Rushden & Diamonds 2 Macclesfield Town 0

By Steven

Onandi Lowe fired home his fifth goal in a Diamonds shirt as Brian Talbot’s team bounced back to winning ways in an uneventful game against Macclesfield Town on Tuesday evening.

And on-loan midfielder Stewart Wardley made the game safe in the closing stages when he grabbed a goal on his home debut.

Paul Underwood, Duane Darby and Lowe were all recalled to the starting line-up after passing late fitness tests with Stuart Douglas and Scott Partridge back amongst the substitutes.

But Diamonds boss Brian Talbot recalled Tarkan Mustafa into the starting line-up, replacing Andrew Sambrook. The highly talented defender has not been in a competitive league match since the defeat against Leyton Orient in September.

Wardley continued his role in midfield and partnered Ritchie Hanlon while Stuart Gray also passed a late fitness test and took up his normal role on the left-hand side of midfield.

For Macclesfield, they were dealt a blow with top goalscorer Lee Glover and experienced midfielder Kevin Keen both out because of an injury but Chris Byrne, who was rated doubtful, started in defence.

The game got underway with both teams enjoying some good possession play. Diamonds looked strong in midfield while Macclesfield tried to mount some early attacks.

Diamonds won their first corner of the game on seven minutes when Wardley made his presence felt in the penalty area but Paul Hall could not find a white shirt.

Neither side had yet created any chances in this even contest but Diamonds were shading the early possession with Macclesfield content to let the home-side do all the attacking.

The first effort on target arrived on 10 minutes when Mustafa burst down the right wing to deliver a low ball that Hall struck straight at Macclesfield goalkeeper Lee Martin.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Macclesfield Town 0

The game was getting scrappy as the match progressed. Neither side were looking at their best but now Macclesfield were shading the better possession and looked more dangerous.

Macclesfield were being put on the back foot but each time the Diamonds mounted an attack some good defending from the visitors meant that Martin was having a quiet time in goal for the Silkmen.

Diamonds won a free-kick in a good position on 22 minutes. Hall took the kick and found his Jamaican international team-mate Onandi Lowe but he could not guide his header on target.

Diamonds were now looking the stronger team as they began to find gaps in the Macclesfield defence. Hall was making some dangerous breaks down the right flank and he was causing the majority of the problems for the visitors.

Macclesfield mounted their best effort of the game on 27 minutes when former Stoke striker Kyle Lightbourne showed his power and pace to beat Barry Hunter and fire a shot just over the Diamonds crossbar.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Macclesfield Town 0

This game was containing very few chances with neither side looking at their best but Lowe found the ball at his feet on 32 minutes, however, he saw his shot blocked by Macclesfield captain Darren Tinson.

Diamonds had their best of the game on 35 minutes when after some good build-up play from Wardley, Hall, who was looking impressive for the Diamonds, fired a low effort just wide of the Macclesfield target.

Diamonds were now looking the much stronger team with Macclesfield failing to find a way through a strong looking defence with Underwood impressive on his return to the side.

On 41 minutes, Diamonds had another excellent chance. Mustafa picked the ball up deep inside the Macclesfield half and fired a fierce shot but it was just a little bit high and went over the crossbar.

As the half time whistle went, it was Macclesfield who were the happier side. Chances were few and far between but Diamonds may have been a little disappointed that they could not make one of their chances count.

Half-time: Diamonds 0 Macclesfield 0

Diamonds were forced to make a change at the interval with Jon Brady replacing Setchell. That meant Gray was asked to play at left-back with Brady occupying the left-hand side of midfield.

The game started in similar vain to the first with both team’s enjoying good possession without creating any real notable opportunity.

Diamonds had a good opportunity inside the first five minutes of the second-half. Barry Hunter found Lowe deep inside his own half and his mazy run brought a shot on goal but it rolled the wrong side of the Macclesfield goal.

But six minutes into the second-half Diamonds broke the deadlock. It was what the home-side deserved as Hall broke inside the penalty area, skipping past a Macclesfield defender to find Onandi Lowe who out jumped the visitors defence to head home from close range, although keeper Martin might have done better.

Wardley nearly marked his home debut with a goal on 57 minutes when he powered in unmarked to head over the crossbar from a Brady corner.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Macclesfield 0

Brian made a change on 63 minute when Partridge replaced a tired looking Darby, although the Diamonds striker had an impressive game alongside Lowe in attack.

