Wrexham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds produced a battling second half performance to draw 1-1 with Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground.

The Reds took the lead after 15 minutes when a long throw from Curtis Obeng was headed on for Andy Mangan to run in and powerfully head towards goal. Although Joe Day made a fine effort to palm the ball into the air it dropped back into goal with Andy Morrell following in, but the goal was awarded to Mangan.

A much improved second half performance from the Diamonds saw them get a deserved equaliser when Shane Huke headed home and Alan Power corner. The corner was won by Paris Cowan-Hall after a strong run at the home defence

Both sides missed good chances to forge ahead, but the Diamonds improved showing after the break had earned them the away point and extended their unbeaten run on the road.

With Curtis Osano, Aaron O’Connor and Michael Corcoran absent due to injury Justin Edinburgh restored Jamie Day and Paris Cowan-Hall to the starting line-up. Alan Power replaced Matt Johnson, who took a place on the bench with Joe Keehan, Nabil Shariff, Craig Farrell and Simon Evans. Max Porter took over the captain’s armband for the first time. One of the highlights of the afternoon was to see Neil Cousins warming up with the Diamonds squad for the first time in one and a half seasons.

Wrexham manager Dean Saunders was forced into a single change, with Jordan McMillan replacing the suspended Jay Harris.

The first half started with both teams lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with the Reds playing Morrell, Pogba and Mangan playing up front, although the Diamonds were favouring long balls up to Michael Gash, whereas their opponents were making better use of the flanks. Gash battled gamely with Mark Creighton, but the big defender was a stern challenge.

Andy Morrell fired over early on, and Joe Day made the first of many saves in an impressive performance when he denied Mangan with 8 minutes gone. The Diamonds forged a chance when a Jamie Day freekick was only half-cleared but Ryan Charles couldn’t quite connect with a volley. The Diamonds looked to have a decent claim for a penalty when a flick into the box from Alan Power deflected off the ankle of Neil Ashton before appearing to hit his arm twice as he kept the ball away from Power’s challenge.

After 15 minutes Wrexham took the lead. They won a throw on the right, and long-throw expert Curtis Obeng hurled the ball into the box, where it was headed on to the far past for Andy Mangan to direct a powerful header towards goal. Although Joe Day did well to get two hands to the ball, he could only palm it up into the air, and it hit the crossbar before dropping back towards goal, spinning over the line as Andy Morrell followed up.

The Diamonds’ other chance of the half came when Eddie Oshodi got a faint touch on an Alan Power free kick but keeper Maxwell reacted well and gathered the ball. At the other end Jamie Tolley fired wide as the hosts had the better of the half.

Referee Simpson only added 2 minutes and 30 seconds added time at the end of the half, despite both trainers having been called into action at least twice.

As the half ended Jamie Tolley could have increased the Wrexham lead with a free kick that flew just wide of the left-hand post.

Half Time: Wrexham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds were forced into a change at half-time, with Ryan Charles being replaced by Craig Farrell. There was far greater energy in the visitors’ play during the second period, and they began to make the home defence look nervous as the three forwards started to find space away from their markers.

Andy Morrell started to influence the game more for the hosts, and he appealed for a penalty when Eddie Oshodi showed greater strength in a one-on-one challenge.

The change up front for the Diamonds allowed Paris Cowan-Hall more freedom, and he linked up with Jamie Day before powering past Obeng and then along the left byline, seeing his attempt on goal cut out and a corner conceded.

As Alan Power lined up to take a short corner to Jamie Day, the Wrexham fans objected to the placement of the ball in the "D", and he was forced to abandon that idea, and hit a conventional corner instead. This kick was met by Shane Huke who headed home the equaliser – his debut goal for the club.

The Diamonds were in the ascendancy at this point, and engineered a number of other chances, notably for Farrell and Matt Johnson, who replaced Paris Cowan-Hall up front after 72 minutes. Michael Gash showed his creative abilities when he found space on the left-flank and put in a teasing cross with both Johnson and Farrell running into space, but Mark Creighton once again cleared the danger. The Reds defender also went close at the other end when a powerful header flew just over the bar from a Fowler corner.

The hosts were also guilty of some poor finishing with Pogba and Morrell both dragging shots wide when clear on goal, and Joe Day saving well from Morrell and Mangan, with the latter save falling to Jamie Tolley who swept the ball home but he was penalised for fouling Jamie Day.

Referee Simpson added three minutes at the end of a half with few stoppages, and, unusually, only a single substitution once the half had started, but the Diamonds held out for their deserved point.

Full Time: Wrexham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

With further injury concerns to add to those coming into the game, the Diamonds will have to assess who will take a place in their 16 man squad for the trip to Grimsby on Tuesday evening.

Teams:

Wrexham: Chris Maxwell, Curtis Obeng, Neil Ashton, Frank Sinclair, Mark Creighton, Jordan McMillan, Jamie Tolley, Lee Fowler, Andy Mangan, Andy Morrell (Capt), Mathias Pogba

Subs Not Used: Marvin Andrews, Joslain Mayebi (GK), Adrian Cieslewicz, Nat Knight-Percival, Gareth Taylor

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Justin Miller, Jamie Day, Shane Huke, Eddie Oshodi, Max Porter (Capt), Alan Power, Gary Mills, Paris Cowan-Hall (Matt Johnson 73), Michael Gash, Ryan Charles (Craig Farrell H/T)

Subs Not Used: Simon Evans (GK), Joe Keehan, , Nabil Shariff.

Goals: Mangan (15, 1-0), Huke (52, 1-1)

Yellow Cards: Power, Maxwell

Referee: J Simpson (Lancs)

Attendance: 3187 (away 87)

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