutes later Bristol Rovers striker Taylor left the field to warm applause.
With the clock running down Kelly’s curling free-kick forced a fine save from Steve Mildenhall.
Sam Wedgbury picked up an injury time booking for pulling back Harrison as the honours were shared at a soggy New Lawn.
Forest Green: S. Russell; D. Pipe, L. Oliver, D. Coles, C. Stokes; R. Sinclair (J. Norwood 59), C. Kamdjo, S. Wedgbury, E. Frear (M. Kelly 59); J. Parkin, L. Hughes (L. Rodgers 81).
Subs not used: E. Oshodi, S. Arnold.
Bristol Rovers: S. Mildenhall; T. Lockyer, N. Trotman, T. Parkes, L. Brown; A. Monkhouse, O. Clarke, L. Mansell, D. Martin (S. Sinclair 78); A. Cunnington (E. Harrison 49), M. Taylor (J. White 84).
Subs not used: J. Gosling, W. Puddy.
Referee: S. Rushton (Staffs)
Star man: Sam Russell
Video reaction to follow with FGR boss Ady Pennock.