Mansfield Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0


Rushden and Diamonds put in a superb defensive display to claim a hard earned point at Field Mill.

The two sides came into the game towards the bottom end of the current League Two form table.Diamonds, with only two wins in their last eleven league games were desperate for a win to take into the Christmas period, as were the Stags whose form read just two wins in fifteen.Ironically both sides last league win came in home games with Notts County back in October.

Both sides named identical line-ups to those in their last match in midweek.Former Northampton live-wire Derek Asamoah started up-front for the Stags whilst Diamonds front pairing of Drewe Broughton and Gary Mulligan played out the last game of their current loan period.Both sides came into the game on the back of away defeats, for Mansfield 2-1 at Darlington and Diamonds a 1-0 reverse at Boston United.

Diamonds started brightly and threatened to test Kevin Pilkington in the Mansfield goal early on from a succession of corners, from one of them they saw Phil Gulliver’s shot from 15 yards deflected away after he had controlled well from Stuart Gray’s header, after three minutes.Mansfield were also lively on the attack with Asamoah threatening to race clear of the defence on a couple of occasions.

Alex Neil’s ball though to Asamoah sparked danger for Diamonds as he turned Gier before smashing a low shot from just inside the area, after 12 minutes, which Turley had to dive low to claim and did so on the second attempt.Eight minutes later Richard Barker’s header flashed just wide of Turley’s left hand post after Wayne Corden’s left wing cross. Corden then tested Turley as his angled drive from the left, 25 yards from goal went straight into his hands after 27 minutes.

After 34 minutes Stags carved out the best move of the game at that point.Connelly’s headed clearance fell to Adam Murray who was able to feed Corden who crossed superbly from the left to find Richie Barker who was denied at the far post only by Turley’s superb left footed save, with Craig Dove completing the clearance down field. Moments later Corden caused Turley to flap before the same player drilled a volley from the left, wide of the far post.

With Mansfield clearly in the mood for attacking Asamoah picked up the ball ten yards inside the Diamonds half before beating off the challenge of the desperate Gulliver and racing away to unleash a shot which Turley saved well down to his left for a corner.

As Diamonds looked desperately towards the half-time whistle and a respite from Mansfield’s almost continual bombardment Broughton was booked for a succession of fouls after 42 minutes.

Mansfield started the second half where they left off in the first and missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring after 50 minutes.From the Stags left corner the ball fell to Alex John-Baptise 10 yards out, who put it through to Barker who miss hit allowing Turley to smother the ball.Turley was again to thank 2 minutes later as Asamoah found time to turn and smash a volley on target, which Turley saved superbly to his right to concede a corner.

Diamonds made a double substitution in a bid to turn the game on its head bringing off Dove for Alex Hay and replacing David Bell with Andy Sambrook, after 55 minutes.

Mansfield still posed a major threat and Corden’s low cross from the left allowed Adam Murray the chance to turn and shoot but his shot, from 10 yards, was deflected well by Sean Connelly after 60 minutes.Minutes later Asamoah’s head on Tom Curtis’ right wing cross went straight into the hands of Turley as the one way traffic continued with the defence battling bravely to keep a clean sheet.

Turley saved low to his right after Barker had made space to shoot from the left of centre just outside the area, after 71 minutes.Two minutes later Broughton broke down the Diamonds right wing before unleashing a smart cross to the centre of the box, but Mulligan failed to connect with the ball and Pilkington was able to cut out the threat.

Gulliver was booked for a late challenge mid-way inside his own half on 74 minutes to blot an otherwise impressive performance at the heart of the Diamonds defence.

Brilliant play from Asamoah saw him cut a ball through the Diamonds defence which Paul Warne ran onto, before flashing the ball across the area towards Asamoah who ran inside from the left before shooting, with Turley desperately harrying to make the save, before the final threat was cleared by Hay, after 77 minutes.

As the game moved into the latter stages Hay hacked down Curtis to concede a free-kick and receive a booking after 81 minutes. Broughton was replaced by Jason Taylor after 87 minutes as Diamonds looked to play out time but also maybe catch Mansfield at the back late on.

Despite the change it was Mansfield who had the final say as Warne’s crossed shot from the right from 35 yards had to be tipped over by Turley for a corner after 89 minutes as Mansfield desperately looked for the winner but the solid defence wasn’t to be broken.

Diamonds earned the point with a solid display which would have delighted boss Ernie Tippett after recent defensive lapses by his team.Whilst going forward little came off, this type of solidarity as a team should be seen as a massive plus point and give the Diamonds something on which to build.Special mention should go to Turley in the Diamonds goal who was on top form and also Gulliver who was superb at the back alongside Gier, Connelly and Hawkins.



Pilkington, Buxton, John-Baptise, Diemech, Neil, Asamoah, Curtis, Murray, Warne, Barker, Corden.Subs not used: White, Brown, Maxwell, McIntosh, Wood.

Rushden and Diamonds:

Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Gier, Gray, Bell (sub Sambrook 55), Burgess, Broughton, Gulliver, Dove (sub Hay 55), Mulligan.Subs not used: Allen, Worgan, Taylor.

Referee: Mr J Ross

Bookings: Broughton 42 (succession of fouls), Gulliver 74 (foul), Hay 81 (foul)

Attendance: 3,176 (Away: 187)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Turley and Phil Gulliver (both superb in a solid defensive display)

By Richard Beeby


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