Halifax Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Rushden & Diamonds’ preserved their unbeaten run with a solid if fairly lacklustre performance in Yorkshire.

Manager Hill made two changes to the starting line up seen at Nene Park last Tuesday, with Jason Goodliffe replacing the suspended Mark Albrighton and Michael Bostwick replacing the injured Gary Mills

Halifax Town manager Chris Wilder made two changes from the side that beat Exeter City on Saturday, with Shane Smeltz and Tyrone Thompson replacing Darren Stamp and Chris Billy.

The first ten minutes of the game were very uninspiring, as neither side managed to string together a sequence of passes, with the Diamonds high balls over the defence being repeatedly shepherded out for Goal Kicks

The Halifax crowd were getting restless that loanee Felix Bastians was being ignored in acres of space on the left wing – the side nearest the home fans in the effectively three sided ground.

On 10 minutes Bastians got his chance, and his dangerous cross was met by an overhead kick from Danny Forrest but it was easily caught by Tynan.

On 12 minutes Diamonds had a great break down the left channel, with Marcus Kelly beating his man near the half-way line, feeding Rankine, who deflected it on to Jackson, who put it back in to the path of Rankine on the left edge of the box, but his powerful shot was high and wide.

Simeon Jackson was doing a lot of chasing, and Danny Williams was showing great ball control and powerful running on the right, and the two of them combined with Jon Ashton to see a chance fall to Jacko on his right foot, but he failed to get hold of it, and it ran across goal towards Marcus Kelly, who forced a corner. From the corner the ball broke to Curtis Woodhouse on the edge of the box, but his shot was wide to the left of the goal.

Halifax threats were increasingly rare, although they did win a freekick on 29 minutes when Jason Goodliffe won a header against Forrest, but was adjudged to have pushed his man. The freekick was wasted though, as Smeltz blasted over after the ball rebounded from the wall. Smeltz had a better attempt a few minutes later as he lost his marker in the box, but Tynan gathered low to his right. Ryan Cresswell was also guilty of a poor header when he slipped his marker and met a cross from the right.

Diamonds continued to threaten via the flanks as they realised the balls over the top weren’t working, and a great piece of skill by Danny Williams to control a high ball saw his break down the right and force a corner on 36 minutes. The corner reached Jason Goodliffe, and although he did well to get to the ball, he could only direct his header over the bar.

Half-time: Halifax Town 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Halifax started the second half rather more brightly, and had a number of dangerous attacks that had to be scrambled clear, although the Diamonds defence didn’t seem to panic at any stage. Scott Tynan was brought into action as Shane Smeltz went on a looping run around the right side of the defence, forcing the keeper to make a great save low to his left. From the resultant corner a further chance fell to Smeltz, but he could only steer his shot wide.

As in the first half, Simeon Jackson got into the game in bursts, but then seemed to need a recovery period during which time he was out of position or offside. Although there were a few passes pinged around in midfield, too often someone in the move would take the negative option and the opportunity would be lost. This was summed up when Kelly swivelled and hit a great first time volley during one of these exchanges – unfortunately it was 180 degrees in the wrong direction and put his defence in all kinds of trouble. Kelly wasn’t the only one to struggle to make a telling pass, Bostwick and to a lesser extent Woodhouse also failed to make their mark for long periods.

Jason Goodliffe was impressing on his full debut, and he showed his distribution abilities as he stuck a great pass forwards to Michael Rankine who managed to shrug himself clear of two defenders and hit a powerful shot which deflected off a defender for a corner. From the corner the ball flew over the heads of the Halifax defenders to Chris Hope, but he got under the header and the ball flew over the bar.

Michael Rankine was replaced by Chris Beardsley, and shortly afterwards Jackson was replaced by Tomlin. Dave Savage was the final substitute, wisely replacing Curtis Woodhouse who had just received a final warning from the referee.

Savage immediately livened up the midfield, and a flowing move between Savage, Kelly, Watson and Beardsley saw the strikers shot deflected for a corner.

Although Halifax continued to work the ball forwards, they rarely threatened to breach the Diamonds defence, although their man-of-the-match Felix Bastians always looked dangerous, but was well contained by Jon Ashton.

One further great chance fell to the Diamonds as the ball was swept wide on the right, Michael Bostwick made one of his few forward runs of the night, and the ball found him unmarked in the area. His first shot was half-blocked, but as the goal was gaping in front of him, his second touch saw the ball fly wide and to safety in what was the Diamonds last chance to sneak a win.

Garry Hill had thus continued his unbeaten start to his managerial career at the Diamonds, and the overall unbeaten run in the league is stretched to 10 games, but with 4 draws in the last five games attention continues to be directed at the gap between the Diamonds and the relegation spots rather than the play-off places.

The final whistle signalled celebrations from the 75 or so travelling fans who had made the trip north, and those on the supporters coach chose Jon Ashton as their man of the match for his willingness to compete for the full 90 minutes and cover for some of the lethargy in midfield.

Full-time: Halifax Town 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Teams:

Halifax Town (Blue):

Craig Mawson, Steve Haslam, Tom Kearney (Capt), Danny Forrest, , Lewis Killeen, Jake Wright, Ryan Cresswell, Tyrone Thompson Felix Bastians (Gus Uhlenbeek 85), Greg Strong, Shane Smeltz (Darryn Stamp 84)

Subs Not Used Matt Doughty, Chris Billy, Steve Torpey,

Rushden & Diamonds (Red)

Scott Tynan, Jon Ashton, Paul Watson, Chris Hope, Jason Goodliffe, Danny Williams, Michael Bostwick, Curtis Woodhouse (Dave Savage 82), Marcus Kelly, Michael Rankine (Chris Beardsley 66), Simeon Jackson (Lee Tomlin 77)

Subs Not Used Matt Baker, Glenn Wilson

 

Yellow Cards : Greg Strong (33 – Deliberate Handball), Curtis Woodhouse (41 – repeated offences), Danny Williams (Foul), Jake Wright (Foul)

 

Referee: S Cummins

Attendance: 1314 (Away Approx 75).

Travel Club Man of the Match : Jon Ashton

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