Torquay 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven

Stuart Wardley scored for the second consecutive game but it wasn’t enough as Diamonds had to settle for a point against Torquay United on a cold Tuesday evening at Plainmoor.

The on-loan Diamonds midfielder struck midway through the first-half and despite having the better chances throughout the game, Torquay scored a vital goal to help them in their battle to survive in the Third Division.

Two changes were made to the starting line-up from the one that began proceedings against Leyton Orient on Saturday. Andrew Sambrook was recalled and replaced the unfortunate Tarkan Mustafa.

Garry Butterworth was also recalled into the starting line-up as he replaced Ritchie Hanlon while Stuart Douglas and Onandi Lowe started in attack.

Alex Russell, the hat-trick hero in the surprise 3-1 win against Darlington on Saturday, started and Kevin Hill passed a last minute fitness check to start in midfield.

Diamonds made a positive start and Paul Hall’s cross nearly found Lowe but Torquay goalkeeper Kevin Dearden managed to take a good catch under a lot of pressure.

Torquay attacks were rare in the opening stages of the game and Mark Peters and Andy Tillson kept the home-side at bay as Diamonds continued to push forward.

Lowe fired a shot wide of the goal on six minutes, in the first real attack of the game, as the visitors made the more promising start on the heavy Plainmoor pitch.

Diamonds continued to push forward at every opportunity and Paul Underwood found himself in space down the left flank to fire an effort just past the Torquay post.

Torquay had their first chance of the game on 11 minutes when Hill fired a free-kick towards goal and goalkeeper Billy Turley done exceptional well to hold on to the bobbling ball.

After 15 mins: Torquay 0 Diamonds 0

Torquay started to get themselves back into the game as silly errors creped into the defence although they had still to test Turley.

After some good build-up play, Charlie McDonald fired a shot wide of the target as Torquay experienced some good possession.

Torquay should have broken the deadlock on 24 minutes when Paul Holmes burst through the middle of the Diamonds defence but his weak effort was well saved by Turley.

On 29 minutes, Richard Logan went mightily close with a long-range effort which Turley acrobatically tipped over the crossbar.

After 30 mins: Torquay 0 Diamonds 0 

On 32 minutes, Hall should have done better when, after some good build-up play from Sambrook, he fired a shot over the crossbar after getting himself into a good shooting position.

But on 37 minutes, Diamonds took a deserved lead when Sambrook’s cross was headed on by Lowe and Douglas played a short ball to Wardley who fired home.

Diamonds nearly extended their lead just moments later when Hall managed to cut inside the Torquay defence but his effort rolled wide of the visitor’s goal.

Logan fired a shot for the home-side that struck the side netting but Diamonds were fully in control of the game, as they looked the more promising side as the half-time whistle blew.

Half-time: Torquay 0 Diamonds 1

Torquay started the second-half very brightly and nearly took the lead inside the first three minutes when Ruben Hazel fired a wicked shot just past Turley’s right-hand post.

Diamonds won a number of successive corners shortly after that effort from Hazel but the visitors failed to make the home-side pay as they tried to get themselves back into the match.

Torquay were becoming a little unfortunate in front of goal and on 58 minutes, Turley flapped at a cross and Greg Goodridge nearly managed to direct a shot on target.

After 60 mins: Torquay 0 Diamonds 1

There was a stoppage in play as a linesman had to be replaced as Torquay looked the more likely to score the next goal as they continued to put pressure on the Diamonds defence.

Torquay should have got themselves on level terms on 66 minutes when Goodridge burst down the left flank to deliver a perfect cross but Hill could not turn the ball into the net from inside the six-yard penalty area.

But on 70 minutes, Torquay got themselves back on level terms when Goodridge produced another excellent cross from the left and Hill was on hand to poke home from close range.

Torquay were now on top and as the rain hurtled down at Plainmoor, Underwood had to make a vital stop on the goal-line as Chris Brandon fired a shot from inside the penalty area.

After 75 mins: Torquay 1 Diamonds 1

Lowe was replaced on 77 minutes by Duane Darby as the Diamonds tried to get themselves back in front.

Just moments after that substitution, Partridge was thrown into the action as he replaced Douglas.

Torquay nearly grabbed the winner with five minutes remaining when Hill’s cross went straight across the face of the goal but nobody in a yellow shirt was on hand to tap home the loose ball.

Full-time: Torquay 1 Diamonds 1

Torquay United: Dearden, Holmes, Hazell, Woods, Hankin, Hill, Rees, Brandon, Logan (Williams 83), McDonald (Goodridge 56), Russell.

Subs not used:

Bookings: Northmore, Richardson, Tully

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth, Burgess, Douglas (Partridge 80), Hall, Sambrook, Wardley, Lowe (Darby 77), Tillson.

Subs not used: Dowell, Hanlon, Mustafa

Bookings: Tillson (47)

Referee: Paul Armstrong

Attendance: 1,709

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