VERDICT: Diamonds and St Ives draw a blank
This will be one of the easier match reports that will be written this season.
In truth, there was very little to report as AFC Rushden & Diamonds and St Ives Town shared a 0-0 draw on a near-perfect autumnal afternoon in front of a healthy crowd at Hayden Road.
Unfortunately, the game ended up having a pre-season feel as a real lack of tempo and quality in the attacking areas ensured that decent attendance remained subdued for the majority of the afternoon.
Of the two teams, Diamonds looked the more likely to find a breakthrough particularly in the second half when they asked plenty of questions of a resolute St Ives side.
But the visitors remained solid and, even when Diamonds did find a way through, the woodwork was there to deny them.
Overall, there could be few arguments at the final outcome with the only real positive for Diamonds being that they maintained their concentration to ensure there were no silly slip-ups when St Ives made rare visits into their penalty area.
The first half was as forgettable as halves of football go.
Neither side really looked like threatening the other until the final minute of the period when Diamonds worked the ball to right-hand side and Nathan Hicks hit a first-time shot that fizzed inches past the far post.
Things could only improve after the break and they did, just.
It was Diamonds who made the running and Jack Bowen, who worked his socks off for little reward, forced former Corby Town loanee Sam Wilson into a save at his near post.
Bowen and the Diamonds fans had huge claims for a handball waved away while, at the other end, former Rushden & Higham United striker Dylan Wilson did have the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside.
But it was Diamonds who continued to pose the bigger threat and Bowen had a header from a Declan Rogers corner hacked off the line before the hosts came within inches of snatching the points.
A corner was recycled with Sam Brown finding Bowen on the right. He delivered the cross and captain Liam Dolman saw his far-post header cannon off the crossbar.
That was as close as anyone came to breaking the deadlock but there were few complaints from either side once the final whistle went.
Diamonds will see this as two points dropped but, in truth, they didn’t quite do enough and that means there should be plenty for them and boss Andy Peaks to think about.
Diamonds: Heath; Hicks, Punter, Dolman, Brown; Diamond, Westbrook, Clifton (sub Farrell, 66 mins), Gyasi (sub Dean, 82 mins); Lorraine (sub Rogers, 73 mins), Bowen. Subs not used: Ward, Westwood.
St Ives: S Wilson; Hood, Cartwright, J Wilson, Coulson; Wallis (sub Baker, 66 mins); Parker, McGowan, Snaith (sub Patrick, 86 mins); D Wilson (sub Seymour-Shove, 76 mins), Kelly. Sub not used: Bailey.
Referee: Oliver Mackey.
Bookings: Clifton, Westbrook (both fouls).
Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Jack Bowen - With a clean sheet in the bag and no goals being scored, you’d think a defender would be taking this accolade on this occasion. In truth, the Diamonds’ defence didn’t have a great deal to do and when any moments did arise, they dealt with them comfortably. At the other end, it was a frustrating afternoon but it certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort, especially from Jack Bowen’s point of view. He worked his socks off for the cause, for little reward. He ran the channels, he got out wide to deliver crosses when he had to, he had a big appeal for a handball waved away and he saw a header cleared off the line. It was a day when few shined but, despite the lack of goals, Bowen should be pleased with the shift he put in.