Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cheltenham Town 0

by Andrew

Diamonds recorded their first league win since the opening day of the season with a hard-fought win over Cheltenham Town at Nene Park. The hero of the hour was Jean-Michel Sigere whose 47th minute goal decided the outcome.

Diamonds were boosted before kick-off when Paul Underwood was named in the starting line-up. He had been widely expected to miss another game through injury, and his inclusion pushed Garry Butterworth back into a more familiar central midfield role. Shaun Carey was left out of the squad of 16.

It was the visitors who started the game brightest and Julian Alsop had a couple of good early chances to put them ahead. First his run on goal was denied by a smothering save from Billy Turley, and from the resulting corner, Alsop climbed highest only to be denied by a diving stop from the Diamonds keeper who was playing his last game before a three-match ban. Tony Naylor seemed to have a clear run on goal when Barry Hunter brought him down. Despite Hunter’s protests that he had won the ball, referee Jordan produced a yellow card.
Russell Milton shot just wide from 30 yards out on the half-hour, but the last quarter of the half belonged to Diamonds. First Simon Wormull brought a good near-post save from Steve Book, and then Ritchie Hanlon shot over the bar.

Half Time: Diamonds 0, Cheltenham 0

The second half was barely two minutes old when Diamonds made the breakthrough. Andy Burgess’ shot across goal hit the post, and Jean-Michel Sigere was at the far post to turn the ball home. The relief around Nene Park was clear for all to hear. Diamonds pushed forward looking for the second goal that would definitely clinch maximum points. Scott Partridge shot over after good work by Burgess, but Diamonds were again grateful to Turley when he raced out of his goal to save Naylor’s shot with his legs. Simon Wormull blazed over on the hour mark, and Sigere nearly got his second of the afternoon, but Book made another good near-post save with ten minutes remaining.

When the fourth official indicated four minutes of stoppage time, minds raced back to the game between the sides a couple of years ago when Cheltenham scored two dramatic late goals to effectively seal promotion from the Conference, but there was to be no case of deja vu this time around. The only worrying aspect at the end of the game was a nasty head cut sustained by Paul Underwood. He came off to have stitches, and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit for Tuesday’s long trip to Exeter City.

Full Time: Diamonds 1, Cheltenham 0

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood (Rodwell-90), Peters, Butterworth, Partridge, Burgess, Wormull (Brady-72), Hanlon, Sambrook, Sigere (Duffy-85), Hunter. Subs not used: Mills, Pennock.
Booked: Hunter, Partridge.

Cheltenham: Book, Duff, Victory, Banks, Howells, Yates, Milton (Williams-60), Walker (Hill-27), Devaney (Brough-83), Alsop, Naylor.
Subs not used: Howarth, Muggleton.
Booked: Howells, Alsop, Victory.

Referee: W. M. Jordan

Attendance: 4,116

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