Barrow 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1


The travelling Rushden & Diamonds fan is a long time sufferer from Déjà vu, with memories of many games where a late goal has meant a long trip home disappointed, but the game at Holker Street provided a double dose.

Not only was the late Barrow equaliser so similar to those on a long list of late goals scored against the Diamonds, but the fact it was scored as the conditions suddenly worsened into teeming driving rain brought back memories of the FA Cup game in Bristol last season.

Although it will be Alan Marriott who acknowledges his part in that goal, the contribution he had made prior to that incident had made him "head and shoulders" the Diamonds man of the match, but, as ever, the poor goalkeeper can make half-a-dozen quality saves, but none of these are remembered, but any mistake is magnified 10 times.

All of this late drama followed the early blow of seeing Lee Phillips stretchered off inside the first five minutes, plus the debut goal for Leon Knight in the first half.

Garry Hill made two change of personnel, as well as a positional change, from the line-up that lost at Aggborough on Saturday, with Michael Corcoran playing at right back allowing Curtis Osano to push forwards into right midfield to replace the injured Dean McDonald, and Curtis Woodhouse returning at the expense of Jake Beecroft. Marcus Kelly returned to the bench, meaning that Phil Gulliver and Jamie McGuinness were left to warm down prior to the game after not making the 16.

Joint Barrow managers Dave Bayliss and Darren Sheridan named themselves on the bench as they brought in Mike Pearson at right back in place of the injured Paul Black.

The Diamonds started much the brighter in very difficult conditions, but within five minutes their initial plans were upset as Lee Phillips jumped to challenge for the ball and went down with a head injury – after a three minute delay he was stretchered off, to be replaced by Sam Smith, getting a chance to play for much longer than in recent games.

Wave after wave of Diamonds attacks were led by Andy Burgess on the left, and Curtis Osano on the right, with Osano looking especially threatening in this right midfield role – one run in particular saw him get past three defenders, but Deasy was able to save his shot. Curtis Woodhouse was also creating a threat through the middle, and his powerful shot was deflected just over the bar.

The Barrow threat was purely on the counter attack at this stage, and the Diamonds defence was not unduly troubled as a result. The Diamonds meanwhile had a number of shots on target deflected for corners, as it looked a matter of time before they took the lead.

The opening goal game on 26 minutes, as Justin Walker was penalised for backing in to Chris Hope, and he was lucky to escape with no more than a warning to him and his captain after further dissent towards the referee. The punishment that followed though was more significant – the Alan Marriott free kick looked to be an easy chance for Jones or McNulty to clear but they got in each others way, and the ball broke to Sam Smith, who shot towards the left-hand post. Goalkeeper Deasy could only parry the ball into the path of Leon Knight, who gleefully netted his debut goal for the Diamonds.

Apart from a threat on the break, the other threat from the home side came from the freekicks they were awarded . one in particular from Boyd flashed just wide of the right-hand post.

Just after the half-hour mark the Diamonds should have got their second, as a floated cross from the left from Andy Burgess eluded Smith and the two centre backs, bouncing in the corner of the six yard box to an unmarked Curtis Osano, but he skewed his shot wide of the right hand post.

The only real threat from the home side in open play in the first half saw Alan Marriott pull off a great save to tip a powerful cross-shot from the left by Paul Brown around the post – although the referee failed to spot this touch, to the annoyance of the home crowd – although they were lucky a few minutes later as a Pearson foul on Knight on the edge of the box went unpunished.

Curtis Woodhouse tried to chip the goalkeeper as half-time approached, and another powerful run by Curtis Osano saw a Leon Knight shot blocked.

Half-time: Barrow 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

With the wind now assisting them, and any rain in the Diamonds players faces, the home team started the second half much more brightly, and it was almost 10 minutes before the Diamonds were able to establish a meaningful attack.

Referee Handley had been rather lenient in the first half, especially towards Pearson and Walker, but he appeared to change his approach during the second, issuing three yellow cards to Diamonds players in quick succession, each of them in a similar spot just in front of the Barrow fans near the half-way line. Although each challenge was a clear foul, with the possible exception of a clumsy arm-hold from Wolleaston, none of them looked worse than what had gone before – indeed Burton’s offence was such a minor push that one can only assume there was some additional dissent – although the referee had been very lenient towards dissent from Walker in the first half.

On the hour mark the Bluebirds had their best chance of the game so far, as a run down the right by Matt Henney saw him set up Lee Hunt, and although his shot was well saved by Marriott, it looked like Henney might follow-up the rebound, but he could only find the side netting.

A move that started from what looked a clear foul throw by Pearson (more so than the Corcoran one penalised in the first half), new arrival Nick Rogan hit a good shot that was well saved by Marriott low to his right.

Although they had the lion’s share of possession and territorial advantage, the home side struggled to create clear-cut chances. With many attempts at a "final pass" running through to Marriott., it was suddenly the Diamonds that created two decent chances – the first was a double chance on 75 minutes as a Sam Smith header from a corner was flicked to safety by a defender on the line, with Deasy beaten, and then a further chance fell to Chris Hope following the Burgess corner from the left, but his shot was blocked. On 85 minutes the Diamonds could have wrapped the game up following a surging run by Curtis Osano who beat three defenders on his way to slotting the ball through to Leon Knight, who is still reluctant to use his full pace against Conference defenders, but he moved the ball across the area to Andy Burgess on the left, but the resultant shot was dragged just wide of the far right post.

As the game entered injury time the weather took a sudden turn for the worse, and heavy driving rain lashed into the Diamonds defenders faces, as well as the 200 home fans who were braving the open terrace behind the goal. Alan Marriott made his first error of the game (and indeed for many games), when he dropped a Brown cross, but was quick enough to gather it on the soggy ground. Jake Beecroft did well to cover back and prevent a cross being delivered, at the expense of a corner, but from this kick from Logan the ball slipped out of Alan Marriott’s hands and straight to Paul Brown, who slotted home, leaving the home fans singing in the rain.

The game ended shortly afterwards, and a disconsolate Alan Marriott trooped off, all thoughts of what an excellent game he had been having were gone in an instant as far as he was concerned – although both his team mates and the travelling fans realised the contribution he had made to the game.

With the run of games without a win now stretched to five, and another "game of two halves" where the Diamonds failed to deliver for the whole 90 minutes, it will be essential for the good performances for part of the game be extended to more of the game and three points gained as a result – starting with the visit of Crawley Town on Saturday.

Full-time: Barrow 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Barrow : White / Blue : Tim Deasy, Andy Bond, Steve McNulty, Paul Jones, Mike Pearson, Carlos Logan, Mark Boyd, Paul Brown, Matt Henney, Jason Walker, Lee Hunt

Subs : Nick Rogan (for Walker 71), Paul Tait (for Hunt 80), Aaran Taylor (for Boyd 86)

Subs Not Used : Darren Sheridan, Dave Bayliss

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow) : Alan Marriott : Michael Corcoran – Gareth Jelleyman – Chris Hope – Justyn Roberts : Curtis Osano – Rob Wolleaston – Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) – Andy Burgess : Lee Phillips – Leon Knight

Subs : Sam Smith (for Phillips 8), Sagi Burton (for Jelleyman 40), Jake Beecroft (for Wolleaston 72)

Subs Not Used : Michael Rankine, Marcus Kelly

Goals: Leon Knight (27), Paul Brown (90+1)

Yellow Cards: McNulty, Roberts, Burton, Wolleaston,

Referee: Mr D Handley

Attendance: 1663 (Away 25)


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