Rushden & Diamonds 1 Tamworth 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds were held by 10-men Tamworth at Nene Park. A 25-yard strike by Alan Power midway through the second half had given the Diamonds the lead, but a poor punch by Joe Day allowed Neil McKenzie to stroke home the equaliser with 15 minutes left. Despite much Diamonds pressure they could not force a winning goal.

The Lambs went down to 10 men shortly before the break when Jason Bradley tangled with Luke Prosser and received a red card, with Prosser being replaced by debutant Eddie Oshodi

Justin Edinburgh kept faith with the side that won in Wales last weekend, with new signing Eddie Oshodi on the bench. This meant Michael Corcoran partnered Luke Prosser at the centre of the Diamonds defence, and Gary Mills made his third debut at Nene Park in the defensive midfield role.

Lambs manager Des Lyttle also named an unchanged side after their victory at Eastbourne in midweek, and he included Jervaise Christie on the bench.

The game started with immediate controversy, as Aaron O’Connor had netted within 20 seconds, but was flagged offside, despite appearing to have made ground on the visitors’ defence.

Tamworth had an early chance of their own after 3 minutes, with a long free-kick dropping over Joe Day’s head to present Kyle Perry with a chance that Luke Prosser cleared off the line.

The visitors quickly established they would give referee Hopkins a busy afternoon, with constant appeals for free kicks almost before a tackle had been made, and every decision being challenged. Mr Hopkins managed to keep control of a game that threatened to get away from him, and showed yellow cards following two foul challenges. Gary Mills was impressing on his return to Nene Park, breaking down attacks and creating width with balls fired to the flanks.

Jamie Day saw a powerful shot that looked goal bound deflected away from a corner, and then a long punt by Joe Day was neatly flicked on by Michael Gash into the path of Aaron O’Connor to run at keeper Atkins, but he was forced wide and his left footed effort only found the side netting.

After 42 minutes the Lambs were reduced to 10 men, as a challenge from Jason Bradley felled Luke Prosser, and after consulting his linesman referee Hopkins showed Bradley a red card, followed shortly afterwards by a dismissal of their manager Des Lyttle as the visitors’ showed their dissatisfaction with the decision, as Prosser was helped from the field. The injury meant a Diamonds debut for Eddie Oshodi.

Kyle Perry had been pressuring Mr Hopkins all afternoon, and after the referee turned down his dubious appeal for a penalty during the four mintes of added time he received a yellow card in the final action of the first half.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Tamworth 0

With 45 minutes to play with only 10 men the visitors lined up in a 4-4-1 formation, and quickly afterwards replaced Kyle Perry with Adi Yussuf. As expected, it was the Diamonds who were on the offensive for much of the half, with early chances falling to Aaron O’Connor and Michael Corcoran with an effort cleared off the line, and then an Alan Power shot going just over the bar, and Michael Gash having a free header caught by Atkins.

Keeper Atkins then pulled off a fine save to deny Aaron O’Connor as he got on the end of an excellent cross from Ryan Charles. The Diamonds captain then headed just over from a Power corner, but it looked like a matter of time before the Diamonds took the lead – and so it turned out after 68 minutes when Alan Power received the ball in space a few yards outside the penalty area, and he had time to hit a powerful shot that went in-off the underside of the bar.

Max Porter set substitute Sam Smith up with a shooting chance that was deflected away for one of many Diamonds corners, but the hope that the Diamonds might seal the game were dashed when the visitors won a throw in on their left. Joe Day came a long way out of his goal in an attempt to punch the ball clear, but he was unable to get good contact as he forced his way towards the ball, and it fell straight to Neil Mackenzie who stroked home the equaliser after 75 minutes.

With the visitors content to defend their point the Diamonds were allowed time and space in midfield, but a number of disappointing crosses meant opportunities were wasted.

Jamie Day did will to cut out a clearance from defence and set up Aaron O’Connor towards the left side of the area. The striker showed good control and first touch to engineer what looked enough space for a shot, but he chose to try to wrong foot his marker for a second time and saw his effort blocked.

Matt Johnson joined the action in an attacking midfield role, and had a claim for a penalty shortly afterwards when he was tackled towards the edge of the box, but referee Hopkins waved play on and Michael Gash could have done better with an attempt that flashed across the goal.

Despite late pressure the visitors held out, and were able to celebrate their hard-earned point at the final whistle.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Tamworth 1

The Diamonds will now prepare for the visit of Cambridge United to Nene Park on Tuesday evening.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Luke Prosser (Eddie Oshodi 45), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter (Matt Johnson 81), Alan Power, Gary Mills, Aaron O’Connor (Capt), Michael Gash, Ryan Charles (Sam Smith 65).

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

Tamworth: Ross Atkins, Richard Tait, Tom Marshall, Michael Wylde, Neil MacKenzie, Kyle Perry (Abdillahie Yussuf 55), Danny Thomas (Aaron Mitchell 84), Jake Sheridan (Malvin Kamara 89), Jason Bradley, Daniel Bradley, Scott Barrow

Subs Not Used: Ben Wilkinson, Jervaise Christie

Goals: Power (68, 1-0), MacKenzie (75 1-1)

Yellow Cards: D Bradley, Tait, Perry, Porter

Red Card: J Bradley (42)

Referee: Mr John Hopkins (Essex)

Attendance: 1216 (Away TBA)

Diamonds Man of the Match Sponsored by Andy Lewcock: Gary Mills

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