Newport County 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

FA Trophy 1st Round

Diamonds felt robbed of a victory when the referee awarded the home side a controversial penalty in the 72nd minute after on loan striker Craig Reid appeared to dive in the box. Michael Rankine had put Diamonds in front on 66 minutes after Lee Tomlin’s free kick was played into the area by Curtis Woodhouse, but Reid converted County’s spot kick to send the tie to a replay at Nene Park this coming Tuesday night.

Garry Hill named an unchanged side to the eleven which drew at Woking on Tuesday evening, with Curtis Woodhouse continuing in the left back role. Gareth Jelleyman had recovered from an ankle injury to be named on the subs bench.

Newport boss Dean Holdsworth named just one change from the side which drew at Thurrock last weekend, with Adie Harris replacing Steve Jenkins in attack. Holdsworth is no stranger to Diamonds having played seven games at the rear end of the 2002/03 season, when Diamonds won the Division 3 championship. Another former Diamond player with the Exiles, Rob Duffy was not in the squad due to injury. The team included several loan players, Aaron Cook, Wayne Turk from Salisbury City; Craig Reid for Grays Athletic and Paul Bignot from Kidderminster Harriers.

County had beaten Andover 3-0 in the previous round and kicked-off this 1st Round proper tie hoping to cause an upset. Diamonds took the game to Newport and some neat play by Lee Tomlin saw his effort blocked, with captain Andy Burgess firing the rebound just wide from the edge of the area. They were looking positive during the opening period with the home side unable to create much in the way of chances until 16 minutes, when Kevin Cooper crossed from the right for Craig Reid to head wide.

Tomlin was looking lively and he set up Lee Phillips with an opportunity on 19 minutes, the ball just drifting past the post. County started to settle however and began to create some chances of their own. Midway through the first half, a cross from the left caused all sorts of problems for the Diamonds defence, and it was only a desperate block from left back Curtis Woodhouse that prevented Cooper putting the home side in front. From the resultant corner, Danny Rose sent a fierce shot wide.

Both sides weren’t afraid to press forward. Michael Rankine had a shot blocked by centre back Aaron Cook just before the half hour mark, while County’s Craig Hughes fired a shot across the goalmouth, which the diving Dale Roberts was grateful to see go wide of the post. Moments later, it was Hughes again who headed just wide. At the other end, Tomlin and Burgess were both off target, before Rob Wolleaston got clear on the right and sent in a dangerous cross which just missed the advancing Rankine. Chris Hope and Yannick Bolasie also had had chances just before the break. 

HT: Newport County 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

 

The second half commenced in a similar fashion to the first, with both sides having chances to open the scoring. Roberts saved low down from Rose’s long drive, while Rob Wolleaston was put through by Burgess’ pinpoint pass, his shot being blocked by Newport keeper Glyn Thompson.

Lee Phillips made way for Sam Smith on 65 minutes and moments later, Diamonds finally broke the deadlock when they won a free kick deep in the Newport half. Tomlin played the ball out left for Woodhouse to strike the ball into the goalmouth. As the shot was blocked, Michael Rankine managed to get a foot to the ball to steer it past the keeper via the upright.

County immediately tried to respond, Roberts racing off his line to block at the feet of Martyn Giles. The Diamonds goalmouth came under increasing pressure with Roberts saving again from Craig Reid at the near post. Then on 72 minutes came the controversial moment that got the home side back in the game. A through pass saw Reid race towards goal with just the keeper to beat. Roberts pulled out of the challenge when he saw Reid’s heavy touch was taking the ball away, but the on loan Grays striker went down and the referee awarded a penalty. Craig Reid took the spot kick himself, and sent the ball low to Roberts left.

Burgess had to come off following the equaliser, still feeling the after-effects of a facial injury he suffered earlier in the second half – the Diamonds captain being taken to hospital as a precaution. Gareth Jelleyman came on at left back, with Woodhouse moving into midfield.

On 77 minutes, Diamonds made their final substitution, with Marcus Kelly replacing Bolasie. Kelly almost had an immediate impact, the keeper doing well to tip over a 30 yard drive. Kelly had another effort from Rankine’s cross go just wide, while Tomlin’s turn and shot deep into added time clipped the outside of the post leaving the scores level at the final whistle.

FT: Newport County 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

 

While on the balance of 90 minutes play, Newport probably deserved their draw, the way they got back on level terms was somewhat controversial. Both teams fight it out again on Tuesday night in the replay which will decide who will progress further in the competition.

Teams:

Newport County: Thompson, Bignot, Giles, Turk, Cook (c), Cochlin, Rose, Hughes, Reid, Harris, Cooper.

Subs not used: Jenkins, Vickers, Klein-Davies, Armitage, James.

Rushden & Diamonds: Roberts, Osano, Hope, Woodhouse, Phillips (Smith 65), Burgess (Jelleyman 73), Rankine, Tomlin, Wolleaston, Corcoran, Bolasie (Kelly 77).

Subs not used: Marriott, Brown.

 

Goals: Rankine 66 (0-1), Reid 72pen (1-1).

 

Booked: Nil.

 

Referee: Mr A.Bennett (Devon)

 

Attendance: 603 (approx 60 away).

 

by Dave Mason

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