AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Banbury United
By Steve T
All square at Rushden
Banbury were good value for their first point on the road in four games at fellow fan-owned club Rushden & Diamonds.
The team was boosted by the news that Ravi Shamsi's loan from Maidenhead had been extended to the end of the season. Manny Agboola's loan, however, had ended and the player had returned to Oxford United.
Manager Mike Ford reinstated Matt Taylor at left back with Matt Timms, who made his debut the previous Saturday, unavailable. Otherwise it was the same team as had started that game.
Banbury started brightly and Amer Awadh went close to giving them the lead on 10 minutes. He surged through the middle of the pitch and belied his slight frame to shrug off challenges before getting a shot away that just went past the right-hand post. A minute later Shamsi saw a shot from the right beaten away by Heath in the Rushden goal.
A couple more Banbury goalbound shots were charged down before the home team started to find a foothold in the game and tested Jack Harding. However, it took a great challenge from Reynolds to deny Shamsi when he was clear on 35 minutes. Three minutes later and Rushden had their best of the half when a long range Rogers free kick was pushed onto the bar by Harding who grabbed the rebound before the onrushing forwards could pounce.
Banbury started the second half brightly and a Greg Kaziboni cross was headed away from Ricky Johnson, who was surprised that a goal kick was awarded. However, on 57 minutes the home team took the lead. Banbury were unable to clear their lines after a corner and the ball finally fell nicely for Ben Diamond in the centre of the box and he fired past Harding's right hand.
Banbury could have been level within a minute when a Kaziboni lob set Shamsi free but he couldn't make a proper connection with his shot. Rushden came close to making it two when Tom Lorraine blasted a fierce cross shot just wide.
Mike Ford brought on Steve Diggin for Kaziboni and he proved Banbury's saviour on 78 minutes. A Giorgio Rasulo free kick from the left hand side was headed back across the box by Ricky Johnson and Diggin, following up, blasted the ball home from inside the six yard box.
Having got back into the game Banbury were in no mood to relinquish the point and defended stoutly. In fact Lee Henderson had the best chance for a winner, heading over from a corner. He also had the ball in the net in stoppage time but was ruled to have fouled the keeper as he came out for a long ball. In the end a draw was a fair result.
Rushden & Diamonds: 1. Ben Heath, 2. Zack Reynolds, 3. Sam Brown, 4. Declan Rogers (Sub 16. Jack Bowen 79'), 5. Liam Dolman, 6. Alex Collard, 7. Sam Johnson (Sub 12. Ben Farrell, 61'), 8. Joe Curtis, 9. Tom Lorraine, 10. Ben Diamond, 11. Nathan Hicks.
Subs not used: Ben Acquaye, 15. Jack Westbrook, 18. Jack Ashton.
Banbury: 1. Jack Harding, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash, 5. Charlie Wise, 6. Ravi Shamsi, 7. Charlie Hawtin, 9. Ricky Johnson (C), 12. Amer Awadh, 14. Lee Henderson, 16. Greg Kaziboni (Sub 10. Steve Diggin, 64'), 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 8. Edmund Hottor, 15. Eddie Odhiambo, 17. Harry Whitehead, 19. Jamie Heapy.
Man of the Match as selected by Puritans Radio – Giorgio Rasulo