Notts County 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Rushden and Diamonds claimed their first point on the road since late December’s draw at Leyton Orient to end a run of three successive league defeats at a bitterly cold Meadow Lane.

Diamonds led early on in the second half but could lonely hold the lead for a matter of minutes as Billy Sharp’s headed goal was cancelled out by a Julien Baudet penalty.

Both sides made two changes from their previous game.Notts County were without the injured Mark Stallard whilst Shane McFaul was dropped to the bench making way for Julien Baudet and Gavin Gordon to join the starting line-up.Rushden caretaker boss Barry Hunter left Lee Worgan on the bench due to the new arrival – loan goalkeeper Scott Shearer.Rob Gier started after recovering from injury, replacing the injured Phil Gulliver (twisted knee).

Rushden had triumphed 5v1 against the Magpies in the reverse fixture in October but since then had only won once in the league, at home to Leyton Orient.Diamonds travelled to Meadow Lane with the worst away record in the league having last won on their travels in early October at Shrewsbury.

Notts County made the better start of the two sides and saw Glynn Hurst’s ball across the edge of the box allow David Pipe the chance to shoot, however his effort went over Shearer’s bar, after six minutes.At the other end Drewe Broughton headed softly after Andy Burgess’ neat left hand cross.

The hosts had a penalty claim turned down by the referee as Rob Gier seemed to have brought down Gavin Gordon in the box with nine minutes gone.Shearer then saved comfortably from a Matthew Gill free-kick from 20 yards after Allen had brought down Hurst, after 18 minutes.Breaking away from the save Diamonds forced a corner with David Bell’s kick finding the head of Gier who placed his effort wide of Saul Deeney’s far left post.

Broughton received a booking for an accumulation of fouls after 21 minutes and seconds later came the best chance of the match at that stage when Paul Bolland crossed from the left to find the diving head of Hurst, luckily for the Diamonds the effort went narrowly wide.

Deeney had to reach to his left to save Neil McCafferty’s 25 yard snap shot, after 25 minutes before the Magpies saw Gavin Gordon stretchered off with an injury, he was replaced by Shaun Harrad.

Diamonds made a lucky escape as substitute Harrad headed across goal, allowing Hurst to pounce and seemingly score, however the referee judged the ball had not crossed the line, with 31 minutes on the clock.Allen then had to clear away rapidly two minutes later after Shearer spilled what seemed an unlikely problem from a County throw.

Gray smashed an effort into the keeper’s hands from the left edges of the box, after 35 minutes as Diamonds searched for the lead ahead of the break, but moments later they looked to have gone behind.With five minutes remaining before the break Stefan Oakes’ corner from the hosts right was headed in by Mike Whitlow but the referee ruled out the effort for a push in the box. That ended the chances in an otherwise drab first period, spoilt by numerous stoppages.

John Dempster was brought on at the start of the second half in place of Graham Allen.

Diamonds made a bright start to the second half and were rewarded six minutes in.Peter Hawkins won a free-kick on the Diamonds left, 5 yards from the corner of the box which Bell curled in for Billy Sharp to head home past a helpless Deeney.

The lead lasted just two minutes as from the Notts attack after the centre Hawkins was deemed to have brought Harrad down in the box to concede a penalty.From the spot-kick Julien Baudet made no mistake, placing the penalty to the left of Shearer after he had dived low to his right.Baudet then received a booking for a foul at the other end which saw Diamonds fire wide from the free-kick by McCafferty.

Hurst saw Shearer pull off a superb close range stop with his legs after 65 minutes as the hosts pressed for a second goal, at the other end Bell’s long range shot went well wide of Deeney’s left hand post whilst Burgess cut inside from the left before shooting directly into the hands of the keeper in-between another goal-line clearance from Bell, after Hurst’s shot.

Paul Bolland was replaced by Tony Scully on 70 minutes as the Magpies made their final change of the afternoon; Shane McFaul had earlier replaced Mike Whitlow.

McCafferty’s right hand free-kick swept across goal on 80 minutes, evading Burgess at the far post who had looked to add the final touch for Diamonds with the keeper stranded.Bell then broke free on the counter-attack, running over half the length of the pitch before shooting; however his effort was saved well by Deeney.

Oakes’ lefthand corner had to be punched clear by Shearer and Harrard’s over-head kick saved as the minutes ticked away, meanwhile the Diamonds could force little late on in attack as the game petered out to end all square.

A point on the road would have been most welcome at the start of the day bearing in mind Diamonds abysmal away form and in the context of the game it was just about a fair result.

TEAMS:

Notts County:

Deeney, Pipe, Whitlow (Mcfaul 55), Oakes, Gill, Baudet, Gordon (Harrad 29), Hurst, Bolland (Scully 70), Wullathorne, Wilson.Subs not used: Elliott, Williams.

Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Hawkins, Allen (Dempster 46), Gier, Gray, Sharp, Bell, Burgess, Broughton, McCafferty.Subs not used: Worgan, Hay, Dempster, Dove, Taylor.

Referee: Mr Eddie Evans

Goals: Sharp 51, Baudet 53

Bookings: Broughton 21, Baudet 55

Attendance: 4556

Diamonds Man of the Match: Stuart Gray

By Rich Beeby

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