York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

The Diamonds saw their away campaign in the 2009-10 season start with a well-deserved point in a goalless draw against York City. The fact that the home sponsors gave their man of the match award to York keeper Michael Ingham perhaps sums up the evening, as the Diamonds dominated midfield and reduced York to break-aways and long-balls for long periods. Ingham made a world class save to deny Neil Cousins mid way through the second half as the Diamonds pushed for the goal their play deserved. Despite some late scares when York brought on Michael Gash to partner Richard Brodie, the point was the least the Diamonds deserved from the evening.

The Diamonds started with Craig Farrell, Neil Cousins, Max Porter and Michael Corcoran in the side, meaning places on the bench for Cliff Akurang, Nick McNamara and James Reid. Mark Byrne and Matt Pattison completed the five players on the bench. Martin Foyle was able to name the same 16 that played at Oxford at the weekend. Corcoran started at right back, with Curtis Osano moving to centre back.

The Diamonds had the better of the first half, with some fine moves combined with energetic closing down of their opponents; soliciting cries of "look like you want it" and "move yourselves" from the home crowd towards their team.

York did come the closest to opening the scoring, when Alex Lawless and Neil Barrett combined to break past Jamie Stuart, and Curtis Osano fouled Barrett on the edge of the box, with the referee signalling the free kick before the ball was put into the net by Michael Rankine.

At the other end the Diamonds came close when Lee Tomlin switched to the right (he had started on the left) and nutmegged James Meredith as he burst to the corner of the six-yard box, but keeper Ingham parried his shot away for a corner, with Rob Wolleaston on hand if the ball had got past him.

Tomlin also created a great chance for Craig Farrell with a cross from the left, after a great ball from Max Porter had found him in space, but the ball struck the striker on the arm, and the referee had blown his whistle before the ball was put into the net by Porter who had run 50 yards in support.

Half-Time: York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The second half was rather more even, with the Diamonds best spell coming midway through the half, as firstly Cousins was denied by Ingham, and then James Reid, Craig Farrell, Rob Wolleaston and Cliff Akurang all went close, with Farrell putting in a fine performance against his old club, Reid looking far less nervous than he did on Saturday, and Max Porter being especially impressive on his full debut for the club, including a powerful effort from 30 yards that Ingham did well to parry. Centre backs Osano and Stuart were ably supported by Corcoran and Robinson, with Dale Roberts quick to gather any loose balls. Lee Tomlin had to leave the action on the hour mark due to a recurrence of an injury sustained in training.

The only real scare early in the half came when Curtis Osano tried to play football when under pressure, rather than resorting to "Row Z" tactics, and his attempt to get a goal-kick off the shins of Andy Ferrell saw the ex-Kidderminster midfielder set clear on goal, near the byline, and his low cross brought the best out of Dale Roberts as he scooped the ball away to safety. Roberts also did well to tip a curling shot from Brodie around a post.

Once again the home crowd started to get restless with their team, with shouts of "look interested" as well as discussion about how a team as impressive as the Diamonds could have lost to Salisbury.

Neil Cousins picked up a yellow card for his part in a mêlée after Neil Barrett had fouled Rob Wolleaston. Referee Khatib had handled the game very well, and had kept his cards in his pocket on a couple of occasions, but he had little alternative to penalise the worst tackle of the game.

Michael Rankine left the field to a standing ovation from the home crowd, but although he had won his share of headers, very little was created from them as a result of excellent covering work by the Diamonds defence.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, the Minstermen had perhaps their best period of the game, with the Diamonds starting to tire after such excellent closing down and winning such a percentage of "second ball". They had a claim for a penalty when Jamie Stuart brought down Richard Brodie just outside the box, and then Brodie broke clear but poor control allowed the Diamonds defence to clear the danger.

There was still a Diamonds threat at the other end, even though it appeared they would be happy with a draw by this stage – with excellent interchanges between Porter, Wolleaston and Cousins seeing Cousins shot blocked, and then Cliff Akurang almost made the home defence pay for sloppy play by beating his man and running on goal as the match entered injury time. Although he appeared to move the ball to make space past Ingham, his shot went across the face of the goal and away to safety. Akurang had a final chance when Craig Farrell flicked the ball on, and although he shrugged off his marker his shot went across the face of the goal once more.

Full-Time: York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Teams:

York City: Michael Ingham, Alex Lawless, David McGurk, Danny Parslow (Capt), James Meredith, Ben Purkiss, Levi Mackin, Andy Ferrell, Neil Barrett, Michael Rankine, Richard Brodie

Subs: Craig Nelthorpe(for Ferrell 60), Michael Gash (for Rankine 68), Adam Smith (for Lawless 86).

Subs Not Used: Djoumin Sangare, Alan O’Hare

Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Rob Wolleaston, Lee Tomlin, Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell, Neil Cousins.

Subs: James Reid (for Tomlin 59), Cliff Akurang (for O’Connor 63).

Subs Not Used: Nick McNamara, Matt Pattison, Mark Byrne

Yellow Cards: Barrett 73 (foul), Cousins 73 (reaction to foul)

Referee: Billy Khatib

Diamonds Man of the Match: Max Porter

Attendance: 2267 (away 93)

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