Eastbourne Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds got their first goal of the season, but poor finishing meant they failed to beat Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane. The home side had taken the lead on 25 minutes, as a Dale Roberts punch was volleyed into the net by Simon Weatherstone. The Diamonds equalised after 57 minutes, shortly after bringing on Lee Tomlin and Cliff Akurang, and it was a Tomlin cross following a corner that found Akurang unmarked on the edge of the 6-yard box to slot the ball home. Although the home side had the better of the play in the first half, the Diamonds improved in the second, and had enough chances to win the game.

The Diamonds started with Michael Corcoran replacing the injured Kurt Robinson at left-back, with Simon Downer returning in the centre of defence, allowing Curtis Osano to revert to right back. Lee Tomlin was not risked for a starting place, so James Reid started, with Tomlin on an otherwise unchanged bench.

The Sports included new signing Simon Weatherstone as their only change from the team that beat AFC Wimbledon in midweek, with Dan Smith stepping down to the bench.

The home side had much the better of the early exchanges, and could have gone ahead after 5 minutes when Liam Marum ran onto an Austin cross, getting to the ball before the outrushing Roberts, but his header went wide of the left-hand post.

It wasn’t until the 15th minute that the Diamonds had their first meaningful attack, with Rob Wolleaston making a good run into the area to get onto a Max Porter through-ball, but as he tried to get the ball under control his chance was smothered. The Diamonds then saw an opportunity denied by the offside flag, as a chipped cross from Neil Cousins on the right found Aaron O’Connor, but the linesman flagged him offside before he slotted the ball home.

This brief period of Diamonds pressure soon ended, and Simon Weatherstone went close when a cross from the left was headed out to him by Simon Downer.

The home side were forced into a change after Neil Jenkins injured himself as he challenged James Reid, with Dan Brown switching to left-back and Matt Smart joining to play in midfield. Within a few minutes the home side had taken the lead, as a long Austin cross from the right was hooked back across from the left by Matt Crabb, forcing Dale Roberts into a punch at full stretch, and the ball went straight to Simon Weatherstone who volleyed the ball into the net.

The home side came close to increasing their lead when a powerful shot from Matt Smart was well saved by Dale Roberts, low to his left.

The Diamonds sole attempt to trouble keeper Knowles in the first half was a deflected shot by Aaron O’Connor, with Craig Farrell failing to trouble him with a volley on the turn from a Wolleaston headed cross, or a long ball from James Reid that saw him running clear into the area. O’Connor also had a free run on goal following a Wolleaston long ball, but he could only lob over the bar.

Half-Time : Eastbourne Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

After the Diamonds had failed to take advantage of having the wind at their backs in the first half, they came out with far more attacking intent in the second.

Within three minutes Craig Farrell had won a free kick just outside the penalty area when he was felled by Darren Baker. Although this was the first opportunity for Farrell to take a kick in such a dangerous position since his success during the pre-season games, it was James Reid who took the kick, forcing Danny Knowles into his best save of the afternoon.

Farrell had another opportunity to break clear of the defence, albeit in a slightly wider position, but he allowed a defender to get in a tackle and win the goal kick. That was to be his last action of the match, as he was replaced by Cliff Akurang, and Lee Tomlin replaced James Reid shortly afterwards.

Between the two substitutions Jamie Stuart had misheaded backwards, forcing Simon Downer to bring down Taylor, but Ben Austin put the free-kick wide,

Within a couple of minutes of the substitutions the Diamonds had equalised. A long crossfield ball from Curtis Osano had glanced off Armstrong for a corner on the left, which Tomlin took short, receiving the ball back to hit a cross which Cliff Akurang pounced on, having slipped his marker, to fire home.

Max Porter looked to have freed Aaron O’Connor for a free run on goal, but the striker was adjudged just offside as the Diamonds were dominating play, with Tomlin and Akurang to the fore.

Tomlin was hauled down by Austin about 5 yards from the byline, just outside the penalty box on the left, and to most people’s surprise Tomlin had a shot on goal that Knowles did really well to parry away. From the resultant corner Jamie Stuart found space, but could only head over the bar.

A defensive mix-up gave the home side a rare chance to retake the lead, as Jamie Stuart appeared to shout Dale Roberts to field a ball that he was third favourite to get, behind Stuart and Jamie Taylor, but the Sports striker, although first to the ball, could only pull his shot wide.

With the Diamonds on top they would probably have not wanted the interruption of over three minutes after referee Berry went down injured and had to be replaced by his assistant Jaye.

The Diamonds were chasing the ball down far better now, with Rob Wolleaston starting to get reward for his efforts, and was unlucky that his blocked shot found Aaron O’Connor offside. Neil Cousins also came close when he got on the end of a Max Porter cross from the left, but his attempt was too close to Knowles.

The two worst tackles of the game on Tomlin and Akurang rightly earned Yellow cards for Austin and Brown, but again the Diamonds wasted the dead ball chances.

Although there had been two stoppages for player injuries, as well as the yellow card incidents, as well as the time taken to change officials, replacement referee Jaye only played 3 minutes of additional time, but it was the home side that almost snatched a winner during that period, as Simon Downer appeared distracted by a long ball over his head at the same time as a noisy jet from the local airshow flew overhead, and substitute Andy Atikin really could have done better with the chance he was presented with, lobbing the ball over the bar.

Full-Time : Eastbourne Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds have achieved a point in each of their two away games this season – and if they can win their next two home games then manager Edinburgh’s two-point average will be a lot closer.

Eastbourne Borough:Danny Knowles, Darren Baker, Neil Jenkins, Ben Austin, Marc Pullan, Simon Weatherstone, Paul Armstrong, Jamie Taylor, Liam Enver-Marum, Matt Crabb, Dan Brown

Subs: Matt Smart (for Jenkins 24), Andy Atkin (for Marum 79), Dan Smith (for Taylor 83). Not Used : Michael Jordan, Gary Elphick

Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Simon Downer, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Rob Wolleaston, Neil Cousins, Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell, James Reid

Subs : Cliff Akurang (for Farrell 52), Lee Tomlin (for Reid 56). Not Used : Nick McNamara, Matt Pattison, Mark Byrne

Goals : Simon Weatherstone (29), Cliff Akurang (58)

Yellow Cards : Ben Austin (foul), Dan Brown (foul)

Referee(s) : C Berry, R Jaye

Attendance : 941 (away approx 100)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Rob Wolleaston

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