Salisbury City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

In a bad tempered game which culminated in a red card for Curtis Woodhouse and Salisbury’s Michael Fowler, Diamonds came away from their first visit to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium feeling mugged as an injury time goal from substitute Marvin Brown cancelled out Jon Challinor’s 48th minute strike.

Manager Garry Hill made two changes from Tuesday evenings draw against Crawley Town, with Phil Gulliver starting in place of Paul Watson, providing a back row of Chris Hope, Wayne Hatswell with Curtis Osano moving forward on the right to provide support in midfield. Simeon Jackson partnered Michael Rankine up front, while Dean Howell was dropped to the bench. Andy Burgess played right midfield, with Jon Challinor on the left.

Salisbury Manager Nick Holmes made just one change from the side which lost 4-0 at Torquay on Tuesday night. Defender Luke Oliver on loan from Stevenage Borough replaced Tim Bond at the back.

The game was officiated by deaf referee Andrew Rodda and as Diamonds won the toss, they elected to play towards the terrace enclosing the visiting fans. Both sides had early corners but neither caused any real problems for the defenders. Rankine had a shot blocked after some good work by Jon Challinor, while Salisbury’s Robbie Matthews headed wide from a free kick after Phil Gulliver had fouled leading scorer Matt Tubbs just outside the area. A small scuffle broke out as Matthews claimed he had been fouled and it was a taste of things to come. Neither side was able to take control of the midfield as Salisbury pressed to continue their unbeaten home run.

After 19 minutes, Diamonds had a couple of good chances to take the lead. Woodhouse found the keeper off his line but chipped the ball wide, while a Rankine shot rebound off a defender. The ball was chipped back over the stranded Ryan Clarke but lacked any strength and the keeper managed to retrieve the ball before it crossed the line. The height of recent signing Andy Sandell was causing some concern for Diamonds, but they appeared to be getting on top as the half progressed. Andy Burgess was clearly fouled on the edge of the area in another attack, but no free kick was awarded. Curtis Osano went in strongly to regain possession, but promptly received a yellow card for his challenge. Burgess continued his argument with the referee as the game progressed and when another foul on Simeon Jackson went unnoticed, he also went into the book.

Burgess was starting to put in some good crosses from the right and Curtis Woodhouse, who had been fairly anonymous, headed over at the far post. Neither side was really threatening, although Salisbury had a chance right at the end of the half after a fierce shot from Tubbs was saved by Bastock. Darrell Clarke followed up but his shot was blocked.

Half-time: Salisbury City 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Salisbury’s Michael Fowler tried to lob the keeper in the opening moments of the second half after some good movement between Andy Sandell and Darrell Clarke provided an opening, but his effort went wide. Immediately from the goal kick, Diamonds took the lead. Bastock’s long ball upfield was flicked on by Rankine leaving Jon Challinor in acres of space. After striding towards Ryan Clarke in the City goal, he calmly placed the ball wide of the keeper and into the net.

The goal seemed to give Diamonds confidence as their control and passing improved. Simeon Jackson nearly caught out Jon Bass after 54 minutes after a poor back pass to his keeper, but Clarke managed to save the defenders embarrassment. Diamonds certainly looked to be on top with the home side getting caught offside on numerous occasions as the defence appeared to be working as one. Sandell sent a good ball into the area but Wayne Hatswell made no mistake in clearing the ball away for a corner.

After Simeon Jackson had a shot on goal saved after 65 minutes, City realised they were In danger of falling further behind, so brought on Marvin Brown and Liam Feeney to change things around. Diamonds were still having the better chances, and Hatswell’s ball up to Burgess at the far post saw the ball played back across the goal with no-one to poke the ball home, eventually being cleared for a corner.

On 70 minutes however, a moment of madness seemed to dictate the course of the game. Curtis Woodhouse slipped close to the centre circle, and shielded the ball as he tried to retain possession. Salisbury’s Michael Fowler came in with a strong challenge which resulted in a melee involving virtually all of the outfield players. As the players were separated, the referee consulted with his assistants and sent off both Woodhouse and Fowler.

After the incident, Jackson was brought off to be replaced by midfielder Tom Shaw, leaving Diamonds to play with just Rankine in attack. The sending off seemed to give Salisbury added impetus as Diamonds set their sights on defending their lead for the remaining 20 minutes. Salisbury certainly played as if they had an extra man. Marvin Brown sent in a dangerous cross which the keeper managed to deal with, while Liam Feeney sent in a curling shot on 76 minutes from the edge of the area, which Bastock just managed to tip past the post.

Brown, Matthews and Prince started to push forward for Salisbury in the final five minutes as they tried to preserve their unbeaten home record. In a rare attack for Diamonds, Burgess tried to take the ball forward but shot high and wide. Marvin Brown was still causing problems, and Wayne Hatswell was lucky not to be penalised after appearing to push Brown in the penalty area with 2 minutes remaining. Matthews then fired a fierce shot at goal, but Bastock was perfectly positioned to make the save look easy. As the game entered 4 minutes of injury time, Lee Tomlin replaced the tireless Rankine in order to run down some time, but it wasn’t enough. After the ball was pumped forward in the 93rd minute, Robbie Matthews knocked the ball down to Marvin Brown who slipped his marker and found space to fire a right foot drive past Bastock.

Full-time: Salisbury City 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Despite dominating large periods of the games, Diamonds still failed to come away with the three points with a lapse in the defence in added time proving to be their undoing. Although both side played the final 20 minutes with ten men, it was the home side that was least affected and it looked as if they had an extra man. The frustration of conceding such a late goal, when the game should have been in the bag seemed to boil over to the touch line at the final whistle as tempers flared. The loss of two points keeps Diamonds down in 17th position. Next Saturday sees Diamonds entertain Burton Albion at Nene Park with Diamonds needing to get some positive results before they lose touch with the front runners.

Teams:

Salisbury City – R.Clarke, Bass (Prince 77), Robinson, Cook(c), Fowler, Turk, Tubbs (Brown 67), Matthews, D.Clarke (Feeney 67), Sandell, Oliver.

Subs not used: Bartlett, Bond.

Rushden & Diamonds – Bastock, Osano, Gulliver, Hope(c), Hatswell, Challinor, Woodhouse, Jackson (Shaw 73), Burgess, Rankine (Tomlin 90+1), Foster (Howell 84).

Subs not used: Nicholls, Lambley.

Goals:     Challinor 48 (0-1); Brown 90+3 (1-1).

Booked:  Osano 29 (foul); Burgess 33 (dissent), Hope 50 (foul).

Sent off:  Fowler (foul); Woodhouse 71 (v/conduct).

Referee:   Mr A.Rodda (Devon)

Attendance:   1538 (approx 125 away).

Reporters Man of the Match – Andy Burgess.

By Dave Mason

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