Diamonds made it back to back away 1-1 draws as Joel Gyasi’s 50th minute strike clawed back Evans Houassi’s break away 29th minute opener.
Diamonds named an unchanged side and bench and had the bulk of the attacking play particular in the first half with Tom Lorraine coming close after just 5 minutes, and Joel Gyasi and Luke Fairlamb having decent efforts themselves and setting up dangerous attacking positions with great wing play. Spencer Weir-Daley had a pair of efforts and Liam Dolman shot from inside his own half in a dominant spell just before the sucker punch Northwood goal on 29 minutes. A quick break saw Evans Houassi round Ben Heath and superbly fire home.
The second half got off to a great start for Diamonds with Joel Gyasi turning in Spencer Weir Daley’s cross under pressure from Tom Lorraine!! The home keeper was injured in the move and had to leave the field after a lengthy delay. Diamonds were straight back on the attack with Gyasi, Fairlamb and Ben Ford combining well, the later coming close to finding Tom Lorraine again. Luke Fairlamb hit a stinging effort just over and Joel Gyasi a pair of efforts that went close but Diamonds struggled to create the killer chance. A Sam Brown long throw in added on time was flicked on by Liam Dolman the closest Diamonds would come and they had to settle for second successive away 1-1 draw.
Unexpected away defeats for Hayes & Yeading and Hartley Wintney made this point seem a little better, and Diamonds still top the table going into the April run-in. Next up the re-arranged visit of Bedford Town on Tuesday night.
Manager Andy Peaks named an unchanged starting eleven and bench as they looked to build on the improved performance at Beaconsfield last time out.
Diamonds started brightly with Tom Lorraine just failing to direct a 5th minute header on target after good work by Ben Ford and Luke Fairlamb.
Joel Gyasi had one of a number of powerful runs on 9 minutes his whipped in cross just cleared, and he came close to gathering a Luke Fairlamb cross when well placed on 15 minutes
Just a minute later Fairlamb might have earned a penalty when felled in the box but a corner was given which Northwood were at full stretch to clear. Spencer Weir-Daley had two half chances in 3 minutes when he fired straight at the home keeper after latching onto a Ben Heath long clearance and slipped when trying to control a Tom Lorraine cross when in a great position.
Diamonds were dominating the attacking play at this stage and saw Liam Dolman shoot from inside his own half forcing the home keeper to parry wide, and Tom Lorraine just missing Sam Brown’s flick on from a great Joel Gyasi cross.
The perverse laws of football then struck as Northwood broke clear on a rare foray forward allowing Evans Kouassi to round Ben Heath and superbly slot home.
Diamonds rallied immediately through Joel Gyasi getting a shot away that deflected into the keepers arms, Tom Lorraine lifting a bouncing through ball over the keeper only to see it cleared off the line, and Spencer Weir-Daley getting in one on one with the home keeper but seeing him parry his lifted effort away.
Half-time: Northwood FC 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Diamonds started the second half as brightly as they had the first and after Joel Gyasi saw his shot from distance sail over he got the vital equaliser on 50 minutes. He started the move in midfield sweeping a ball out to Spencer Weir-Daley and then competed with Tom Lorraine to turn the ball home from close range.
The home keeper was injured in attempting to save the goal and had to be replaced on 55 minutes my midfielder Paolo Montella after a lengthy delay.
Diamonds surged forward after that goal and that break with Joel Gyasi, Luke Fairlamb and Ben Ford all involved in great passing play. Tom Lorraine again just unable to get on the end of the Fords cross on 63 minutes.
2 minutes later it was Luke Fairlamb who fired in a rasping effort just over when well placed. The wide men were looking the most creative for Diamonds with Joel Gyasi hitting one effort just over and saw a second curl towards the bottom corner only for Montella to save down low.
Ryan Robbins was introduced for Spencer Weir-Daley as Diamonds pressed what would be a vital a winner and had a half chance on 86 minutes as a poor clearance fell to him but he skied his finish.
A double substitution on 90 minutes saw John Dean and Ross Oulton introduced with 10 minutes of added time to be played. In 9th minute of that added on time a Sam Brown long throw was flicked on by Liam Dolman but safely held by Montella as Diamonds failed to find the winner their play had deserved.
Full time: Northwood FC 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Diamonds more than deserved this point after largely dominating against hardworking Northwood. They were buoyed by unexpected away defeats for Hayes & Yeading and Hartley Wintney which keep them top of the table (Beaconsfield won 7-0 though). Diamonds dominated the first half and were hit by a sucker punch breakaway goal on 29 minutes before deservedly equalising on 5o minutes through Joel Gyasi. They struggled to create really good chances in the remainder of the game but had some tremendous shots on goals and close efforts smothered away.
You now feel the three home games coming up in the next 10 days against Bedford, Aylesbury United and AFC Dunstable will be decisive in their promotion ambitions. It is still all in Diamonds hands!!
Man of the match: Liam Dolman
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Xavi Comas
2. Isaac Olurunfemi
3. Keir Dickson
4. Wilson Chingoka (C)
5. Tom Gilbey
6. Sam Tring
7. Declan Nche
8. Lewis Hobbs
9. Jermaine Osei
10. Evans Kouassi
11. Femi Azeez
12. Paolo Montella (for Comas 55)
14. Sam Oyeniran
15. Harry Newman
16. Temiloluwa Oladejo
17. Nebay Haile (for Osei 83)
13. Ben Heath
2. Callum Westwood
3. Ben Ford
4. Jack Westbrook
5. Liam Dolman (C)
6. Sam Brown
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Joe Curtis
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Spencer Weir-Daley
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Ross Oulton (for Westwood 90)
14. Ryan Robbins (for Weir-Daley 77)
15. John Dean (for Ford 90)
16. Cameron Gilchrist
18. Blaize Punter
Goals: Kouassi (29)
Goals: Gyasi (50)
Yellow cards: Chingoka
Yellow cards: Curtis, Robbins
Referee: Joel Mannix
Assistants: Stewart Beekman, Stuart Smith