Hull City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds had to settle for a point at Hull City this afternoon but it could have been so much more after an excellent second-half performance warranted all three points.

Stuart Gray volleyed home Diamonds’ goal in the first half after the Northamptonshire side had gone behind inside the first minute through Scott Green.

Diamonds went into the match without the services of skipper Paul Underwood. He was missing after failing to recover from a heel injury that also kept him out of Tuesday’s LDV Vans Trophy defeat against Cambridge.

But boss Brian Talbot was able to name Billy Turley in the starting line-up. He was struggling prior to the game with a calf injury but started the match with Adam Sollitt going back on the substitutes bench.

Marcus Bignot started his first league game of the season since August, replacing Tarkan Mustafa, who was named on the bench, while David Bell started in midfield, replacing Stuart Wardley.

In what was officially Peter Taylor’s first home game in charge of Hull City, the new Tigers manager included danger man Alexander and on-loan striker Stuart Green, both players having scored against Diamonds last season.

There was a surprise before kick-off with Turley failing to show for the first-half. It meant Sollitt started the match and coach Stuart Naylor was named amongst the substitutes.

The game was only 36 seconds old when Hull took the lead. A delightful through ball by Stuart Elliott found Green racing through the heart of the Diamonds defence but despite Sollitt saving the initial effort, the striker struck home the rebound.

The Diamonds were struggling to get a grip with the game in the early stages and a free-kick from Onandi Lowe that hit the Hull wall, was the best effort the visitors could muster.

Chances were few and far between in this scrappy opening. But on 13 minutes, Paul Hall got in around the back of the Hull defence to lob the ball just over the Paul Musselwhite’s crossbar.

Just a minute later, Diamonds created a better chance. Lowe picked the ball up deep inside the Hull half and his powerful run enabled him to lay a pass off to Duane Darby who narrowly missed the target.

After 15 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were starting to get control of the game and on 19 minutes, Gray’s free-kick should have caused confusion in the Hull penalty area but the visitors were slow to react.

Gary Mills tried his luck from long-range just moments later when his dipping effort nearly beat Musselwhite, who was making his 600th career appearance.

On 26 minutes, Hull created their best chance since their opening minute goal when a Green free-kick was header just over the Diamonds crossbar from John Anderson.

After 30 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Green went close for Hull on 35 minutes but Sollitt was always in control of his weak header as he out jumped the Diamonds defence.

But the Diamonds were back on level terms on 37 minutes when Hall found space on the right wing to deliver a perfect cross to Darby. His directed header found the unmarked Stuart Gray whose unstoppable shot whizzed past Musselwhite.

Elliott nearly put Hull back in front just before the interval but Darby had a better chance for Diamonds moments later. However, the former Hull striker was only denied by a superb first time tackle from Ashbee.

At half-time: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1  

Hull started brightly in the second half and two good chances were wasted in the opening moments of the game as the visitors started nervously.

But on 48 minutes, Diamonds responded to the early pressure and Bell fired a long-range effort that beat Musselwhite but went the wrong side of a post.

Ashbee’s hit and hope shot hit row Z of the stand behind Sollitt’s goal although it was an encouraging spell for the home side who had lost their way at the end of the first 45 minutes.

Lowe’s power and pace nearly brought a goal for Diamonds on 54 minutes but his effort went high and wide of the target when really the Jamaican international should have done better.

On 57 minutes, Alexander twisted and turned past the Diamonds defence but couldn’t keep his effort on target.

After 60 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1

Hull were now pushing forward and Alexander should have done better when he broke past the Diamonds defence to shoot straight at Sollitt.

The game was now completely thrown open in the most entertaining period of the match. Both sides were looking dangerous although no really opportunity had been created.

Sollitt made a vital save on 69 minutes when an Jevons’ cross found its way to Alexander who needed two bites at the cherry after the Diamonds goalkeeper couldn’t hold onto the striker’s first effort.

Lowe saw a header saved by Musselwhite on 74 minutes while moments later, Alexander, who had been causing problems for Diamonds all afternoon, hit a shot wide of the target.

After 75 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1

A run, which covered over half the pitch, from Lowe nearly, brought out a spectacular individual goal but the Diamonds striker couldn’t get his effort on target after beating two Hull defenders.

Diamonds pushed forward and Darby’s power nearly enabled him to get a shot in on goal but some superb defending from an impressive Ashbee stopped the striker in his tracks.

But despite some frantic moments at the end, Diamonds were unable to grab a winner and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

At full-time: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1

Hull City: Musselwhite, Ashbee, Anderson, Elliott (Williams 55), Alexander, Green, Whittle, Jevons (Bradshaw 80), Delaney, Regan, Keats (Burton 80)

Subs not used: Peat, Deeney.

Bookings: Keats (34), Ashbee (78)

Diamonds: Sollitt, Peters, Tillson, Darby, Gray, Bignot, Mills, Setchell, Bell (Wardley 72), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Mustafa, Naylor, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Bignot (71)

Referee: Mr Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 10,659

Diamonds’ MOTM: Marcus Bignot (welcome return to the side)

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