Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1 (R&DFC win 5-3 on pens)

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1 (R&DFC win 5-3 on penalties)

Sam Smith rescued Rushden & Diamonds with a goal in the third minute of added time to force extra time against Newport County in FA Carlsberg Trophy First Round replay at Nene Park. The Diamonds then went on to win 5-3 on penalties after there were no goals scored in extra time. Dale Roberts saved a Robert Duffy penalty which helped to make up for his earlier error, which had led to a Craig Reid goal for the visitors early in the second half of normal time. Curtis Woodhouse scored the final penalty in the shootout which helped to atone for his penalty miss early in extra time.

The Exiles will feel disappointed to have conceded such a late equaliser, but the referee had rightly added on time for their constant time wasting after they had taken the lead. They also felt they were denied a penalty late on when Curtis Woodhouse appeared to pull back Josh Klein-Davis on the edge of the box.

The Diamonds had made three changes from the game in Wales on Saturday, with Gareth Jelleyman replacing the injured Andy Burgess, allowing Curtis Woodhouse to revert to his midfield role. Marcus Kelly replaced Yannick Bolasie in the left of midfield, and Simon Brown replaced Lee Phillips up front.

Exiles manager Dean Holdsworth made a single change with Aaron Cook failing to recover from a calf injury and being replaced by Ashley Vickers – who also took over as captain. Ex-Diamond Robert Duffy took a place on the visitors bench.

A disappointing crowd at Nene Park of 421 was the lowest ever FA Trophy crowd at Nene Park – the previous highest being 812 against Burton Albion in their first game in this competition in October 1993.

In an even first half, Curtis Osano had the first real chance of the game, as a corner was cleared back to Marcus Kelly, and Osano found space in the area but could only head over from 10 yards. Kelly also created a good chance for Michael Rankine with a cross from the left touchline but the striker could only head wide.

County had their first real chance midway through the half as they won their first corner and Adie Harris headed on to Paul Cochlin, but his scuffed shot was wide. Cochlin turned provider a few minutes later as his long ball found the head of Paul Bignot, who was able to head the ball up in the air, then get a second header towards goal, but it lacked enough power to trouble the Diamonds defence.

Michael Rankine went close on 33 minutes as a Corcoran cross was not dealt with by keeper Thompson, and as the ball bounced in the area Rankine attempted an overhead kick and was very unlucky to see his attempt go just wide of the left-hand post.

County were looking more threatening as the half came to a close, with Dale Roberts having to make two saves, first from a shot across goal by Craig Reid after he had found space on the right, and then from a Adie Harris free kick.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Newport County 0

The second half started with a bang, as first Simon Brown set Michael Rankine free down the right, and he outpaced Vickers to get in a low ball across the area to Lee Tomlin but the shot was straight at Thompson. County then took the lead as a long hopeful ball bounced in front of Dale Roberts, but the bounce was higher than the keeper anticipated, and he could only get a fingertip to the ball, and it fell to Craig Reid for a simple tap in on 48 minutes.

The Diamonds defence then became very ragged, with a number of missed tackles and miscued clearances, coupled with a couple of nervous moments for Roberts as the visitors threatened to increase their lead. The game also saw four yellow cards in quick succession as it became more lively. The Diamonds threw on Sam Smith and Yannick Bolasie on the hour mark for the ineffective Brown and Wolleaston. Marcus Kelly switched to the right, with Lee Tomlin moving infield.

The match was now quite open, and the best Diamonds chance fell to Michael Rankine as Sam Smith flicked on a cross from the left, but the striker could only shoot straight at Thompson.

The final change was to bring on Lee Phillips with 10 minutes to go, but this had little immediate impact on the game, which had become very disjointed, as County took any opportunity to run down the clock. The referee had noted this from the point he booked keeper Thompson (who was one of the worst culprits), and could easily have been shown a second yellow for repeated time-wasting offences, and as a result the referee dictated there should be a minimum of six minutes of added time .It was during this period, in the third of the added minutes, that long ball was knocked on by Michael Rankine for Sam Smith to force the ball over the line for a dramatic equaliser. There was more to come though, as on the next attack Michael Rankine beat his man on the left edge of the area and hit a powerful shot the rebounded off the underside of the bar and away to safety.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1

In the first period of Extra Time the Diamonds won a penalty inside the first two minutes as Paul Cochlin fouled Lee Phillips, but Curtis Woodhouse saw his spotkick well saved to his left by Glyn Thompson.

The visitors then had a great chance of their own, with Josh Klein-Davis and Wayne Turk combining, but the chance was squandered.

The Diamonds dominated the remainder of this period, with several near misses from corners – notably Chris Hope headers.

The first period ended with the score still 1-1. The Diamonds had adjusted their formation to allow for the attacking focus they had deployed to get the equaliser, so Michael Corcoran and moved to the centre of a back three with Chris Hope and Curtis Woodhouse, and Corcoran made two excellent headers to halt dangerous looking County attacks. Curtis Osano was playing further forward on the right, and he produced a dangerous cross that almost produced a Diamonds winner. Marcus Kelly had also had a good game, and he had showed his flexibility by playing on the right side of midfield

The second period lacked the excitement of the first half, with neither side creating too many chances, although keeper Thompson continued to impress as he cut out a dangerous Rankine cross.

The visitors had a good claim for a penalty of their own as Curtis Woodhouse appeared to pull back Klein-Davis on the edge of the area – but nothing was given and the game went to penalties

After Extra-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1

The penalties were taken at the empty AirWair end.

Penalty 1 :Michael Rankine – scored (low right) 1-0

Penalty 2 :Craig Reid – scored (low right) 1-1

Penalty 3 :Michael Corcoran – scored (high left) 2-1

Penalty 4 :Rob Duffy – saved (low right) 2-1

Penalty 5 :Lee Phillips – scored (low left) 3-1

Penalty 6 :Adie Harris – scored (high left) 3-2

Penalty 7 :Sam Smith – scored (low right) 4-2

Penalty 8 :Danny Rose – scored (high right) 4-3

Penalty 9 :Curtis Woodhouse – scored (low right 5-3

Rushden & Diamonds win 5-3 on penalties.

After such a narrow victory in an even game the Diamonds can now focus on the league over the Christmas and New Year period before preparing for the trip to face Torquay United in Round 2 on January 10th. The next league game is at home to Northwich Victoria on Saturday.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Gareth Jelleyman (Lee Phillips 80), Chris Hope, Curtis Osano, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston (Yannick Bolasie 60), Marcus Kelly, Curtis Woodhouse (Capt), Michael Rankine, Simon Brown (Sam Smith 60)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott, Jamie McGuinness.

Newport County : Glyn Thompson, Paul Bignot, Martyn Giles, Wayne Turk, Ashley Vickers (Capt), Paul Cochlin, Danny Rose, Craig Hughes(Rob Duffy 83), Craig Reid, Adie Harris, Kevin Cooper (Josh Klein-Davies 80)

Subs Not Used : Steve Jenkins, Kris Leek, Scott James

Goals : Craig Reid (48), Sam Smith (90+3)

Yellow Cards : Corcoran, Thompson, Vickers, Tomlin, Bolasie, Cochlin, Woodhouse

Referee : D Ford

Diamonds Man of The Match : Michael Corcoran

Attendance : 421 (away 47)

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