AFC Rushden & Diamonds and St Ives Town played out a poor goalless draw at Hayden Road in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central.
So, what did we learn?
Some 0-0 draws are entertaining, this wasn’t.
Yes, I have seen some very good goalless draws before! But right from the off, this one seemed destined to be one that won’t be remembered too fondly. There were 44 minutes on the clock before anything of note happened. Diamonds had a go after the break but never really looked like breaking down a resolute St Ives defence. This was one of those games where the scoreline really did tell the full story...
Formations, tactics count for little unless the quality is there.
As ever, when things don’t go according to plan, the first instinct is to point to the manager. But, let’s look at this one closely. Andy Peaks chose to be attacking. He went with a 4-4-2 formation, he had some real firepower on the pitch in the hope that his team would have a proper go at the visitors. But a manager can only do so much. The truth is that Diamonds really struggled with their final ball and/or final shot on this occasion. There was a real lack of imagination and creativity at times and that’s something only the players can change.
St Ives are, perhaps, a bit underrated.
Really think this is worth mentioning. I am sure most clubs would look at their home game against St Ives Town and believe that is one they really feel they should be looking to win. After all, they struggled last season and finished third from bottom, albeit well clear of the bottom two. But St Ives are the surprise package of this season so far. They have the best defensive record in the league, although they haven’t really fired at the other end either. They also came into this game on the back of a superb FA Cup win at Grantham Town. I am not suggesting Diamonds took this game lightly. What I am suggesting is that they won’t be the last team to struggle to break down what was a very well organised and solid team.
Jack Bowen didn’t get what his performance merited.
There weren’t many standout individual performances in this game but I think Jack Bowen is worthy of an extra mention. He did what you want from a striker, he worked hard. He ran the channels and he, at least, tried to make something happen. Things didn’t drop for him and when he produced one of the rare moments of quality with a pinpoint cross to Liam Dolman, the captain’s header came back off the crossbar. Bowen could be happy with the effort he put in, he deserved more for it.
There’s no cause for any panic.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a football fan and I know full well that we can all get a bit twitchy from time-to-time. But for any Diamonds fan who is feeling like that after a tricky start to the new season, I would urge a bit of perspective. No-one ever said it would be easy. I always felt Diamonds would be fine at this level at I stand by it. But it was never going to be easy moving up to the next level while working to what is, in general, a modest budget. I firmly believe there is enough within the squad to ensure a comfortable campaign and I look forward to them proving me right. There is certainly no need for anyone to panic...