Mansfield Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Rushden & Diamonds won a hard earned point against Mansfield Town with an impressive defensive display in a poor game at Field Mill. The Diamonds saw more of the possession during the first-half, but failed to capitalise, with a series of wasted corners and free kicks. The Stags had the better of the second half, with two efforts narrowly missing the goal, and an Aaron O’Connor shot blocked, but neither goalkeeper was really tested during the entire game.

Garry Hill had brought back Jake Beecroft in place of Justine Cochrane, and Rob Wolleaston started in place of the suspended Lee Tomlin. Neil Cousins was awarded his first league start alongside Michael Rankine. The back 4 was unchanged with Michael Corcoran having been passed fit. Gareth Jelleyman was able to take a place on the bench on his return from injury.

With so many changes in personnel for the home team, David Holdsworth gave a home debut to Paul Mayo as well as naming recent arrivals Anthony Howell and Curtis Shaw on the bench for the first time at Field Mill. Ex Diamonds Alan Marriott and Rob Duffy were in the starting XI, as was ex-Diamonds triallist Aaron O’Connor. Michael Blackwood returned to the side in place of Curtis Woodhouse.

The Diamonds formation was either 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1, with Andy Burgess and Jake Beecroft playing behind Neil Cousins on the right, Marcus Kelly on the left, with Rob Wolleaston having a free role behind lone striker Michael Rankine.

In the first half Dale Roberts was the busier keeper as he had to field the better hit dead ball kicks from the home team, as well as shepherding a powerful attempt by Jonathan D’Laryea wide.

The Diamonds however had more of the play, and their best move of the half came when Marcus Kelly fed the ball to Rob Wolleaston in midfield who then threaded a ball through the home defence for Neil Cousins to run onto. The Diamonds striker was pulled down by Scott Garner on the edge of the box, but Andy Burgess wasted the free kick – although the Diamonds bench were appealing that a penalty kick should have been awarded – either way it was surprising that Garner did not see a yellow card, especially when Curtis Osano was punished for a lesser challenge a few minutes later..

Cousins had come close as early as the third minute when he latched on to a low Kelly cross, but Adie Moses managed to take the sting out of the shot allowing Marriott to gather. Marcus Kelly also made Marriott gather up a shot hit from the edge of the box as the visitors dominated the first half.

The other good chance of the half came when Chris Hope flicked on a long free kick to Michael Rankine, but he had his back to goal, and could only win a corner. Like the other two Diamonds corners, Marcus Kelly could not beat the first man and the position was wasted.

A further chance from a dead-ball situation came when Gary Silk handled on the edge of the box, but this time it was Kelly who wasted the free-kick.

Half-Time : Mansfield Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds attacking attempts in the second half were few and far between, with Rob Wolleaston doing well to get in a cross from the left of the box that eluded everyone, and Neil Cousins having a shot that was well wide. The only other attempt was when Marcus Kelly put in a cross with his right foot that was only cleared as far as Andy Burgess, but his attempt with his right foot was well wide.

After their poor showing from set pieces in the first half, the Diamonds failed to win a corner or a free kick in a dangerous position for the entire second half.

The impressive Kurt Robinson was booked for a challenge on Aaron O’connor despite clearly winning the ball – perhaps referee Halliday (who otherwise had a good game) thought the tackle could have been dangerous had he not connected with the ball.

The home side had a number of chances to open the scoring during the half, but none really tested Roberts as the Diamonds defence was looking very impressive. Curtis Osano made the most crucial block of an Aaron O’Connor shot after he had been set up by substitute Ameobi.

Michaal Blackwood was the home side’s most impressive player, and his free kick looked like it might be heading over the Diamonds defence towards Scott Garner at the far post, but Chris Hope did enough to thwart the attempt on goal.

The Diamonds will be happy with an away point, and with the clean sheet, although the lack of second-half firepower will be a concern, as will the failure to create any sort of danger from free-kicks and corners. Lee Tomlin will be available on Sunday when Cambridge United are the visitors to Nene Park.

Full-Time : Mansfield Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Teams:

Mansfield Town : Alan Marriott, Gary Silk, Paul Mayo (Tomi Ameobi 52), Jonathan D’Laryea (Capt), Adie Moses, Matt Somner, Michael Blackwood, Louis Briscoe (Anthony Howell 86), Scott Garner, Aaron O’Connor (Neil MacKenzie), Robert Duffy

Subs : Dan Whatsize, Curtis Shaw

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Chris Hope, Michael Corcoran, Rob Wolleaston (Sam Smith 68), Andy Burgess (Capt), Jake Beecroft, Marcus Kelly, Michael Rankine, Neil Cousins (Jamie McGuinness 85)

Subs Not Used : Joe Day, Daniel Broadbent, Gareth Jelleyman

Yellow Cards : Curtis Osano (foul), Kurt Robinson (foul)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Michael Corcoran

Attendance 2028 (away 56)

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