Lee Barnard's goals either side of half-time couldn't prevent our Spurs XI side suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Rushden and Diamonds on Tuesday night.
A spectacular volley after 44 minutes and close-range strike a minute into the second half looked to have put us in the driving seat having trailed 1-0 in the first half.
However, home keeper Paul Bastock stood firm in the crucial next period of play and the home side from the Blue Square Premier (Conference) turned a competitive friendly around with a two-goal blast in three minutes.
Teemu Tainio completed 80 minutes on his first start of pre-season in front of almost 3,000 at Nene Park having returned from injury in the third and final game of our South Africa tour as a substitute against Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
Tommy Forecast was the busier of the keepers in the first half.
The 20-year-old tipped aside Woodhouse's low drive and held onto Howell's effort inside 11 minutes but could do nothing as the home side took the lead after 20 minutes, Osano picking up Woodhouse's deep cross and slotting from 12 yards.
Challinor curled just wide and although Murphy responded with a stinger just over from 20 yards, it took another save from Forecast to keep it at 1-0, this time tipping Woohouse's free-kick curler onto the bar before Mills mopped up.
Although we'd enjoyed more than our fair share of possession, chances were few and far between at the other end. Tainio's goalbound shot hit Hope after 35 minutes, but there was no hit and hope about our equaliser just before the break.
It was a Barney special as we kept hold of the ball in a tight space around the edge of the box, it finally popped up to the striker who controlled on his chest and, despite the close attention of Hope, spun and volleyed home in one movement from 18 yards.
We looked set to take control when Barnard pounced from close range to make it 2-1 just a minute into the second half. Barcham and O'Hara forced Bastock into fine saves, Barnard volleyed on target again and O'Hara flashed a shot just wide.
However, it changed again in the space of three minutes as substitute Tomlin fired low past Forecast after 61 minutes and Challinor repeated the trick with an almost indentical finish to fire the home side in front again.
Chances followed at both ends for the rest of the game and Barnard was denied a hat-trick goal by the linesman's flag after 75 minutes. That would have been fitting for the striker but it wasn't to be on this occasion.
THE KEY ACTION...
Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 3, Spurs XI 2
89.25: CLOSE - RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS. Tomlin worked a yard of space in the box, fired low across Forecast and just wide.
88.42: Barcham and Livermore build-up down the left, Livermore squared for O'Hara to lash over from 20 yards.
87.17: Barnard tried his luck twice, both blocked, Barcham followed up and his effort blocked as well.
82.12: Lambley low cross from right into path of Tomlin, McKenna did enough in challenge and Tomlin fired over.
74.23: GOAL DISALLOWED - SPURS. Daniels fizzed in low cross from the left, Barnard tapped in at far post but hat-trick goal ruled out for offside.
64.01: GOAL - RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS. Osana clipped ball over the top, Challinor controlled and had enough space to drive low shot through legs of Forecast from 12 yards.
Rushden & Diamonds 3, Spurs 2
61mins: GOAL - RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS. Rankine flicked on for Tomlin to race through on goal, shot clipped inside of Forecast's left leg and zipped home.
Rushden & Diamonds 2, Spurs XI 2
59.33: CHANCE - SPURS. Barcham dummed Tainio pass, ball found O'Hara, quick feet in box to create space and dragged shot just wide.
58.34: Tainio chipped pass into Barnard, who spun and volleyed from 20 yards, comfortable save for Bastock.
58.01: SAVE - BASTOCK. Maghoma rolled the ball to Barnard who let it run for O'Hara to aim curler from 20 yards that Bastock tipped over at full stretch.
57.31: SAVE - BASTOCK. Tainio pass released Barcham on goal, left side of box, didn't quite get hold of shot and Bastock saved with feet.
53.43: James darted down the left, cutback into the path of Challinor who completed missed his kick 16 yards out.
53.11: O'Hara's corner went all the way out to Tainio, edge of the box, decent hit but too many bodies in the way.
46.01: GOAL - SPURS. Daniels cross from the left bypassed a couple of defenders, Hatswell missed his clearance and Barnard pounced, slotting home from 10 yards.
Rushden & Diamonds 1, Spurs XI 2
Half-time: SUB - SPURS. McKenna for Murphy.
Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1, Spurs XI 1
43.23: GOAL - SPURS. Patient build-up, Murphy, O'Hara, Tainio involved, Barnard then got hold of tricky ball, controlled on chest, spun and volleyed into top right corner from 18 yards. Great finish.
Rushden & Diamonds 1, Spurs XI 1
34.54: CHANCE - SPURS. Osano and Challinor got into a tangle on the edge of the box, Maghoma's shot was parried out by Bastock, loose ball fell to Tainio who drive at goal only for effort to hit Hope and bounce to safety.
31.58: SAVE - FORECAST. Debatable foul conceded by Mills on the edge of the box, Woodhouse curler was heading fot top left corner before Forecast's fingertips diverted onto the crossbar, Mills completed the clearance.
25.03: Murphy rifled half-volley in from 22 yards, always rising.
23.51: CLOSE - RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS. Osana kept in deep cross on the right byline, cut back for Challinor to curl just wide from 20 yards.
19.01: GOAL - RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS. Woodhouse dug cross out from the left, Osano controlled at far post and fired low past Forecast from 12 yards.
Rushden & Diamonds 1, Spurs XI 0
13.39: Tainio played wide to Barcham, cross just over Barnard's head six yards out.
10.19: SAVE - FORECAST. Hatswell spread the play wide to Osano, he rolled it in to Howell who didn't quite get hold of shot from 15 yards but Forecast still needed to make save down to his left.
4.29: SAVE - FORECAST. Woodhouse shifted wide of O'Hara and unleashed dipping drive from 20 yards that Forecast tipped past the post low down to his right.
2.35: Hughton cross flicked onto the roof of the net by Barcham, stretching and under pressure 12 yards out.
Rushden & Diamonds: Bastock, Osano, Gulliver (Watson, 55; Bonner, 86)), Hope, Hatswell, Challinor, Woodhouse (Shaw, 69), Foster (Tomlin, 55), Rankine, Howell, James (Lambley, 55). Subs: Margarson, Bolt, Beecroft, Bonner.
Spurs XI: Forecast, Hughton, Daniels, Riley (C Butcher, 69), Mills, Tainio (Livermore, 80), Murphy (McKenna, 46), O'Hara, Maghoma, Barnard, Barcham. Subs: C Butcher, L Butcher, Obika, Townsend.