Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

After dominating the first hour of the game at Kingfield, Rushden & Diamonds will be disappointed to only come away with a point as a Michael Rankine goal towards the end of the first half equalised a goal for the home team by Tom Denton as he deflected in a Paolo Vernazza strike.

For all of the Diamonds pressure and attempts on goal they failed to force too many saves from home keeper Eastwood, and then allowed the home team to get back into the game in the closing stages as they went off the boil following a number of changes – in fact it took a late save from Dale Roberts and latch ditch defending from Curtis Osano to avoid the additional disappointment of going down to a defeat.

The Diamonds brought in Curtis Woodhouse to play at left back in place of the injured Gareth Jelleyman, and Lee Phillips was preferred to Simon Brown. Lee Tomlin started the game on the left, with Yannick Bolasie on the right. Andy Burgess retained the captain’s armband.

Phil Gilchrist included Paolo Vernazza in his starting line up, as well as loanees Simon Eastwood (making his debut), Tom Denton and Joe Magunda.

The Diamonds should have taken the lead inside the first minute, as good work by Bolasie and Wolleaston created a clear chance for Michael Rankine 10 yards out from goal, but he failed to connect.

The pace of Bolasie was causing the home defence real problems, and the Diamonds midfield were spreading the ball wide at every opportunity. Shots from Rankine and Phillips were deflected away for corners, and other attempts from Bolasie and Tomlin failed to hit the target.

It was thus well against the run of play when the home side took the lead on 17 minutes, as Abdou El Kholti made progress on the left, and his cross was cleared to Paolo Vernazza, whose well hit shot might have tested Roberts, but the deflection from Tom Denton ensured the ball found its way into the net. Denton clearly claimed the deflection was deliberate so he was awarded the goal.

To their credit the Diamonds did not let this setback affect their dominance of the game, as they continued to threaten down both flanks, notably when Rob Wolleaston won the ball in midfield, beat his marker and found Lee Tomlin in space on the left, who also beat a defender before hitting a low cross which was cut out for a corner. From the corner kick Curtis Osano peeled off the pack in the middle of goal and found himself in a lot of space at the far post, but although the ball seemed to reach him at a decent height he got a poor contact on it, and could only place it back into the melee to be cleared by a Woking defender, rather than the gaping net.

Andy Burgess was as influential as he had been at Altrincham at this stage, and home defender Quamina was booked for a challenge which had Burgess needing attention and to leave the pitch for a new shirt after blood from a facial wound stained the first one.

Burgess was spreading the ball out to Tomlin who was showing good ball control and the ability to beat his marker regularly, but the home defenders were getting to his crosses ahead of Rankine and Phillips. Tomlin was also taking a selection of freekicks and corners, and Eastwood was forced to make one good save amongst several routine catches.

At the other end Matt Pattison was guilty of missing two excellent chances on the Woking right as he found space away from his marker Curtis Woodhouse and met crosses from the left.

Rob Wolleaston saw his shot deflected to Lee Phillips who could not capitalise, and then Phillips was fouled on the edge of the area as he an Bolasie interchanged passes. The kick was taken by Andy Burgess who hit a low shot under the wall, but Eastwood was well positioned to gather. Yannick Bolasie continue to chase down loose balls and pressurise defenders into mistakes, but as on Saturday his finishing left something to be desired.

As half-time approached it was beginning to look like the Diamonds wouldn’t be rewarded for all of their pressure, but a Rob Wolleaston shot was deflected for a corner on the left, taken by Lee Tomlin, and although the first attempt was knocked back out to him, the follow-up cross found Curtis Osano in space at the far post for the second time in the half, but this time the defender was able to knock the ball back across the six yard box for Michael Rankine to head home for the equaliser.

The Diamonds still had further chances to take a half-time lead their pressure would have deserved, but had to be content with the 1-1 scoreline at the break.

Half-Time : Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The second half started in a similar vein, with attempts on goal from Phillips, Bolasie, Tomlin and Rankine, with Tomlin, Burgess and Wolleaston all finding room down the left. The best chance fell to Lee Phillips, as a Wolleaston cross was half cleared to a home defender, but he was very slow in clearing the loose ball, and was robbed by Phillips who then turned and shot, but the attempt was too close to keeper Eastwood who did well to spread himself to smother the shot.

As the hour mark approached, Yannick Bolasie was firstly switch to play on the left, and then replaced by Marcus Kelly, to the obvious relief of the home defence. With the home side making a change at the same time, the pattern of the game changed – although still open and entertaining, both sides were now making chances, and both were guilty of poor finishing as the entertainment level remained high.

Curtis Woodhouse now started getting forwards to support Kelly down the left, and one of his crosses presented Lee Tomlin with a free header on goal, but he could only loop it high and wide.

Rankine and Phillips were starting to build up a decent understanding, and the two combined to allow Phillips another shot on goal which went wide, but that proved to be his last contribution as he was replaced by Sam Smith.

A good run by Marcus Kelly through the home defence was let down by the quality of the shot, and Sam Smith saw a header loop wide as both sides looked for a winner.

With the game in the last quarter of an hour, the Cards had two chances to win the game, the first when Vernazza beat the Diamonds offside trap which had been so effective, but although he appeared to have several yards head start, Curtis Osano made up several yards to get in a saving tackle.

Dale Roberts then had to make two excellent saves, one from a Domoraud cross which appeared to be heading to either of three unmarked attackers, and one from Pattison as the home side threatened a late winner before the referee blew the whistle for full time.

The Diamonds will be disappointed that their first half performance did not cement what could have been a convincing away win, but that poor finishing meant they were vulnerable to a late winner by the home side. They now travel to Wales at the weekend to face Newport County in the FA Trophy.

Full Time : Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Teams

Woking : Simon Eastwood, Paul Lorraine, Danny Bunce, Bradley Quamina, Colin Miles (Capt), Abdou El Kholti, Liam Marum, Matt Pattison, Paolo Vernazza, Joe Magunda, Tom Denton

Subs : Wilfred Domoraud (for El Kholti 57), Guiseppe Sole (for Marum 77)

Subs Not Used : Nick Gindre, Daniel Spence, Joel Ledgister

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Andy Burgess (Capt), Chris Hope, Michael Corcoran, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston, Yannick Bolasie , Curtis Woodhouse, Michael Rankine, Lee Phillips.

Subs : Marcus Kelly (for Bolasie 57), Sam Smith (for Phillips 78)

Subs Not Used: Alan Marriott, Leo Roget, Simon Brown

Goals : Denton (17), Rankine (41)

Yellow Cards : Quamina

Referee : J Farries

Attendance : 1119 (approx 40 travelling fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Curtis Osano

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