August 30, 2004 Leave a comment
Both sides battled hard in this goalless draw at Nene Park.Diamonds and Bristol both defended well with chances few and far between and both managers were forced to be content with just a point.
Ernie Tippett kept an unchanged starting line-up for the third consecutive game despite having seen his side lose 3-1 at Yeovil at the weekend.The only change again came on the bench with Jason Taylor replacing Simeon Jackson.Former Cobblers manager Ian Atkins also kept an unchanged line-up with just Craig Hinton and Lewis Haldane the only changes on the bench.Bristol included three former Cobblers players in the starting eleven with James Hunt, Paul Trollope and Ali Gibb all starting whilst Jamie Forrester and Dave Savage on the bench.
Diamonds made a positive start to the game and won the first free-kick of the game after three minutes when Kevin Braniff’s run was thwarted by a foul by Christian Edwards, who was booked by the referee.From the free-kick Diamonds bizarre routine failed to materialise with anything testing for Kevin Miller in the Rovers goal. Alex Hay’s header down then fell into the path of Braniff who saw his shot from distance drift 2 yards wide of Miller’s far right post.
Bristol caused a few moments of worry in the Diamonds defence when Trollope’s right hand free-kick, level with the Diamonds box, forced a punched clearance from Billy Turley with ten minutes gone.At the other end Hay forced a hurried headed clearance from the goalkeeper before blasting a shot from the right, well wide.
Stuart Campbell’s left hand cross created a good opportunity for the Pirates after 20 minutes, however Junior Agogo’s shot from 10 yards was easily held by Turley.What then followed was a spell of even possession for both sides but with no real forward play of note in what was a largely disappointing first half in terms of chances on goal.The closest either side managed to come to breaking the deadlock was with one minute of the first half remaining when Gary Mills shot from 35 yards was palmed clear for a corner, by Miller at his left hand post.
Sean Connelly’s deep cross met the glancing header of Andy Burgess at the start of the second half, but the midfielder’s effort went wide before Mills fed Hay superbly but the latter’s shot cannoned off Edwards for a corner.From the corner Burgess saw a shot blocked amid a goalmouth scramble, before Rovers eventually cleared.David Bell then earned Diamonds a free-kick from virtually the corner beneath the scoreboard, the ball eventually finding Burgess who let Mills shoot from just outside the box, but the effort lacked any real power.
The Pirates also looked to go forward and neat build up play allowed Trollope to cross from the left; however Agogo’s header at the far post failed to test Turley after 55 minutes.Diamonds began to boss the play and Bell saw his low ball into the box rebound off the post with Braniff unable to strike the rebound, after 15 minutes of the second half.Hay’s run forward then appeared to end with a handball from the goalkeeper from outside the area, but the referee felt it was his chest rather than hands that touched the ball.Moments later Burgess’ header at Millers far left post had to be superbly headed away on the line by Robbie Ryan.
Pirates made two quick changes in a bid to change the course of the game; Campbell was replaced by John Anderson whilst the ineffective Lee Thorpe made way for Forrester.Rovers came close to going in front when Agogo’s ball forward into the path of Forrester saw the former Cobblers player get behind the Diamonds backline but Turley saved superbly and clawed the ball away with eighteen minutes remaining.Ali Gibb’s right cross then found Agogo in the clear but his effort from the penalty spot went over the bar.
Gibb again caused danger as he cut inside and Rob Gier missed a challenge, but Turley again rushed out to the corner of the six yard box and made himself big to save Diamonds once more.Both sides continued to battle hard in a bid to win the game but in the end it was the defences that ultimately came out on top, and after a busy Bank holiday weekend a point will have been most welcome.
Rushden: Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills, Gier, Hay, Gray, Bell, Burgess, Braniff, Gulliver.Subs not used: Worgan, Demspster, Sambrook, Dove, Taylor.
Bristol: Miller, Hinton, Ryan, Trollope, Edwards, Elliott, Campbell (sub Anderson 63), Hunt, Agogo, Thorpe (Sub Forrester 67), Gibb.Subs not used: Savage, Walker, Disley.
Referee: Mr M Fletcher
Bookings: Edwards, Ryan
Attendance: 3367 (1079 away)
Man of the match: Stuart Gray
By Richard Beeby