Shrewsbury 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

A goal from Duane Darby combined with a penalty save from Billy Turley helped preserve a point for Rushden & Diamonds and maintain their unbeaten start to the season against Shrewsbury on Saturday.

The home side looked as if they would take all three points when Rodgers fired home his fourth goal of the season in the second half but Darby hit back for the Diamonds just moments later.

And when Andrew Sambrook was sent off for a denying Rodgers a goal scoring opportunity, Shrewsbury striker Nigel Jemson had the perfect opportunity to give the home side all three points from the penalty spot but Turley came to the rescue.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot recalled Andy Tillson to the starting line-up having recovered from a hamstring and back injury. He partnered John Dempster in the centre of defence with Mark Peters amongst the substitute.

But a surprise to the team was the inclusion of Gary Mills replacing Stuart Wardley, who was not named amongst the substitutes. Andrew Sambrook kept his place at right-back at the expense of Tarkan Mustafa.

For Shrewsbury, Luke Rodgers and Nigel Jemson started in attack with manager Kevin Ratcliffe naming only one change from the side that beat Southend last week. In came Ryan Lowe at the centre of midfield replacing Darren Moss.

Shrewsbury started the stronger side and when Andy Thompson skipped past Tillson down the right flank, captain Paul Underwood had to step in and make a vital tackle.

But Diamonds soon found their feet and in the space of two minutes, Stuart Gray and Onandi Lowe both tried their luck in front of goal but it failed to trouble Shrewsbury goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin.

But the best effort of the game arrived on seven minutes when Lowe tried his luck from distance and his effort had to be tipped over the crossbar by an acrobatic Billy Turley.

Just a minute later a bad back pass from Underwood put Turley in all types of confusion and his blushes were only sparred by Rodgers’ miss pass inside the penalty area.

After 15 minutes: Shrewsbury 0 Diamonds 0

Lowe went agonisingly close on 16 minutes when he saw his header from Daniel Talbot’s corner cleared off the line by the Shrewsbury defence. The rebound went wide of the target from Dempster.

On 23 minutes, Paul Hall floated over a cross from the right flank and when the ball went over the head of Lowe, Talbot was on hand to fire an effort on target but Dunbavin stood firm and blocked the youngsters effort.

Lowe tried a mazy run from deep inside the Shrewsbury half on 28 minutes but despite showing his power and pace, he was stopped in his tracks by the referee who spotted an infringement.

After 30 minutes: Shrewsbury 0 Diamonds 0

Rodgers, who was been kept very quiet by the Diamonds, won his side a corner on 35 minutes but it was put to waste by the home side and went straight into the arms of Turley.

The game was struggling to spring back into life after the bright early start. Both Mills and Shrewsbury defender Micky Heathcote went into the referee’s notebook as the half time whistle approached.

Lowe went close to breaking the deadlock just a minute before the interval when the Jamaican international swivelled and turned to fire a low left foot shot but it was parried by Dunbavin.

At half time: Shrewsbury 0 Diamonds 0

Shrewsbury came storming out in the second half and inside the first minute Jemson combined with Rodgers, who unleashed a fierce volley that beat Turley but struck the crossbar.

Shrewsbury’s attacking start to the second half had certainly lifted the Gay Meadow faithful and Rodgers was soon springing back to life as he tried to open the deadlock.

Andy Burgess was introduced into the action on 51 minutes, replacing Talbot. And just moments later Mills drilled a long-range effort for the visitors but it failed to trouble Dunbavin.

Lowe struck a shot on the volley on 57 minutes but it rolled across the face of the goal while Burgess saw a deflected shot go inches wide of the Shrewsbury goal.

After 60 minutes: Shrewsbury 0 Diamonds 0

The Diamonds were now starting to throw bodies forward and Darby went close on the hour mark with Lowe also having an effort blocked by the Shrewsbury defence just a minute later.

But Shrewsbury went close to breaking the deadlock on 67 minutes when Redmile rose above the Diamonds defence to head a shot on target but the defender saw his header cleared off the line by Lowe.

However, Diamonds fell behind on 70 minutes when Rodgers beat Dempster down the left flank to fire a shot at Turley’s nearside post for his fourth goal of the campaign.

But just two minutes later, Diamonds were back on level terms when Darby rose unchallenged in the penalty area to meet Hall’s right wing cross.

Then the drama continued to unfold on 74 minutes. Sambrook was shown the red card for bring down Rodgers and with the referee pointing to the penalty spot, Shrewsbury had the chance to retake the lead.

Up stepped the experienced Jemson but his spot kick was drilled straight at Turley who managed to block the kick and it went out for a corner.

After 75 minutes: Shrewsbury 1 Diamonds 1

A tactical change from Brian saw him withdraw Darby and bring on Mustafa with 12 minutes to go as Diamonds tried to preserve a precious point.

Both sides went at it in the closing stages but this was a result that certainly pleased the visitors rather than the home side and maintained Diamonds’ unbeaten start to the season.

Full time: Shrewsbury 1 Diamonds 1

Shrewsbury: Dunbavin, Thompson, Van Blerk (Drysdale 77), Tolley, Redmile, Heathcote, Lowe (Moss 64), Atkins, Rodgers, Jemson (Stevens 84), Woan.

Subs not used: Kendall, Murray.

Bookings: Heathcote (40)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Dempster, Tillson, Sambrook, Talbot (Burgess 51), Mills, Gray, Hall, Darby (Mustafa 78), Lowe.

Subs not used: Partridge, Sollitt, Peters.

Bookings: Mills (38)

Sent-off: Sambrook (74)

Attendance: 3,548

Referee: Mr Mark Warren (West Midlands)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Billy Turley (Vital penalty save)

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