Gateshead 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

 

A brace from Nabil Shariff gave the Diamonds a 2-2 draw after they had taken and early lead, but had been 2-1 behind at the interval. The goals meant that Shariff has now scored four goals in only three games, the first of which he started as a substitute.

The Diamonds took the lead after 18 minutes when Joe Keehan flicked a ball into the path of Nabil Shariff who ran on to score his third goal in consecutive games. The home side equalised after 33 minutes when an unmarked Nathan Fisher had a simple header from a Ferrell corner. The Heed then went ahead before the interval with another goal from a dead-ball situation – this time a Brittain free-kick found the unmarked Ben Clark on the edge of the six yard box, and he headed the ball to Jon Shaw who netted at the second attempt after his first effort hit Evans.

Shariff got his second goal after Aaron O’Connor picked the ball up after a mistake by Ben Clark, and he laid a short pass to Shariff who was able to turn and shoot past Deasy. O’Connor had two further opportunities with only the goalkeeper to beat as the Diamonds had the better of the second period.

Justin Edinburgh made one change to the team that drew at Grimsby, with Ryan Charles replacing Craig Farrell. Paris Cowan-Hall returned to the match-day squad, taking a place on the bench.

The first half had an end of season feel throughout, and although three goals were scored, all of them came from slack defending.

The first 15 minutes of the game lacked anything of note, with the first corner of the game falling to the hosts after 15 minutes.

It was thus rather a surprise when the Diamonds opened the scoring after 18 minutes, Gary Mills worked the ball forwards to Joe Keehan who flicked into the path of Nabil Shariff as he broke between the Tynesiders centre-backs. and ran on to score his third goal in consecutive games slotting coolly past Deasy.

Ryan Charles had a chance to extend the lead two minutes later when Deasy was forced out of his area to try to intercept a long ball that Aaron O’Connor was favourite to reach ahead of the defenders, but it fell to Charles on the right side of the pitch, but his attempted lob into an empty net was wayward.

After Ryan Charles conceded a corner there was a scare for the Diamonds when the Rundle set piece went through Simon Evans’ hands, but squirmed away for a further corner. A neat backflick from Andy Ferrell set up Nathan Fisher whose attempt on goal was deflected wide. A further corner followed, and this one saw the ball sail straight to Nathan Fisher who was completely unmarked on the six-yard line, and he hardly had to jump to head the ball into the net.

The home side then went ahead before the interval with another goal from a dead-ball situation – this time a Brittain free-kick from on the half-way line found the unmarked Ben Clark on the edge of the six yard box, and he headed the ball to Jon Shaw who netted at the second attempt after his first effort hit Evans.

Half-Time: Gateshead 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

After the poor quality of the first half, the expectation of the 700 fans in attendance was they might see an improvement in the second half, but it was only the Diamonds who showed an improvement – a feat that was doubly impressive given their early start to travel up to the North East, following a long away trip on Wednesday / Thursday morning.

Nabil Shariff got his second goal 10 minutes into the half when Aaron O’Connor picked the ball up after a mistake by Ben Clark when he dwelt on the ball in the area, and he laid a short pass to Shariff who was able to turn and shoot past Deasy. O’Connor had two further opportunities with only the goalkeeper to beat as the Diamonds had the better of the second period.

Andy Ferrell did have the ball in the net a few minutes later, but was clearly flagged offside. The Diamonds then almost scored a goal that would have been identical to the hosts second goal, as a long free kick from Mills was met by Michael Corcoran, and he directed the ball across goal but Nabil Shariff saw his header tipped over the bar by Deasy.

After 65 minutes good work from Matt Johnson on the edge of the penalty area saw him slot the ball left to Jamie Day who hit a low hard cross that Aaron O’Connor was only able to divert wide of goal from less than 10 yards out. O’Connor had another chance ten minutes later, but this time he created the chance himself with an excellent run past three defenders before hitting a shot that Deasy did well to get his body behind.

Both sides came close to getting a winner from their set pieces, but the game ended with the scores even.

Full-Time: Gateshead 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

The Diamonds now have almost a week to recover from the long trips in the past four days, prior to the trip to face league champions Crawley Town on Good Friday (3pm). In midweek the attention will turn to the Diamonds Youth Team as they face Chesterfield in the final of the Midland Youth Cup on Tuesday evening.

Teams

Gateshead: Tim Deasy, Craig Baxter, Michael Liddle, Andy Ferrell, James Curtis, Ben Clark (Capt), Martin Brittain (Gary Mulligan 69), Phil Turnbull, Jon Shaw, Nathan Fisher, Adam Rundle (Ashley Winn 69).

Subs Not Used: Paul Farman (GK), Paul Hackinbottom, James Marwood.

Rushden & Diamonds: Simon Evans, Justin Miller, Jamie Day, Shane Huke, Curtis Osano, Max Porter, Joe Keehan (Michael Corcoran 61), Gary Mills, Aaron O’Connor (Capt), Nabil Shariff (Neil Cousins 86), Ryan Charles (Matt Johnson H/T).

Subs Not Used: James Broadbent (GK), Paris Cowan-Hall.

Goals: Shariff (18, 0-1), Fisher (33, 1-1), Shaw (42, 2-1), Shariff (55, 2-2)

Yellow Card: Brittain

Attendance: 701 (away 46)

Referee: P Davison (Stockton)

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