Diamonds grabbed a late equaliser after an eventful second half at Hayden Road on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors took the lead after only ten minutes when debutant Jamie Ashmore whipped a 30-yard strike over Richard Walton and into the far corner of the net. The rest of the half was fairly low-key, with neither side able to create too many clear-cut opportunities. Liam Dolman had a header held before Jack Ashton was forced to make a goal-saving clearance down the other end, and on the stroke of half-time Alex Collard had a header brilliantly saved before the rebound was hit over.
Walton made a key save at the start of the second period when he denied Leandro Browne, and he made an even better save later in the half when he tipped over Tristan Dunkley’s fizzing effort. Diamonds looked more threatening when they introduced Joel Gyasi and Lorrell Smith as they went to a 4-4-2 system and, after Ashton had a header superbly tipped over, they levelled when Matt Slinn clinically side-footed home inside the near post. Rushden almost had a winner when Ashton thundered a header off the post from a corner, but a draw was a fair result in the end.
First half: Early strike, quiet response, chance denied
Diamonds made three changes to the side that had been defeated in the FA Cup in midweek. They again lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with Alex Collard coming into defence, Fernando Bell-Toxtle replacing the suspended Ross Oulton in the middle of the park, and Chris Wreh starting ahead of Lorrell Smith up front.
The game started quietly, with away captain Brady Hickey having an early shot blocked away before Wreh turned well on the left and hit a cross that was just flicked away. The first real chance came in the tenth minute, and it led to a goal for Barwell. A cross in from the left was inadvertently flicked to outside the area, and Hickey laid it inside to Jamie Ashmore around 30 yards out. The full-back, who had only signed for the visitors the day before, hit a first-time curling strike that flew over Richard Walton and into the back of the net.
The hosts looked to get back into the game straight away but, though they had some pressure, they weren’t able to create too many chances. A number of through-balls were just intercepted and a few crosses were well dealt with by the organised Barwell backline. Diamonds did have an opportunity in the 24th minute when Matt Slinn whipped a free-kick towards the edge of the box, and captain Liam Dolman’s powerful header was well caught by away keeper Max Bramley.
Wreh and Luke Fairlamb were then each shown a yellow card by the referee in the space of a few minutes. In between these bookings, Barwell threatened when left-back Eliot Putman advanced down the wing before curling a dangerous cross into the area. It looked like it would find an away attacker at the back post, but Jack Ashton made a crucial interception to clear the danger upfield.
The half ended with an away half-chance when Jahvan Davidson-Miller glanced a header wide, and Diamonds then came so close to an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Tom Lorraine embarked on a strong run before having a shot deflected behind, and Fairlamb whipped in the resulting corner. It reached Collard who powered a header towards goal, and Bramley parried it away. The rebound dropped to the centre-half, but he could only poke it over the bar.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-1 Barwell FC
Second half: Away chances, formation change, home pressure
The second period was only two minutes old when Barwell had a great chance to extend their advantage. A long-throw from the right was initially headed away, but Hickey then hit a bouncing half-volley from the edge of the area. It reached winger Leandro Browne who instinctively flicked a shot towards goal, but Walton made a good save with his feet.
They then won three free-kicks, all in a similar area on the edge of the box. The first one was hit by Hickey which Walton held at the second attempt, his next attempt then hit the wall, and then Tristan Dunkley’s effort was also blocked away.
Halfway through the half, Diamonds made their first change as Joel Gyasi came on for Patrick Casey who had been operating in the midfield three. This led to a shift to a 4-4-2 system, with Gyasi playing on the right-wing and Fairlamb on the left. However, it was the away side who threatened first after the change when Dunkley turned away from Dolman superbly and sprinted forward before lashing a strike that Walton tipped over brilliantly.
The hosts looked more threatening with the new formation as they attacked with pace and began to build more possession and tempo. Gyasi won a corner with one quick run that led to Ashton glancing a header wide, and soon afterwards the defender came even closer. A Fairlamb free-kick from the right found Ashton in space at the back post, and his header was somehow tipped over by Bramley. The subsequent corner was cleared out to Fairlamb, but his strike flew over.
However, a minute later, the winger helped to set-up the leveller. He reached a diagonal ball forward from Collard, and he took a moment before calmly playing it back to the arriving Matt Slinn who side-footed home inside the near post.
Diamonds now sensed a late winner, and only millimetres separated them from grabbing one. A corner from the left found Ashton, and his bullet header beat Bramley only for it to cannon off the post. Collard then met another corner moments later, though his resulting header floated over the bar.
Five minutes of additional time were signalled, but these passed without any action of note as the game ended in a draw.
Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Barwell FC
Though the first half didn’t feature much action, Diamonds responded well in the second half and ended the game strongly. After the Newark match on Tuesday, their heads could easily have gone down after conceding an early goal here but they stuck at their task, changed the system and could have easily won the match in the end.
They will take confidence from their reaction into the next league match against Hitchin Town on Tuesday (29th September) evening at Hayden Road, kick-off 7.45pm. The match is all-ticket – find out full ticketing information here.
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
|Date||Time||League||Season||Attendance||COVID-19 Secure Capacity||All Ticket?||Man of the Match||Captain|
|September 26, 2020||3:00 pm||Southern League Premier Central||2020/21||343||450||Yes (season tickets are valid)||Richard Walton||Liam Dolman|
|Hayden Road Sports Ground, Hayden Road, Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 0HX|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2|
|Richard Eley||Sam Anderson||James Beal|