Scunthorpe United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was given a late but perfect Christmas present as he watched his side go top of the Third Division table following a 0-0 draw against Scunthorpe United.

Following Hartlepool’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Hull City, Diamonds’ point at Glanford Park was enough to see the Northamptonshire side leapfrog the long time league leaders.

But Diamonds could have certainly taken all three points and were only denied by some fine goalkeeping from Tom Evans plus a solid defensive display from captain Nathan Stanton.

Stuart Wardley went close on two occasions for Diamonds and Onandi Lowe also hit a free-kick just over the Scunthorpe crossbar in a scrappy affair which was largely spoilt by the match referee.

Scunthorpe also had their fair share of chances and Steve Torpey went close for the home side in the second half when he dragged an effort past Billy Turley in the Rushden & Diamonds goal.

Duane Darby was recalled to the starting line-up for Diamonds after serving his one match suspension whilst Turley, who has been struggling with a calf injury in recent weeks, continued in goal.

With Adam Sollitt fracturing his wrist in last weeks 1-1 draw against Carlisle United, Brian was unable to name a substitute goalkeeper although Stuart Gray, who had been missing because of a knee injury, was recalled to the substitute bench.

Scunthorpe United boss Brian Laws made two changes to his starting line-up from the one that began proceedings against Carlisle United. Lee Featherstone was given the responsibility on the left flank of midfield whilst Alex Garcia started in the centre of midfield.

Things didn’t start too well for the Diamonds as they were made to make an early change. On seven minutes, Gary Mills fell in the centre circle clutching his hamstring and was quickly replaced by Gray.

However, Diamonds did create the first opportunity of the game when, on eight minutes, Marcus Bignot’s cross fell to Darby whose shot from six yards was parried by Evans.

Diamonds continued to enjoy much of the early possession but as the game flowed the home-side began to find gaps in the visitors defence. On 15 minutes, Lowe tested Evans from long-range.

With the match referee stopping this encounter for the smallest of incidents, the Glanford Park crowd were beginning to get restless and on 21 minutes Steve Torpey hit a shot wide of the Diamonds goal.

Barry Hunter was shown the yellow card on 28 minutes after conceding a free-kick in a dangerous area. It nearly proved costly for Diamonds as Matthew Sparrow hit the resulting kick, which Turley flung himself at to make a vital save.

On 34 minutes, Wardley should have put Diamonds in front but Evans showed great reflexes to stop the midfielder from inside the six-yard penalty area.

Moments before the half-time whistle, Lowe’s strong and powerful run nearly brought the opening goal but after beating three defenders, his low drive was saved by the impressive Evans.

Scunthorpe started the second-half much brightly than Diamonds but on 52 minutes; Bignot’s drive forward resulted in him firing an effort straight into Evans’ arms.

Moments later, Bignot carved open another effort which, once again, Evans was equal to. David Bell also drove a shot wide of the target after he impressively held off two Scunthorpe defenders.

It was now Scunthorpe’s turn to enjoy the possession and during this spell they created their best effort of the game when Torpey beat Mark Peters to turn and shoot narrowly wide of Diamonds’ goal.

Martin Carruthers, who has surprisingly had a quiet game for the home side, forced a full stretch save from Turley on 71 minutes before he was substituted just eight minutes later.

Both sides created good opportunities in the closing stages of the game and Lowe could have won it for Diamonds moments before the final whistle but Evans displayed some fine goalkeeping.

After 90 minutes: Scunthorpe 0 Diamonds 0

Scunthorpe: Evans, Stanton, Dawson, Jackson, Byrne, Sparrow, Brough (Parton 67), Featherstone, Carruthers (Graves 80), Torpey, Garcia.

Subs not used: McCombe, Kilford, Collins.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Hunter, Wardley, Mills (Gray 7), Hall, Bell, Lowe, Darby.

Subs not used: Sambrook, Setchell, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Hunter (30), Gray (53), Bignot (63), Underwood (90) 

Referee: Mr C Boyeson.

Attendance: 4,096

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter.

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