Gateshead 0-0 Rushden & Diamonds

23/09/2009, by Jeff Bowron

Gateshead finally kept their first clean sheet of the season at the 11th time of asking to pick up a useful point against 5th top Rushden & Diamonds at the International Stadium.

It was the right result for a tight game that only livened up during a hectic ten minute spell at the beginning of the second half.

Manager Ian Bogie sprang a surprise before the game when he replaced experienced goalkeeper Jim Provett with teenage protege Paul Farman.

The youngster responded by making three important saves, and with central defenders James Curtis and Chris Swailes dominant and Phil Cave assured at left back the Diamonds were kept at bay.

At the other end chances were limited though Armand One featured in the best two that came Gateshead's way, the first after just two minutes.

Mark Byrne's misplaced pass left One clear with Michael Mackay unmarked in the middle but the Frenchman's squared ball was slightly behind his strike partner.

The Hartlepool front runner had to readjust and, though he still managed to pull the trigger, Rushden captain Jamie Stuart made a telling block.

Farman had to react smartly to keep out a shot from the impressive Lee Tomlin at his near post and Curtis Osano cut inside to shoot over from the edge of the box as Rushden threatened.

Byrne's 25 yard drive was then parried at full stretch by Farman in injury time, and there was a lively opening to the second half.

One, back for a corner, succeeded only in deflecting Tomlin's flag kick into the path of Osano who shot wastefully over.

A shanked clearance from Diamonds keeper Nathan Abbey on the right side of his box then saw Mackay's long range effort turned past the post at full stretch by a relieved Abbey.

Swailes was just wide with a header from Alex Francis' resultant corner and then Craig Farrell's flicked shot from Kurt Robinson's cross was held by Farman.

Play immediately swung back to the other end where Francis' chip into the box saw One drill a left foot shot from a tight angle just past the far post.

The flurry of action however soon resided and there was little goalmouth action for the lowest crowd of the season at the International Stadium, 409, as defences regained control.

Rushden  & Diamonds pressed for a late winner and they almost got it eight minutes from time when sub Sam Smith's 22 yard shot produced another fine save from Farman.

Craig Baxter then handled a cross into the box as he jumped into the air. Ripon referee Andrew Halliday, who had overruled a linesman's flag during the build up, then declined to point to the spot.

Another defeat would have been harsh on Gateshead who showed much greater defensive solidity ahead of the visit of league leaders Oxford United on Saturday.

"I have given the players some criticism lately but we were much better defensively against a good Rushden side who are going well," said manager Ian Bogie.

"We worked very hard and put a lot into the game, and while we could have had a bit more quality in the final third we had good chances at the beginning of each half."

Diamonds boss Justin Edinburgh, the former Tottenham defender, saw his side stretch their unbeaten run to six games.

"Gateshead is a tough place to come," said Edinburgh "offensively we didn't have enough about us. It was a lovely pitch for passing the ball but our touch and passing was short of our usual standards.

"Gateshead played very narrow and it was a tight game but we were denied a blatant penalty late on and I don't see how its not been given."

Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Cave, Gate, Curtis, Swailes, Francis (Phillips 73m), Turnbull, Armstrong, One (Richardson 62m), Mackay (Harwood 73m)
Subs: (not used) Provett (gk), Robinson

Referee: Andrew Halliday (Ripon)

Att: 409