Rushden & Diamonds 1 Eastwood Town 1

Rushden & Diamonds were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Eastwood Town at Nene Park in the FA Carlsberg Trophy. A solo effort in the first half by Rene Howe had given the Diamonds the lead at the break, but Lee Stevenson was able to fire home unchallenged in the second half to earn the Badgers a replay on Tuesday evening.

Justin Edinburgh made three changes to the starting line-up that faced Forest Green Rovers, with Max Porter missing his first game for over a season due to an injury picked up at Forest Green. Rene Howe and Curtis Osano returned after suspension, and Matt Johnson also returned to the starting line-up. Youth team player Aaron King took a place on the Diamonds bench for the first time. Osano started at right back, with Miller keeping the centre back spot he had occupied in the second half at Forest Green.

Eastwood manager Paul Cox fielded the same team that defeated Cambridge City in the previous round.

After a fairly even first five minutes the Diamonds began to dominate possession without really threatening Danby’s goal. An Osano cross saw Farrell head wide, and on 12 minutes a Spence cross from the left byline was neatly flicked on by Rene Howe and with a defender off balance Aaron O’Connor nipped in for a shot that was blocked.

Mid-way through the half the visitors almost opened the scoring. Alan Power was penalised for handball, and although a quick free kick was taken some distance from the incident, referee Quelch allowed play to continue and Andrew Todd saw his effort cleared off the line by Justin Miller, and the resultant corner from Shaw went across the box without anyone getting the touch needed.

Mat Bailey looked very unfortunate to collect a yellow card for his challenge O’Connor near the half-way line, then Lewwis Spence hit a powerful volley from the edge of the area that looked goal bound, but was blocked.

After 32 minutes Joe Day kept the Diamonds on even terms with a tremendous double save from Todd after Justin Miller had conceded possession to Lee Stevenson, and shortly afterwards his opposite number was called upon to make his first save of the game from a Rene Howe shot.

After 38 minutes the Diamonds edged ahead. Craig Farrell flicked on a long ball out of defence into the path of Rene Howe, and his mazy run left two defenders in his wake before he shot home with the outside of his right foot.

There was one chance for the visitors to get level before half-time, but Mat Bailey headed over from a Todd free kick.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Eastwood Town 0

Any thought that the Diamonds might consolidate their half-time lead were quickly dispelled when the visitors drew level 3 minutes into the half. Their impressive left back Chris Shaw found space to hit an accurate cross from the left to Lee Stevenson on the 18 yards out. Stevenson quickly jinked and turned without a meaningful challenge being made by the static Diamonds defence, before hitting his shot low into the right hand side of the goal.

The Diamonds had an immediate chance to restore their lead, as an O’Connor flick set up Craig Farrell with a clear run on goal, but the Diamonds striker fired straight at keeper Danby.

Alan Power then made a break through the middle, but rather overhit his pass to Craig Farrell, forcing him wide, and Farrell was forced to cross where Rene Howe saw his header deflected for a corner.

Rene Howe then made space for a break down the left before hitting a low ball across the area that Aaron O’Connor neatly dummied to present a great chance for Matt Johnson, but the Diamonds midfielder misjudged the pace of the ball and had to go wide before hitting a shot to force a corner.

The Diamonds did manage to force a sequence of four corners near the hour mark, with the first two from the left cut out at the near post, before the third almost presented Justin Miller with a chance on goal, and the fourth from the right presented a chance for Lewwis Spence whose wayward shot hit Howe, but rebounded to Matt Johnson, whose effort cleared the roof of the Peter De Banke terrace.

At the other end the visitors weren’t having as much possession as the Diamonds, but were creating a serious threat on goal, and after 67 minutes another cross from Shaw found Andrew Todd, whose looping header came back off the crossbar with Day beaten.

Joe Day was perhaps the most impressive Diamonds player, and he produced his second excellent save of the game when he caught a Shaw free kick. Despite Sam Smith and Ryan Charles being introduced into the action, the Diamonds produced little of note in the final quarter.

The final Diamonds chance of the game fell to Sam Smith when put clear by Rene Howe, but John Danby did well to narrow the angle and force Smith to shoot at him.

The Badgers saw out time to claim their deserved draw, with the Diamonds failing to impress in the first game in front of their new owners.

Final Score: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Eastwood Town 1

The replay is planned for Tuesday evening at Coronation Park (19:45).

Teams :

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Justin Miller, Kurt Robinson, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Lewwis Spence (Ryan Charles 80), Alan Power, Matt Johnson, Craig Farrell (Sam Smith 73), Rene Howe, Aaron O’Connor.

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts (GK), Tim Sills, Aaron King

Eastwood Town: John Danby, Russell Cooke, Chris Shaw, Michael Simpson (Capt), Mat Bailey, David Haggerty, Anton Foster (Jonathan D’laryea 74), Lee Stevenson, Matt Rhead, Lindon Meikle (Adam Muller 66), Andy Todd.

Subs Not Used: TJ Nightingale, Paul Riley, Joe Ward.

Goals: Howe (38, 1-0), Stevenson (48, 1-1)

Yellow Cards: Bailey, Osano, Stuart

Corners: Diamonds 7, Eastwood 1

Offisdes: Diamonds 5, Eastwood 1

Free Kicks conceded: Diamonds 17, Eastwood 13

Referee: Mr A Quelch (Berkshire)

Attendance: 657 (away 56)

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