Kidderminster Harriers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Kidderminster Harriers and Rushden and Diamonds played out a goalless draw for the second time this season in a tense but entertaining battle at the Aggborough Stadium.

Harriers made only one change to the side that won at Notts County the previous weekend as Tom Bennett missed out due to suspension allowing Lee Jenkins to take his place in the centre of midfield.

Barry Hunter was forced to make changes ahead of the vital clash.Diamonds saw Andy Burgess return to the side at left back for the suspended Peter Hawkins whilst David Bell’s ankle injury saw Alex Hay start on the right of midfield, elsewhere the Diamonds remained unchanged.

Both sides came into the game on the back of a good run of form and both having won vital games in the previous week and so tension was understandably high as both sides looked to clinch all three points.

Diamonds started brightly with the better of the possession however Scott Shearer had to be alert after 4 minutes to punch clear the danger from John McGrath’s dangerous cross into the box.Two minutes later Diamonds had a golden opportunity when Billy Sharp ran free of the Harrier’s defence after latching onto a loose ball, however with the keeper rushing out  committed, the Sheffield United loan star fired narrowly wide of John Danby’s far left post from just inside the box, having seemed odds on to score.

As Diamonds impressive start continued Drewe Broughton controlled well with his chest before placing the ball to the right to Sharp who played a brilliant ball across the face of the goal with Craig Dove unable to connect after 8 minutes.

Shearer dived well low to his left to deny Wayne Hatswell after Blair Sturrock had supplied the Harriers skipper after 14 minutes and at the other end Stuart Gray’s turn and smash from distance saw Danby save well.

Sean Connelly’s ball up-field into the box was controlled well by Sharp as he turned to shoot however the Harriers keeper Danby stuck a brave left hand out to deny the youngster, after 23 minutes.

Harriers forced several moments of worry inside a minute for the Diamonds with a series of telling crosses from both flanks with Johnny Mullins eventually coming closest with a header that went wide of Shearer’s left post, after 25 minutes.A minute later Hatswell headed into the hands of Shearer from a Dean Keates left wing corner.

As the first half came to a close McGrath drilled a 37th minute effort wide of Shearer’s left post from distance and Blair Sturrock fired high over the bar.At the opposite end Dove turned and ran infield before shooting his low, right footed effort, inches wide of Danby’s right hand post.

Harriers almost took the lead early on in the second period.Chris Beardsley and Lee Jenkins created a good move for the hosts which saw the latter fire his shot towards goal; however Shearer made a superb save to his right at full stretch with Connelly clearing off the line for a corner, after 49 minutes.

Two minutes later Hatswell’s hooked shot from the left of the box went wide as Harriers started the second period firmly on top.In response Diamonds saw Drewe Broughton fire a tame shot wide of Danby’s left post in front a packed away end filled with Diamonds fans.

Sharp cracked some Harriers heal’s with his shot from inside the box with Alex Hay firing the rebound fiercely towards goal and earning the Diamonds a corner on 57 minutes.

Harriers made a change bringing on Simon Russell for Lee Jenkins after 61 minutes with former Diamonds man Mark Rawle also making an entrance in place of Sturrock, three minutes later.

Hay had to clear off his own line after Keates in-swinging corner from the left after 66 minutes as Diamonds struggled to make any headway in the second half going forward.

Diamonds could have had themselves a penalty when Mark Williams received a blatant shove in the back after 71 minutes however referee Steve Dunn refused to give it.Two minutes after that Hay cracked another shot from the edges of the box which forced Danby into a fine save to his left.

Keates free-kick from the left hand flank, towards the throw line was curled long into the box towards Rawle who headed narrowly over after 76 minutes.A minute later Chris Beardsley was replaced by Isyeden Christie to complete the Harriers substitutions.

Marcus Kelly came on to replace Craig Dove after 80 minutes as Diamonds looked to add a different dimension for the closing stages.

Johnny Mullins supplied Russell with a ball out to the right which the latter fired forward towards goal, with Shearer getting a touch to deflect the ball away for a corner, after 84 minutes as Kidderminster came close to breaking the deadlock late on.

Rawle’s dangerous cross allowed Russell to shoot but only into the side netting after 87 minutes before Diamonds looked to play out time bringing on Adrian Littlejohn for Sharp with just a minute of normal time to go.

With three minutes of time signalled by the fourth official both sides looked to go forward but neither could grab the elusive and dramatic late winner as the game finished with an identical result to that recorded on the opening game of the season at Nene Park.

An away point is always precious but just how precious this one point could prove will only be known in coming weeks as the season draws to a tense close.

Teams:

Kidderminster Harriers:

Danby, Jenkins (Russell 61), Mullins, Beardsley (Christie 77), Weaver, Keates, Sturrock (Rawle 64), Cozic, Hatswell, McGrath, Jackson.Subs not used: Lewis, Jones.

Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Gier, Hay, Gray, Sharp (Littlejohn 89), Burgess, Broughton, Dove (Kelly 80), McCafferty, Williams.Subs not used: Dempster, Worgan,Gulliver.

Referee: Mr Steve Dunn (Gloucestershire)

Attendance: 3860 (605 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Mark Williams.

By Rich Beeby.

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