Oxford United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Match Report
By Andrew

A spirited Diamonds fightback led by two goals from Duane Darby was not enough to prevent Diamonds sliding to a controversial defeat at Oxford on Saturday. The second half dismissal of Jim Rodwell totally transformed the direction of game, and Oxford capitalised with three second half goals to condemn Diamonds to their second defeat in the space of a week.

The first half saw Diamonds continue to demonstrate the passing game that Brian Talbot had extolled from day one of the season. Indeed, such was Diamonds control of the half the home sides first real effort on goal didn’t arrive until the 35th minute when Thomas dragged a shot well wide. Prior to that Diamonds had, had two efforts on goal, Justin Jackson firing at the ‘keeper when under pressure from a defender, and Duane Darby shooting into the side netting from 20-yards out.

Tarkan Mustafa almost repeated his goalscoring feat at Burnley but his shot from the edge of the area flew over the bar by inches with the ‘keeper well beaten. However, Diamonds were grateful to a piece of quick thinking from Billy Turley which kept the score level at half time. A mistake by Gary Setchell gave the home side possession and when Andy Scott latched onto a threw ball from midfield the odds were in favour of the striker to break the deadlock. But Turley was quickly out to stop with his feet, and the rebound was blazed over by Sam Stockley.

The second half was just three minutes old when Jim Rodwell was sent from the field of play. He had challenged Phil Gray for what looked like a 50-50 ball. Both men went to ground yet the referee saw fit to show the red card. This totally put Diamonds out of their stride and Oxford produced two goals in the space of three minutes to completely alter the proceedings. First Dean Whitehead and then Martin Thomas fired past Billy Turley and it was an uphill struggle from then on.

Phil Bolland’s strike after 75 minutes merely rubbed salt into the wounds. A late rally by Diamonds produced two Duane Darby headers, both from Paul Underwood crosses, but it was too little too late. But once again, the headlines in the papers will be made by the referee and not the players.

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth, Brady, Jackson, Rodwell, Carey, Darby, Setchell. Subs: Burgess (Setchell 60), Mills (Butterworth 60), Pennock, Patmore, Solkhon (Jackson 52).

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