Macclesfield were trying their best to push forward but Hunter and Underwood were doing an excellent job in the defence and Turley had not yet been fully tested in the Diamonds goal.

The first caution of the evening arrived on 69 minutes when Macclesfield defender Chris Priest sent Hall tumbling to the ground that saw the Diamonds win a free-kick in a dangerous position.

Lowe nearly added a second on 72 minutes when he once again showed his power to get his head to a Brady free-kick but his effort went inches wide of the Macclesfield goal.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Macclesfield 0

Macclesfield continued to push forward as they tried to grab a vital goal and manager David Moss made his final substitution with 12 minutes remaining of the game.

Priest fired an effort from a long distance that Turley comfortably dealt with, but all of a sudden Macclesfield were enjoying their best spell of the game.

Wardley fired a similar effort to the one of Mustafa in the first-half with nine minutes remaining of the game as the on-loan QPR midfielder saw his shot go just over the crossbar.

After all of Diamonds’ good work in the entire game they nearly saw their lead slip when Bryne saw the ball fall to his feet inside the six-yard penalty area but fired it over the crossbar.

Macclesfield were not giving up the game and on 89 minutes they won a corner but on the break Diamonds added the winning goal when Stuart Wardley hit a shot on the volley to finish off a move he had started in his own half.

Full Time: Diamonds 2 Macclesfield Town 0

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Darby (Partridge 63), Setchell (Brady h/t), Gray, Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Lowe (Douglas 90), Hunter.

Subs not used: Duffy, Pennock.

Bookings:

Macclesfield Town: Martin, Adams (Shuttleworth 57), Byrne, Tinson, Ridler, Lightbourne, Priest, McAvoy (Askey 77), Lambert, Abbey, Munroe (Tracey 67)

Subs not used: Wilson, Whitaker

Bookings: Priest (69), Lightbourne (85)

Referee: Mr R Olivier

Attendance: 2,771

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

Hartlepool 5 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes meant Diamonds went crushing to their heaviest league defeat of the season against an impressive Hartlepool outfit at Victoria Park this afternoon. 

Some poor defending but some excellent finishing from Hartlepool meant the home side deservedly collected maximum points with Diamonds failing to muster and really chance in the whole game.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to ring the changes with no fewer than four new players in the side to the one that started proceedings in the 3-0 defeat against Carlisle United on Tuesday.

In came new boy Stuart Wardley and he surprisingly partnered Ritchie Hanlon in the centre of midfield with Michael McElhatton not even amongst the substitutes.

Darren Carr, currently on a non-contract at Nene Park, started his first game for the club when he partnered Barry Hunter in the centre of defence with both Mark Peters and Ray Warburton out through injury.

In attack, Stuart Douglas made his first start for the Diamonds while Scott Partridge was also recalled into the starting line-up with Duane Darby and Onandi Lowe both missing.

Jon Brady was recalled to the substitute bench along with Tarkan Mustafa as the Diamonds looked to bounce back following that defeat at Brunton Park.

Hartlepool were also looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat against Mansfield in midweek. They were boosted by the return of Tommy Widdrington and in attack they had former Sheffield Wednesday striker Ritchie Humphreys and experienced Gordon Watson.

Hunter was given the captain’s armband in the absence of Warburton and Paul Underwood as the game got underway at a fierce pace.

The first effort of the game arrived inside the second minute when Partridge curled an effort just past the Hartlepool post which would have beaten goalkeeper Anthony Williams had it been on target.

Hartlepool won their first corner of the game shortly afterwards but Carr done extremely well to clear the danger and the knock the ball out of touch for a throw.

Both teams were enjoying some good possession play but neither team had created much in front of goal despite looking dangerous on occasions.

Diamonds nearly found themselves a goal down in bizarre fashion on 10 minutes when James Coppinger cross was headed by Gary Setchell and it nearly beat his own goalkeeper but Billy Turley managed to keep it out.

Hartlepool were now looking dangerous as Watson and Humphries starting causing havoc in the Diamonds defence with their pace and trickery.

Sambrook conceded a needless free-kick on 11 minutes and it was nearly costly and Widdrington tested Turley from long range but the Diamonds goalkeeper made a vital stop.

From the resulting corner, Hanlon cleared an effort of the goal line as Mark Tinkler’s headed looked as if it was going into the back of the net.

