VERDICT: Diamonds held at home as the blip goes on

The alarm bells might not be ringing just yet but the button may have to be pressed soon unless AFC Rushden & Diamonds can get themselves back on track quickly.

Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 11:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 11:25 pm
AFC Rushden & Diamonds were held to a 1-1 draw by Uxbridge
AFC Rushden & Diamonds were held to a 1-1 draw by Uxbridge

Diamonds were held to a 1-1 draw by Uxbridge at Hayden Road as their blip in the push for promotion in the Evo-Stik South League East was extended to three matches.

It’s now no win in three and just one point from the last nine available and they have suffered defeats to two of their promotion rivals along the way.

There certainly won’t be all-out panic within the four walls of the home dressing-room at Hayden Road and so there shouldn’t be.

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However, it would be understandable if there was some concern as the gap at the top is now down to three points, having been as high as eight at one stage.

Things do remain in Diamonds’ hands but it was the general performance in this one that was the most concerning thing.

So often this season, Diamonds have been free flowing in their approach and scoring goals for fun.

On this night, Ben Heath was the busier goalkeeper and, even after Spencer Weir-Daley had broken the deadlock with his first goal for Diamonds, they were unable to hold on.

Andy Peaks made changes following the 2-1 loss Hartley Wintney on Saturday with Ashley Westwood replacing Joel Gyasi while recent signing Weir-Daley was handed his first start for the club with Ryan Robbins dropping to the bench.

It proved to be a slow start with neither side really taking a grip on things.

Uxbridge registered the first attempt on target as Heath made a routine save from Dylan Kearney.

Diamonds were very quiet for the first quarter-of-an-hour but Ben Farrell livened things up with a driving run before firing just wide from 20 yards.

The hosts really should have opened the scoring soon after when Liam Dolman headed Luke Fairlamb’s cross back into the danger area but visiting goalkeeper Paul McCarthy gathered with Tom Lorraine looking a certainty to score.

Heath had his palms stung by a cross from Luke Maguire after a good run down the right and Uxbridge continued to provide nervous moments with Cole Brown glancing the side-netting on the counter-attack.

Diamonds didn’t get going at the start of the second half either and Heath was called into action again as he parried a well-struck free-kick from David Thomas while Brown’s rebound came back off the outside of the post.

But the hosts finally got into a rhythm and their best period of the game to that point brought with it the opening goal just before the hour.

Fairlamb swept in a cross from the left, Lorraine mis-kicked but it landed in the path of Weir-Daley who made now mistake from six yards, despite desperate appeals from Uxbridge for offside.

Diamonds enjoyed a good spell of possession after that but were unable to find a second goal.

And that proved crucial as Uxbridge saw one of their pacy counter-attacks pay off with 11 minutes to go.

They got in too easily with Kearney finding Brown and he showed good composure to drive his shot across Heath and into the far corner.

It could have been so much worse for Diamonds had Heath not produced a magnificent save to tip Kearney’s long-range effort over the bar as Uxbridge sensed a winner.

At the other end, Diamonds did what they had done for most of the game. They huffed and puffed but were unable to create anything clear-cut.

Certainly not the result or performance that those who came out expected.

Diamonds need to put a halt to this run and there can be no better place to do it than at fellow high-fliers Beaconsfield Town on Saturday.

Win there and things are firmly on track. Lose there and that button might just be pushed...

Diamonds: Heath; Punter, Dolman, Brown; Westwood (sub Gyasi, 64 mins), Oulton, Westbrook, Farrell, Fairlamb; Lorraine (sub Robbins, 72 mins), Weir-Daley. Subs not used: Ford, Curtis, Gilchrist.

Uxbridge: McCarthy; Peden, Watson, Thomas, Thompson; Maguire, Warner (sub El-Khabouche, 61 mins), M’Bengui, Brown; Kearney, Burgess. Subs not used: Tucker, Rabess.

Referee: Scott Postin.

Goals: Weir-Daley (59 mins, 1-0), Brown (79 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Burgess, Warner, Westwood, Thompson, Brown (all fouls).

Attendance: 369.