Rushden & Diamonds 3 QPR 3

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds produced a stunning comeback to claim a share of the spoils against Queens Park Rangers in a six goal thriller.

Onandi Lowe came off the substitute bench to grab the vital equaliser after Diamonds had fallen 3-1 behind thanks to two fantastic strikes from Gareth Ainsworth and a solo goal from Paul Furlong.

Duane Darby had given Diamonds a 16 minute lead, his 50th goal for the club but went in 2-1 down at the interval. Furlong goal extend the lead before Paul Hall gave Diamonds hope.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot welcomed the return of Lowe to his squad after the Jamaican international recovered from a head injury.

However, it was the same starting eleven that claimed a surprise 2-1 win at Tranmere on Saturday with Darby and Rodney Jack leading the attack.

David Bell and Gary Mills started in midfield despite picking up knocks at Prenton Park with Lowe amongst the substitutes.

QPR boss Ian Holloway recalled Kevin Gallen in the starting line-up with Tony Thorpe dropping to the bench after making his club debut in Saturday’s win over Bournemouth.

QPR nearly opened the scoring inside the first minute when Paul Furlong squandered a chance from inside the area.

Paul Underwood may have been fortunate to stay on the field when he seemingly sent Gallen tumbling to after being put through on goal.

Diamonds had three players in the referee’s book after just six minutes with Billy Turley and Mills also seeing the yellow card.

Furlong’s 25-yard effort flew wide of Turley’s goal on 14 minutes in a rare effort in the opening stages of the game

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 0 QPR 0

The deadlock was broken on 16 minutes when Darby slid home from close range to guide the ball past Chris Day when Paul Hall delivered a ball across the face of the goal.

Diamonds nearly doubled their advantage moments later when Day displayed great reflexes to tip over Hall’s volley from Bell’s right-wing cross.

Furlong, a constant menace to the Diamonds defence, swivelled to drill a shot over the crossbar on 25 minutes as QPR looked promising on the break.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 1 QPR 0

Furlong’s flying header on 34 minutes from Gallen’s right-wing cross tested Turley but flew the wrong side of a post.

QPR were back on level terms in spectacular style on 36 minutes when Ainsworth struck home a sweet 25-yard volley into Turley right-hand corner of the net. The goal, set-up by Tommy Williams, was applauded at all ends of the ground.

Turley’s was called to make an important stop two minutes before the interval when Furlong turned to hit a ball on the bounce. The Diamonds shot-stopper displayed great reflexes to tip the ball around the post

And Diamonds were dealt a blow before half-time as Ainsworth produced more magic, this time hitting a 30-yard effort into the same corner of the net as his first, leaving Turley stranded.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 1 QPR 2

Burgess nearly gave Diamonds the perfect start to the second-half when his first-time shot was comfortably saved by Day.

Furlong extended the visitors lead on 52 minutes when the former Watford and Chelsea striker coolly slotted past Turley after being released by Williams.

Lowe was introduced into the action on 57 minutes. Bell struck a wayward free-kick a minute later as Diamonds looked for a way back through.

Jack nearly picked out a gem on 59 minutes when the St Vincent international striker’s curling effort flew inches wide.

AFTER 60 MINUTES: Diamonds 1 QPR 3

Diamonds responded well to going two goals behind and Lowe nearly reduced the deficit with a close-range header.

Gallen nearly found the corner of the net on 66 minutes and Steve Palmer brought out a fine save from Turley moments later with a 25-yard pile driver.

Barry Hunter produced a timely tackle on 71 minutes to prevent Furlong extending the visitors advantage.

AFTER 75 MINUTES: Diamonds 1 QPR 3

QPR kept the pressure on their opponents and Tony Thorpe nearly came on the bench and made an immediate impact with a snap-shot that was blocked by Hunter.

Hall gave Diamonds a life line to reduce the deficit with a low strike, combining well with Lowe, beating Day and watching the ball creep into the corner of the net.

Diamonds kept the pressure on and with two minutes to go Lowe’s header nearly crept into the net.

But Diamonds produced a stunning comeback when Lowe found space in the penalty area to steer the ball home after the visitors failed to clear the lines from a corner.

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills (Gray 56), Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Darby (Lowe 57), Burgess, Bell, Hall.

Subs not used: Dempster, Sambrook, Talbot.

Bookings: Underwood (4), Turley (5), Mills (6), Gray (66)

QPR: Day, Padula, Palmer, Carlisle, Shittu, Bircham, Gallen, Ainsworth, Rowlands, Furlong (Thorpe 72), Williams.

Subs not used: Culkin, Bean, Oli, Edghill.

Bookings: Bean (57), Shittu (61), Rowlands (62), Padula (88)

Referee: Mr L S Mason

Attendance: 5,544 (2,159 from QPR)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Rodney Jack

Video Highlights from this game are here.

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