Altrincham 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

A late goal from Rob Williams meant Diamonds had to settle for a draw with bottom of the table Altrincham at Moss Lane.

The home side had gone in front on 8 minutes when Damian Reeves headed in a Nicky Clee cross from close range. Rene Howe pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after 15 minutes after Jamie Day had been brought down by Robins captain Robbie Lawton. Aaron O’Connor then headed Diamonds in front on 73 minutes after a defensive error, but they were unable to hold on for the victory with Williams goal on 89 minutes resulting in the points being shared.

Diamonds manager Justin Edinburgh named an unchanged starting eleven after the midweek victory at Eastbourne. Alan Power returned to the bench in place of Dominic Green.

Altrincham caretaker manager Ken McKenna made one change from the side which drew against Kettering on Tuesday evening, with Matty Crowell replacing Andrai Jones in midfield.

Diamonds kicked off towards the visiting fans, but it was the home side that had a couple of early chances. Damian Reeves miss-hit Chris Denham’s cross before Denham fired in a long range shot wide of the target. For Diamonds, Rene Howe set up a chance for Matt Johnson, who shot just wide of the post. Johnson was playing further forward than normal, with Howe dropping back and going forward in support.

After just 8 minutes though, Diamonds fell behind. Nicky Clee took the ball down the left flank, wrong footing Max Porter. His cross in from the by-line found Damian Reeves unmarked in the centre, and he headed home from close range past Joe Day.

Despite the early set-back, Diamonds were back on level terms after 15 minutes, when Jamie Day made a strong run forward into the penalty area. As he ran past Robbie Lawton, the Robins captain made a clumsy challenge bringing Day to the ground. With Diamonds record from the penalty spot not being particularly good as of late, it was left to loanee Rene Howe to blast the ball past keeper James Coates to put things all square.

The game was fairly even as the half progressed. Jamie Day was causing problems for the home defence down the left side, and on 18 minutes, his cross saw Tim Sills go just wide. But the home side had chances to go back in front on the half hour point as they had their best period of the game. Reeves tried to curl in a shot from the edge of the area, but was closed down just in time. Altrincham were then awarded a free kick after Clee was fouled by Curtis Osano. Marc Joseph’s free kick was saved low down by Joe Day.

Almost immediately, Diamonds had another chance at the other end, this time from a Jamie Day free-kick. Jamie Stuart headed onto the post, before the offside flag was raised as there was a scramble to get on the end of the rebound.

Osano went into the referee’s note-book on 38 minutes, after bringing down Chris Denham, but Diamonds finished strongly, with Porter firing over, Howe heading wide, before Jamie Day had a 25 yard drive deflected over the bar.

Half-time: Altrincham 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds started to play the ball around more in the second half but despite having the better possession, they were unable to create good openings or threaten the Altrincham goal. Some hesitation by keeper James Coates on 58 minutes, saw him stranded as Howe gained possession close to the by-line, but as the ball was played back to Sills, his hurried shot went wide.

Jamie Day looked Diamonds most dangerous player but after some good interaction between himself and Aaron O’Connor, his shot was once again off target. Howe nearly created a chance for Sills and O’Connor, but Anthony Danylyk was back to block the danger.

Diamonds went in front on 73 minutes when Osano made a strong run forward. After the ball was played out to the left, Jamie Stuarts’ header towards goal looked to be heading for the keeper, but Marc Joseph appeared to head the ball out of his grasp and as the ball dropped in front of the goal, Aaron O’Connor was on hand to head the ball in.

The lead was nothing more than Diamonds deserved, but they failed to press home their advantage with Howe firing over the bar from the edge of the area. With just two minutes remaining, hesitation between keeper Joe Day and Justin Miller brought back memories of Diamonds last visit to Moss Lane, when a mix up allowed Chris Denham to equalise deep into injury time. This time, the ball was cleared away, but they continued to defend deep and Jamie Day conceded a free kick for a foul on Shaun Densmore some ten yards from the edge of the penalty area. The defence seemed to switch off as Nicky Clee’s free kick came into the area, and defender Rob Williams’ header at the far post found the corner of the goal to give Altrincham a share of the points.

The home side could have taken all three points in added time, but Day did well to save from substitute Kevin Holsgrove.

Full time: Altrincham 2 Diamonds 2

The late goal made the result feel more like a defeat rather than a draw, especially in view of the similar result to last season. Diamonds now have two home games next week, starting with Darlington, who visit Nene Park on Tuesday evening (7:45pm kick-off).

Altrincham: James Coates, James Smith, Marc Joseph, Rob Williams, Shaun Densmore, Robbie Lawton (c), Damian Reeves (James McCarthy 74), Chris Denham (Kevin Holsgrove 62), Nicky Clee, Anthony Danylyk, Matty Crowell (Sam Hewson 74).

Subs not used: Stuart Coburn, Andrai Jones.

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Justin Miller, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (c), Curtis Osano, Tim Sills (Ryan Charles 69), Aaron O’Connor, Rene Howe, Jamie Day, Matt Johnson (Lewwis Spence 83), Shane Huke.

Subs not used: Lance Key, Kurt Robinson, Alan Power.

Goals: Damian Reeves 8 (1-0), Howe 15pen (1-1), Aaron O’Connor 73 (1-2), Rob Williams 89 (2-2).

Booked: Curtis Osano 38 (foul), Anthony Danylyk 55 (foul), Rene Howe 85 (foul).

Referee: Mr Lee Metcalfe (Lancs)

Attendance: 897 (84 away)

Reporters Man of the Match: Jamie Day

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