AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northwood 0

AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ struggles continued as they were held to a goalless draw by Northwood at the Dog & Duck on Easter Saturday.

 After a string of recent defeats this was an improved performance, but most of the action was in the final 15 minutes of the game, when the visitors threatened for the first time in the game, but at the other end the Diamonds were on the wrong end of two puzzling decisions about whether or not to play advantage by the referee, that in each case worked out to their disadvantage.

Diamonds Manager Andy Peaks made a single change from the side that had lost to Uxbridge the previous weekend with Tom Lorraine replacing Jon Stevenson, Stevenson was joined on the bench by the returning Shawn Richards. Northwood manager Mark Burgess named himself in the Woods starting 11 as his brother was serving a suspension.

After the recent limp performances there appeared to be more fire in the Diamonds performance in the early stages of the first half. James Jepson was fouled 30 yards from goal, and the Andy Hall free kick was met by Jason Lee but his header was fielded by Laurencin. With little early threat from Woods, Connor Kennedy was able to get forward more on the right, and he showed he could produce a fine crossfield ball on two occasions when finding Hoban on the left. It was Hoban who came closest in the first half when he made a fine run infield and saw his right-foot shot go narrowly over the bar.

Hoban also came close to breaking the deadlock when his inswinging corner from the right evaded the keeper and was headed off the line. Elliot Sandy also worked hard to link with Tom Lorraine, but he saw an effort hit Lorraine after he made space for himself in the area.

With the visitors offering little in the first half the Diamonds would have been disappointed to still be level at the break.

Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northwood 0

The second period was rather more even, with both sides producing little more than half-chances for the first 30 minutes. Once again the Diamonds main threat was coming down the flanks, with Claudiu Hoban impressing throughout. Matt Finlay again showed his dependability when called upon to make a smart save low to his right after a good moving involving Holland and Muir with the Woods striker getting a clear sight of goal.

Elliot Sandy continued to be a threat, producing a good save from Laurencin before bundling the Woods stopper into the net when chasing a high ball and being penalised.

With just a few minutes left the Diamonds increased the tempo, and looked to have earned a free kick in a dangerous position. Referee Postin looked like he was considering whether to play advantage, but before he had waved his arms to do so the ball had broken into the area with substitute Robbie Parsons in pursuit. Although there was clear contact with a defender as the ball ran away the referee decided to give the visitors a free kick and book Parsons for diving. Perhaps a penalty might have been harsh, but it seemed unfortunate the referee did not consider the original free kick offence.

A few minutes later the Diamonds final break of the game saw the impressive Connor Kennedy win the ball as he was fouled, and get the ball into the path of Elliot Sandy who appeared to be breaking towards the area, but this time the referee decided to stop play and award the free kick.

Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northwood 0

This represented another setback in Diamonds’ pursuit of promotion from the Southern Football League Division One Central, and although the performance was improved over recent weeks it was still a long way short of the standard set before Christmas, with the lack of thrust through central midfield a particular concern.

With several other results being favourable the Diamonds are still in with a good chance of making the playoffs, but they know that they are relying on other results, and also know that the playoff games are only a single tie, with home advantage to the higher placed team.

The team has another chance to find their goalscoring touch and return to winning ways when they travel into Bedfordshire to face Arlesey Town on Easter Monday (KO 3pm).

 Diamonds Man of the Match (chosen by Fans Vote): Claudiu Hoban

 Attendance: 425

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Northwood FC

17. Matt Finlay

2. Connor Kennedy

3. Jason Lee

4. Jack Ashton

5. Liam Dolman (Capt)

6. Tom Manship

7. Andy Hall

8. James Jepson

9. Elliot Sandy

10. Tom Lorraine

11. Claudio Hoban



12. Shawn Richards (for Hall 59)

13. Robbie Parsons (for Lorraine 78)

14. Lewis Leslie (for Jepson 88)

15. Jon Stevenson

16. Brad Harris

1. Berkley Laurencin

2. Alex Nolan

3. Andy Lomas

4. Steve Brown (Capt)

5. James Budden

6. Mark Burgess

7 Jermaine Heron

8. Bayley Brown

9.. Niko Muir

10. George Nicholas

11. Max Holland



12. Miles Stephenson (for Brown 66)

14 Joakim Ehui

15. Georges Ehui (for Burgess HT)

16.  Rob Hastings (for Heron 71)

17. Simon Huggett

Goals: None

Goals: None

Yellow Cards: Manship, Ashton, Kennedy

Yellow Cards: Brown, Nicholas, Holland

Referee: Scott Postin

Assistants: Simon Kavanagh, Paul Hands


 Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.

Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography (click on the link to access the Diamonds Photo Gallery for more images from this game and ecommerce options). Copyright Mal Swinden ©2016