Rushden & Diamonds 1 Fleetwood Town 1

The Diamonds scored a very late equaliser to snatch a draw with newcomers Fleetwood Town in the opening game of the Blue Square Bet Premier season. An opening goal at Conference level for Fleetwood was scored by Magno Viera midway through the first half. It took until the third minute of injury time for the Diamonds to get their goal when Michael Corcoran headed home a Craig Farrell corner. The Diamonds missed a penalty in the first half, but the visitors would have been the most disappointed to drop two points.

Justin Edinburgh had to make further change to his defensive line-up with Michael Corcoran starting at left back. Up-front new loan signing Rene Howe lined up alongside Donovan Simmonds and Craig Farrell. In addition to Howe and Simmonds there were Diamonds league debuts for Alan Power. Lewwis Spence and Justin Miller in the starting line-up, with Matt Johnson and Ryan Charles on the bench.

Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon included a number of his summer signings in his starting line-up, including Ian Craney, Magno Viera and Wayne Curtis.

The visitors had the best of the first half, and deservedly took the lead after 23 minutes when a poor header by Curtis Osano went straight to Magno Viera, who volleyed into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Viera had another chance after a mistake from Power which was blocked, and both Curtis and Craney were giving the Diamonds defence problems as they threatened a second goal. A major concern for the Diamonds defence were the set piece moves from the visitors, with midfielder Nathan Pond finding space to have a free header on goal on several occasions.

With five minutes left of a half where they had created few chances the Diamonds had a chance to equalise,. Good work from Lewwis Spence, and a 1-2 with Donovan Simmonds saw him find Alan Power with his back to goal, and he was clearly fouled by Paul Linwood to give Diamonds an opening day penalty for the third season running. Craig Farrell struck the penalty with power, but it was in the centre of goal and Fleetwood keeper Hurst stretched up an arm to deflect the ball over the bar.

Michael Corcoran picked a yellow card early in the game for a late tackle, and was followed into the book by Beeley and Linwood.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Fleetwood Town 1

The second half started in a similar fashion to the way the first half had ended, with both sides struggling for fluency, but the Diamonds did at least start to generate some attacking threat.

Donovan Simmonds managed to link up with Justin Miller in a neat move down the right before lashing the ball towards goal, with Hurst forced to palm the ball away from danger. This proved to be Simmonds last contribution to the game, as the Diamonds began a series of substitutions by firstly introducing Ryan Charles for his debut.

Fleetwood continued to threaten from corners, and one of these from the left, taken by Ian Craney saw Dale Roberts do well to smother an effort by Magno Viera. In contrast Craig Farrell was trying a free kick that could best be described as a “grubber kick”, but his attempt in both halves produced little danger. An Osano free kick wasn’t properly cleared, and a chance fell to Alan Power but his effort was lashed wildly over the scoreboard.

The impressive Nathan Pond was than penalised for a tackle on Max Porter in the centre circle after 68 minutes, and the Curtis Osano free kick was neatly deflected into the path of Craig Farrell by Michael Corcoran towards the left corner. Farrell made a run to the near post, but his flick only found the side netting.

Shane Huke then replaced Max Porter in midfield before Matt Johnson made his first appearance in place of Lewwis Spence. These changes energised the Diamonds, and the last 15 minutes were the Diamonds only real period of dominance in the game. As the game entered injury time Matt Johnson showed good control to force a corner that was cleared, but a minute late Rene Howe broek down the left and won the second corner in quick succession with the game in the third minute of injury time. Craig Farrell hit a powerful low corner across the box, and Michael Corcoran rose to head home the last gasp equaliser.

Referee Long brought the game to and end shortly afterwards, with the visitors leaving the pitch to deserved applause after impressing in their first game in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Fleetwood Town 1

The Diamonds have three days to prepare for the trip to Bath in midweek, although Justin Edinburgh is more confident that Jamie Day, Sam Smith and Aaron O’Connor may be available for selection for the following game at Barrow.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Justin Miller, Michael Corcoran, Max Porter (Shane Huke 72), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Alan Power, Lewwis Spence (Matt Johnson 80), Craig Farrell, Rene Howe, Donovan Simmonds (Ryan Charles 57)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Kurt Robinson,

Fleetwood Town: Danny Hurst, Shaun Beeley, Anthony Barry, Steve McNulty (Capt), Nathan Pond, Ian Craney, Magno Vieira (Mark Beesley 72), Simon Grand, Jamie McGuire, Paul Linwood, Wayne Curtis

Subs Not Used: Lee Thorpe, Scott Davies (GK), Gareth Seddon, Peter Cavanagh.

Goals: Viera (23, 0-1), Corcoran (90+3, 1-1)

Yellow Cards: Corcoran, Beeley, Linwood

Referee : Simon Long

Diamonds Man of the Match: Dale Roberts

Attendance: 1248 (away 155)

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

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