Rushden & Diamonds 0 Burton Albion 0

Rushden & Diamonds continue to struggle at Nene Park with a point in a goalless draw in the Blue Square Premier, with the scoreline illustrating perfectly the quality of football and entertainment on show, especially in the first half, although things did improve somewhat in the second.

Manager Garry Hill made two changes from the team that started in the draw at Torquay last Saturday, with the suspended Curtis Woodhouse being replaced by Simon Rusk, and striker Michael Malcolm coming straight into the side, with only places on the bench for Simeon Jackson and Lee Tomlin. Rusk started at right back, with Curtis Osano moving forward to right midfield, and Andy Burgess switching back to the left.

Burton manager Nigel Clough made two changes from the starting line-up that beat Torquay, with captain Darren Stride and Andy Corbett both starting the game after being on the bench in midweek. Striker Daryl Clare was still unfit, but Northampton Town loanee Sam Aiston retained his place in the Brewers starting XI.

On a warm afternoon Burton kicked off towards the Peter De Banke terrace.

The first ten minutes were possibly the best of the half, as Diamonds attacked a Burton side playing a back five with Andy Corbett being given the job of trying to mark Andy Burgess. It was Burgess that represented the Diamonds biggest threat during this period, combining well with Wayne Hatswell on a couple of occasions, getting in good crosses from the by-line, but headers from Osano and Rankine didn’t really threaten the Burton goal.

Curtis Osano started to get forward on the right, but apart from a header over the bar and a run towards the box that won a free kick, there was little end product. Michael Malcolm looked lively up front on occasions, but again there was little threat on Poole’s goal.

After 10 minutes Burton started to venture forwards, with Aiston getting to the by-line but his low cross eluded all of his team mates. Diamonds won their first corner on 15 minutes, but like many of the opportunities in the half it was wasted.

The one shot on target of the first half came on 27 minutes, with Burton’s John McGrath hitting a low shot that Bastock gathered. At the other end Diamonds forced a further chance from a free kick, which fell to Phil Gulliver to the right of the goal, but his attempt to emulate Rio Ferdinand only resulted in a ball that squirmed to a grateful defender.

The rest of the first half passed without any incident at all until the one minute into added time – when a lunge from Darren Stride earned him a yellow card.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Burton Albion 0

The second half did deliver rather more than the first, with the Diamonds starting with an increased sense of urgency, and a early chance fell to Andy Burgess, after Rusk and Osano combined on the right, but Burgess could only execute an air shot as Rusk’s cross came over.

Five minutes later it was Burgess the provider, as his cross from the left seemed to offer Michael Rankine an easy header, but the striker could only head wide. There was also a threat through the middle for a while, as Rankine and Malcolm combined, but neither striker could get in a telling shot.

On 51 minutes Malcolm and Osano combined, and the cross from the right from Osano found Burgess in a great position, but his shot was blocked, and as the ball ricocheted around the area Malcolm had two further attempts on goal, but both of these were also blocked.

After this bright start to the half, the Diamonds let the Brewers get more possession for the next quarter, and following a foul by Jon Challinor, an Aaron Webster free kick found Andy Corbett in plenty of space on the right edge of the area, and Bastock was forced to punch the powerful shot clear.

Albion also forced a number of corners, and Sam Aiston was starting to get forwards on the left, but as with the Diamonds there was no end product. Michael Malcolm limped off on 65 minutes to be replaced by Simeon Jackson.

At the other end, another Diamonds break saw Michael Rankine run on to a through ball and hit a dipping shot just over the bar, but whilst that was a creditable attempt, it was Rankine that missed the easiest chance of the game when a great Simeon Jackson run on the left saw a dangerous low cross from the by-line, but the big striker was left holding his head in his hands for the second time in the half as he failed to connect.

After a very quiet period the Diamonds started to get forward better, once Lee Tomlin came on to play wide right, with Curtis Osano dropping back to full back. On one of these attacks a decent run saw Andy Burgess cut into the area, and go down under a challenge which the referee saw as a dive, and blew his whistle just as a follow-up shot from Foster was cleared off the line. Burgess was one of several yellows in the second half, with Simon Rusk especially unlucky to see yellow after Sam Aiston appeared to deliverately run into him to win a free kick.

Jackson continued to find ways through the Brewers defence, and as well as creating a chance for himself, after shaking off a defender he also found space to hit a dangerous low cross that was just behind Andy Burgess.

As the match moved into injury time, Lee Tomlin and Jackson continued to combine well, with Tomlin being fouled on the edge of the box, but again the free kick was unable to produce a telling attempt on goal.

The final whistle signalled the end of another disappointing performance from the Diamonds at Nene Park, in a game that highlighted the goalscoring problems at home, with little to test the opposition keeper. Diamonds have scored just two goals in Northants so far this season. The improvement in the second half indicated that the potential is there, but the Nene Park crowd need to see evidence of this for 90 minutes. It was, at least, the second clean sheet of the season, but those that travel to Weymouth on Tuesday night will hope for a repeat of the level of entertainment seen in recent away games.

Manager Hill was pleased with the performance, and that his side came through a tough test of their character against a team in the top four in the league, and thought that had the chances been taken his side would have won the game. He was also pleased with the consistency in the last four games, and the workrate over the 90 minutes.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Burton Albion 0


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Paul Bastock, Curtis Osano, Phil Gulliver, Chris Hope(c), Wayne Hatswell, Simon Rusk (Lee Tomlin 71), Martin Foster, Jon Challinor, Andy Burgess, Michael Malcolm (Simeon Jackson 65), Michael Rankine

Subs not used:Paul Nicholls, Tom Shaw, Dean Howell

Burton Albion (Yellow / Black) : Kevin Poole, Andy Corbett, Aaaron Webster, John McGrath, Darren Stride, Jake Edwards, Danny Holmes, Shaun Harrad, John Brayford, Andy Gooding, Sam Aiston (David Farrell 82)

Subs Not Used:Marc Goodfellow, Keith Gilroy, Martin Taylor, Ryan Austin

Yellow Cards : Stride (45), Hatswell (62), Rusk (71), Holmes (85), Burgess (88)

Referee: A Hendley

Attendance: 1807 (Away 313).

Man of the Match sponsored by Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity : Andy Burgess


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