Boston United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove 
Duane Darby’s second goal in as many games helped secure a dramatic point for Rushden & Diamonds against relegation threatened Boston United at York Street.

The Diamonds striker pounced with ten minutes remaining to claim his 13th goal of the campaign and notch one shy of Paul Hall, who is currently the club’s leading goalscorer.

Darby’s strike cancelled out Boston debutant Graeme Jones’ second-half goal that looked as if it would be good enough to secure maximum points for the Lincolnshire side.

But the uneven pitch did little to help either side in this contest as the unattractive football showed throughout the 90 minutes.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to name Andrew Sambrook in his starting line-up with Paul Underwood not passed fit to play following a hamstring injury.

Andy Burgess returned to the centre of Diamonds’ midfield after he recovered from a calf injury meaning Gary Mills returned to the substitute bench. Onandi Lowe and Darby began in attack.

Boston boss Neil Thompson named the same starting eleven from the 1-0 victory over Darlington in midweek. However, Stuart Douglas returned amongst the substitutes bench whilst Jones, having signed from Southend United just 24 hours prior to kick-off, was also on the bench.

Diamonds enjoyed the majority of the early possession but it was the home side that looked more dangerous on the break.

Paul Hall was gifted Diamonds’ first opportunity of the game when, on six minutes Lowe linked up well with the play to feed in his Jamaican international teammate. However the midfielder was powered off the ball by Boston defender Mark Greaves.

Experienced campaigner Neil Redfearn struck a low free-kick on nine minutes which was comfortably dealt with by Billy Turley whilst moments later Mark Angel hit a first time effort over the crossbar.

Boston, who were in need of the three points, where looking dangerous on the attack and it was the home side who were looking the more likely to open the deadlock.

After 15 minutes: Boston United 0 Diamonds 0

The first real opportunity of the game arrived on 15 minutes when Simon Weatherstone broke the Diamonds offside trap to steal in behind the defence but the striker was denied a goal by an onrushing Turley.

Boston were certainly in control of the first-half and it wasn’t until the 26th minute when Diamonds had a good opportunity to break deadlock.

Stuart Wardley’s ball in the Boston penalty area found Darby in space but a nasty bobble off the York Street surface prevented the Diamonds striker from hitting the target.

A David Bell free-kick on 29 minutes resulted in Lowe rising above the Boston defence and produce a fantastic reflex save from Boston United goalkeeper Paul Bastock.

After 30 minutes: Boston United 0 Diamonds 0

Paul Ellender was doing a fantastic job in the Boston defence as he was keeping Lowe at bay and the Jamaican international striker was having a quiet game by his standards.

Redfearn nearly opened the scoring for Boston on 40 minutes when the midfielder picked up a ball outside the area to produce a breathtaking turn and shot which agonisingly went wide of Turley’s goal.

Weathstone when close for Boston moment later when he displayed great skill with a chip-and-shot effort that flew past Turley’s left-hand post.

But Diamonds finished the half the stronger side and could have broken the deadlock when Darby flashed a shot across the face of Bastock’s goal following a delightful ball from Lowe.

AT HALF TIME: BOSTON UNITED 0 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds came out for the second half with all guns firing and Lowe nearly gave the visitors a dream start but dragged a shot wide of Bastock’s goal after the Jamaican found himself in the clear.

Wardley and Darby both had good chances in the opening five minutes of the second half to break the deadlock and Lowe wasted a good opportunity on 57 minutes when he shot over the Boston crossbar.

Boston had certainly not started the second half in the same manner that they had controlled the first 45 minutes as Diamonds came storming out of the blocks.

After 60 minutes: Boston United 0 Diamonds 0

But despite all Diamonds’ good openings, it was surprising when Boston opened the scoring. On 66 minutes, Angel crossed from the left flank to allow Jones to drill a low effort through the Diamonds defence and past Turley.

Diamonds tried to immediately hit back but the Boston defence were holding firm limiting the visitors to long range shots which were hardly troubling Bastock.

After 75 minutes: Boston United 1 Diamonds 0

Hall hit a first time volley wide of the Boston goal on 75 minutes following some good work from the impressive Wardley and it looked as if Diamonds would never hit the target.

Lowe tried an ambitious overhead kick on 77 minutes and Hall’s work rate looked as if it wouldn’t be rewarded and he went close shortly after striking just wide of Bastock’s goal.

But the vital equaliser did eventually come for Diamonds. Lowe headed a Sambrook’s cross into the path of Darby and the former Hull striker swept the ball home from inside the penalty area to give the visitors that vital goal.

Diamonds attempted to grind out a winner in the closing stages and Sambrook nearly caught Bastock napping when he free-kick dipped the wrong side of the cross bar.

However Diamonds couldn’t get that winner although they did close the gap on Hartlepool to six points following Mike Newell’s side defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers.

Boston United: Bastock, Chapman, Ellender, Greaves, Weatherstone, Angel, Hocking, Redfearn, Rusk (Jones 59), Balmer, Logan.

Subs not used: Duffield, Price, Gould, Douglas.

Bookings: Rusk (49)

Diamonds: Turley, Hunter, Edwards, Wardley, Burgess, Darby, Bignot, Bell, Sambrook, Hall (Gray 83), Lowe.

Subs not used: Peters, Mills, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Bell (49)

Referee: Mr C Webster

Attendance: 3,504 (754 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter (Solid performance and controlled the team in captains role)

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