Boro sparkle at Diamonds
Rushden and Diamonds 2 Stevenage Boro 2 DARREN ISTED reports from Nene Park BORO earned a deserved share of the spoils on Friday night with an away performance that showed plenty of promise. And as the noisy Boro contingent of almost 600 filtered off into
Rushden and Diamonds 2 Stevenage Boro 2
DARREN ISTED reports from Nene Park
BORO earned a deserved share of the spoils on Friday night with an away performance that showed plenty of promise.
And as the noisy Boro contingent of almost 600 filtered off into the night, boss Mark Stimson declared himself happy with his side's return to form.
He said: "It has been a fantastic return in recent games; we didn't play as well as we did on Tuesday night against Woking but that game took an awful lot out of us.
"We were undone by two set pieces which was disappointing but we hung in and got what we deserved from the game."
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Boro's fortunes certainly ebbed and flowed in this game between two old Conference rivals looking to get back on the fringes of the play-off battle.
Rushden boss Paul Hart made five changes but his new-look side bonded well early on and it was Boro who started on the back foot.
Marcus Kelly drilled a shot wide after just three minutes while Alan Julian looked shaky in the visitors' goal and fumbled one effort before clawing a Paul Watson corner away from underneath his crossbar as the Diamonds pushed for the opener.
Boro began to play some neat passing on the break and they looked to have taken a grip on the game when they went ahead on 20 minutes.
Craig Dobson battled hard on the right flank and fed Barry Fuller whose cross into the box was turned into his own net by Wayne Hatswell.
The strike sparked a purple patch for Boro who began to pose an increasing threat. Jon Nurse had the ball in the back of the net five minutes later but it was disallowed for an offside against Santos Gaia while Mark Beard drilled just over with a header from a Nurse cross.
Well on top, Boro then contrived to throw the whole thing away with a spell of defending that harked back to the darkest days of the start of this season.
Ronnie Henry and Gaia were pulled all over the place and Rushden were on terms after 37 minutes when Hatswell made amends for his earlier blunder, powering in a header at the far post following a deep ball into the box.
The game looked to be moving away from the visitors when Rushden stole into the lead on the stroke of half time. Another high ball proved too much to cope with, and once Watson's corner had found the head of Chris Hope, the home skipper guided the ball in past Julian off the post.
Boro needed to give an early indication of intent in the second half and they did so from the whistle, culminating in the equaliser on 48 minutes.
Fuller split the Rushden defence with a high ball into the box and Nurse bravely went in ahead of keeper Nicky Eyre to lift the ball in front of the noisy Boro support.
The goal changed the entire complexion of the match and it was Boro who had the three points there for the taking.
With some good interplay and impressive possession, the visitors were in control, although disappointingly they were unable to make the most of an impressive spell of corners and free-kicks midway through the half.
Indeed a Dobson shot from distance was the closest they actually came to troubling keeper Eyre in a second half full of promise but short on chances.
Just as the game looked set to end in a whimper, Rushden almost had the final say.
Simeon Jackson, on as a late sub, unleashed a drive in added time which Julian parried on to the post and away, and in the process secured a richly deserved point for the Boro.