Rushden & Diamonds 0 Halifax Town 0 (Diamonds win 5 – 4 on pens)

 

Diamonds scraped through to the second round of the F A Cup after coming from behind to win a dramatic penalty shoot out.

Andy Burgess, Dave Savage and Rob Gier had scored with well taken penalties while Craig Midgley, Chris Senior and Danny Forrest replied for the visitors. Gary Mills then struck the fourth penalty wide before Martin Foster coolly put the visitors in front. Alun Armstrong had to score for Diamonds and duly obliged by squeezing his spot kick home leaving Jamie Young to gleefully save Denny Ingram’s kick to take the game into sudden death. Phil Gulliver made no mistake with his kick before Tyrone Thompson blasted over to send Diamonds through.

Diamonds manager Barry Hunter sprang a surprise by naming Lee Tomlin in the starting line-up. The 16-year old replaced the unavailable Chris O’Grady and became the youngest player to start a first team game for Diamonds at Nene Park. New loan signing John Ruddy was also unavailable so Young came back into the side in goal.

Halifax manager Chris Wilder left out John Grant and Senior from The Shaymen’s attack. In came Darren Mansaram and Lewis Killeen who scored all 3 goals in the home win against Dagenham & Redbridge at the weekend.

Home debutant Tomlin almost made a name for himself as early as the second minute but Adam Quinn cut out David Bell’s inviting cross from the right.

Five minutes later the visitors missed a golden opportunity to go ahead after Mansaram’s initial shot was blocked. The ball fell nicely to strike partner Killeen but with just Young to beat he shot tamely.

Savage struck wide from 25-yards before almost putting the home side ahead on 21 minutes. Marcus Kelly’s left wing cross reached Bell on the opposite flank and when the ball was laid back the Diamonds captain struck the underside of the bar from the edge of the area.

The visitors were closing Diamonds down well, stroking the ball around with ease and enjoying far more of the possession. Thompson tried his luck from afar but didn’t trouble Young while just after the half-hour there was a mad goalmouth scramble in the Diamonds area which was eventually cleared.

Diamonds passing game was letting them down and both Tomlin and Armstrong were being starved of any real service as central midfield struggled to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Two minutes from the interval, Bell’s left wing corner picked out Burgess but the ball came too quick and the defender headed over.

Half – Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 0 Halifax Town

Diamonds started the second half on the attack and Bell tried a cross shot which went wide of the left – hand post. On 57 minutes a good run from the same player ended with a deflected shot which gave Rushden a corner.

On 62 minutes Diamonds threw on Peter Hawkins for Neil McCafferty. Hawkins slotted into his usual left – back spot allowing Burgess to go into central midfield.

Within seconds of coming onto the field, substitute Grant had a chance to get on the score sheet but he shot weakly at Young with just the goalkeeper to beat.

On 74 minutes Armstrong got in a brave header after Savage had won a header but the effort was weak. Moments later, Tomlin got in a cross from the left which found its way out to the unmarked Bell but he had too much time and struck his shot woefully wide.

As the headed for extra – time, both teams were finding it difficult to create any clear chances. Tomlin shot just wide after 84 minutes before he was bundled off the ball by Steve Haslam resulting in Bell’s wasted free-kick.

In injury time, Bell’s corner fell nicely to John Dempster but Jake Wright produced a magnificent block to deny him.

The game moved into extra – time. Tomlin was replaced by Greg Pearson before Armstrong’s snapshot produced a diving save from Lee Butler.

Two minutes from the interval, Pearson failed to get a proper head on the ball from Gier’s cross while seconds from the interval, Gier produced a superb goal line clearance to deny Halifax after Young had been beaten by Grant.

Three minutes after the interval the visitors were reduced to ten men when Haslam was shown the red card for a second bookable offence after clattering into Pearson.

Right at the death Gier had a chance to snatch victory but he headed Bell’s free-kick straight at Butler.

The game went into penalties and Diamonds won the day to move into round Two but they will consider themselves very fortunate to do so against plucky opponents.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), David Bell (Gary Mills 115), Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty (Peter Hawkins 62), Alun Armstrong, Marcus Kelly, Lee Tomlin (Greg Pearson 91)

Subs: Ashlee Jones, Magnus Okuonghae

Halifax Town: Lee Butler, Steve Haslam, Adam Quinn, Denny Ingram (c), Martin Foster, Lewis Killeen (Chris Senior 106), Tyrone Thompson, Darren Mansaram (John Grant 68), Justin Bowler (Craig Midgley 46), Jake Wright, Danny Forrest

Subs Not Used: Brenton Leister, Greg Young

Booked: Haslam 83 (Foul), Wright 95 (Foul)

Sent off: Haslam 108 (Second Bookable)

Referee: Mr B Desmond

Attendance: 2,133 (Away 299)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Phil Gulliver

By Chris Barritt

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