February 26, 2005 Leave a comment
Rushden and Diamonds and Mansfield Town played out a goalless draw for the second time this season in League Two although the Diamonds this time faired much the better against their Nottinghamshire counterparts.
Diamonds had many chances to win the tie although a point was probably a fair result with Scott Shearer keeping his second consecutive clean sheet for the club in a week with a string of fine saves in the Diamonds goal.
Rushden and Diamonds kept an unchanged starting eleven for the first time since 2nd October’s home game against Rochdale as they prepared to face Mansfield Town, at Nene Park.The only change came on the bench where Magnus Okuonghae replaced Caretaker Manager Barry Hunter.Mansfield meanwhile made one change as former Diamonds trialist Luke Dimech swapped places with Tom Curtis who was dropped to the bench.
Mansfield started brightly and saw Colin Larkin fire wide after Richie Barker’s neat head down after two minutes.Diamonds battled but failed to test the visiting keeper and it was Mansfield who next threatened in front of goal as Larkin claimed a loose ball before firing his shot, but Scott Shearer saved well with his chest for Diamonds.
Adam Murray shot wide after a poor punch from Shearer following Gareth Jelleyman’s left wing cross, after 16 minutes, before Alex Neil’s right footed volley went wide of Shearer’s left hand post minutes later.
Mansfield had the better command of the game and were unlucky not to take the lead when Barker headed on a long free-kick into the path of Larkin who shot on the volley, only to see his effort go wide of Shearer’s far post with the keeper beaten, with 29 minutes gone.
Shearer had to be on his guard to rush out of his goal to deny the threatening Adam Murray on 38 minutes, two minutes earlier at the other end Andy Burgess headed wide of the keeper’s left post from Sean Connelly’s cross.
Billy Sharp shot from distance after 41 minutes before Diamonds best chance of the first half a minute later.David Bell got in behind the Stags defence to square the ball across towards the far post, however Drewe Broughton miss-kicked and saw his effort go wide, much to the relief of Kevin Pilkington in goal.
Murray’s chip from outside the box was heading for Shearer’s top right corner before the keeper managed to pull off a smart save six minutes into the second half, as the Stags again began brightly.Murray again fancied his chances from distance after 55 minutes after Neil’s first time ball set him up but Shearer sprung to his left well to clear the ball for a corner.
Diamonds upped the anti and Pilkington had to be on his guard to thwart Sharp after good play from Neil McCafferty saw Diamonds reclaim a lost ball and allowed a lay off to the Sheffield United loan player.Later Burgess beat Jake Buxton superbly on the left wing before shooting a curling shot into the hands of the keeper after 61 minutes.
Larkin who looked bright in the Stags attack was subbed off for New Zealand International Shane Smeltz after 62 minutes moments before more good chances from the hosts.Pilkington had to block from eight yards from Broughton after Dempster had supplied the target man on 62 minutes before Dempster himself saw an effort from a corner go wide of the left post after his swinging shot.
Fraser Mclachlan should have done better from Neil’s left wing corner with Shearer off his line after 67 minutes, however the midfielder fired wide for Mansfield.
Bell shot from the right and saw Pilkington save with his legs after good defensive play from Mansfield had seemed to have thwarted any chance of a shot following Hawkins ball into the box, after 73 minutes.Two minutes later Bell crossed and McCafferty flicked on to allow Sharp the chance to shoot, but he put the chance wide of the keeper’s left post.
Burgess switched play from the left to the right with his ball out to Bell after 79 minutes, with Bell fancying the shot from just inside the box only to see Pilkington save well before spilling it behind for a corner.
As time ticked away Bell’s cross almost gifted Broughton a goal but he failed to get a touch at the far post after 85 minutes before a late change saw Billy Sharp come off for Adrian Littlejohn with three minutes of normal time remaining, however the former Port Vale man could do little in the dying minutes.
A point shared and a fair result which takes Diamonds points total to 5 points from three games and an unbeaten run of three games for the first time this season.Frustratingly a late winner for Cambridge and a draw for Kidderminster means that the gap between the bottom few remains tight.
Rushden and Diamonds:
Shearer, Connelly, Hawkins, Gier, Gray, Sharp (Littlejohn 87), Bell, Burgess, Broughton, Dempster, McCafferty.Subs not used: Worgan, Hay, Dove, Okuonghae.
Pilkington, Rundle, Neil, Murray, Larkin (Smeltz 62), John-Baptise, Buxton, Dimech, McLachlan, Barker, Jelleyman.Subs not used: White, Curtis, McIntosh, Lloyd.
Referee: Mr P Melin
Attendance: 3096 (477 away)
Diamonds Man of the Match: Scott Shearer
By Rich Beeby