Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kettering Town 0

It was a case of honours even in the local derby at Nene Park as the Diamonds and Kettering fought out a goalless draw at a soggy Nene Park. Chances were few and far between, with Aaron O’Connor twice going close, including an effort that hit the post in the second half, and there was a late scare for the Diamonds when a Marna free kick was deflected by Paul Terry but well saved by Dale Roberts. Max Porter had a good chance in both halves, one a volley that flew just over, and then a free header in the second that he could only direct at Abbey, but the game ended as the Diamonds 100th draw at Football Conference level.

Justin Edinburgh brought in Max Porter and Curtis Osano to replace Michael Corcoran and the injured Rob Wolleaston. Sam Smith was unable to claim a place in the Diamonds 16 despite his key goals scored against the Diamonds local rivals last season. Lee Harper was able to name an unchanged Kettering side.

Credit is due to the Diamonds ground-staff, as they worked to hard to make the pitch playable after heavy overnight rain.

The first half was a fairly even affair, with Kettering having a couple of early chances from free kicks. Max Porter still has to open his account for the Diamonds, but he came close to doing so after Mark Byrne won a header, which Jefferson Louis then flicked to Porter just outside the area, but his volley flew just over.

Lee Tomlin threatened on a number of occasions, with Abbey having to save a well-hit free kick shortly after palming another effort away for a corner, having previously seen Tomlin shrug off three defenders before saving his low shot.

Jamie Stuart was adjudged to have fouled the ineffective Appiah, although he appeared to have cleanly won a challenge to head the ball, and worse still it meant he picked up his tenth booking of the season, which means he will miss the next two games.

As half-time approached Mark Byrne found some space on the right near the byline, but his anticipated cross turned out to be an attempt on goal, and it landed on the roof of the net.

There was still time for Aaron O’Connor to make room on the left hand side of the area to hit a low shot which Abbey did well to stretch and palm wide, although referee Bull failed to spot the save and a goal kick was awarded.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kettering Town 0

The visitors brought on Jean-Paul Marna at half-time, but it was ex-Diamond Marcus Kelly who made his one meaningful contribution of the game shortly after the break, as he cut inside and hit a cross with his right-foot which seemed to catch Dale Roberts unawares, and the keeper had to palm the ball away.

At the other end Lee Tomlin set free in the left-channel by a pass from Jefferson Louis, and he had the vision to pick out an unmarked Max Porter at the far post, but Porter was in two minds whether to head towards goal or back to a team-mate, and ended up placing a tame header into Abbey’s midriff.

A routine Marcus Kelly corner almost embarrassed the Diamonds defence as they allowed John Dempster a free header that he directed over the bar.

James Jennings had been at the centre of a controversial incident when the Poppies visited Barrow last weekend, and he was guilty of the worst challenge of the game when he brought down Curtis Osano, and deservedly received a yellow card. From the free kick the ball was worked forwards and a misunderstanding in the visitors defence saw the ball fall loose for Aaron O’Connor to run clear on goal, but his effort across Abbey struck the far post and away to safety.

The Poppies immediately created one of their best chances of the game, as James Dance played a 1-2 with Marna but his shot didn’t trouble Dale Roberts. Simon Downer was having another very impressive game, and he was able to snuff out several attacks before they really developed.

Lee Tomlin was set up for a shot by Aaron O’Connor which flew just wide, and then substitute Akurang placed a ball into the path of Mark Byrne just outside the six-yard box, but he was tackled before he could get his shot on goal.

Paul Terry then picked up his tenth booking after a poor pass from Tomlin forced him into a mistimed challenge, which means he will miss the next two games along with Jamie Stuart. The Diamonds were then unhappy to see a challenge from Ian Roper on Lee Tomlin go unpunished, as it looked an identical challenge that saw Jamie Stuart collect a yellow card in the first half.

Lee Harper had made all of his three substitutions in an attempt to change his side’s fortunes during the half, and his final throw of the dice was to push ex-Diamond John Dempster up-front.

As the game neared full-time the visitors had their best chance of the game, when a Stuart header towards Curtis Osano on the left side of the area saw the defender pulled up for a foul challenge on James Jennings. The Diamonds only set up a two man wall, which invited Jean-Paul Marna to hit the ball towards the far post, and he saw his effort deflect off the bottom of Paul Terry’s boot, forcing Dale Roberts to make the best save of the game.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kettering Town 0

The Diamonds will be pleased that they responded to the defeat at Oxford with a draw against the team that has the best away record in the country, but they will now be looking for three points on Wednesday when they make the short trip to Histon.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Mark Byrne, Paul Terry, Jefferson Louis (Cliff Akurang 63), Aaron O’Connor (Craig Farrell 90), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Michael Corcoran, Matt Pattison

Kettering Town: Nathan Abbey, Greg Taylor, Ian Roper, John Dempster, James Jennings, Patrick Noubisse, Darren Wrack (Andre Boucaud 73), Jordan Hadfield, Marcus Kelly (Danny Thomas 69), Kwesi Appiah (Jean-Paul Marna H/T), James Dance

Subs Not Used: Niall Cooper (GK), Alton Thelwell

Goals: None

Yellow Cards: Hadfield, Stuart, Jennings, Terry

Referee: Michael Bull (Chelmsford)

Attendance: 2998 (Away 1015)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by First Defence Solicitors: Simon Downer

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