Cheltenham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 
By Steven

A superb individual effort from Onandi Lowe gave Diamonds a well deserved point against Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon but the Northamptonshire side could have easily collected maximum points after dominating the second-half.

Lowe struck deep into the first-half to cancel out an earlier header from Julian Alsop as Diamonds dug-in and finished the stronger side at the final whistle.

Brian recalled Scott Partridge into the starting line-up, replacing Stuart Douglas, in the mangers only change to the side from the one that started in the 1-1 draw with Torquay United on Tuesday.

But Jon Brady and Gary Setchell were both recalled to the substitute bench as Diamonds went into the match looking for only their fourth away win of the season, against a team who had only lost once at home.

If Diamonds were to get a victory today, then they would have to cope with the goal scoring form of Alsop and Tony Naylor who have scored 35 goals between them in all competitions.

Cheltenham made the brighter start of the two sides as Alsop fired a shot straight into the arms of Diamonds goalkeeper Billy Turley.

Just two minutes later, Cheltenham nearly struck again. Lee Williams found time and space down the right flank to fire a shot towards goal and Turley had to make an acrobatic save.

But Diamonds also made an encouraging start. Andy Burgess managed to deliver a good ball into the penalty area but Lowe fired a shot wide, although the Jamaican was standing in an offside position.

But Diamonds should have taken the lead on 10 minutes. A beautiful ball from Stuart Wardley found Partridge in space who delivered an excellent cross but Lowe could not keep his header on target.

After 15 mins: Cheltenham 0 Diamonds 0

There was a mighty scramble in the Diamonds penalty area on 16 minutes when Turley flapped at Russell Milton’s corner and when the ball broke loose the visitors goalkeeper had to climb over bodies to retrieve the ball.

Cheltenham were certainly the team on top and each time they moved forward they were causing Diamonds no ends of problems as the defence struggled to cope with the home-sides strength and pace.

Turley was called to make an excellent save on 22 minutes when Alsop rose above the Diamonds defence to direct a header towards goal.

The Diamonds goalkeeper was, unsurprisingly, having a busy afternoon and he made a spectacular save from Naylor after beating Mark Peters for pace.

But that save resulted in a corner and from it, Cheltenham took the lead, when Alsop rose above the Diamonds defence to head home from close range.

But to their credit, Diamonds nearly got themselves back in the game just a minute later when Garry Butterworth struck a shot from outside the penalty area but it hit Steve Book’s left-hand post.

After 30 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were enjoying some good possession as the half-an-hour mark passed but it was still the home-side who looked more dangerous on the attack.

And Diamonds were rewarded for their good possession when Lowe fired Diamonds back on level terms in excellent style. The Jamaican international picked the ball up deep inside the Cheltenham half and his run and shot found it’s way into the corner of the net.

It was what Diamonds deserved as they had looked likely to get themselves back in the game, enjoying more of the possession.

After 45 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds made a very encouraging start to the second-half as they pressed forward early on, winning a corner inside the first two minutes but Wardley could not direct his header on target.

Just moments later Diamonds had a better effort when Partridge turned and shot but it was well saved by Book as the visitors began the second-half the much stronger team.

Partridge direct a shot on target on 55 minutes as the visitors continued to make the better chances.

After 60 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

Cheltenham were trying their best to find a way past Diamonds defence and despite having nine shots on target, Turley was enjoying a relatively quiet second-half.

Lowe directed a header from Hall’s cross on target on 66 minutes but it failed to trouble Book.

After 75 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

The Diamonds boss withdrew Butterworth on 79 minutes and replaced him with Ritchie Hanlon in the hope it would give more scoring options in the centre of midfield.

And all of Diamonds’ pressure should have paid off when Wardley went inches wide of the target after Burgess had sent an excellent corner into the Cheltenham penalty area.

Diamonds continued to surge forward in the closing stage but could not find that vital winning goal despite dominating all of the possession.

At full-time: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

Cheltenham: Book, Duff, Victory, Brough, Howells, Yates, Milton (Grayson 87), Griffin, Alsop, Naylor, Williams.

Subs not used: Higgs, Devaney, Howarth, Jones

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth (Hanlon 79), Burgess, Partridge (Darby 89), Hall, Sambrook, Wardley, Lowe, Tillson.

Subs not used:, Brady, Setchell, Dowell

Bookings:

Referee: Mr M J Brandwood

Attendance: 4,584

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