Plymouth Argyle 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven

A sloppy goal conceded in the final ten minutes of the game meant Diamonds went down to defeat at the hands of league-leaders Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.

Diamonds had deserved at least a point from the game with Billy Turley making four key saves in the match and the makeshift defence limiting Plymouth attacks to a minimum.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make a number of changes to his side following the Boxing Day 4-2 defeat at the hands of Southend United.

In came Gary Setchell meaning that Paul Underwood partnered Mark Peters in the centre of defence. It was no surprise to see Michael McElhatton in the starting line-up as he replaced suspended Ritchie Hanlon.

But what was a major surprise was the inclusion of Stuart Gray. The former Reading midfielder, who hasn’t started a league game since August, replaced Andy Burgess who was taken ill over the last few days.

It meant Duane Darby, Tarkan Mustafa and Tony Pennock joined youngsters Daniel Talbot and David Bell on the substitutes bench.

Plymouth, who were looking to extend their lead at the top of the Third Division, included top goal scorer David Friio in their team while Ian Stonebridge and Marino Keith started in attack.

The game got underway with Plymouth kicking-off, attacking the goal towards the home end of this beautiful redeveloped ground.

Like on Wednesday, Diamonds made a very encouraging start, keeping possession and putting the Plymouth defence under some early pressure.

But it wasn’t long before Plymouth soon found their stride and Lee Hodges and Martin Phillips were making good runs down the flanks.

Graham Coughlan had the first real chance of the game on seven minutes but his long-range effort flew miles wide of Billy Turley’s goal and into the stands.

Plymouth were controlling the early periods of the game as the Diamonds defence looked shaky but still Turley had yet been put under any real danger.

Plymouth came close to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes when after some good build-up play, Phillips’ turn and shot rattled the outside of a post.

After 15 minutes: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

The home side were now looking dangerous on the break and the Diamonds’ defence was being put under a lot of pressure.

Plymouth won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 17 minutes but some good work from the Diamonds wall blocked the kick and managed to clear the danger.

Diamonds were looking very quiet but they won their first corner of the game on 20 minutes. Lowe flicked Gray’s cross on but Partridge had his fierce effort blocked by a Plymouth defender.

All of a sudden Diamonds looked back in the game and Paul Hall was producing some exciting runs down the left flank.

Turley was called into action on 22 minutes when Stonebridge skipped past Underwood to fire a low shot but the Diamonds goalkeeper was equal to his effort.

Diamonds created their best chance on 24 minutes when Garry Butterworth let fly a splendid effort but Plymouth goalkeeper Romain Larrieu produced a finger tip save.

After 30 minutes: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

The game was now becoming a little bit scrappy with both teams finding it difficult to mount a serious challenge.

Gray seemed to be struggling with a knock following an earlier tackle but Diamonds were certainly holding their own against the league-leaders as Plymouth started to get frustrated.

Setchell became the first player to see his name in the referee’s notebook on 33 minutes following a nasty looking challenge on Keith.

Diamonds should have taken the lead on 40 minutes when a mistake in the Plymouth defence let Hall in but he miss-hit his shot and Lowe could not force the loose ball into the net.

Diamonds deservedly went in at the break all square and Brian certainly would have been happy with the way his side kept Plymouth at bay.

Half Time: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

No changes were made to either side in the second half as Diamonds once again started brightly winning a corner inside the first two minutes of the second half that Butterworth blasted over the Plymouth goal

Plymouth made a slow start but eventually managed to get themselves out of the blocks when on 50 minutes Turley came racing out of his goal to deny Phillips.

Hodges saw a goal disallowed for offside as Plymouth began to get themselves back in the game with this large crowd roaring on every attack by the home-side.

After 60 minutes: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

On 60 minutes a free-kick from David Worrell managed to beat everyone in the Diamonds box but Turley, who saw it late, managed to palm it away.

It was an excellent stop but just moments later he produced an even better save, this time acrobatically stopping Coughlan’s close range header.

Turley was again called into action on 63 minutes tipping over a close range header from Keith. If it wasn’t for the Diamonds goalkeeper the visitors could easily have seen themselves 3-0 down in this half.

Plymouth were still in control of this game but it was Turley and the Diamonds defence that were doing themselves proud as attempts from the home-side were kept to a bare minimum.

McElhatton had a shot deflected as Diamond supporters tried to get behind their team. But from the resulting corner Butterworth hit a shot wide of the target.

After 75 minutes: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

On 76 minutes Turley, who was having an outstanding match, made another key save again denying Keith who struck a fierce long range effort from outside the penalty area.

Diamonds chances were rare but Lowe had a good effort on 80 minutes but he blasted his shot well over the cross bar and high into the stands.

But after all their good work, Diamonds conceded a sloppy goal. On 81 minutes substitute Blair Sturrock crossed from the right and Mark Peters diverted the ball into his own net, although nobody was totally sure who got the final touch with the P.A announcer awarding the goal to Keith.

Diamonds tried to get themselves back in the game but failed to find that all important goal, which they really deserved.

Plymouth: Larrieu, Worrell, Friio, Coughlan, McGlinchey, Stonebridge (Sturrock 75), Phillips, Adams, Hodges, Wotton, Keith.

Subs not used: McCormick, Beswetherick, Evers, Heaney 

Bookings: Wotton (60)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, McElhatton (Bell 84), Peters, Butterworth, Partridge, Setchell, Gray (Darby 84), Hall, Sambrook (Mustafa 89), Lowe.

Subs not used: Pennock, Talbot,

Bookings: Setchell (33), Underwood (45)

Referee: Mr M.L Cable

Attendance: 9,503

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