Wycombe Wanderers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Diamonds weathered an early storm to earn a deserved point at high flying Wycombe.

Diamonds manager Barry Hunter made two changes to the side that performed so disappointingly against Bury. Andy Woodman replaced Jamie Young in goal while John Dempster came into the center of defence for Magnus Okuonghae. Sixteen year old Lee Tomlin won a place on the bench.

Second placed Wycombe welcomed back leading scorer Nathan Tyson into their attack after he missed the away victory at Grimsby last weekend. Tyson replaced Sergio Torres who was relegated to the bench. With 20 goals between them, the unbeaten Chairboys boasted the league’s most potent strike-force in Tyson and Tommy Mooney.

On a glorious afternoon, Wycombe kicked off and they had the first shot on seven minutes when Clint Easton made good ground down the left but his long range effort failed to find the target.

The home side won a corner three minutes later and Danny Senda’s deep cross picked our Steffan Oakes. The midfielder’s sweet volley was deflected inches wide of Woodman’s left hand post.

Wycombe were already in the ascendancy and Mooney missed a wonderful chance to put the home side ahead on 13 minutes. Kevin Betsy plated a neat ball into the path of the veteran striker who shot straight at Woodman from close range.

Tyson then linked up well with Mooney before nipping in ahead of the advancing Woodman. However, the Wycombe top scorer’s first touch eluded him and the danger was cleared.

On 23 minutes, Easton’s long pass found Mooney in space on the right but his instinctive volley went high over the bar. Four minutes later, Mooney picked out Betsy on the right and the tricky winger made ground inside before beating Woodman and fortunately the far post. It was all Wycombe at this point with Diamonds defending desperately at times and looking for their first real shot at goal.

They didn’t have to wait long though and Marcus Kelly almost scored the goal of the season in the process. The fast improving winger picked the ball up on the left on 33 minutes before beating three defenders as he cut inside. He moved on along the face of the goal before forcing Andy Lonergan into a fine stop.

Diamonds started to grow in confidence and Kelly struck a speculative shot from 30 yards which went high and wide.

Diamonds started as they left off at the end of the first half with Broughton heading over Kelly’s 49th minute corner while at the other end Mooney also headed over Oakes free-kick four minutes later.

Unlike the first half, the home side was finding it more difficult to create clear cut chances despite having more of the play. Captain Dave Savage was having more of an impact in midfield and on 58 minutes he found O’Grady on the edge of the penalty area. The on-loan striker cleverly turned his man before hitting his shot narrowly wide.

Wycombe continued to pour forward and put Diamonds under increasing pressure. The battle between Rob Gier and Tyson was fascinating and intense but the Diamonds defender showed exactly why he was named D2 player of the month for September with some superb tackles and defensive awareness.

Slowly but surely, Rushden started to get on top as Wycombe were restricted to half chances. Mooney and Betsy both volleyed over the bar before Kelly again showed why he is so highly though of by the back room staff. The midfielder picked up the ball inside his own half and ran unchallenged into the Wycombe penalty area before unleashing a left foot drive which went narrowly wide.

Not for the first time Mooney failed to find the target with a rising shot much to the delight of the travelling band of supporters who equally not for the first time let the former Watford and Oxford striker know what they though about his effort!

Sixteen year old Lee Tomlin was sent on for his league debut on 74 minutes and he seemed to galvanise the attack immediately. A Gier free-kick fell nicely to Kelly and his half-volley forced a diving save from Lonergan before Tomlin and substitute Grainger linked up well to set up Kelly again but his shot went wide.

Diamonds were now well on top and looked more likely to get the winner. Tomlin almost became an instant hero on 83 minutes when he was found by a clever O’Grady chip. The teenager jinxed inside one challenge, cut inside and then back before seeing the goalkeeper produce a fine save to deny him. Tomlin responded by shaking his arm in frustration. A minute later and an even better chance went begging. Lanergan flapped at Kelly’s corner and O’Grady somehow scooped Dempster’s pass over the bar from two yards.

So a gritty determined display by Rushden who rode their luck at times but completely deserved a crucial point which went a long way to erase the Bury performance from the supporters mind. Roll on Southend!

Teams:

Wycombe Wanderers: Andy Lonergen, Danny Senda, Roger Johnson, Mike Williamson, Clint Easton, Matt Bloomfield( Sergio Torres 46), Joe Burnell (Rob Lee 88), Steffan Oakes (Jonny Dixon 73), Kevin Betsy, Tommy Mooney, Nathan Tyson.

Subs Not Used: Frank Talia and Ian Stonebridge

Rushden & Diamonds:

Andy Woodman, Rob Gier, Peter Hawkins, Phil Gulliver, John Dempster, Greg Pearson (Daniel Grainger 65), Neil McCafferty, Dave Savage, Marcus Kelly, Chris O’Grady, Drewe Broughton (Lee Tomlin 74)

Subs Not Used: Jamie Young, Ashley Nicholls, Magnus Okuonghae

Booked: McCafferty 41 (Foul)

Referee: Mr R Olivier

Attendance 5231 (Away 245)

Diamonds MOM: Marcus Kelly

Report by Chris Barritt

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