AFC Rushden & Diamonds
2 - 2
After the long trip down the A14 and then some to Leiston in midweek, The Lambs made the shorter trip along a similar route to Hayden Road to take on Andy Peaks’ former club on their own turf on the back of 5 unbeaten games since he took charge of The Lambs.
It was just the second time that Tamworth had visited Hayden Road to take on AFC R&D, but was a familiar visit to some of the older Lambs fans during visits to Rushden Town in the 80s and early 90s in the Southern League Midlands and Central divisions. The home side sat in 5th position and would undoubtedly be looking to strengthen their claim for a play off place against their former boss.
Following the departure of Dan Bradley and Jack Thomas after the away point at Victory Road, Peaks made just one change to the side that ran out with Jordaan Brown taking the space vacated by Thomas in the starting eleven.
After a minutes applause from the crowd for the ongoing war torn troubles in Ukraine, The Lambs got the game underway kicing down the hard Hayden Road slope and forced a corner off the head of a Diamonds defender inside the second minute but Snedker rose high to catch it in a crowded box.
Tamworth continued to push the home side down towards Snedkers area in the opening exchanges and a long throw from Hurst on the right on 6 forced Rusden to clear their lines and Walters was unable to make headway when he picked up the clearance.
Bush was unable to beat the offside trap when George threaded the ball through over the half way line on 8 and would have gone one on one with Singh if he had timed his run better.
Diakesse got the better of Yeomans in the Lambs right back and pulled the ball across the box for Tshinkuna but his first time shot was mishit and screwed off behind the goal, well wide of the mark.
Diamonds pressure continued, and a shot by Tshinkuna from 18 yards took a deflection out for a right sided corner on 13 which was nearly turned home but The Lambs defence closed down the half chances and survived the attack.
A high bouncing ball gave Creaney a half chance and he was unable to get to it before the covering Rushden defender got in his way on 16 and the Clement struck over the bar in a good chance for the midfielder.
When Hurst was brought down on 20 Clement lined the freekick from 25 yards up and struck it on target but Snedker pushed it around the left hand post.
Creaney then bore down on the keeper on 22 and forced another corner, which Walters fired in from the left which Hurst headed down and Brown just couldn’t dig out and force over the line from 3 yards out.
But it was the home side who took the lead on 25 when Diakiesse curled home a mid height shot after the ball from the left had not been dealt with effectively and Singh was unable to do anything about it going past him from 18 yards (1-0, 25 mins)
The home side doubled their lead within 3 minutes when a flighted ball towards the box was run onto by Bush and he flicked it past Singh from the edge of the area (2-1, 28 mins)
A long throw by Hurst was flicked up and over the bar by Bailey on 34 and The Lambs pulled one back on 37 via a powerful finish from Hurst from the edge of the box after Walters initial effort had been blocked by the Snedker but ef the goal exposed and the Lambs number 4 fired home through the crowded area (2-1, 37 mins)
A cross field pass to Walters allowed the left winger to beat his man and look to lob Snedkers on 39 but it dropped just over the bar.
Hurst and George were spoken to by the referee after an off the ball challenge which the crowd on the dugout side of the ground saw, but none of the officials did, and so play continued after discussion between the players and Walters nearly fired home the equaliser on 44 after turning his marker inside out but lifted his effort over the bar from 20 yards.
At the other end Dolman, who had scored a worldly in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, hooked the ball over his shoulder and forced Singh to protect his goal, but The Lambs countered and Diakiesse was booked in added time for a foul on Walters.
The same player took the freekick in front of the unused stand and it was headed behind by Dolman for a corner on the right which went too long for Bailey and allowed the referee to blow his whistle for half time.
Diamonds restarted proceedings with The Lambs now attacking up the slope and it definitely required different game plan to that of the first half and on 52 Whittingham forced an error from the home defence to earn a corner on the right which Clement fired into the box but Diamonds cleared the danger.
Another was forthcoming on 56 and despite a packed out home box a couple of deflections saw Brown’s low diving header make it’s way into the back of the net to level the tie (2-2, 57 mins)
The hardworking Walters was replaced by McKeown before play restarted on 58 and Hurst was booked for a foul on Bell-Toxtle on the hour.
A deep throw from the right side on 64 bounced into the area and struck the arm of Dolman but it was ball to hand rather than the other way round and the referee waved away penalty claims and shouts, largely from the travelling faithful, and as The Lambs continued to enjoy pressure Clement picked up the ball and curled a shot from the left channel just around the right hand upright on 65.
Strong midfield play from Mussa won him the ball back on 66 and he fed Whittingham on the right but the cross was too long for anyone to reach and the home side pushed against the flow of play only for Warburton to miskick his left sided cross and find the netting behind Singh’s goal rather than a teammate and another miskick, this time by Brown, handed Diamonds a right sided flagkick on 70 which captain Collard met past the far post but he headed it wide of the mark.
As the sun moved around the sky and started to warm the main stand side of the ground Wilder picked up a booking for a blocking challenge on Casey on 74.
McKeown got he better of Snedker as the ball rolled towards the left of the goal and chipped him looking to curl it into the net at the far post but Dolman headed it away from danger.
A flag from the linesman in the Lambs half handed Rushden a freekick in the right channel on 77 and with four in the wall in front Warburton fired low and made Singh drop to smother the goalbound strike.
Tshkuna cross from the right on 81 for Bush to head at goal but he couldn’t get it on target and drew a close but not close type of enough reaction from the home fans and Singh and Brown needed a moment to recover from cramp as the minutes ticked down.
Then, on 85, a handball gave Clement a freekick 40 yards out which found the head of Creaney and he directed it goalward but it bounced past Snedker and came back off the post in what would have been a remarkable turnaround by The Lambs.
Concannon replaced Whittingham with a couple of minutes remaining and four minutes added time was shown.
There was more than enough time for Diamonds to launch a long throw in the area and see Singh punch it behind for a corner on the left which The Lambs defended and broke with McKeown reaching the edge of the oppositions area, but Rushden tackled, responded and countered to the other end with Furlong forcing a corner off Wilder which came to nothing in what proved to be the final action of another well earned point for The Lambs.
AFC Rushden and Diamonds
Snedker, Casey, Warburton, Bell-Toxtle, Dolman, Collard (c.), Tshinkuna, Diamond, Bush, Diakiesse (Jones 62), George (Furlong 80)
Subs: Akubuine, Snelus, Nixon
YC: Diakiiesse 45
Singh, Yeomans, Wilder, Brown, Hurst, Bailey, Clement, Mussa, Creaney, Whittingham (Concannon 87), Walters (McKeown 58)
Subs (4 only): Fallows, Tahra
YC: Hurst 60, Wilder 74
Referee: Mr. J. Crofts