Tom Lorraine scored a dramatic late equaliser as AFC Rushden & Diamonds rescued a 2-2 draw at home to Tamworth in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central.
Under the lights at Hayden Road, it was the away side who went in front. A Tamworth corner was headed on and fell into the path of Akwasi Asante who tapped in from close range.
The Lambs’ lead didn’t last long, however, as Lorraine fired beyond the Tamworth keeper for Diamonds’ first equaliser of the night, before Tyrell Waite restored their lead shortly after with a powerful header.
Diamonds thought they were finishing empty handed, but Callum Westwood’s cross fell kindly to Lorraine who couldn’t miss and salvaged a point with a point-blank header in the dying moments of the game.
Andy Peaks made one change to the side that were 1-0 winners away to St Neots Town on Monday afternoon, with Blaize Punter coming in for the injured Jack Ashton.
The first chance of the game fell to Diamonds. A ricochet saw the ball drop to the Lorraine, who rushed his volley and fired over the crossbar.
Ben Farrell was the next Diamonds player to have a shot on goal. His initial effort was blocked well by a Tamworth defender, and his second was just wide of the post.
The opening chances all fell to the home side, and in the eighth minute, Westwood’s teasing ball across goal was deserved a Lorraine touch as it flashed across goal.
Despite the early domination from Diamonds, it was Tamworth who took the lead. Ryan Beswick’s corner was headed on by Regan Upton, and Akwasi Asante tapped in from close range to open the scoring.
Liam Dolman came within inches of finding an equaliser for the home side. Westwood’s long throw was headed on by Lorraine, but the Diamonds captain stabbed his effort wide of Tamworth goalkeeper Jas Singh’s post.
Diamonds would have their equaliser shortly after. Some good play from Farrell meant the ball fell to Lorraine, who fired low across goal and gave Singh no chance.
But Diamonds weren’t on level terms for long, however. Tristan Dunkley delivered a peach of a ball for Tyrell Waite whose header left Ben Heath helpless.
The home side almost found their second equaliser of the evening in fortuitous circumstances. Albie Hopkins’ ball into the Tamworth box came off Paul Green, looped up and hit the bar with Singh reacting quickly to thwart any second attempts.
Diamonds almost found themselves 3-1 down within minutes of the restart. First-half goalscorer Waite turned well on the edge of the box but saw his effort sail wide of Heath’s goal.
Tamworth thought they had added a third goal seven minutes into the second half. Aman Verma’s header was saved brilliantly by Heath.
The one-way traffic continued for the Lambs. Waite’s surging run forward found Chris Lait, whose effort could only find the side-netting.
Diamonds’ first meaningful opportunity in the second half came on the hour mark. Dolman got a flick onto Westwood’s free kick but it was easy for Singh to claim.
Waite came close once again to adding a Tamworth third. He struck his effort well, but Heath was equal to it and made yet another great save.
Chances were at a premium for both sides in a tame second half, in comparison to the first. Diamonds struggled to create opportunities in search of an equaliser with Tamworth defending resolutely.
But, drama struck right at the death.
A Westwood cross was fumbled by Singh, and Lorraine acted quickest to snatch a point for Peaks’ side in the closing moments.
Attention now turns to the Emirates FA Cup for Diamonds as they host Deeping Rangers at Hayden Road in the preliminary round replay on Tuesday.
Diamonds: Heath, Westwood, Brown, Punter, Dolman, Westbrook, Gyasi (sub Diamond, 65 mins), Farrell (sub Lobjolt, 72 mins), Lorraine, Hopkins (sub Dean, 80 mins), Clifton. Subs not used: Hicks, Pickworth.
Tamworth: Singh, Dunkley (sub Wright, 83 mins), Upton, Green, Kettle, Beswick, Finn (sub Shaw, 86 mins), Verma, Waite, Asante, Lait (sub Morris, 90 mins). Subs not used: Jezeph, Ofori.
Referee: Robbie Dadley.
Goals: Asante (12 mins, 0-1), Lorraine (21 min, 1-1), Waite (26 mins 1-2), Lorraine (90 mins, 2-2).
Bookings: Westbrook, Verma, Green, Punter.
Northants Telegraph man of the match: Tom Lorraine – He was the hero for Diamonds exactly when they needed him to be. He snatched at his first few chances of the game, but he didn’t let that deter him as his 22nd minute effort saw Diamonds equalise. He had to be patient in the second half for opportunities to come his way, but like any good striker, when the ball fell to him in the 95th minute, there was only one place it was going to end up – in the back of the net.