ALDERSHOT TOWN 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 2
Forest Green had to settle for a share of the spoils as two rusty sides made a welcome but frustrating return to Skrill Premier action.
A manic seven-minute spell in the second half saw James Norwood and Lee Hughes both find the net, either side of strikes by Adam Mekki and Bradley Bubb that looked to have turned the game in Aldershot's favour.
It was a first outing in more than three weeks for Ady Pennock's men, who might easily have taken all three points on heavy Hampshire pitch.
There was a belated Rovers debut for Luke Oliver in central defence alongside Dale Bennett, with Eddie Oshodi at right-back and Jared Hodgkiss on the left.
The night's first real chance came the visitors' way, Norwood blazing over the crossbar after Hughes had controlled a high ball and survived some vehement handball appeals.
Both sides were guilty of over-hitting their passes – perhaps understandable given their recent inactivity – but Hughes turned provider again with a neat chested pass for Marcus Kelly to drag a shot wide.
Norwood thought he should have had a penalty in the 19th minute when the ball broke fortuitously into his path and Shots goalkeeper Glenn Morris dashed off his line to smother at the winger's feet, but referee Wayne Barratt was unmoved.
Aldershot mustered a meaningful attempt for the first time six minutes later, the lively Bradley Bubb feeding former Rovers loanee Matt Paterson for a low curling effort that was held by Sam Russell.
Forest Green continued to look the more likely side to break the deadlock, and Danny Wright was annoyed not to get a proper connection to a header from Oliver's nod-down on 33 minutes.
A tame shot by Mekki posed no problems to Russell at the other end before Wright was off-target with another headed opportunity, having seen the 6ft 7ins Oliver tower above his marker to meet a diagonal Anthony Barry free-kick.
Rovers eventually made their superiority count in the 56th minute, Hughes crossing from the right for Norwood to produce a deft near-post flick and register his 13th goal of the season.
But two minutes later it was 1-1, Mekki finding himself in space 20 yards from goal and unleashing a rocket that gave Russell no chance as it nestled in the far corner of the net.
Suddenly buoyed, the Shots got themselves in front from their next attack when Bubb appeared to miscontrol Jaydon Gibbs' pass but somehow recovered to dig out a shot and outfox Russell.
Back came Forest Green, who levelled on 63 minutes when Hughes was forced wide by Morris but showed his class with a brilliant finish from the tightest of angles.
The game was now there for the taking for either team, and Russell had to beat away a swerving effort from Brett Williams either side of two Norwood shots that warmed the palms of Morris.
Norwood was then gifted another chance by Soloman Taiwo's error, only to fluff his lines and poke wide from six yards.
Aldershot Town: G. Morris; J. Gibbs, J. Oastler, J. Partington, C. Barker (A. Tonkin 84); A. Mekki (J. Scott 77), S. Taiwo, C. Stanley; M. Paterson (T. Plummer 37), B. Williams, B. Bubb; Subs not used: M. Rowlands, L. Williams.
Forest Green: S. Russell; E. Oshodi, L. Oliver, D. Bennett, J. Hodgkiss; J. Norwood (E. Asafu-Adjaye 85), A. Bangura, A. Barry, M. Kelly; D. Wright (J. Walker 74), L. Hughes; Subs not used: P. Green, M. Vieira, P. White.
Referee: W. Barratt (Worcs)
Star man: Lee Hughes