Diamonds were held to a goalless draw at home to Arlesey Town at Hayden Road on Saturday afternoon to make it 3 without a win after winning the opening three of the season.
Callum Westwood crashed a superb effort off the bar in the early stages as Diamonds pushed forward well and they had a great chance to open the scoring on 17 from the penalty spot. Nabil Shariff took it and pulled his effort wide left for his second miss of the season from the spot and Diamonds 3rd.
Claudiu Hoban saw another effort deflected just over with the keeper beaten on 19 and came even closer a minute later with a superb effort brilliantly tipped over by the away keeper. Arlesey were always bright in attack and had two great chances to open the scoring through Moses and Adelani both brilliantly saved by Ben Heath. Chris Dillon closed the half with two decent chances a swinging sideways on volley well held by the keeper and a header from the centre of the area that he glanced wide.
The second half continued in the same vein with Diamonds creating half chances that they couldn’t find the target with and Arlesey threatening to break through without creating that killer chance. Chris Dillon came close on 56 firing past the left hand post, Liam Dolman headed a corner just wide on 60, Claudiu Hoban saw his free kick pushed over on 62, Liam Dolman fired a half-volley just wide on 67, and Darryl Smith fired wide left when really well placed on 74. Arlesey tested Ben Heath through Rhine, Moses and Adelani but the home stopper was on good form.
Tom Lorraine was the next to head his effort just wide of the pesky left hand post before Nabil Sharif, Claudiu Hoban and Darryl Smith all had stabs at the ball in the box cleared by solid Arlesey defending.
Diamonds will feel aggrieved to only take a point given the penalty miss and half chances created but Arlesey will also feel they wasted really good chances to score.
Next up is a tough looking trip to AFC Dunstable on Wednesday night before another away trip to Chalfont St. Peter next Saturday.
Full Match Report
AFC Rushden failed to score for the first time this season after being held to a goalless draw with Aleksey Town at Hayden Road on Saturday. After Shariff missed a penalty and Westwood hit the bar in the first half, and a succession of chances off target in the second half, it wasn’t Diamonds’ afternoon. However, a point and a clean sheet will give something for the fans to be happy about; the first clean sheet since the FA Cup game at Wellingborough Town on 19 August.
Callum Westwood made a return to the starting line-up after missing four games through injury. Sam Brown also made a return from injury, starting at left back with Ben Ford dropping to the bench. Chris Dillon started up front alongside Nabil Shariff, replacing Joel Gyasi who missed the game, with Claudiu Hoban moving to right wing.
Diamonds started the game on the front foot, attacking from the off. A number of free kicks were awarded in the first ten minutes, and there were a few shots that didn’t trouble the goal keeper. However, around ten minutes in, Westwood burst forward with the ball before unleashing a powerful effort from 30 yards which crashed off the bar.
On 13 minutes, it was the visitors who should have broken the deadlock. Blaize Punter came forward with the ball before misplacing his pass to the Arlesey midfielder, who in turn sent Taz Andrews through the defensive gap vacated by Punter. The striker, however, took an age to set himself and instead of slotting in for an easy finish, he took way too long and allowed Heath to rush out and meet him at his feet.
Diamonds were awarded a penalty on the 17th minute. Claudiu Hoban managed to get past the left back Manny N’Daw before the defender brought down Hoban from behind. Nabil Shariff stepped up for the penalty, and hit the ball very poorly wide past the left post.
A corner from Richard Bunting on 20 minutes was punched clear to Hoban on the edge of the area. The winger set himself to bend a left footed shot into the top corner but was denied by a fantastic save from Bart Pedrycz in goal.
The first yellow card for Diamonds came just after half an hour. Arlesey had a free kick just inside their half, and after not retreating the ten yards needed, the free kick hit Bunting, earning him a caution.
Four minutes later, Arlesey were denied by a top save from Heath. Right back Bill Plumpton turned Sam Brown, cutting inside before crossing to Adelani who managed to get a foot to the ball but an instinctive hand from Heath denied Arlesey an opener.
