Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kidderminster Harriers 0

Ernie Tippett’s side kicked off the football league season in sweltering heat at Nene Park.Three changes were made to the starting line-up from the side which lost 2-1 to Portsmouth in the final friendly on Tuesday night with Sean Connelly, Graham Allen and Alex Hay all featured in the team.

Diamonds, playing in their new home strip for the first time in a league clash, made a bright start.With three minutes gone David Bell used his pace well down the right wing before crossing the ball into Hay who saw his shot, from a matter of yards saved well by John Danby in the Kidderminster goal at the foot of his right hand post.Minutes later Danby was alert to find the ball before Andy Burgess following Connelly’s long diagonal pass.

Harriers took until the 17th minute to truly pressure the host’s backline when, following a Steve Burton corner the same player unleashed a fierce shot which Billy Turley was able to smother.Nine minutes later Advice-Desruisseaux was grounded by Rob Gier’s tough challenge on the edge of the box but Simon Brown’s free-kick was unable to test Turley in front of the Peter De Banke Terrace as it flew over the bar.The Harriers continued to press and Burton’s corner found the glancing head of Micky Mellon as the Diamonds began to lose their dominance on the game.

Diamonds managed to carve the best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute when the impressive Peter Hawkins long punt up-field missed Hay but on-loan striker Kevin Braniff was able to pick up the pieces.With the Harriers defence wide open Danby was left stranded but Braniff was unable to punish as his shot went just wide of the right hand post.In response Brown’s shot from distance failed to test Turley with just minutes to go till half-time.

In a reversal to the first half it was Jan Molby’s side who bossed the early exchanges of the second half.Kidderminster forced the first save of the second half when Youssou Diop tested Turley with a shot on the turn, however it was Diamonds who created the better opportunity when Captain Stuart Gray saw his shot from distance superbly saved by Danby for a corner just moments later after a neat passage of play.

Gray was the key man in the Diamonds next assault on the visitor’s goal when he fed Braniff well with the latter seeing his strike deflected onto the post as Diamonds upped the tempo.In response Harriers Diop held Hawkins off before supplying a cross to Jesper Christiansen who forced a corner.

As the heat continued to sap the energy from the Diamonds players Harriers finished the stronger of the two teams.In a desperate goal mouth scramble the Diamonds just managed to stand firm in the 72nd minute when from a free-kick Adrian Viveash’s strong header forced Turley to make a point blank stop.Former Tranmere right-back Connelly then blocked on the line bravely before Turley recovered to save a Wayne Hatswell attempt well with his goal somehow still intact.

Diamonds made a couple of changes brining on Marcus Kelly and Craig Dove for Gary Mills and Alex Hay respectively in an attempt to grab a late goal.The only hope came late on as Kelly made a mazy run through the Harriers defence before seeming to be upended, however the referee disagreed and instead booked Hawkins for dissent for his protests.

The visitors ended the stronger of the two sides but the Diamonds did enough to claim a deserved and well earned point which in fairness was probably just about the right result.The point was the first earned under Tippett and the positive attitude shown by the players will have pleased the home fans. The Diamonds now face an even sterner test against title favourites Northampton Town on Tuesday night.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills (Kelly 70), Allen, Gier, Hay (Dove 80), Gray, Bell, Burgess, Braniff.Subs not used: Worgan, Sambrook, Gulliver.

Kidderminster Harriers:

Danby, Jenkins, Burton, Advice (Russell 77), Brown, Mellon (Keates 76), Diop (Rickards 70), Jesper, McHale, Viveash, Hatswell. Subs not used: Lewis, Gleeson,.

Bookings: Hawkins, Jenkins.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Sean Connelly

Attendance: 2699 (571 Kidderminster)

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