Rushden fans left Nene Park happy after putting together a resolute performance against a strong Nottingham Forest side, which included seven of their nine summer recruits.
Justin Edinburgh put out a similar side to the one that lost to Grimsby on Saturday, although Forest loanee James Reid took Lee Tomlins’ place on the left wing, with Tomlin replacing Craig Farrell as Aaron O’Connors’ strike partner. The names on the Forest teamsheet represented the difference in ability between the two sides, with Chris Gunter, Paul McKenna, Dexter Blackstock and David McGoldrick, amongst others, all having skill in abundance.
After an impressive showing in Devon, some of Rushdens’ fans were quietly anticipating a good performance which would, hopefully, reflect upon the season as a whole before the match, but these hopes were dashed to bring silence on the DeBanke terrace after just ninety seconds. After Joel Lynch, making his Forest debut, had placed a defence-splitting through ball, Radoslaw Majewski latched onto it to slide the ball agonisingly into the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards.
As Rushden tried to take control of the situation, it was Forest who looked all the more dominant, and only a fine Roberts save from Lewis McGugan kept the deficit to one. Simon Downer also spared Jamie Stuarts’ blushes with a fine saving tackle, after a mix-up between Stuart and Max Porter left the Rushden defence outnumbered. Rushden recovered from what seemed an early onslaught well, regaining composure throughout midfield. After Reid had combined with Rob Wolleaston on the touchline, a low cross from Wolleaston was excellently cut out by Gunter to prevent O’Connor from having the simplest of tap ins.
Rushden try to launch a prompt attack
However, Rushden did equalise shortly afterwards. Good work from Kurt Robinson saw the ball find its’ way to Wolleaston who found Reid neatly, who in turn crossed for Aaron O’Connor to bundle the ball home from close range, scoring his third goal in as many appearances.
With the momentum swinging firmly in their path, Rushden started the second half brightly. A trademark run from Curtis Osano, where he travelled 60 yards with the ball seemingly stuck to his feet, ended up with a stinging shot that skewed wide of the target. O’Conner continued to threat the multi-million pound defence, and, after leaving the defender clueless following many tricks and turns, drew a good save from Lee Camp. O’Connor then managed to take the ball to the byline, but his cross was inches behind Craig Farrell, with the former York hitman finding the goal at his mercy.
Rushdens’ defence continued to nullify the Forest attack, and it was the Diamonds, who so nearly won the game at the death. Substitute Sam Smith put in a hanging cross which was too high for Camp to pluck out of the air, but Matt Pattisons’ header didn’t have enough pace on it and was hacked off the line by Luke Chambers.
Full-time at Nene Park
Despite the early disappointment, many positives can be taken from the match, which hopefully Justin Edinburgh can implement in training in time for the start of the season.