Rushden & Diamonds 1 Carlisle United 1

By Steven Dove

Carlisle United defended in numbers and they did enough to gain a valuable draw although the visitors should have stolen maximum points after squandering a chance in the final stages of the game.

Onandi Lowe cancelled out Craig Farrell’s strike on 11 minutes to notch his eighth goal of the season. But Farrell should have wrapped things up for the visitors with just four minutes remaining but pushed a glorious opportunity wide of the target.

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to his starting line-up from the one that began proceedings against Macclesfield Town last week.

With Duane Darby suspended, Robert Duffy partnered Lowe in attack while Gary Mills, who had been struggling with an ankle injury, started in the centre of midfield.

Andy Burgess, who had been out of action for Diamonds since mid-September, was also welcomed back to the side as he was drafted onto the substitutes bench. Billy Turley was also named as a substitute, replacing Stuart Naylor, who had picked up a slight back injury.

Carlisle United included potential danger man Richie Foran in attack although boss Roddy Collins went into this encounter with no recognized substitute goalkeeper.

Diamonds carved open the first opportunity of the game when Paul Hall’s cross was nearly powered home by Lowe but the Jamaican international saw his header go over the Carlisle crossbar.

But on four minutes, Lowe went even closer when he powered a free-kick against the underside of Matthew Glennon’s crossbar, which somehow bounced away from danger.

However, against the run of play, Carlisle United took the lead on 11 minutes with their first attack of the game. Jon McCarthy cut in from the right flank and picked out Craig Farrell who calmly slotted the ball past Adam Sollitt.

Mark Peters was unfortunate not to see his header from David Bell’s corner go on target shortly after Carlisle took the lead.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Carlisle 1

But Carlisle’s lead lasted only four minutes when Lowe rose above the visitors defence to power home Hall’s right-wing corner and send a header past a stranded Glennon.

Diamonds were controlling this contest although Carlisle continued to look dangerous on the break and were enjoying their fair share of possession.

Lowe, who was continuing to cause havoc in the Carlisle defence, displayed superb power and pace to shrug off two defenders and smash an effort past Glennon’s right-hand post.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Carlisle United 1

On 36 minutes, Duffy sent an excellent ball into the Carlisle United penalty area but Lowe couldn’t direct a header towards Glennon’s goal.

Moments later, Duffy collected an excellent long ball from Bell but the young Diamonds striker dragged his shot wide of the target and past Glennon’s left-hand post.

Diamonds continued to attack the visitor’s goal and although Paul Underwood hit a long-range effort wide of the target, the home-side had to be satisfied with going into the interval on level terms.

At half-time: Diamonds 1 Carlisle United 1  

Carlisle created the first opportunity of the second-half when Lee Maddison should have done better to guide a shot on target when he was given freedom in the Diamonds penalty area.

On 49 minutes, Lowe sent a glancing header the wrong side of the Carlisle goal after Marcus Bignot had made a darting run down the right flank.

Foran hit a 30-yard effort on 54 minutes but the Carlisle striker couldn’t keep the shot down and it was never going to trouble Sollitt.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Carlisle United 1

Lowe’s turn-and-shot on 61 minutes forced a good reaction save from Glennon as Diamonds continued to push forward at every opportunity.

On 65 minutes, Bell burst through the heart of the Diamonds defence but his touch let him down when he had a clear sight of the Carlisle goal.

But this game was hanging in the balance for Diamonds as Sollitt was stretched off the field after falling awkwardly in a 50-50-challenge meaning the unfit Turley was called into the action.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Carlisle United 1

In the closing stages of the game, Carlisle were looking the more likely side to score and they tried to put pressure on the Diamonds goal.

Both sides pushed forward in the closing stages but it was Carlisle United who should have taken all three points when Farrell dragged a glorious effort wide of the target.

At full-time: Diamonds 1 Carlisle United 1

Diamonds: Sollitt (Turley 74), Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Bignot, Mills, Bell (Burges 83), Duffy, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Talbot, Sambrook, Dempster.

Bookings:

Carlisle United: Glennon, Maddison, Shelley, Murphy, Hudson (Baldacchino 86), Foran, Kelly, McGill (Osman 63), McCarthy (McDonagh 55), Sumerbell, Farrell.

Subs not used: Robinson, Taylor.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr G Cain (Merseyside)

Attendance: 4,355 (388 from Carlisle)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Marcus Bignot (Outstanding in defence and going forward)

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