Rushden & Diamonds 3 Carlisle United 1

By Steven

This win was well deserved. Diamonds outplayed their opponents in every department and although the score line may not suggest a comfortable win, Carlisle were no match for the Northamptonshire side at Nene Park.

Despite Carlisle taking the lead midway through the first half, a solid display from the Diamonds and a wonderful goal from Paul Hall helped seal an easy three points.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made one change from that which started against Luton last week. Scott Partridge was recalled into the starting line-up to partner Onandi Lowe in attack.

Michael McElhatton, who played his first piece of competitive first-team action in over a year at Luton last week, was named as a substitute while Duane Darby, who started at Kenilworth Road, was also on the bench.

Carlisle, who were looking for their first away victory of the season this afternoon, included leading goalscorer Richie Foran in attack while Maltese striker Ian Stevens was also in the starting eleven.

Diamonds kicked-off, attacking the goal towards the Peter De Banke terrace, and it was the home side who were making the more promising start as they controlled the opening stages of the game.

Lowe had Diamonds’ first effort when he connected with Paul Underwood’s free-kick but the Jamaican couldn’t get enough power behind his shot.

Lowe had another effort just moments later. Again the cross came from Underwood but this time the striker just couldn’t find the target as the ball trickled wide.

Diamonds should have broken the deadlock on five minutes. Andy Burgess had time and space on the left flank to deliver an inch perfect cross but Hall hit his first-time shot straight into the arms of Carlisle goalkeeper Peter Keen.

It was a good start from the Diamonds and maybe Brian would have been disappointed that his side had not taken the lead inside the first ten minutes.

Carlisle created their first effort on nine minutes when Stuart Green skipped past Andrew Sambrook down the right but drilled a weak shot straight into the arms of Billy Turley.

Carlisle were reduced to 10 men after 14 minutes when Michael Jack saw red after he, seemingly, head butted Sambrook which left the Diamonds defender with a bloody nose.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Carlisle 0

Brian didn’t rush into replacing Sambrook as the defender ran into the tunnel with the club physio to patch up the wound on his nose.

It meant Hall was required to play at right-back but Sambrook was soon back on the field and took up his place in the Diamonds defence.

Diamonds were certainly in control of proceedings as they put Carlisle’s defence under constant pressure.

Carlisle won a free-kick on 25 minutes after Hall had brought down Foran on the edge of the penalty area. And it resulted in Stuart Green finding the net from an acute angle beating the Diamonds wall and past Turley at his near post.

But just two minutes later Diamonds were back on level terms. Hall broke down the right flank to send a perfect cross for Onandi Lowe to side foot home past Keen and into the net.

It was what Diamonds deserved. They were the team playing the better football but to Carlisle’s credit their heads stayed up and they were making the home side work hard.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Carlisle 1

Diamonds were fully in control of the game, chances were flying in left, right and centre but still they couldn’t find a way past the Carlisle defence.

Sambrook fired an effort over the crossbar while Burgess saw his header go inches over the crossbar.

Carlisle pushed forward on 43 minutes and won a corner but it was wasted which left their manager Roddy Collins fuming from the sidelines.

Hall fired an effort in stoppage time but despite all their domination and possession in the opening 45 minutes, Diamonds went in at the interval all level.

After 45 minutes: Diamonds 1 Carlisle 1

Carlisle were forced to change their kit and played the second half in Diamonds’ away yellow kit.

But more surprising was the change made by Brian at the interval as Barry Hunter was replaced by Gary Setchell who was to occupy the left side of defence. That meant Underwood partnered Mark Peters in the centre of defence.

Lowe found the net on 47 minute but he was adjudged to have used his hand in the process and the game remained 1-1.

But just three minutes later Diamonds took the lead. Burgess sent a perfect cross into the Carlisle penalty area and Paul Hall managed to drill a fierce effort past Keen.

Diamonds won a free kick on 53 minutes but Underwood saw a curling effort fly well over the Carlisle crossbar and failed to trouble Keen.

Lowe managed to weave his way past three or four Carlisle defender on 57 minutes but his mazy run was halted by an excellent save from Keen.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 2 Carlisle United 1

An excellent sweeping move nearly resulted in Diamonds extending their lead but the final ball from Partridge to Sambrook was just out of the defenders reach and Keen made a brave save.

Carlisle attacks were rare but when they did push forward they looked dangerous but Peters and Underwood were producing a solid display in the centre of defence.

Diamonds should really have extended their lead but despite all the possession they couldn’t find a way past Carlisle’s defence.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Carlisle United 1

Diamonds were having some excellent opportunities to put this game beyond Carlisle’s reach but nobody could grab that killer goal.

But the game was put beyond doubt as Diamonds extended their lead through a bizarre own goal. Lowe broke clear and squared the ball to Burgess whose shot was cleared off the line but struck an unfortunate Whitehead.

After 90 minutes: Diamonds 3 Carlisle United 1.

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth (McElhatton 90), Partridge, Burgess, Hall, Hanlon, Sambrook, Lowe, Hunter (Setchell h/t).

Subs not used: Darby, Pennock, Brady.

Bookings: Peters (57), Setchell (70)

Carlisle United: Keen, Whitehead, Soley, Stevens (Halliday 38), Green, Murphy, Winstanley, Allen, Andrews, Jack, Foran.

Subs not used: Thurston, Hopper, McAughtrie, Thwaites.

Bookings: Allen (27), Soley (47), Whitehead (53), Green (73)

Sent Off: Jack (14)

Attendance: 4,142

Referee: Mr A R Hall

See here for video highlights courtesy of Gary Mabee Visual Productions.

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