After 15 minutes: Hartlepool 0 Diamonds 0 

Diamonds were really under pressure now. Every time the home side pushed forward they looked extremely dangerous although Turley looked in good form, already making a number of vital saves.

The windy weather conditions were making playing decent football very difficult and it seemed to be affecting the Diamonds more as they struggled to get use to the blustery weather.

Hartlepool were once again on the attack on 20 minutes and Tinkler was again dangerous in the box as he saw another header go just over the cross bar and into the stands.

Paul Smith was also causing a lot of problems for the Diamonds as the Hartlepool midfielder was sending some excellent corners into the visitor’s penalty area.

Diamonds were really struggling to create any chances with every attack let down by the final ball. Williams had not yet made any key save as Hartlepool continued to look impressive.

After 30 minutes: Hartlepool 0 Diamonds 0

But finally all of Hartlepool’s pressure paid off as they deservedly took the lead. Turley could only tip Tinkler’s header onto the crossbar but Watson was on hand to poke home from close range.

Hartlepool continued to push forward as Diamonds remained firmly on the back foot and a number of corners were won by the home-side who were looking to quickly add a second.

Diamonds won there first corner of the game on 34 minutes but it didn’t mount to anything as Hartlepool nearly scored on the breakaway but Watson was adjudged to have made a foul on Sambrook.

Diamonds somehow managed to avoid another Hartlepool attack as Smith saw a shot saved by Turley and Watson followed it up but was denied by Hunter who made an important stop on the goal line.

This game was all Hartlepool and still Diamonds had failed to test Williams as Partridge and Douglas continued to struggle in attack.

Diamonds managed to create their first real effort of the game when Douglas beat two defenders but his effort struck the side netting.

Diamonds’ best effort of the game fell a minute before the interval when, after a scramble in the penalty area, the ball arrived to Hanlon but the former Peterborough midfielder fired over.

At Half-Time: Hartlepool 1 Diamonds 0

No changes were made at the interval and Hartlepool started the second-half exactly the same way they finished the first, causing pressure amongst the Diamonds defenders.

Hartlepool were still very much controlling large periods of the game but Diamonds slowly got themselves back into the game as the visitors enjoyed some moments of good pressure.

Partridge went close with a header from a Hall cross as Diamonds were starting to get a grip of the game and control some of the midfield play.

The football was getting a bit scrappy but the Diamonds were still looking good as they pushed forward in search of an important goal.

After 60 minutes: Hartlepool 1 Diamonds 0

Hanlon saw a header go wide of the Hartlepool goal on 61 minutes when it may have been better to leave the cross from Hall to Gray who was arriving at the far post unmarked.

But the Diamonds fell further behind which would have left Brian fuming from the bench. The cross arrived in the penalty area and a bad mix up from Sambrook and Hunter meant that Humphries scored from inside the six-yard box.

It was a bad time to concede a goal, just as Diamonds looked as if they might cause some trouble and get back into the game.

And just moments after conceding the second, Diamonds fell further behind as Watson left the visitors defence in their wake to score at the second attempt after seeing his initial shot saved.

Things were going from bad to worse for the Diamonds and it was in attack where the visitors were really struggling to find any danger. It would be fair to say that Darby and Lowe were certainly being missed.

Now Hartlepool were running riot. Another mix up in the Diamonds defence left Widdrington an easy chance to tap home from close range after Turley done so well to stop his initial effort.

Hartlepool were ripping through the Diamonds defence and they could easily have had a fifth but Watson struck a shot over the cross bar when in acres of space.

After 75 minutes: Hartlepool 4 Diamonds 0

Hartlepool were continuing to run riot and on 77 minutes Hartlepool added a fifth when Coppinger got in front of Hunter to volley home from closer range and leave Turley fuming at his defenders.

Duffy replaced Partridge with ten minutes remaining the game was already over as a contest.

Hartlepool kept moving forward as they looked for goal number six but Turely produced a fine save from Humphries with the crowd roaring every single chance the home-side created.

Robert duffy did score a good goal at theend but it was wel to late

Hartlepool left the field to a standing ovation and it was fully deserved but for Diamonds it was a massive defeat which will probably mean that Brian will be returning to the drawing board on Monday morning.

Full-Time: Hartlepool 5 Diamonds 1

Hartlepool: Williams, Barron, Lee, Robinson, Westwood, Widdrington (Stephenson 79), Tinkler (Boyd 75), Smith, Coppinger (Arnison 81), Humpherys, Waston.

