Hayes & Yeading United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 3

 

Rushden & Diamonds staged a stunning recovery to snatch a 3-3 draw with Hayes and Yeading United at Church Road after going three goals behind. Two first half goals by Elliott Buchanan had given the hosts a clear lead at the interval and he added a third early in the second half, but the introduction of Sam Smith and Gary Mills changed the game for the Diamonds, and after Smith scored the Diamonds first two goals – his first brace for the club – it was Luke Prosser who fired home the equaliser after 86 minutes.

Justin Edinburgh gave a place on the bench to new signings Gary Mills and Simon Evans, with Michael Corcoran joining Alan Power and Max Porter in midfield.

United manager Gary Haylock made a single change to the side that defeated Tamworth in their last game, with Lewis Ferrell preferred to Nathan Webb.

Elliott Buchanan scored the opener after 5 minutes when a ball from Jamie Hand dissected the Diamonds defence to allow him to run clear and slot low past Joe Day. Although the Diamonds had seen plenty of possession they struggled to create clear-cut chances and a simple header forwards from the centre circle by Charlie Wassmer set Ben Wright free, but the striker failed to convert the one-on-one with Joe Day. The second United goal came after 43 minutes when Max Porter saw a crossfield pass across the front of the area deflected to Ben Wright who was forced wide by Joe Day, but he then set up Elliott Buchanan to run clear on goal, seeing his initial effort tipped onto the post by Day, but he followed up and fired home from an acute angle, despite a desperate attempt to clear from the Diamonds defenders on the line that may have helped the ball into the net.

The Diamonds were having more than their fair share of possession in the first half, but were not really putting Lee Harrison under any pressure, other than forcing a couple of regulation catches.

Half-Time: Hayes & Yeading Utd 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

As expected, the Diamonds came out for the second half with a much improved attacking threat, starting when Alan Power set Aaron O’Connor free on goal, but keeper Lee Harrison was quick off his line to block. Michael Gash then forced the first meaningful save of the game from Harrison when he got his head to a Ryan Charles cross.

However, the hosts might have increased their lead when Ben Wright latched onto a long ball after getting away from his marker, and made space for a shot, but could only shoot wide.

Sam Smith was introduced into the action after 58 minutes, but within seconds the Diamonds had fallen three goals behind. Lewis Ferrell made a penetrating run down the United right, and fired in a powerful low cross that Elliott Buchanan flicked into the net from just in front of the near post for his hat-trick.

Despite the promising signs at the start of the half, there may not have been too many Diamonds fans who believed their team might get something out of the game, especially as Rushden have not made up a three goal deficit many times – in fact it may never have happened before in the club’s history! However, the final half-hour may prove to be the start of the Diamonds finding a way to end their current run of results.

After Luke Prosser went close with a header from a corner after 62 minutes, Gary Mills then joined the action. Mills replaced Ollie Thorne, which meant that Michael Corcoran gave up the holding midfield role to Mills and moved back to partner Luke Prosser in defence.

The new formation immediately started to pay dividends, with Mills spotting the runs of Osano and Day down the flanks, and it was a determined run from Osano that saw him pressurise Adam Green before getting in a low cross that Sam Smith forced home via his knee. Smith’s rather muted goal celebration signalled his intent to look for further opportunities to get something out of the game for the Diamonds.

Three minutes later a Power free kick was knocked back across the area by Michael Gash and Sam Smith set up Michael Corcoran for a shot that was blocked.

After 78 minutes the deficit was reduced even further, when Michael Gash showed similar determination to that shown by Curtis Osano for the first goal as he won the ball back off Wassmer and forced his way to the byline on the right before crossing to Sam Smith who slotted home.

Four minutes later it looked like the Diamonds recovery might be complete when Sam Smith made a run into the penalty box with only keeper Harrison to beat. The keeper clearly made contact with Smith, but the striker’s initial attempt to keep his feet before going down led referee Atkin to consult his linesman before issuing Smith with a yellow card.

That injustice might have upset the Diamonds recovery, but their team spirit meant they continued to press forwards and a Jamie Day cross presented Smith with a great chance for his hat-trick, but he couldn’t get a clean contact. With Day and Osano getting down the flanks it meant the Diamonds had more presence in the centre of the box to latch onto their crosses – whereas when they had relied on O’Connor and Charles to make those runs in the first half there was often only a single striker to get on the end of any cross.

Aaron O’Connor was leading by example, making several thrusting runs into the area, and from one of these won a corner on the right, which Harrison fumbled allowing Luke Prosser to fire home the equaliser, sending the Diamonds fans behind the goal wild.

Apart from a late scare from an Adam Green shot the Diamonds tried to push for the winner but had to settle for a point.

Full-Time: Hayes & Yeading Utd 3 Rushden & Diamonds 3

The result was certainly a stirring fightback, and the Jekyll and Hyde performance was reminiscent of the 1-1 draw at Fleetwood and the 2-2 draw at Forest Green. Justin Edinburgh will be focussing on improving the Diamonds defence before they face high-flying Newport County on Saturday, with manager Justin Edinburgh praising the spirit and togetherness of the players.

Teams:

Hayes & Yeading United: Lee Harrison, Adam Green, Tom Cadmore, Adam Bygrave, Peter Holmes (Capt) (Phil Appiah 76), Ben Wright, Elliott Buchanan (Jake Hyde 84), Jamie Hand, Bradley Pritchard, Charlie Wassmer, Lewis Ferrell.

Subs Not Used: Andy Yiadom, Delroy Preddie, Nathan Webb.

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Luke Prosser, Ollie Thorne (Gary Mills 62), Max Porter, Alan Power (Matt Johnson 90+3), Michael Corcoran, Aaron O’Connor (Capt), Michael Gash, Ryan Charles (Sam Smith 58)

Subs Not Used: Simon Evans (GK), Craig Farrell.

Goals: Buchanan (1-0, 5 mins; 2-0, 43 mins; 3-0, 58 mins), Smith (3-1, 68 mins; 3-2, 78 mins), Prosser (3-3, 86 mins)

Yellow Cards: Hand, Holmes, Charles, Smith, Mills

Referee: Mr Warren Atkin (Sussex)

Attendance: 307 (Away approx 50)

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