Luton Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven

Diamonds, once again, played some very good football, but failed to deliver the goods in front of goal as they lost by a single goal to Luton Town at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.

Dean Crowe struck midway through the first half to help Luton record their 13th victory of the season but Diamonds should have at least come away with something from the game, however, a host of missed chances cost them dear.

Following a very cold and frosty morning in Bedfordshire, the Diamonds were very surprised at the perfect playing conditions that awaited them at Kenilworth Road for this important encounter.

As snow fluttered on the Kenilworth Road pitch before the game, there was a major change in Diamonds’ squad with Duane Darby replacing Scott Partridge in attack and partnered Onandi Lowe.

Andy Burgess started on the left hand side of midfield so Partridge, Jon Brady Gary Setchell, Tony Pennock and Michael McElhatton were named amongst the substitutes.

For Luton, David Bayliss was making his home debut for the club following a move from Rochdale while Chris Coyne started for the Hatters after his wife had given birth to a baby boy the night before.

Over 1,000 Diamonds fans packed inside Kenilworth Road as kick-off approached and this was anticipated to be a fantastic game.

It was Luton who created the first real opening. Emmerson Boyce sent over an excellent right wing cross but Andrew Sambrook managed to get ahead of Steve Howard at the far post.

But Diamonds soon settled into their game and Paul Hall should have done better with a free kick that was awarded to the visitors in a dangerous position.

Diamonds were soon playing the better football and gaps started to develop in the Luton defence as Brian Talbot’s side pushed forward in the opening stages of the game.

But despite all of Diamonds early pressure it was Luton who were carving out the better chances. Crowe sent over an excellent cross on five minutes but Matthew Taylor couldn’t keep down his header.

Luton were forced to make a substitute just 10 minutes into the first half when Coyne had to go off on a stretcher following an early incident involving Darby. Russell Perrett took over in the centre of defence.

After 15 minutes: Luton 0 Diamonds 0 

Diamonds created their best chance of the game on 15 minutes. Hall broke down the right flank to deliver an inch perfect cross but Garry Butterworth couldn’t keep his header on target.

Diamonds went close on 20 minutes when Burgess crossed from the left but Lowe saw his header trickle just wide of the Luton goal.

It was a fairly even 20 minutes. Both teams were creating good chances but neither goalkeeper had really been under threat.

Diamonds were causing more havoc in attack as Luton’s defence looked patchy at times but still Mark Ovendale, the Hatters goalkeeper, had yet to be troubled by the visitors attackers.

Unfortunately the referee was spoiling the game at times, getting involved in silly incidents, and stopping the flowing football that both teams were trying to play.

Just before the half-an-hour mark, Jean Loui Valois nearly beat Billy Turley when he went inches wide with a thunderous effort that would have beat the Diamonds goalkeeper had it been on target.

After 30 minutes: Luton 0 Diamonds 0

But the Diamonds fell behind on 33 minutes. Howard flashed a cross into a dangerous area that Paul Underwood sliced onto his own post. The trouble seemed to have gone but Nicholls found Crowe who scored from close range.

Diamonds were still controlling large periods of the game but it was Luton who were creating the better chances. Howard and Crowe were causing some serious problems for the Diamonds defence.

Luton nearly grabbed a second on 39 minutes when Crowe burst through into the penalty area but Turley made an important stop from the former Stoke hitman.

Diamonds started to fade as Luton continued to create the better chances and more of the danger. Howard went close again with a close range header but Turley made a comfortable save.

Diamonds could have grabbed an equaliser just before the interval when Darby beat Bayliss to the ball in the penalty area but Taylor got in front of the striker who nearly diverted the ball into his own net.

At Half Time: Luton 1 Diamonds 0

Luton were forced to make their second substitution of the game at the start of the second half as Matthew Spring was replaced by Peter Holmes in the centre of midfield.

But it was Diamonds who made the more positive start in the second half. Darby capitalised on a mistake in the Luton defence but Ovendale made a vital stop for his side.

Lowe connected to a Paul Underwood free kick on 51 minutes but it failed to trouble Ovendale. However, it was another positive start for the Diamonds as they tried to force themselves back into the game.

Luton nearly doubled their advantage on 53 minutes when Perrett out jumped the Diamonds defence but failed to keep his effort on target.

Partridge was introduced into the action on 58 minutes replacing Darby, as Brian looked to push men forward at any opportunity when his side broke down the flanks.

After 60 minutes: Luton 1 Diamonds 0

Just two minutes after coming onto the field, Partridge created Diamonds best chance of the game when he cut inside the Luton defence to shoot a fierce effort, but Ovendale was equal to it.

Diamonds were now the team on top, creating the better chances and continuing to put Ovendale under continued pressure. Meanwhile Luton were struggling to break through the Diamonds defence.

After 75 minutes: Luton 1 Diamonds 0

Sambrook had a long-range effort on 78 minutes but he failed to test Ovendale and it needed something special from the Diamonds if they were going to rescue anything from this match.

Ahmet Brkovic became the fourth Luton player to see his name in the referee’s notebook on 82 minutes but Diamonds failed to capitalise on the resulting free kick.

Diamonds should have got themselves back on level terms, six minutes from time when Butterworth broke free but with only the goalkeeper to beat he spooned his shot wide of the target.

McElhatton tasted his first piece of first team action for over a year when he replaced Hanlon with five minutes to go.

Diamonds pushed everyone forward in the closing stages as they tried to forced that important goal but it was no good as Brian’s team failed to deliver in front of goal.

Full Time: Luton 1 Diamonds 0

Luton: Ovendale, Spring (Holmes 46), Nicholls, Coyne (Perrett 10), Taylor, Boyce, Howard, Valois (Hillier 75), Bayliss, Crowe, Brkovic.

Subs not used: Emberson, Forbes.

Bookings: Howard (17), Boyce (38), Ovendale (62), Brkovic

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth, Burgess, Darby (Partridge 58), Hall, Hanlon (McElhatton 85), Sambrook, Lowe, Hunter.

Subs not used: Pennock, Setchell, Brady.

Bookings: Hanlon (18)

Referee: P Danson.

Attendance: 7,495


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