Subs not used: Hollund, Lormor 

Bookings

Diamonds: Turley, Partridge (Duffy 81), Setchell, Gray, Douglas, Hall, Hanlon, Sambrook (Mustafa 64), Wardely, Hunter, Carr (Dempster 64).

Subs not used: Pennock, Brady.

Bookings: Setchell (14), Wardley (45).

Referee: Mr M Ryan

Attendance: 3,513

Carlisle United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven

There could be no complaints about this result. Diamonds were second best in every department as Carlisle maintained their impressive form with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Brunton Park.

Poor defending and some missed opportunities cost Diamonds and Carlisle dominated from start to finish in an impressive performance from Roddy Collins’ team

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made a number of changes to his side from the team that started against York City on Saturday. In came club captain Ray Warburton in place of Paul Underwood.

Warburton was to partner Barry Hunter in the centre of defence while Ritchie Hanlon was recalled into the centre of midfield with Garry Butterworth also missing because of injury.

Duane Darby, who was passed fit to play despite taking a knock against York, started in attack and partnered Onandi Lowe and Diamonds went in search of their third win on the bounce.

Youngster John Dempster was named on the substitute bench, insurance just in case Warburton struggles throughout the game. On-loan striker Stuart Douglas and Scott Partridge were also named amongst the substitutes.

Richie Foran started for Carlisle United in attack and he partnered Ian Stevens with Carlisle boss Roddy Collins naming a very attacking line-up.

It was an empty Brunton Park on a cold Tuesday night as the Diamonds ran onto the field and Warburton was given the captains armband on his return to first-team action.

The game got underway at a slow pace but it was the home-side who were shading the opening moments having more of the possession and looking dangerous as they moved forward

It was like pinball in the opening five minutes with the ball all other the place and neither side had yet tested the goalkeepers.

A mistake in the Carlisle defence gave Paul Hall the chance to opening the scoring but his shoot took a deflection and the ball went over Peter Keen’s crossbar and off for a corner.

Carlisle were now seeing more of the ball and Turley’s goal was being put under pressure and Stuart Green fired a shot from the right wing which hit the outside of a post but Diamonds cleared their lines.

Carlisle were now pushing men forward as the Diamonds defence struggled to clear the danger. 

Despite all the danger from the home-side, Lowe saw a cross nearly poked home by Darby but the ball was just out of his reach.

After 15 minutes: Carlisle United 0 Diamonds 0

The game began to die down as the ball kept going out of play and the crowd at Brunton Park started to get frustrated with the sloppy play from both sides.

It was a poor 20 minutes and with Carlisle scoring six in their last home game against Leyton Orient, this was a disappointing opening from the Cumbrians.

But the game sprung into life on 22 minutes when Carlisle took the lead. Warburton tried to clear an in swinging cross but his week header only found Green who fired a magnificent effort into the left-hand corner of Turley’s goal.

It was a poor game up until that point but out of the two sides, Carlisle were looking the more dangerous and it was no surprise when they took the lead.

The fans soon got behind their side as Carlisle pushed forward and they won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 28 minutes but despite Green hitting a poor delivery the ball somehow found Foran who struck from close range.

After 30 minutes: Carlisle United 2 Diamonds 0

Brian made a substitution on 30 minutes when he took Gray off the field and replaced him with Andy Burgess.

Diamonds could not seem to keep possession of the ball as the visitors were really struggling to cope with the pace of Carlisle as they pushed men forward.

Foran had the ball in the net on 36 minutes but it was ruled out for offside and it was a massive let off for the Diamonds.

Diamonds had their best effort of the game on 38 minutes when Darby struck a low effort which Keen spilled but recovered well to deny Setchell from the rebound.

Diamonds won a number of corners shortly afterwards and Barry Hunter had a header cleared off the line as the visitors enjoyed a rare piece of good possession.

Lowe was involved in a clash of heads just before the interval but the Diamonds could have no complaints about the result as the referee blew the half-time whistle.

Half Time: Carlisle United 2 Diamonds 0

Carlisle made a tactical change at the interval as Steve Halliday was called into action, replacing Stevens.

Michael Jack had the first effort of the half when he found space outside the Diamonds penalty area but he saw his shot go inches wide of Turley’s right-hand post.

Diamonds needed to start the second-half brightly but they failed to do that as Carlisle started where they left off in the first-half, pushing men forward and putting the visitors defence under pressure.

