Darlington 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Diamonds were left wondering how they failed to win this game after Darlington salvaged a point thanks to a last gasp penalty from Guylain Ndumbu – Nsungu.

David Bell opened the scoring for the visitors on 9 minutes but substitute Peter Hawkins was adjudged to have fouled Akpo Sodje 3 minutes into injury time to give Darlington Ndumbu – Nsungu his chance to score from the penalty spot.

Barry Hunter was full of confidence going into this game and was hoping for all three points from this trip to the North East. The Diamonds boss made two changes to the side that went down heavily in midweek at Swansea in the LDV Trophy. David Bell and Dave Savage came back into the side in place of Peter Hawkins and Gary Mills.

Darlington were looking to improve upon their recent record of just one win in seven matches. They made changes from the side that went down 1 – 0 at Macclesfield last weekend. Former Diamond Bertrand Bossu replaced Sam Russell in goal while Carlos Logan came in for Brian Close.

Before the game started, there was a minute of applause in memory of Manchester United legend George Best who died yesterday.

Darlington had the first chance of the game on 4 minutes following Rob Gier’s foul on Carlos Logan on the left side of the area. Simon Johnson’s free kick rebounded off the wall and when the same player whipped in another cross Ndumbu Nsungu, looking suspiciously offside, saw a good chance thwarted by Andy Burgess who deflected the ball away for a corner.

However, it was Diamonds who got the all important early goal when they took the lead 5 minutes later with a well worked team goal. Chris O’Grady played a 1 – 2 with Bell before the midfielder fed Alun Armstrong on the right. The ex- Middlesbrough player returned the compliment and Bell slotted home from close range.

Three minutes later the home side missed a golden opportunity to get back on level terms. Ndumbu – Nsungu raced onto a long ball, rounded John Ruddy but just as a goal beckoned Phil Gulliver produced a crucial last ditch tackle to force the ball away for a corner.

Diamonds should have been two up on 19 minutes later but Andy Burgess’ free header was saved at the foot of the post by Bossu. Five minutes later, Ndumbu – Nsungu blazed over.

It was end to end stuff without many real chances being created. Savage broke up play before finding Kelly again on the left and when the cross came in O’Grady turned sharply allowing Armstrong the chance to shoot but his effort was blocked.

That was the last action for Armstrong who limped off with a leg injury. Drewe Broughton returned from a 4 game suspension to join the attack.

The home side also had to make a change when lost the services of David Duke 6 minutes later and he was replaced by Brian Close

On the stroke of half – time Ruddy produced an excellent save to keep Diamonds level. Anthony Peacock picked the ball up 25 yards out before unleashing a fine drive which Ruddy did well to save.

Diamonds created another good move 5 minutes after the break when Savage set up Kelly down the left. Broughton dummied the cross but O’Grady’s shot was blocked.

Darlington had more of the possession in the second half without really creating many clear cut chances.

Ryan Valentine tested John Ruddy from distance while substitute Sodje should have done better with a free header on 75 minutes. Rob Gier almost headed into his own under pressure from Ndumbu – Nsungu.

With a priceless win seemingly in their own hands, Diamonds conceded a penalty deep into injury time. Substitute Peter Hawkins lost control of the ball and was adjudged to bring down Sodje in the penalty area. Ndumbu – Nsungu stepped up to fire the spot kick into the left hand corner of the net.

It was tough luck on Diamonds who deserved to hang on for victory but on this showing they should soon be able to put a good run together.

Teams:

Darlington:
Bertrand Bossu, Ryan Valentine, Matt Clarke, Tresor Kandol, Simon Johnson (Neil Wainwright 70), Shelton Martis, David Duke (Brian Close 38), Anthony Peacock, Tresor Kandol (Akpo Sodje 70), Guylain Ndumbu – Nsungu, Carlos Logan
Subs Not Used: Joe Kendrick, Clark Keltie,

Rushden & Diamonds:
John Ruddy, Phil Gulliver. Rob Gier (Peter Hawkins 75), Dave Savage (Gary Mills 77), David Bell, Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty, Alun Armstrong (Drewe Broughton 32) , Marcus Kelly, Chris O’Grady,
Subs Not Used: Jamie Young, Lee Tomlin

Booked: Clarke (Foul 52)

Referee: Paul Robinson

Attendance: 3,209

Diamonds MOM: John Ruddy

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