Altrincham 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

The Diamonds conceded an injury time equaliser in a game they should have won comfortably, drawing 2-2 at Moss Lane.

The Robins took the lead against the run of play after 34 minutes when the ball was swept across the Diamonds area, and Peter Doran found Shaun Densmore in space on the right hand side, and his attempt on goal deflected off Kurt Robinson to give Dale Roberts no chance. The Diamonds had created many chances during the first half, with Jefferson Louis hitting the bar, and Coburn saving well from Louis and Lee Tomlin (twice), so the equalising goal was well deserved. A Tomlin corner was cleared out to Max Porter, and his cross back into the area deflected off John McAlister (not Greg Young as originally thought) for what was initially credited as an own goal, but later reviews suggested the goal should be credited to Max Porter himself. The Diamonds had many chances to take the lead in the second half before Paul Terry scored the goal his performance deserve, scoring with a deflected left-foot shot. The Diamonds then allowed a late equaliser as Curtis Osano failed to deal with a bouncing ball, and Chris Denham chipped the stranded Dale Roberts.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the starting XI that achieved the 8-0 victory at Nene Park last weekend, with Craig Farrell starting in place of Aaron O’Connor, and Curtis Osano replacing Simon Downer who was not risked due to a knee problem. Cliff Akurang returned as the one other change on the bench

Altrincham manager Graham Heathcote welcomed back captain Robbie Lawton as one of his two changes to the side that defeated Kettering Town on Tuesday evening.

The pattern of the game was quickly established, with the Diamonds winning the majority of the challenges, even in the final third, but their finishing lacked the killer touch, with efforts fired wide or at Stuart Coburn. A Kurt Robinson cross from the left flicked off the head of Michael Welch which was just enough to stop Jefferson Louis heading home. Craig Farrell was causing the home defence real problems, and his turn left a marker in his wake before an accurate pass to the feet of Lee Tomlin saw a turn and shot saved by Coburn.

After 12 minutes the home side had their first dangerous attack of the game, with Chris Senior setting up Peter Doran for a shot that was deflected for a corner, and from the resulting kick there was a scramble in front of goal before Paul Terry forced the ball clear.

At the other end Jefferson Louis fired against the angle of post and bar after forcing his way past two defenders and into the left-hand side of the area, and he then turned provider when he received the ball from a tenacious Max Porter and fired a low cross across the face of goal which Lee Tomlin was unable to stretch or dive to reach.

A sweeping Diamonds move involving Corcoran and Farrell saw Mark Byrne hit a dangerous cross that was cleared for a corner, and then Louis forced a save from Coburn after a great turn in the area. Tomlin then brought an even better save out of Coburn when he received a flick from Louis, burst past two defenders and fired a shot that looked destined for the top corner. Louis then fired into the side netting as it looked a matter of time before the Diamonds took the lead.

As often happens, it was the hosts who took the lead, against the run of play, as a break down the left saw the ball fed into the centre, where Peter Doran kept the ball moving out to the unmarked Shaun Densmore on the right. His shot took a big deflection off Kurt Robinson to give the Robins the lead after 34 minutes – it looked like the shot was going wide without that deflection, and may have been intended as a pass to a teammate.

Curtis Osano and Dale Roberts then had a moment of indecision in dealing with a long ball, and Osano had to make a last ditch clearance for a corner.

The Diamonds got a deserved equaliser after 40 minutes. Craig Farrell hit a cross into the path of Lee Tomln, but it was intercepted by Robbie Williams for a corner. The result corner found the head of Jamie Stuart, but a challenge forced the ball out of the box to Max Porter, who hit a curling ball back into the box, and it found its way into the net, with a deflection off John McAlister (not Greg Young as originally thought) for what was initially credited as an own goal, but later reviews suggested the goal should be credited to Max Porter himself.

There was still time for Lee Tomlin to threaten to give the Diamonds a half-time lead, as his sublime ball control saw him control a long ball from Paul Terry with an excellent touch, beat two defenders and hit a low cross which once again there was nobody to slot home.

Half-Time: Altrincham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds started the second half with a bang, and had three great chances inside the first five minutes of the half. Corcoran, Byrne and Farrell combined with the striker hitting a shot just wide of the left-hand post, and then Byrne fired a chance over the bar, and then another low ball across the box saw Jefferson Louis fail to force the ball home at the left-hand post.

Greg Young was then rather lucky to only receive a yellow card when he pushed Lee Tomlin over as he tried to recover the ball after Louis was fouled.

The Diamonds hit the woodwork for the second time in the game when Craig Farrell headed a Tomlin cross onto the bar, and it was no surprise when the Diamonds took the lead shortly after bringing on Aaron O’Connor as a substitute. He played a 1-2 with to Paul Terry who was running in towards the right-hand side of goal, and Terry’s left-foot shot also took a deflection, but it looked goal bound anyway.

The Diamonds then had further chances to make the game safe, as once again an excellent Diamonds break ended up with a dangerous ball fired low across the area, this time by Aaron O’Connor, but again there was nobody to bundle the ball home. At the other end Chris Denham turned and fired onto the Diamonds crossbar, but another good break by the visitors saw O’Connor and Terry combine, with latter dissecting the home defence for Matt Pattison to hit a shot that was scrambled wide.

After referee Wigglesworth signalled four minutes of added time, it was in the fourth of these that the Robins forced an equaliser, as a long ball forwards saw Osano and Roberts uncertain who should deal with it, with the centre back failing to control a ball which fell to Chris Denham who hit a shot that flew over the retreating Roberts head and into the net to make the final score 2-2.

Full-Time: Altrincham 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

The Diamonds were much the better side in this game, and could have had the game wrapped up well before the late equaliser. Having lost to Altrincham earlier in the season, this game showed the level of improvement at the club, and although disappointing, there were still many positives from the game. It was a better performance than at Histon or Tamworth, both of which ended up with the three points heading back to Northants.

The Diamonds now face Oxford United on Wednesday evening, with the U’s playing on Sunday afternoon to try to regain second spot in the table.

Teams :

Altrincham: Stuart Coburn, Shaun Densmore, Greg Young, Robbie Williams, Ryan Brown, Peter Doran (Colin Little 69), Anthony Danylyk (Adam Carden 21), Robbie Lawton (capt), Michael Welch, John McAliskey (Chris Denham 54), Chris Senior

Subs Not Used: Russell Saunders (GK), Nicky Clee

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Kurt Robinson, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Mark Byrne, Max Porter, Paul Terry, Craig Farrell (Aaron O’Connor 72), Jefferson Louis, Lee Tomlin (Matt Pattison 84)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Sam Smith, Cliff Akurang

Goals: Densmore (34, 1-0), Porter (40, 1-1), Terry (73, 1-2), Denham (90+4, 2-2)

Yellow Cards: Young, Robinson, Byrne, Terry, Denham

Referee: R Wigglesworth

Attendance: 1035 (Away approx 125)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Paul Terry

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