There was worrying signs for the Diamonds on 52 minutes when Burgess received a heavy whack and had to be replaced by Douglas.

Burgess had to be taken off on a stretcher and is was a major blow for the Diamonds as the midfielder looked to be causing some problems down the left flank.

Carlisle were playing some excellent football and the Diamonds were really struggling. On 57 minutes Soley had time and space in the penalty area but his low effort was comfortably saved by Turley.

After 60 minutes: Carlisle United 2 Diamonds 0

Lowe had a towering header from a Setchell cross well saved by Keen but Diamonds were still second best as Carlisle continued to look impressive.

The game was over on 64 minutes as Diamonds conceded a third. It was more poor defending from the Diamonds as Foran headed Green’s cross into a dangerous position and Halliday tapped home from close range.

Lowe should have pulled a goal back on 67 minutes when Lowe had time in the box but he fired well wide of the target when it seemed easier to a least have tested the goalkeeper.

After 75 minutes: Carlisle United 3 Diamonds 0

Dempster was introduced into the action on 77 minutes but it was still Carlisle who looked dangerous as Foran had another effort that brushed the side netting.

Soley should have extended Carlisle’s lead on 80 minutes but Turley reduced the angle and his shot rebounded of the Diamonds goalkeeper’s shoulder.

Diamonds pushed forward but could not even muster any pressure on the Carlisle goalkeeper and their could be no complaints as the home side made easy work of this win.

Full-Time: Carlisle United 3 Diamonds 0 

Carlisle United: Keen, Birch, Whitehead, Soley, Stevens (Halliday h/t), Green, Murphy, Winstanley, Andrews, Jack (Allan 86), Foran.

Subs not used: Hopper, Rogers, Nicholson 

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, McElhatton, Warburton (Dempster 77), Darby, Setchell, Gray (Burgess 30, Douglas 53), Hall, Hanlon, Sambrook, Lowe, Hunter.

Subs not used: Pennock, Partridge

Bookings: Hanlon (45)

Referee: Mr Roy Pearson

Attendance: 2,864

Rushden & Diamonds 3 York City 0

By Steven

Diamonds extended their unbeaten home run in the league to ten games with a comfortable 3-0 victory against struggling York City.

Two goals in the first-half sealed the win as York struggled to cope with the pace and quality of Diamonds’ play and the visitors were down to 10-men for most of the second-half when Chris Smith was sent-off.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named one change to the starting line-up from the team that started against Lincoln with Duane Darby, who scored at Sincil Bank last week, partnering Onandi Lowe in attack.

Scott Partridge was named as a substitute while Michael McElhatton partnered Garry Butterworth in midfield, with Ritchie Hanlon, who missed the game against Lincoln because of a foot injury, also named as a substitute.

Mark Peters was still missing from the squad but Paul Underwood past a late fitness test and started alongside Barry Hunter. Stuart Douglas, who signed less than 24-hours before this afternoon’s game from Luton Town, was also named as a substitute.

York City named a strong line-up but were without captain Chris Brass because of an injury. However in attack, Lee Nogan partnered Michael Proctor, who had both scored nine goals each this season.

Diamonds kicked-off the first-half attacking the Peter De Banke terrace and it was a slow start with both teams struggling to get out off the blocks.

But the Diamonds did get off to a great start when on three minutes Paul Hall sent a corner that was flicked on to Hunter and although the defender saw his shot blocked, Duane Darby was on hand to stab home the rebound from close range.

It was a great start for the Diamonds who looked superb each time they pushed forward.

Diamonds were putting a lot of pressure on the visitors who made a shaky start although York did mount some good openings early on.

York were keeping possession well and the Diamonds were chasing after every ball but despite looking good going forward the home-side were not put under any real pressure.

Darby was looking lively in attack and he was causing havoc in the York defence with his power and pace.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 1 York City 0

Chances were few and far between with the football at times very scrappy and neither side able to get the cutting edge to put pressure on the goalkeepers.

The game was getting even scrappier as the minutes ticked by with both goalkeepers rarely tested and both sets of players unable to work the ball towards their opponent’s penalty area.

Proctor had York’s first real effort of the game and it arrived on 26 minutes when the striker sent a curling free-kick just over the crossbar.

