Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 1

Leon Knight salvaged a point for Rushden & Diamonds in front of the Setanta cameras as they struggled against lowly Atrincham. Colin Little had given the away side a first half lead just before the interval as Diamonds were unable to replicate the form they had shown at Wrexham six days earlier.

Both managers were able to name unchanged sides. Garry Hill kept the same side which had the impressive 3-0 win at Wrexham last Tuesday. Andy Burgess made his 302nd appearance, passing Paul Underwood to become second in terms of appearances behind Garry Butterworth. Sagi Burton served his one match suspension for accumulating five bookings, while Manny Panther remains suspended after his red card against Burton Albion. Graham Heathcote’s eleven had beaten Mansfield Town on the same night and maintained an attacking 3-4-3 formation, with Colin Little, Lee Elam and Chris Senior up front.

After a fairly even opening period, it was Diamonds who had a couple of good chances after just eight minutes. Lee Tomlin fired in a shot which keeper Stuart Coburn was unable to hold, while moments later, Tomlin turned in a cross from the right which went right across the area to Phil Gulliver who off balance, put his shot wide.

On 12 minutes, Tomlin got down the right and crossed again for Mark McGregor to deflect the ball away from danger for another corner. Tomlin’s corner kick nearly took the keeper by surprise as it bounced off the top of the crossbar and away from goal.

Diamonds were having a good spell, but were unable to apply the finishing touch. Altrincham had to wait until 21 minutes before their first chance as Shaun Densmore floated in a free kick from the halfway line. Alan Marriott elected to punch the ball away, although he was fortunate the ball bounced safely away after poor contact.

With both sides struggling to put any decent moves together, the game was getting untidy and it wasn’t until the 34th minute when Tomlin turned well on the edge of the box but shot wide. Altrincham were difficult to break down and Daryl Clare and Leon Knight were being played out of the game. The visitors nearly took the lead on 38 minutes when Lee Elam broke in the middle and sent a forward ball which left Colin Little with an excellent chance to fire past Marriott, but Curtis Osano just got a foot in to prevent the ball hitting the target.

Altrincham started to go forward as the half came to an end a free kick from Chris Lane caused Marriott some concern as Greg Young’s header was just diverted by Gulliver away from Chris Senior, with the keeper grabbing the ball at the second attempt. Then after 44 minutes, the away side got the breakthrough as Little sent Lee Elam away on goal. Although he was shepherded away from goal by Phil Gulliver, Elam cut the ball back into the path of Colin Little who blasted the ball into the top of the net from twelve yards.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 1 Altrincham


As the second half commenced, Altrincham were looking to hold on to their lead as Diamonds pressed to get back on level terms. On 50 minutes, Curtis Osano fired in a fierce cross from the left which took a couple of deflections, eventually going out for a corner. Altrincham’s defence looked strong however, and Diamonds were still unable to break them down despite continually pressing forward.

The visitors looked content to defend, although in their first attack of the second half on 57 minutes, Senior’s dangerous cross from the right was cleared away from Elam by Osano. Garry Hill decided to change the formation with Lee Phillips replacing Rob Wolleaston. Phillips went up front with Clare and Knight, while Michael Corcoran was moved into midfield as they went to a 3-4-3 formation. The change nearly had an immediate effect as Phillips second touch saw him bearing down on the keeper. Coburn just managed to keep the shot out with his feet and as Leon Knight went to follow up, Mark McGregor appeared to catch the strikers foot, but the referee failed to give a decision in favour of Diamonds.

A defensive error from Osano on 64 minutes gave Chris Senior another opportunity for the visitors but his short went straight at Marriott. The effort seemed to spur them forward as they had their best spell of the half. Little came close to setting up Elam, but Gulliver did well to block any effort on goal.

With 17 minutes remaining, Michael Rankine and Marcus Kelly replaced Daryl Clare and Andy Burgess – keeping the 3-4-3 formation. Diamonds continued to press and they had a good chance when Kelly was fouled close to the edge of the penalty area. Tomlin’s free-kick found its way back to him and his second cross saw Chris Hope head inches over. Diamonds were getting closer and they finally got level on 77 minutes. Corcoran’s forward ball was put out for a corner and as Kelly’s corner found Corcoran at the far post, his header back across goal found Leon Knight who stabbed the ball over the line.

Diamonds looked more urgent coming forward, but they were unable to get that vital second goal. Hope headed just wide, but that was the nearest they came to getting the winner. Peyton also came close for Altrincham two minutes from time after Marriott failed to hold on to a corner kick, but he managed to recover to smother the shot.    

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 1 Altrincham


So Diamonds lost the chance to move up to third, but Altrincham’s dogged performance was worthy of a draw and any late winner would have been unfair after their strong all-round performance. Diamonds seem to be playing better on their travels this season, so they will be looking to gain another win on the road when they take on Oxford United next Saturday.


Rushden & Diamonds – Marriott, Osano, Gulliver, Hope, Knight, Woodhouse(c), Clare (Kelly 73), Burgess (Rankine 73), Tomlin, Wolleaston (Phillips 58), Corcoran.

Subs not used: Day, Jelleyman.


Altrincham – Coburn, Lane, Doughty, McGregor, Young, Lawton(c), Little (Johnson 84), Danylyk, Elam (Peyton 76), Senior (Denham 70), Densmore.

Subs not used: Street, Meecham.


Goals: Little 44 (0-1), Knight 77 (1-1)

Booked: Corcoran 90+4 (dissent).

Referee: Mr A.Halliday (Yorks).

Attendance: 1341 (46 away).

Sports Programmes Man of the Match – Curtis Osano

By Dave Mason


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