Gateshead 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds gained a point from an even game on Tyneside, with neither side looking likely to break the deadlock, with the hosts recording their first clean sheet of the season. The draw extended the Diamonds unbeaten run to six games.

Diamonds Manager Justin Edinburgh made two changes from the team that beat Mansfield on Saturday, with the injured Paul Terry being replaced by Max Porter, and Cliff Akurang starting in place of Aaron O’Connor. Sam Smith replaced Aaron O’Connor on the bench after the latter picked up a strain in the warm-up.

The Tynesiders included 19-year goalkeeper Paul Farman for his debut in the huge athletics stadium on a cool evening.

The first half was a fairly lacklustre affair, with chances few and far between. The hosts had an early chance when a mistake by Mark Byrne allowed Armand One to break clear, but a block by Jamie Stuart and a wayward attempt by Michael Mackay meant the chance was wasted.

Other than this chance, the other noteworthy action in the first quarter was when referee Halliday went down "very easily", and needed attention before continuing.

It was only as the game moved into the second quarter that the Diamonds started to pose a serious attacking threat, with a Tomlin run into the area seeing a low ball cleared by the defence, and a follow-up cross from Kurt Robinson brushed the head of Craig Farrell when Cliff Akurang might have been better placed. Another Tomlin run into the area saw a deflected shot well saved by Farman.

Attempts by Matt Pattison (blocked), Mark Byrne (header – saved) and Curtis Osano (over bar) were the Diamonds other threats in the first half, but the Tynesiders also had a couple of good chances, notably via Graeme Armstrong on the flanks – and one of his runs was halted by Mark Byrne who picked up his fourth yellow card of the season. Another run saw him reach the byline on the right and hit a good cross that Simon Downer cleared over the bar. Cliff Akurang was also helping out his defenders at set pieces, and they dealt well with the threat of 6 feet 5 inches Armand One.

At the other end the Diamonds defence was having a solid game, quashing much of the hosts attacking threat, although there were a number of unforced errors that caused concern at times.

The final action of the half saw Mark Byrne have a shot saved by Farman, but the half-time interval was a welcome break for the 400 spectators.

Half Time: Gateshead 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The second half started in a lively fashion, with both sides having better chances than they had created in the entire first half. The best of these for the Diamonds fell to Curtis Osano when he made space at the far post at a corner, which flicked off Armand One to him, but he headed over the bar.

At the other end the Diamonds defence were again causing themselves problems, and a panicked pass back to Abbey saw the keeper slice his clearance, but recovered his ground sufficiently to pull off an excellent saw as Michael Mackay fired towards the far corner of the goal. From the resultant corner Chris Swailes went close with a header.

Craig Farrell then got a firm header on the end of a Robinson cross, but Farman saved comfortably.

The action quickly returned to the other end of the pitch, as an Alex Francis chip into the area found Armand One in space, but again the Frenchman failed to hit the target.

The game then settled back to the level of the first half, with real chances few and far between.

On the 70th minute the most controversial incident of the game occurred. A Diamonds attack broke down just as the linesman flagged Kurt Robinson offside. Referee Halliday waved play on, as the home side had initial possession, indicating the flag should be put down. As he did this Max Porter won the ball in midfield and set Lee Tomlin free on the left, and he aimed a cross into the penalty box, only to see it hit the raised arms of Craig Baxter for what looked a clear penalty. Referee Halliday waved away these claims much to the surprise of the 400 watching the action.

The Diamonds appeared to tire as the game entered the final quarter, with a number of set pieces lacking the quality seen in recent games, but the Diamonds defence continued to cover for each other, with Robinson covering Stuart, and then the Diamonds captain covering for his centre-back partner Simon Downer.

The nearest the Diamonds came to breaking the deadlock was after 82 minutes, when Sam Smith replaced Cliff Akurang, and he was set up by Lee Tomlin to hit a powerful snap shot with his first touch, forcing Farman to make the best save of the evening.

The Diamonds also had Lee Tomlin and Craig Farrell booked for falling "very easily" under challenges near the edge of the penalty area, although the latter was well tackled and perhaps would feel aggrieved with the card in what was the final action of the game.

Full Time : Gateshead 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds face the long trip home before preparing for another road trip at the weekend – this time braving the M25 on their trip to play Crawley Town. Manager Justin Edinburgh felt that both Aaron O’Connor and Paul Terry might be fit for this game.

Gateshead (White / Black): Paul Farman, Craig Baxter, Kris Gate, James Curtis, Phil Turnbull, Graeme Armstrong, Alex Francis (Wayne Phillips 73), Chris Swailes, Phil Cave, Michael Mackay (Jamie Harwood 73), Armand One (Steven Richardson 62)

Subs: Jim Provett, Mark Robinson

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow): Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Matt Pattison, Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang (Sam Smith 83), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: Michael Corcoran, James Reid, Dale Roberts, Neil Cousins

Goals: None

Yellow Cards: Byrne, Harwood, Tomlin, Farrell

Referee: Mr A Halliday

Attendance: 409 (away approx 30)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Curtis Osano


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