VERDICT – Diamonds put in their shift to earn another point

AFC Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Matt Finlay produced some good saves to help secure a 0-0 draw with Romulus
AFC Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Matt Finlay produced some good saves to help secure a 0-0 draw with Romulus

AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ injury-ravaged squad did what was asked of them as they collected a third draw in a row in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South.

The final outcome – a 0-0 stalemate – was probably about right as Diamonds and fourth-placed Romulus both had chances but failed to take them in what ended up being a scrappy affair at the Dog & Duck.

And for Diamonds, another point on the board is one they will take considering the injuries Andy Peaks is having to deal with at the moment.

No fewer than eight first-team players were missing due to knocks and it meant another reshuffle for the manager.

In the build-up to the game he urged his players to “put in another shift” and while they were unable to find a winner, they certainly did just that.

There were some impressive displays. Kyal McNulty filled in at left-back with few problems while Rory Winters looked assured alongside Liam Dolman at the heart of the defence.

And in Matt Finlay, they have a goalkeeper who will continue to win more points for the team than he loses.

It took a while for the game to get going despite both teams settling into a watchable contest.

But the game came to life in the final 15 minutes of the first half after Taylor Orosz’s deflected shot was pushed round the post by visiting goalkeeper Rhys Bills.

Romulus responded and Chad Degville-Cross should have done better than volley wide when he was free at the far post.

The same player stabbed wide at the near post after good work from Jack Donnelley but both sides had great chances to open the scoring before the break.

Nabil Shariff broke clear for Diamonds but Bills made a decent stop with his feet before Orosz blasted over after the resulting corner was only half-cleared.

But the hosts were grateful to Finlay as he kept things level at half-time with an excellent save to deny Donnelley after he was sent through on goal.

The game became more scrappy in the second half with few chances at either end.

Taylor Orosz’s goalbound effort was well blocked by Mark Branch while Finlay had to be at his best to keep out Nathan Waite’s curling shot.

Diamonds were able to introduce striker Jake Newman for the final 17 minutes as he made his return from injury.

But while the hosts huffed and puffed, they never really looked like making a breakthrough.

There was almost late drama when Degville-Cross’ long-range effort was deflected just wide with Finlay rooted to the spot.

But a winner either way would have been harsh as the game ended with the right outcome.

Given their injury problems, this was another decent point gained for Diamonds.

Peaks will now be hoping one or two can shake their knocks off in time for the big FA Cup date at Hendon on Saturday.

Diamonds: Finlay; Bradshaw, Dolman, Winters, McNulty; Orosz (sub Wreh, 79 mins), Bunting, Harris, Parsons; Shariff (sub Newman, 73 mins), Lorraine. Subs not used: Holmes, Haynes, Jackson.

Romulus: Bills; Dudley, Hill, Lee, Branch; Degville-Cross, Westwood, Vilela-Santos (sub Hailey, 78 mins), Donnelley; Rutty-Smith, Waite. Subs not used: Walsh, Walters, Danks, Masidi.

Referee: Paul Buck.

Bookings: McNulty, Branch, Dudley (all fouls).

Attendance: 305.