Rushden & Diamonds 0 Gravesend & Northfleet 0

Ten man Diamonds were held to a goalless draw by a very good Gravesend side at Nene Park.

Diamonds had Michael Rankine sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence.

The home side made an enforced change from the side that drew 1 – 1 at Stafford Rangers at the weekend. Tom Shaw failed in his bid to overturn Saturday’s red card and therefore started his three match ban allowing club captain Dave Savage to come into midfield.

Gravesend were hoping to extend their six game unbeaten run and made two changes from the team that came from 2 goals down behind to grab a home point against Exeter. Ex – Diamond Peter Hawkins and Liam Coleman were dropped to the bench with Danny Slatter and captain Paul McCarthy preferred.

There was danger for Diamonds inside the first minute when the visitors won a free – kick just outside the penalty area after Michael Rankine had brought down James Smith but Mark De Bolla’s shot was weak and wide.

Wayne Hatswell had to be alert to head clear a Gravesend attack before the visitors thought they’d gone in front on 6 minutes. A mistake by Glenn Wilson allowed Slatter the chance to cross from the left but Charlie McDonald’s short range effort was ruled out for offside.

The visitors were already looking dangerous as their pacy counter attacks began to trouble the Diamonds defence. Rushden’s midfield were being given no time to settle while referee Beck’s picky nature was spoiling the flow of the game.

Gravesend almost took the lead on 18 minutes. Slatter ran onto Mark De Bolla’s through pass before beating Nick Eyre all ends up but the drive came back off the inside of the bar and bounced away from danger.

Five minutes later Diamonds enjoyed their first shot of the game when Marcus Kelly tried his luck from 20 yards but the result was disappointingly wide.

Paul Watson and Eyre then almost contrived to hand Gravesend an opening as they hesitated over a clearance after Watson failed to clear his lines. With Gravesend in the ascendancy referee Beck was not making too many friends amongst the two benches with some of his decisions.

The visitors spurned another excellent opportunity on 29 minutes. De Bolla’s free – kick picked out Ross Smith six yards out but fortunately for Diamonds the left back missed a sitter as he struck the top of the bar from six yards.

Slatter was proving to be a real handful and he hit a long range effort wide before Charlie McDonald beat Eyre to De Bolla’s fine pass but the ball went away for a goal kick.

Gravesend’s leading scorer got free again moments later only to see Eyre produce a wonderful save beat the ball away.

Two minutes from the interval Rankine was rather fortunate to stay on the pitch when use of an elbow earned the striker a yellow card. On the stroke of half – time Kelly’s free – kick found Ashton who flashed a header wide.

So Diamonds went into the interval aomewhat relieved to be on level terms after playing second fiddle to Gravesend’s livewire performance.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 0 Gravesend & Northfleet 0

Gravesend started where they left off in the first half and the dangerous Slatter maybe should have done better when well placed early on. On 47 minutes Diamonds were inches away from taking an undeserved lead. Tyrone Berry was starting to make inroads down the right hand side and from one of his crosses he picked out Rankine six yards out. With his back towards goal, the youngster hit the post with a clever flick but couldn’t convert the rebound.

Eight minutes later Lance Cronin produced an excellent block to deny Savage after another Berry cross.

However, Diamonds indifferent night went sour on 64 minutes when Rankine was sent off for a second bookable offence after allegedly tripping John Keeling. Rankine protested his innocence long and hard and it was even more galling to see the Gravesend midfielder making a meal of the challenge only to recover as soon as Rankine had left the field.

Despite down to ten men for the second consecutive game Kelly did very well to beat two defenders before forcing a brilliant save from Cronin. Gravesend then had another effort ruled out for offside while Berry shot powerfully wide after latching onto Glenn Wilson’s cross.

There was very little goalmouth action after that although De Bolla had one drive comfortably held by Eyre while Ashton conjured up a last ditch tackle to deny Keeling seconds from the end.

So a frustrating night for Diamonds but they recovered well in the second half against probably the best team we’ve played this season. Both teams played their part in an entertaining match and at least Diamonds were able to extend their unbeaten run to five games.


Rushden & Diamonds: –  Nicky Eyre, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine, Marcus Kelly, Simeon Jackson (Leo Fortune – West  72), Tyrone Berry

Subs Not Used: Danny Crane, Daniel Chillingworth, Greg Pearson, Andrew Rigby

Gravesend & Northfleet  –  Lance Cronin, James Smith, Paul McCarthy (Capt) (Peter Hawkins 39), Danny Slater, Rob Quinn, Mark De Bola, Charlie McDonald, John Keeling, Mark Ricketts, Luke Moore, Ross Smith (Liam Coleman 57) (Onome Sodje 76)

Subs Not Used: Sam Smott, George Purcell

Booked:  Rob Quinn (Foul on Tyrone Berry 25), Mark De Bolla (Dissent 29), Michale Rankine (Foul 43), Jon Ashton (Foul 57), Liam Coleman (Dissent 72) Wayne Hatswell (Foul 88)

Sent off: Rankine 64 (Second bookable offence)

Referee: Mr S P Beck

Attendance:  1,879 (53Away fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Chris Hope


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