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25.09.2007 @ 19:45 Nene Park Crowd: 1345
Rushden & Diamonds 1 - 1 Grays Athletic
Referee: R Wigglesworth (Lancashire) Conference National-Match

Simeon Jackson (9) Karl Murray (58)
Starting Line-ups
Paul Bastock
Curtis Osano
Chris Hope
Wayne Hatswell
Lee Tomlin
Martin Foster
Jon Challinor
Andrew Burgess
Dean Howell
Michael Rankine
Simeon Jackson
Ross Flitney
Andy Sambrook
Jon Ashton
Jack Haverson
Karl Murray
Mark Marshall
Ernie Cooksey
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Danny Kedwell
Gavin Grant
Paul Nicholls
Philip Gulliver
Simon Rusk
Marcus Kelly
Michael Malcolm
Danny Knowles
Charley Hearn
Aaron O'Connor
Craig McAllister
James Lawson
Marcus Kelly -> Lee Tomlin (67)
Michael Malcolm -> Simeon Jackson (74)
Charley Hearn -> Jack Haverson (46)
James Lawson -> Mark Marshall (59)
Aaron O'Connor -> Gavin Grant (82)
Yellow cards
None None
Red cards
None None
Match report |
Grays belied their indifferent home form to earn another point on the road from Tuesday's hard-fought Blue Square premier clash at Rushden.

In the end Grays may well consider this two points lost rather than one won as they had far more chances than their hosts, but failed to find the killer touch.

Jack Haverson made his Grays debut in place of the suspended Jamie Stuart, whose future at Grays remains clouded after the club issued a statement they would be awaiting to see all the from the various officials and agencies following the incident which left York City's Chris Beardsley with a broken jaw on Saturday.

However, the 22-year-old lasted just the first 45 minutes being injured and replaced by midfielder Charley Hearn as Blues boss Justin Edinburgh reshaped his formation at half time.

It was a move that paid dividends as Grays fought back to earn a point thanks to Karl Murray's 58th minute goal and in the end it might have been much better for Grays, who dominated the closing stages.

They had fallen behind to Simeon Jackson's ninth minute goal, his fourth of the season, which came after a bright start from Garry Hill's men. Strangely the goal acted as a catalyst for Grays who picked up their game from then on.

Rushden keeper Paul Bastock was much the busier, saving well from both Gavin Grant and Dennis Oli before Grays got a deserved equaliser 13 minutes into the second half when Murray drilled home into the bottom right-hand corner.

As well as Haverson, Edinburgh made three changes from the side that lost to York. Craig McAllister and Charlie Hearn dropped to the bench and Adam Gross failed to make the 16. In came Ernie Cooksey following his suspension, Mark Marshall, and Danny Kedwell who partnered Gavin Grant up front.

Both sides had early efforts on goal with Grant shooting wide for the visitors, and Andy Burgess firing well over the bar.

Diamonds looked to close Grays down quickly and started to control the midfield with Andy Burgess and Jon Challinor taking on the defence at every opportunity, leading to Jackson's goal when he fired a 25 yard shot past keeper Ross Flitney into the corner of the net.

After the goal, Grays were unable to make much headway up field and created very little in the way of chances.

Burgess was causing problems and Flitney had to be quick off his line taking the ball off the head of Michael Rankine. Diamonds wouldn't let the visitors settle and chased down at every opportunity although neither side were creating much in front of goal.

Jackson's cross after a lovely cross field ball from Burgess was just too high for Lee Tomlin, while on 27 minutes, Dennis Oli had the first real chance for Grays, heading over from close range following a Stuart Thurgood corner.

Grays made a change at the start of the second half with Haverson hurt in a collision at the end of the first half. Andy Sambrook moved inside to partner Jon Ashton in the centre of defence.

Blues certainly came out looking a different side as they became much more competitive in midfield.

In the opening ten minutes, Kedwell had a shot blocked by Chris Hope, and then Hearn shot wide from the resultant corner. Grant also forced the first of a number of good saves from Bastock.

With Diamonds on the back foot, Grays drew level on 58 minutes. After Curtis Osano had fouled Cooksey five yards outside the area, Thurgood fired in the free kick, forcing Bastock to palm away his fierce drive. Murray was first to follow up the loose ball and drilled his shot past the keeper.

Over the next 15 minutes both sides made changes with James Lawson replacing Mark Marshall for Grays and Marcus Kelly and Michael Malcolm coming on for Tomlin and Jackson.

Malcolm had Diamonds' best chance of the half shortly after coming on, shooting just wide after some great work by Kelly on the left but largely it was Grays who held territorial advantage and enjoyed the bulk of pssession.

However, they couldn't take advantage and will have returned home thinking of what might have been as they turn their attention to Saturday's home clash with fourth-placed Stevenage Borough and another reunion with former boss Mark Stimson.

Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report