Harris the last-gasp hero as Diamonds stay on course

AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks
AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks

Brad Harris was the last-gasp hero for AFC Rushden & Diamonds as they claimed a dramatic, and potentially crucial, point in the 1-1 draw with Wisbech Town.

The race for the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division title looked like it would be well and truly back on after the Fenmen took a 12th-minute lead through Luke Wilson.

A Wisbech win would have seen them move to within a point of Diamonds but the leaders showed all the grit and determination you expect of potential champions.

Andy Peaks’ men weren’t great. Far from it in fact. But, even with eight minutes of stoppage-time gone at the end of the game, they kept going and were rewarded when Harris’ header was adjudged to have crossed the line despite a defender doing his best to block it.

That goal sent the vast majority of an excellent attendance of over 900 into delirium as Diamonds maintained their four-point advantage with seven games to play.

The game itself wasn’t a classic. Wisbech had the better of the opening exchanges and Tommy Treacher fired over from a good position before they took the lead.

Adam Millson whipped in a free-kick and Wilson rose above the home defenders to loop home a header that left Matt Finlay rooted to the spot.

Diamonds, as they did for the vast majority of the game, huffed and puffed but the closest they came was when Matt Gearing’s free-kick evaded everyone and the far post.

It remained scrappy in the second period, although Wisbech may have doubled their lead with a couple of decent chances.

William Smith had a header saved by Finlay, who then produced a brilliant double save when he parried Smith’s shot before getting a vital touch on the ball as a couple of players closed in for the rebound.

Stuart Cobb headed narrowly wide for the visitors but, as the game wore on, Diamonds gradually piled the pressure on.

Wisbech didn’t help themselves with a number of time-wasting tactics and that came to pass in the final play of the game.

With eight minutes of stoppage-time played, Gearing sent in a corner from the left and Harris met it at the far post.

It was deemed to have crossed the line and the celebrations got under way with the full-time whistle following soon after the restart.

Diamonds got out of jail, of that there is no doubt. But their desire to achieve their target for this season can’t be questioned.

They now have seven games to finish the job...

Diamonds: Finlay; Harris, Dolman, Ashton, Brown; Gearing, Confue (sub Merrill, h-t), Bunting, Rogers (sub Lamb-Johnson, 62 mins); Dunkley (sub Lorraine, 77 mins), Berwick. Subs not used: Redding, Joseph.

Wisbech: Jordan; Spafford, Wilson, Fairweather, Johnson; Cobb, Millson, Reid, Smith (sub Lunn, 77 mins); Treacher (sub James, 80 mins), Beaumont (sub Ford, 66 mins). Subs not used: Cousins, Bishop.

Referee: Martyn Gospel.

Goals: Wilson (12 mins, 0-1), Harris (90 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Bunting, Johnson, Merrill (all fouls), Ashton, Treacher (both unsporting behaviour), Cobb, Ford (both kicking ball away).

Attendance: 930.