AFC Rushden & Diamonds battled to a goalless draw against Cogenhoe United at Compton Park on Tuesday evening. This was the first time the Diamonds fans had seen a goalless game, but the result was an accurate reflection of a game that the Cooks had control of during the first period, but which the visitors ended the stronger and had chances for a late winner.
Although the Diamonds would have been reasonably satisfied with a point away from home at a team third in the league, the major concern were the knocks picked up by Séan McBride and Joe Merrill during the game, which required them to leave the action, as well as a knock to Joe Henderson just as the full-time whistle was blown.
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer named an unchanged side following the victory at Holbeach, with Ben Morgan taking a place on the bench.
On a chilly evening the Cooks had the wind at their backs in the first half, and they were able to dominate much of that period, with their main threat coming from the many corners they forced. Ex-Cooks keeper Matt Finlay produced two fine saves to preserve his clean sheet, but also saw other efforts strike the crossbar and go narrowly wide, as well as one that was scrambled off the line. There was also a prolonged goalmouth scramble that could easily have given the hosts the lead, whilst the closest the Diamonds could get was a Dunkley free kick that was beaten away by Watts.
In a rather physical game the first player to pick up a serious looking knock was Séan McBride, and although he tried to continue he was replaced by Richard Bunting 10 minutes before the break. Bunting was quickly involved in the action, and one solid challenge also caused concern that he might have a problem.
Half-Time: Cogenhoe United 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
After the hosts started the second period brightly the Diamonds began to match and then dominate their opponents. Greg Ling attempted an hooked flick which flew wide, and Alfie Taylor almost rounded Watts as he chased a long ball forwards.
There was further injury concern as Joe Merrill had to leave the pitch with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Joe Henderson moved to right back, with Brad Harris joining the action at centre back.
Fazel Koriya joined the action, replacing Matt Gearing, and he linked well with Russ Dunkley as he flicked on a ball forward from Sam Brown, but his effort was wide. Aaron King also had an effort blocked as he joined in a good move involving Brown and Dunkley.
Perhaps the best effort on goal came from Arron Parkinson who rose to head a Koriya corner but Darren Watts was again able to show his goalkeeping pedigree to keep his effort out.
For the final few minutes Joe Henderson was causing problems as he broke down the right, but he was hauled down in full flight, with the referee playing advantage to allow an effort saved by Watts. The action quickly moved to the other end, with Matt Finlay fielding a long ball forwards but falling victim to a late challenge that brought another yellow card.
Henderson was fouled for a second time as the game entered added time, and although the crowd were expecting an extended period due to the injuries, yellow cards and substitutions in the second period, he was able to receive treatment after the referee had blown for full-time having played less than three minutes added time.
Full-Time: Cogenhoe United 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Diamonds Man of the Match: Matt Finlay
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Darren Watts
2. Toby Jones
3. Jamie Russell
4. Tom McGowan
5. Mark Hewitt
6. Ross Harris
7. Elliott Lamb-Johnson
8. Josh Urquhart
9. Tom Liversedge
10. Jack Bowen
11. Sam Heavey
12. Kieran Tarry
14. Rob Foster (for Lamb-Johnson 84)
15. Chris Griffin
16. Dan Thomason (for Heavey 87)
17. Dean Lukeman (for Bowen 72)
17. Matt Finlay
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Joe Henderson
6. Arron Parkinson (Capt)
7. Matt Gearing
8. Aaron King
9. Russ Dunkley
10. Alfie Taylor
11. Greg Ling
12. Fazel Koriya (for Gearing 72)
13. Adam Whybrow(GK)
14. Richard Bunting (for McBride 35)
15. Brad Harris (for Merrill 76)
16. Ben Morgan
Yellow Cards: McGowan, Hewitt, Liversedge
Yellow Cards: Ling, Dunkley, Bunting
Referee: Mark Wardell
Assistants: Phil Arnold, Terry Whenham