Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stevenage Borough 2

Wayne Hatswell scored at both ends as Diamonds had to settle for a point in an absorbing game at Nene Park.

Hatswell put through his own net before equalising midway through the first half. Skipper Chris Hope headed the home side in front before Jon Nurse gave Stevenage a share of the points.

With five games without a win, manager Paul Hart made five changes from the team that went down 1 – 0 at Morecambe on Tuesday. Daniel Chillingworth, Tyrone Berry, Greg Pearson, Tom Shaw and Daniel Grainger came into the side as manager Hart changed his formation to 4 – 3 – 3. Glenn Wilson, Dave Savage and Simeon Jackson were benched while Michael Rankin and Andrew Rigby failed to make the squad.

Stevenage were looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games and manager Mark Stimson made just one change from the side that secured a last minute winner at home to Woking in midweek. Jon Nurse replaced Steve Guppy on the left hand side.

The home side started well and almost went ahead on 2 minutes when Alan Julian fumbled Marcus Kelly’s volley but Greg Pearson couldn’t capitalise.

Six minutes later the visitors produced a well worked free-kick routine after Steve Morison had been fouled on the edge of the area but Craig Dobson hooked his shot wide.

Julian wasn’t having the best of starts and he was at fault again when he spilled Hope’s header. Pearson picked up the scraps before finding Kelly but while the cross was inviting it came to nothing.

Back came the visitors with Ex – Barnet man Dwane Lee threading a superb pass to the pacy Craig Dobson on the right but Grainger got across quickly to get in a last ditch tackle.

Berry produced a great run down the right on 14 minutes easily bypassing John Nutter. The winger found Pearson in space but his cheeky backheel was a yard wide.

Stevenage went ahead on 19 minutes slightly against the run of play and not without a huge piece of luck. Dobson found Barry Fuller overlapping on the right and when the cross came in Hatswell gave Nicky Eyre no chance by slicing the ball into the net.

Five minutes later Diamonds fans had their hearts in their mouths again when Nurse fired home but the strike was ruled out for offside. The left sided midfielder was becoming a real thorn in the Diamonds side and from another cross Dobson flashed a header over the bar.

On 36 minutes the home side scored a deserved equaliser. Berry’s short corner was whipped in by Paul Watson and Hatswell headed down into the net at the far post.

The Diamonds fans were fully behind their team now and cries of “Hatswell’s on a hattrick” echoed around the ground!

Shaw volleyed wide from the edge of the area before Diamonds took the lead on the stroke of half – time following a simple set piece. Watson’s corner on the left picked out Hope on the penalty spot and he rose above the Stevenage defence to head past Julian with the aid of a post.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stevenage Borough 1

Kelly opened proceedings to the second – half by latching onto Berry’s cross and producing another fine volley which was deflected away for a corner.

But the visitors levelled on 49 minutes thanks to the bravery of Nurse. Fuller got in a telling cross from midway through the Diamonds half and Nurse beat Grainger to the ball before thundering a shot into the left hand side of the net. The goalscorer received lengthy treatment following the goal but was able to carry on.

Understandably, the goal seemed to galvanise the visitors and they looked the more likely to score again as Diamonds struggled in the last third of the field.

Jon Ashton saw a long range effort comfortably saved by Julian before a brilliant flick by Berry almost put in Chillingworth but the striker was outmuscled as he tore into the penalty area.

Eyre was relieved on 70 minutes when he stumbled as Dobson shot through a crowd of of players. Fortunately for the home goalkeeper he was in the right place to hang on to the shot.

Stevenage were in the ascendancy now and they quickly forced four corners in as many minutes.

Manager Paul Hart made a double substitution nine minutes from the end replacing Grainger and Pearson with Wilson and Jackson.

The move almost paid off in the last minute when Jackson found time and space 20 yards out to drive the ball against the base of the left hand post although Julian may have got a hand to the shot.

So an entertaining draw, a fair result and Diamonds were able to break a three game losing streak.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: – Nicky Eyre, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Daniel Chillingworth, Marcus Kelly, Tyrone Berry, Greg Pearson (Simeon Jackson 81), Tom Shaw, Daniel Grainger (Glenn Wilson 81)

Subs Not Used: Danny Crane, Dave Savage, Lee Tomlin

Stevenage Borough:  – Alan Julian, Barry Fuller, John Nutter, Santos Gaia, Jon Nurse, George Boyd, Dwane Lee, Steve Morison, Craig Dobson, Ronnie Henry, Mark Beard

Subs Not Used: Danny Potter, Luke Oliver, Chris Sullivan, Darryn Stamp, Hasim Deen

Booked:  Ashton 6 (Foul), Gaia 43 (Foul), Fuller 53 (Foul), Pearson 55 (Foul)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr  D Cann

Attendance: 2,309 (588 Away fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Chris Hope

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