Collard is Diamonds' late hero as Steelmen are held at Bedford

Alex Collard grabbed a stoppage-time winner for AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Alex Collard grabbed a stoppage-time winner for AFC Rushden & Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds made it four wins from five matches in the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central as they grinded out a 1-0 win over St Ives Town at Hayden Road.

An even first half saw Massiah McDonald have an effort ruled out for offside for Diamonds while the visitors went close through Jack Snelus, who was denied by Ben Heath.

But Diamonds were hit by a red card after 53 minutes when Jack Ashton was sent-off for a second bookable offence.

However, the hosts settled and there were chances at both ends with Ben Acquaye hitting the post with 11 minutes to go.

But there was late drama to come as Diamonds snatched the points in stoppage-time as Alex Collard met a Ben Farrell free-kick with a looping header that dropped into the net to send the home crowd into raptures.

St Ives were also reduced to 10 men late on when Rob Parker also saw red for a second bookable offence and Diamonds saw things out to secure a fine win, which leaves them second in the early league table.

Corby Town were on the end of a second-half fightback from Bedford Town as they were forced to share the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

The Steelmen looked to be heading for a third win in a row in all competitions after they took control in the first half.

Joe Burgess put them in front after 11 minutes when good play by Jordon Crawford and James Ireland teed the midfielder up and he rifled home from 20 yards.

And it was 2-0 on 32 minutes when Crawford opened his account for the season, cutting inside and beating two players before firing into the far corner.

However, Bedford were given a lifeline when substitute Tre Mitford pulled a goal back.

And the same player struck again with 13 minutes to go to level the scores.

Neither side could find a winner after that and the result means Corby remain unbeaten after their first three matches in Division One Central.