A late goal from the visitors, that took a big deflection, denied AFC Rushden & Diamonds a league double over promotion favourites Northampton Sileby Rangers, as the two sides drew 2-2 at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening. After the visitors led 1-0 at half-time, the Diamonds had dominated the second period, with goals from Alex Deakin and Alfie Taylor putting them in front before the late equaliser.
With almost a full squad to choose from, apart from the suspended Séan McBride, Diamonds manager Mark Starmer restored Sam Brown to the starting line-up after he had missed the previous game due to injury.
Rangers’ manager Glenn Botterill made a number of changes in defence as well as bringing in Mark Redding for the suspended Greg Ling.
After a slow start to the game, the visitors had the better of the possession in the first period, but went ahead after a controversial free-kick was awarded to them just outside of the area. Steve Blackwood took the kick, and it beat the defensive wall and with a low bounce went under the body of Quincy Shorunmu to allow Rob Foster to tap-in the opening goal. Prior to that rather fortunate opening goal, Jake Newman had a great chance to put the Diamonds ahead, when he was found in space by Aaron King after 14 minutes, but could only put the ball wide of the goal as it came to him on the six-yard line.
A long range effort from Alfie Taylor was comfortably gathered by ex-R&DFC keeper Darren Watts just under his crossbar, but the Diamonds had two great chances to equalise before the break. A free-kick from Brad Harris was flicked to Matt Gearing by Arron Parkinson, but he could not find the target after 36 minutes. In added time at the end of the half Jack Wisniewski ghosted in at the far post and appeared to have a simple header on goal from close range, but he could only head wide.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northampton Sileby Rangers 1
The Diamonds dominated the second period, and after early chances fell to Wisniewski, Taylor and Deakin the Diamonds finally found the net after 56 minutes when Alex Deakin prodded home after Arron Parkinson had won the ball in the air from a set piece.
The Diamonds fans were still celebrating that goal when they saw their side go in front. Good work by Sam Brown on the saw him slide the ball up the line to Alfie Taylor, whose close control allowed him to turn past Glass and run on goal, firing past Watts and in-off the left-hand post. All eleven Diamonds players celebrated the goal, with Quincy Shorunmu running 50 yards to join in the celebration – and this might have contributed to the hamstring problem that forced him from the field 10 minutes later.
Ashley Foulger took charge between the sticks, and he had to deal with a Rangers break involving Byrne and Goodall, where they looked sure to score, blocking the initial shot and seeing the rebound knocked wide.
As the game entered added time, the Diamonds made their second substitution of the game, with the game stopped for 30 seconds or more as Lance Allen replaced Alfie Taylor, but as the game entered the second minute of added time, a Rangers attack on an increasingly deep Diamonds defence saw Mark Redding hit a shot which took a big deflection leaving Foulger with no chance of preventing the equaliser.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Northampton Sileby Rangers 2
The fact that the Diamonds have taken four points off the league favourites in a 12 game run that included 11 victories might have been expected to leave the team in a stronger position than the one it currently finds itself in, with Oadby Town now able to overtake them for second place in the league if they win their games in hand, even if the Diamonds defeat them when the two teams meet at the end of the month. The Diamonds do not have a game at the weekend, but with resume their push for promotion next Tuesday evening when Rothwell Corinthians visit the Dog & Duck.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match sponsored by Jon Essam & Co: Alfie Taylor
The current UCL League Table can be found on the AFC Diamonds website here, and the updated Match Stats, Player Stats, Form Guide and Attendance figures are found in the summary stats area here. Updated player profiles are also available.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Northampton Sileby Rangers
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Jake Gillingwater
3. Sam Brown
4. Aaron King
5. Arron Parkinson
6. Alex Deakin
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. Brad Harris
9. Alfie Taylor (Capt)
12. Deven Ellwood
13. Ashley Foulger (for Shorunmu 70)
14. Ben Morgan
15. Joe Merrill
16. Lance Allen (for Taylor 90+1)
1. Darren Watts
2. Danny Marlow
3. David Glass
4. Stuart Smeathers
5. Mark Hewitt (Capt)
6. Phil Cassidy
7. Mark Redding
8. Jon Crockett
9. Michael Byrne
10. Rob Foster
11. Steve Blackwood
12. Kevin Slinn
14. Shaun Goodall (for Smeathers 65)
15. Dan Spaughton
16. Tom O’Brien (for Cassidy 84)
Goals: Deakin (58), Taylor (59)
Goals: Foster(19), Redding(90+2)
Cards : Deakin, Harris
Referee: Paul Dobbs
Assistants: Martyn Allen, Michael Dunkley
Match highlights and post-match interviews are available here.
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2013 Malcolm Swinden Photography
Click on an image to use picture viewer