ON an emotionally charged day, Forest Green came from behind to settle for a point at Crawley Town as football came together to remember Chris Barker.

Prior to kick-off a minute’s applause was held to mark the untimely passing of Forest Green U18s manager Barker. A floral wreath with the words ‘Barks’ was placed behind the goal as Rovers offered their heartfelt respects to a much-loved colleague, who was previously an esteemed former professional footballer, serving the likes of Cardiff City, QPR and Stoke City.

Earlier, a comedy of errors saw Forest Green gift wrap Crawley a first-half opener through Bez Lubala and then Jordan Tunnicliffe return the favour, turning into his own net to hand Rovers parity.

Making three changes from the 1-0 defeat to Exeter City on New Year’s Day, attacking midfielder Jevani Brown, signed on loan from Colchester United on Friday was handed his debut. CeLtic loanee Jack Aitchison started in place of Kevin Dawson. Meanwhile, player-coach Matt Mills dropped to the bench with Aarron Collins coming in - Elliott Frear and Udoka Godwin-Malife missed out altogether.

The white-booted Brown was quickly into his stride – fizzing a strike into Glenn Morris. All Rovers’ attacking intent was coming through Brown in the opening exchanges.

The action heated up - Crawley’s Ashley Nadesan skewed wide after Ollie Palmer nodded down and then Bez Lubala forced Adam Smith into a plunging save. At the other end, Jack Aitchison fashioned a chance, but his strike from the edge of the box forced Glen Morris into a routine stop.

On the cusp of the break, Rovers pressed the self-destruct button. Smith’s clearance hit Palmer and in the ensuing melee, the alert Lubula picked the pocket of Liam Kitching to the ball to roll in a gift-wrapped opener.

Rovers opened the second-half on the front foot - Brown cutting across the box and pulling the trigger, but Morris was in resilient form as he gloved the danger away.

Rovers were forced into a change on 52 minutes, Liam Shephard hobbling off with Dom Bernard taking his place.

Rovers up the ante and netted parity on 63 minutes in comical circumstances – Nathan McGinley’s cross was spectacularly headed into his own net by Jordan Tunnicliffe.

Cooper had his hand forced again when the influential Brown pulled up. Matt Mills came on and was sent up top as a makeshift striker as the game entered the final 17 minutes. Mills hit his straps – watching his header grasped by the flying Morris.

Academy starlet Vaughn Covil came on with five minutes to go as Rovers looked for the winner. Bernard stepped on the gas for Collins to fizz a shot destined to find the net but the ball appeared to hit Matt Mills and Crawley were let off the hook.

FOREST GREEN: Smith, Shephard (Bernard52), Kitching, Rawson, McGinley, Winchester, Adams, Brown (M Mills 73), Mondal, Collins, Aitchison (Covil 85)

Subs: Wollacott, Bernard, M Mills, Stevens, Morton, Dawson, Covil

CRAWLEY TOWN: Morris, Doherty, Dallison, Palmer, Nadesan (Bloomfield), Ferguson (Allarakhia), Tunncliffe ,Bulman, Darcres-Cogley, Camara, Lubala (Sendles-White)

Attendance: 2,082

Away fans:188

Referee: David Rock

Star Man: Jevani Brown

Next up: Forest Green travel to Mansfield Town on Saturday, 3pm.