TOP-SCORER Rudy Gestede scored the second hat-trick of headers of his Rovers career.

But a dreadful defensive display ensured Forest left Ewood Park with a share of the spoils.

Man-of-the-match Gestede, whose first treble for the club came almost a year ago today at Birmingham City, put Gary Bowyer’s side in front on three separate occasions.

But the efforts of the recalled striker, who now has 19 goals for the campaign, were in vain as Michail Antonio, twice, and Henri Lansbury were gifted equalisers.

Rovers have now failed to take three points 10 times this season after going in front.

And their latest collapse came just five days after they twice let leads slip in drawing 2-2 at Birmingham.

Gestede gave Rovers a dream third-minute start with a goal entirely of his own making.

He closed down Jack Hobbs’ attempted clearance and then beat the dawdling Karl Darlow to the ball and bravely headed it into the empty net.

Rovers, bidding to end their three-game home losing run, threatened a second in the sixth minute when Ben Marshall’s cross from left clipped the crossbar before going behind.

But 60 seconds later Forest were level, Antonio heading home from close range after Modou Barrow had floated a cross into the danger area.

Barrow and Antonio were causing Rovers all sorts of problems, full-backs Markus Olsson and Adam Henley in particular.

And, after another Barrow cross broke to Lansbury, only a fine save from Simon Eastwood prevented the midfielder from putting Forest in front.

Then it was Darlow’s turn to be called into action as he dived low to his left to keep out Craig Conway’s dragged 20-yard effort.

It was Dougie Freedman’s team, though, who were doing most of the running and Antonio stung the hands of Eastwood before Lansbury fired wide on the half-volley.

The chances dried up until the 27th minute when the powerful Antonio drove at the Rovers defence before playing the ball into the path of Lansbury who turned it on to Barrow.

But the on-loan Swansea City winger, with just Eastwood to beat, curled his effort inches over.

Seven minutes later and Forest went closer still, Eastwood saving on the line from Gary Gardner after the excellent Antonio had twisted Henley this way and that.

It came against the run of play, then, when Rovers went back in front thanks to a bullet of a header from Gestede.

Conway’s cross from the right was a good one and the towering targetman certainly made the most of it as he powered a thumping back-post finish back across Darlow and into the corner of the net.

It was Gestede’s 18th goal of the campaign and moved him level at the top of Rovers’ scoring charts with the virtually anonymous Jordan Rhodes, who would have troubled Darlow with a header of his own had it not been for Jamaal Lascelles’ block.

But it was Forest who struck next in injury-time at the end of the half.

And, just like their first goal, it was all too easy, Antonio having all the time in the world to play the ball across to the middle of the box where the untracked Lansbury swept it first time past the helpless Eastwood.

And Forest would have taken the lead at the start of the second half had Barrow been able to get a better connection to a ball over the top.

Darlow then flew to his left on the hour to prevent Lascelles from putting through his own goal after Gestede flicked on a long Tommy Spurr throw.

But there was nothing Darlow could do other than watch on as Marshall crashed a header off the bar after Conway had beaten Daniel Fox and swung over another inviting cross.

Antonio remained Forest’s biggest danger and he blazed over and then slipped the ball through to Lansbury whose slide-rule shot was saved by Eastwood.

The match was meandering to a close until Conway and Gestede combined to thrilling effect eight minutes from the end of normal time.

The former escaped down the left and stood the ball up to the back post where Gestede rose above two defenders to complete his hat-trick.

It should have been the winner.

But instead Marshall’s woefully weak clearance in the 88th minute prevented Antonio with a shooting opportunity 25 yards from goal.

And it was one he did not pass up, drilling the ball past Eastwood into the corner of the net.

It was Rovers’ third league draw in succession and means they have now won just one of their last seven home games in all competitions.

Rovers: Eastwood, Henley, Spurr, Kilgallon, Olsson, Marshall (P Taylor 90), Cairney, Williamson, Conway, Gestede, Rhodes. Subs not used: Steele, Brown, O'Sullivan, Spearing, Lenihan, Evans.

Booked: Williamson.

Goals: Gestede 3, 35, 82.

Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Hobbs, Lascelles, Fox (Mancienne 71), Vaughan, Lansbury, Gardner, Antonio, Barrow (Burke 78), Blackstock (Akpom 89). Subs not used: Evtimov, Paterson, Walker, Osborn.

Booked: Vaughan.

Goals: Antonio 7, 88, Lansbury 45.

Referee: Andy Haines.

Attendance: 13,876.