Fleetwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Rushden & Diamonds recent run of poor results was halted as they fought back to draw 1-1 with Fleetwood Town at Highbury Stadium. The Cod Army took the lead after eight minutes when Anthony Barry fired home from the edge of the area after the Diamonds had failed to deal with a strong run from Wayne Curtis. The Diamonds equaliser came during a much improved second half performance when Aaron O’Connor rounded the home keeper to slot home after 73 minutes.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the team that lost at Kidderminster in midweek, with Lewwis Spence and Tim Sills being replaced by Matt Johnson and Joe Keehan respectively. Curtis Osano was moved to right back, changing places with Michael Corcoran, who played alongside Jamie Stuart in central defence. Joe Keehan made his first league appearance in a narrow four man midfield, behind the strike pairing of O’Connor and Howe.

Fleetwood manager Mickey Mellon was forced into changing the side that drew with Gateshead in midweek due to an injury to Gareth Seddon and the suspension of Shaun Beeley, and he also made several other changes with Ian Craney, Nathan Pond and Adam Warlow dropping out of the side. The changes meant they started the game with five in midfield behind striker Wayne Curtis.

The Diamonds struggled throughout the first half, with the Town midfield dominant, and had to wait until the 43rd minute for their sole shot on target of the half. By this time the hosts had taken the lead, and had wasted several chances to extend that lead.

The goal came after eight minutes when Wayne Curtis picked up the ball and ran at the Diamonds defence, eluding at least three tackles at close range before the ball was half-cleared to Anthony Barry, whose clean strike from the edge of the box gave Day no chance. Apart from his contribution in the build up to the opening goal, Curtis found gaps in the Diamonds defence on several other occasions, and from one of these he forced a Joe Day save, and from another he set up John Miles with what looked a simple chance, clear of the static Diamonds defence, but Day again saved comfortably.

Any Diamonds attacking threat was confidently dealt with by the home side, and despite their compact midfield shape most of the Diamonds moves involved a high ball forwards to their strikers, and these were easily dealt with by Steve McNulty and his fellow defenders.

The Diamonds first half performance was one of their worst showings for several seasons, probably since they lost 4-0 at Forest Green at the end of the 2008-09 season, and clearly a significant improvement was called for in the second half.

Half-Time: Fleetwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The first five minutes or so of the second half were largely stalemate, with neither team looking like taking control of the game. After 53 minutes the Diamonds made a change of both personnel and formation, with Ryan Charles replacing Joe Keehan, and a switch to a more conventional 4-3-3 formation with Charles on the right.

The Diamonds immediately looked a more composed side, and started to pass the ball on the floor, forcing the Fleetwood defence to turn, which put them under pressure for the first time in the game.

Just after the hour mark the new approach looked to have paid off when Howe found space on the left and worked the ball inside to O’Connor. Although O’Connor’s acceleration looked to have the beating of his marker, and he fell under a challenge in the area, referee Mohareb deemed he had dived and awarded O’Connor a yellow card rather than a spot-kick. This seemed to galvanise O’Connor to put right an injustice, as he, Howe and Charles made the Diamonds look much the more likely side to score.

A long ball from Curtis Osano was brought under control by O’Connor, whose run forced a corner, and from that kick the ball fell to Ryan Charles whose effort was cleared off the line. Rene Howe then turned past Steve McNulty and hit a dangerous low cross from the left, before Charles did the same from the right.

After 73 minutes the resurgent Diamonds equalised. Alan Power found space on the left to dissect the Town defence for Aaron O’Connor to run onto, neatly move the ball to one side of the advancing keeper and fire home.

For a while it looked like the Diamonds might push on to try to win the game, but after seeing the home side create two good chances for Nathan Pond, the second of which was a glaring miss, they seemed to settle for the draw.

Full-Time: Fleetwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds now have a free week before they face York City at Nene Park next weekend – although, for those who want to see match action before then. the Diamonds Youth team will face Wycombe Wanderers Youth team in the FA Youth Cup at Nene Park on Tuesday evening (stadium pitch).



Fleetwood Town : Scott Davies, Sean Clancy (Nathan Pond 63), Steve McNulty (Capt), Peter Cavanagh, Anthony Barry, Jamie McGuire, Louis Horne, James Mullan, Sean Gregan, John Miles (Lee Thorpe 86), Wayne Curtis (Adam Warlow 82).

Subs Not Used: Craig Dootson (GK), Nick Rogan.

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Michael Corcoran, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Max Porter, Alan Power (Lewwis Spence 90+2), Matt Johnson, Joe Keehan (Ryan Charles 53), Rene Howe, Aaron O’Connor (Tim Sills 89)

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts (GK), Craig Farrell.

Goals: Barry (1-0, 8 mins), O’Connor (1-1, 73mins)

Yellow Cards: Corcoran, O’Connor, Pond

Referee: Mr D Mohareb (Cheshire)

Attendance: 1,429 (75 away (approx))

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