Rushden & Diamonds 1 Rochdale 1

By Steven

A goal from Rochdale striker Kevin Townson just a minute from time meant Diamonds had to settle for a point this afternoon at Nene Park.

Diamonds goalkeeper Billy Turley could only palm out a shot from David Flitcroft and Rochdale’s top goal scorer tapped home from close range to give the visitors a share of the spoils.

It looked as if Diamonds had done enough to grab the three points when Paul Hall struck five minutes before the full time whistle but Townson’s effort was well deserved for the visitors.  

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made one significant change to his starting line ahead of the game. Stuart Douglas made his second start for the club since arriving from Luton Town and replaced Scott Partridge.

Andy Tillson was in the staring eleven and made his home debut while Stewart Wardley was recovered from a slight knock that made him doubtful prior to the match.

Onandi Lowe was included after receiving international clearance to play in the match while young goalkeeper Adam Dowell was named as a substitute after the departure of Tony Pennock, on-loan to Farnborough Town.

For Rochdale they were missing Clive Platt but Townson, the club’s leading goal scorer, started after playing for England Under-19’s just 48 hours before today’s match.

There was worrying signs for Diamonds inside the first three minutes when Tillson was sent tumbling to the ground and look in pain as he hobbled off for treatment.

He did return to the field as Diamonds continued their bright start to the game which saw Douglas have a turn and shot blocked by a Rochdale defender.

Rochdale were struggling to get the ball in the Diamonds penalty area as Diamonds continued to enjoy the early possession.

Rochdale created their first chance of the game when Paul Underwood conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position that Matt Doughty swung to the near post but Billy Turley scampered across to collect the ball.

After 15 mins: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 0

The game was somewhat being spoilt by the referee who had already awarded nine free-kicks in the opening 18 minutes to the game.

Lowe fired a shot over the bar following some good work from Andy Burgess as Diamonds continued to have the better of the game.

Rochdale won their first corner of the game on 23 minutes and after playing it short the won a free-kick but they could not trouble the Diamonds defence nor Turley.

The game was not flowing as everyone expected it to be but Diamonds were still having the better of the game and looking the more likely to score the first goal, although they had yet to trouble Rochdale goalkeeper Steve Banks.

After 30 mins: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 0

Rochdale went close to breaking the deadlock on 30 minutes when Townson showed his skill and pace to beat off the challenge from two Diamonds defenders and fire a shot into the side netting.

The visitors were now looking the stronger side as Billy Turley’s goal was being put under pressure.

Chances were few and far between and the football was getting scrappy as both side’s struggled to create any scoring opportunities.

But on 39 minutes Diamonds should have taken the lead with the best chance of the match. Rochdale defender Richard Jobson made a terrible error on the edge of the penalty area to enable Lowe to get a free shot on goal but he pulled his effort just wide of the post.

Burgess struck a shot toward goal just three minutes before the interval but it was easily held by Banks as Diamonds continued their good pressure towards the Rochdale goal.

At half-time: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 0

Diamonds started in the second-half positively and Douglas showed determination and skill to beat a Rochdale defender and get a cross into the centre of the Rochdale penalty area but Lowe could not direct his effort on target.

On 51 minutes Lowe fired a shot toward goal that tested the reactions of Banks but Rochdale were slowly getting themselves back in the game.

Diamonds thought they should have had a penalty on 52 minutes when Douglas showed great determination to out pace Gareth Griffiths and it seemed the Rochdale defender tried to pull back the Diamonds striker but the referee waved away the appeals.

On 58 minutes Rochdale’s Patrick McCourt saw an excellent effort go inches over the Diamonds crossbar.

After 60 mins: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 0

Diamonds continued to press forward but had not created many chances but both team’s kept plugging away as they looked for the break through.

On 69 minutes Lowe became the fourth Diamonds player to see his name in the notebook as the referee continued to spoil the game with stoppages.

After 75 mins: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 0

On 77 minutes, Michael Oliver fired a shot wide of the goal when he should have done better as we moved into the final stages of the match.

But on 79 minutes Lowe was taken off, meaning he ended his run of scoring in every home game since he arrived at the club, and he was replaced by Duane Darby, who got a standing ovation.

Diamonds continued to press forward but on 83 minutes Steve Jones saw his shot deflected over the cross bar.

Rochdale though they may have sneaked a winner in the closing stages when Turley was left stranded which Townson lobbed over the Diamonds goalkeeper but he was only denied by an excellent goal line clearance from Paul Underwood.

But with just four minutes remaining Diamonds took the lead when Hall picked up a long ball from Burgess to fire a shot in the bottom corner of the net.

It looked as if Diamonds were heading for victory but Townson grabbed the vital goal as Turley could only palm away a shot from Flitcroft.

At full-time: Diamonds 1 Rochdale 1 

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Burgess, Douglas, Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Lowe (Darby 82), Tillson.

Subs not used: Partridge, Brady, Dowell, Mills

Bookings: Hanlon (48), Tillson (50), Peters (53), Lowe (69)

Rochdale: Banks, Evans, Griffiths, Flitcroft, Oliver, Doughty, McEvilly, Townson, Jobson, Jones, McCourt (Todd 64).

Subs not used: Coleman, Todd, Gilks, Durkan.

Bookings: McEvilly (9), Evans (27)

Referee: Mr J Ross.

Attendance: 4,672

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