Torquay United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Duane Darby scored a wonderful 30-yard lob against his former club to help Rushden & Diamonds grind out a point against promotion hopefuls Torquay United at Plainmoor.

The Diamonds striker pounced on 57 minutes to lob Torquay goalkeeper Kevin Dearden after Jason Fowler had opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half.

Diamonds could have stolen all three points in this see-saw battle but Dearden produced some fine saves either side of the interval to help the home side.

Andy Burgess was given his first start in the Diamonds first team since September following David Bell’s leg injury, sustained during the 5-1 win over Shrewsbury Town.

That was the only change for Rushden & Diamonds although Gary Setchell was welcomed back to the substitute bench, which, once again, had no substitute goalkeeper.

Torquay, looking for only their second win in seven competitive games, introduced Steve Woods to the side for only his second start of the season whilst Kevin Wills was also given his first opportunity in midfield with Alex Russell missing through suspension.

Despite heavy rainfall in Devon during the week, the Plainmoor pitch was looking in good but very soft condition.

Torquay, playing a 3-5-2 formation, made the brighter start of the two sides when Jo Kuffour stole at the near post on two minutes to make Billy Turley dive low and produce fine stop.

The home side were certainly starting brightly and on five minutes Fowler tried to ambitiously lob Turley from 30-yards but the Diamonds goalkeeper was able to make a comfortable save.

Moments later, Fowler tried a further effort when his driven shot flew over Turley’s crossbar after the Diamonds defence failed to close down the midfielder.

Diamonds carved open their first opportunity of the game on 12 minutes when Darby combined with Onandi Lowe for him to power a low drive that was well held by Dearden.

After 15 minutes: Torquay 0 Diamonds 0

The home side continued to dominate this game and Fowler was proving instrumental in midfield whilst Tony Bedeau was proving a handful for the Diamonds defence.

Bedeau and the whole of the Torquay support through they had broken the deadlock when the nippy striker got behind the Diamonds defence only for him to see Turley tip his effort into the side netting.

Lowe tried a curling free-kick on 24 minutes but Dearden was hardly troubled in a rare effort for Diamonds.

Turley came to the rescue on 26 minutes when he dived low to meet Wills’ low drive that was creeping into the bottom corner of the Diamonds net.

Diamonds came agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock when Lowe’s powerful run and shot was deflected onto a post. The follow-up effort from Stuart Wardley trickled inches wide.

After 30 minutes: Torquay 0 Diamonds 0

But Torquay had the perfect opportunity to open the deadlock on 39 minutes when Stuart Gray, who was booked for arguing the decision, sent down Wills tumbling in the penalty area. Fowler took the responsibilities and calmly beat Turley from the spot.

Burgess twisted and turned to fire a shot on 42 minutes, which deflected wide for a corner. And that resulting kick nearly brought Diamonds on level terms but Lowe’s header was superbly saved by Dearden.

Torquay finished the stronger side but couldn’t find a way through the Diamonds defence and had to settle for a single goal lead at the interval.

AT HALF TIME: TORQUAY 1 DIAMONDS 0

Andy Sambrook was introduced to the action for the second-half, replacing Burgess. It meant Diamonds boss Brian Talbot went for a change of formation pushing Hall further up field.

And the change nearly paid off immediately when Lowe powered a low drive, which was saved by the impressive Dearden.

Darby through he had given Diamonds the lead on 51 minutes but his effort was ruled offside when Marcus Bignot’s miss-hit drive found the Diamonds striker.

Diamonds then had a second effort disallowed just two minutes later when Lowe was adjudged to have impeded a Torquay defender after heading home a Hall cross.

Lowe was carving open all the opportunities for Diamonds and his flying header on 57 minutes was saved by Dearden.

But it was his striking partner, Darby, who brought Diamonds back on level terms with a delightful chip over the head of Dearden from around 25-yard out to score against his former club.

After 60 minutes: Torquay 1 Diamonds 1

It was Diamonds who were now controlling this see-saw battle and Hall went close but saw his header saved by Dearden.

Darby nearly made it two lobbed goals but on this occasion the Diamonds striker failed to hit the target as he saw the ball fly over Dearden’s head an over the crossbar.

Torquay slowly started to get themselves back into this contest and on 73 minutes Turley was tested when Bedeau got a slight flick to push the ball towards goal.

After 75 minutes: Torquay 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds began to throw bodies forward and Lowe was causing all the trouble for the Torquay defence with his power and pace.

Darby had a golden opportunity to give Diamonds the lead on 79 minutes when Lowe fed a ball to the Diamonds striker who somehow missed the target from 10-yards.

Diamonds continued to push forward but the visitors couldn’t find a winner despite Lowe and Darby both going close in the closing stages.

AT FULL TIME: TORQUAY 1 DIAMONDS 1

Torquay United: Dearden, Canoville (Stevens 78), Hazell, Woozley, Wills (Hankin 73), Hockley, Fowler (Benefield 87), Hill, Woods, Bedeau, Kuffour.

Subs not used: Corderoy, Bond,

Bookings: Woods (74)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Burgess (Sambrook h/t), Gray, Bignot, Hall, Lowe.

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

Bookings: Gray (37), Sambrook (59)

Referee: Brian Curson (Leicester)

Attendance: 2,651

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter (Solid display in defence)

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