VERDICT: Fair outcome as Diamonds are held by Banbury

Ben Diamond is mobbed by his team-mates after he put AFC Rushden & Diamonds in front against Banbury United. Pictures by Alison Bagley
Ben Diamond is mobbed by his team-mates after he put AFC Rushden & Diamonds in front against Banbury United. Pictures by Alison Bagley

Honours ended even at Hayden Road as AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Banbury United battled out a competitive 1-1 draw.

And, in the end, there could be few arguments either way as a good contest ended in a fair result.

Steve Diggin grabs Banbury's equaliser at Hayden Road

Steve Diggin grabs Banbury's equaliser at Hayden Road

While clear-cut chances may have been few and far between, the game was played at a frantic pace in tricky conditions as both sets of players made it a watchable encounter.

And, in the process, the final outcome ensured both sides remain in the tight race for the play-off places in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central.

Banbury started brightly and Giorgio Rasulo shot over early on before Amer Awadh was just off target after a driving run before Ben Heath was forced into a save at his near post after Ravin Shamsi had created some space for himself.

Slowly but surely, Diamonds played their way into the game and, after the excellent Zack Reynolds produced a superb challenge to deny Shamsi, it was the hosts who went closest to breaking the deadlock.

Declan Rogers lined up a free-kick some 35 yards from goal and his fine strike was helped onto the crossbar by Jack Harding who then gathered up the loose ball.

But Diamonds did open the scoring 12 minutes into the second half.

A corner was cleared back out to Rogers on the right. He crossed it back into the danger area and, after Alex Collard had seen his effort blocked, the ball fell for Ben Diamond who made no mistake with a low drive from 10 yards.

Tom Lorraine was just off target with a fierce volley after substitute Ben Farrell headed the ball into his path and Farrell also dragged an effort just off target as Diamonds hunted a second.

But Banbury continued to look a threat and they grabbed the equaliser with 12 minutes to go.

Rasulo’s free-kick to the back post was headed back across goal by Ricky Johnson and substitute Steve Diggin couldn’t miss as he stabbed into the unguarded net.

There were few chances at either end after that with Banbury going the closest to a winner when Lee Henderson headed over from a free-kick.

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

Diamonds: Heath; Reynolds, Collard, Dolman, Brown; Hicks, Curtis; S Johnson (sub Farrell, 61 mins), Rogers (sub Bowen, 79 mins), Diamond; Lorraine. Subs not used: Acquaye, Westbrook, Ashton.

Banbury: Harding; Hawtin, Wise, Henderson, Taylor; Kaziboni (sub Diggin, 65 mins), Nash, Rasulo, Awadh; R Johnson, Shamsi. Subs not used: Hottor, Odhiambo, Whitehead, Heapy.

Referee: Mark Tinsley.

Goals: Diamond (57 mins, 1-0), Diggin (78 mins 1-1).

Booking: Wise (foul).

Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Zack Reynolds - not for the first time, the right-back really caught the eye for Diamonds. He put in a real shift up and down the right-hand side all afternoon. Strong when defending and dynamic in attack, he has been one of the key players in this good run of form.

Attendance: 553.