Diamonds picked up a well earned point on the road on Saturday afternoon after a close fought 1-1 draw at Stourbridge.
Diamonds opened the scoring with a superbly taken Connor Furlong strike on 9 minutes but saw the home side equalise on 58 through Melis Bushaj. Tom Taylor received a second yellow and therefore a red card on 86 minutes and Diamonds came close a number of times in the final stages but could not find the vital winner.
Manager Andy Peaks made a number of changes to his defensive line up with Patrick Casey, Liam Dolman and Alex Collard joining Ryan Hughes in the back four. Jay Williams returned to midfield alongside Jesse Akubuine with Connor Furlong, Ravi Shamsi, Tom Lorraine and Ben Diamond mixing along the front four.
Stourbridge started brightly with a couple of half chances but Diamonds got the vital early goal to go ahead on 9 minutes. Ravi Shamsi played Connor Furlong into space and he controlled the ball beautifully to curl into the top corner.
The game evened out but both sides were defending well and chances were limited. Dean Snedker saved a close range effort with his feet and snuffed out another ball breaking into the box. Tom Lorraine came close to bursting clear for Diamonds and nearly played Ravi Shamsi through. Stourbridge saw Ben O’Hanlon poke a good chance straight at Dean Snedker and Montel Gibson blasted over from 10 yards.
Half-time: Stourbridge 0 Diamonds 1
Diamonds created a couple of good half chances early in the second half with Jay Williams just failing to chip the home keeper from distance and Ben Diamond denied by the keepers legs. But it was Stourbridge who grabbed the equaliser with substitute Melis Bushaj’s clean strike on 58 minutes.
The home side threatened to lead in the following minutes through Solanke blasting one effort wide and forcing Dean Snedker into a good save. But Diamonds regained parity and chances were again limited before a raft of bookings saw Fernando Bell-Toxtle go in the book for Diamonds and Tom Taylor twice for the home side seeing him sent off on 86 minutes.
Diamonds pressed for a winner and saw Liam Dolman and Alex Collard head just over, Nathan Tshikuna shoot well from distance and Will Jones cut a ball back through the area just evading his colleagues. There was also a good penalty shout for a challenge on Fernando Bell-Toxtle but the game finished 1 1.
Full-Time: Stourbridge 1 Diamonds 1
This was a really good point on the road for Diamonds that could very well have been three. The defence were really solid and Ben Diamond and Connor Furlong energised the front line with great support from Tom Lorraine and Ravi Shamsi.
Next up the first of four back to back home games with the visit of Rushall Olympic to Hayden Road on Tuesday evening.
Man of the match: Ben Diamond
Match Report: Paul Judd
AFC Rushden and Diamonds
13. Dean Snedker
2. Patrick Casey
3. Ryan Hughes
4. Jay Williams
5. Liam Dolman
6. Alex Collard
7. Ben Diamond
8. Jesse Akubuine
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ravi Shamsi
11. Connor Furlong (Goal 9 minutes)
12. Fernando Bell-Toxtle (for Furlong 83) Yellow Card
14. Sam Warburton
15. Nathan Tshikuna (for Shamsi)
16. Will Jones (for Lorraine 70)
17. Claudia Dias
Stourbridge 0 Diamonds 1 – Connor Furlong 9 mins
Stourbridge 1 Diamonds 1 – Melis Bushaj 58 minutes