A few minutes before half time, Luke Fairlamb ran down the left channel before dummying the defender and crossing with his right foot to Dillon who seemingly had a free header but he flashed it just wide.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-0 Arlesey Town
Arlesey started the second half in audacious fashion; shooting directly from kick off. Luckily, Heath was switched on and controlled the ball comfortably with his knee.
Shariff had the first of a hatful of second half chances on 49 minutes. He controlled the ball in the area before turning and shooting just past the post.
Arlesey had a good chance to take the lead on 52 minutes. A great ball over the top into the right channel found Taylor Rhiney who looked in on goal. However, approaching Heath in goal, the angle was tight for the striker, and Heath managed to pull off a good save to deny the Arlesey front man.
On 56 minutes, Dillon had another great chance to score. The ball came to Shariff on the edge of the area who laid off to Dillon who had plenty of time to set his sights for a shot, but he fizzed his low effort just past the left hand post.
Just after the hour mark, Shariff earned a free kick just outside the area. Hoban stepped up to fire a wonderful hit, which was met by an equally magnificent save by Pedrycz to keep the Diamonds out.
On 66 minutes, Sam Brown took an accidental hit to the face from a flailing arm. In the resulting period where he received treatment, Dillon came off to be replaced by Darryl Smith. Heath lofted the ball immediately after into Dolman on the right who headed down to Hoban. The winger took a few touches into the box before laying back to Dolman who fired low past the left post.
Diamonds had another great opportunity on 74 minutes. A very cheeky dink from Hoban caught the defence by surprise, leaving Smith enough space to hit another shot past that elusive left hand corner.
Three minutes later, Westwood seemed to pull his hamstring again, in a similar incident to the Tividale game. Tom Lorraine came on for him, boosting the attacking options for Diamonds, while Brown moved inside to form a back three.
With ten minutes remaining, Smith crossed in from the right forLorrainewho flashed a fifth effort of the half past the same left hand post. Three minutes later, Fairlamb took things into his own hands, darting down the left wing and into the box before shooting, however his effort was well blocked and Diamonds won a corner.
With three minutes later, Dolman found himself in the referee’s book for dissent. An Arlesey went down and although play initially continued, the referee stopped play for the player to receive treatment, which earned the referee a few choice words from Dolman.
In the end, Diamonds’ lack of a finishing touch earned a goalless draw and a point after a hard week of FA Cup action. Up next for AFC Rushden is an away trip to AFC Dunstable on Wednesday night.
Diamonds Man of the match chosen by Match Sponsor Catherine and Mark Rust: Callum Westwood
Match Report by Adam Benney
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Ben Heath
2. Callum Westwood
3. Sam Brown
4. Blaize Punter
5. Liam Dolman
6. Richard Bunting (c)
7. Claudiu Hoban
8. Joe Curtis
9. Chris Dillon
10. Nabil Shariff
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Ben Ford
14. Tom Lorraine (on for Westwood, 77)
15. Darryl Smith (on for Dillon, 66)
16. Fernando Bell-Toxtle
17. Matt Finlay
1. Bart Pedrycz (c)
2. Bill Plumpton
3. Taz Andrews
5. Joe Steele
6. Ashley Farooqui
7. Manny N’Daw
8. Rafe Goodman
9. Yemi Adelani
10. Taylor Rhiney
11. Elias Moses
12. Luke Abraham (on for Adelani, 90+2)
14. Kim Forsythe (on for Rhiney, 63)
15. Kye Andrews (on for Taz Andrews, 89)
16. Fabian Brown-Johnson
17. Dion Gibbs
Yellow cards: Bunting (32), Dolman (87)
Yellow cards: Goodman (14), Forsythe (90+4)
Referee: Mr Scott Tallis
Assistants: Mr Joe Clarke
Mr Matthew Jackson
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Match Gallery courtesy of Matt Hawkins. Copyright HawkinsImages ©2017 and Stephanie Webb Photography Copyright Stephanie Webb Photography ©2017