But Diamonds immediately went down the other end and Hall went close showing his international quality to beat a defender a fire a fierce effort just over the crossbar.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 York City 0

Turley was called into action on 30 minutes when Proctor skipped past Underwood but the York striker saw his shot superbly stopped by the Diamonds goalkeeper.

York were dealt a major blow on 34 minutes when Nogan was sent tumbling to the ground following a 50/50 challenge with Stuart Gary. The former Luton and Oxford striker had to go off for treatment and York were subsequently down to 10 men.

The York striker did limp back onto the pitch but seemed to be struggling with a knock to the leg.

Chances were still very rare and this wasn’t an entertaining game but to Diamonds’ credit they were doing well in defence limiting York only a few opportunities.

Darby was put through on goal just a minute before the interval when Hall spotted the Diamonds striker and when it looked as if he would get his second of the game he was stopped in his tracks by York defender Gary Hobson.

And the consequences were bad as Darby hobbled off the pitch as Brian sent both Partridge and Douglas off the bench to warm-up, an early indication that the Diamonds striker might not make the second-half.

But just minutes before the half-time whistle Diamonds extended their lead when Gary Setchell sent a perfect cross for Michael McElhatton to powerfully head home past Fettis.

Half Time: Diamonds 2 York City 0

There was good news for the Diamonds before the second-half got underway with Darby returning for action but Nogan had to be substituted for York and he was replaced by Peter Duffield.

Lowe, who was having a very quiet game this afternoon, nearly extended Diamonds’ lead inside the first minute of the restart but Fettis made an excellent one-handed save to prevent the Jamaican international.

But things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Smith sent Darby tumbling to the ground and although the Diamonds striker seemed to be in an offside position the referee had no hesitation but to send the York defender off the field.

It was a harsh decision as Darby did look offside but the referee had no hesitation in making his decision. From the resulting free-kick Gray deceived everyone when he played a short ball to Darby who fired a shot wide.

The game was certainly better than the first 45 minutes although York still seemed to be struggling and the sending-off had certainly knocked the confidence out them.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 2 York City 0

Hunter became the first Diamonds player to see his name in the referee’s notebook following a nasty looking challenge on a York midfielder.

Darby was substituted on 66 minutes, replaced by Partridge and he was given a standing ovation by the Diamonds faithful.

Hunter was involved in a nasty challenge with his own goalkeeper when Turley was cluttering into the Diamonds defender and he had to receive treatment from physio Phil Ward but he managed to carry on.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 York City 0

York had their best effort on 75 minutes when substitute Peter Duffield found space in the Diamonds penalty area but his shot was deflected by Hunter and onto the post.

Partridge may have been disappointed not to have extended Diamonds’ lead when Lowe found the striker but he was denied by an excellent save from Fettis.

York, who had been struggling throughout the whole of the match, kept pushing forward but Partridge had another effort on 82 minutes when he outpaced the York defence to fire a low shot.

The game was put beyond York’s reach on 87minutes when substitute Andy Burgess sent a perfect cross for Onandi Lowe to powerfully head home from close range and leave Fettis no chance and secure a perfect afternoon for the Diamonds faithful.

Diamonds were unfortunate not to have extended their lead in the final moments when Lowe saw another header ruled out for offside.

Full Time: Diamonds 3 York City 0 

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, McElhatton, Butterworth (Hanlon 83), Darby (Partridge 66), Setchell, Gray (Burgess 76), Hall, Sambrook, Lowe, Hunter.

Subs not used: Pennock, Douglas.

Bookings: Hunter (60)

York City: Fettis, Edmondson, Potter, Cooper, Basham, Hobson, Bullock, Nogan (Duffield 46), Proctor, Smith, Richardson (Mathie 72).

Subs not used: Howarth, Fox, Stamp.

Bookings: Basham (63)

Sent-off Smith (48),

Referee: Mr A. N. Butler

Attendance: 4,605

See here for video highlights of the game from Gary Mabee Visual Productions.

Lincoln City 2 Rushden & Diamonds 4

By Steven

Diamonds collected their first victory on their travels in two months this afternoon after an excellent second half display gave the Northamptonshire outfit a 4-2 win against Lincoln City.

It was what Brian Talbot and his side deserved, and after conceding a two goal lead in the first half, Diamonds showed enough character to wrap the game up in the second half and move up the Third Division table.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make two key changes prior to the game. Barry Hunter was recalled to the centre of defence but he was being partnered with Paul Underwood.

Mark Peters had not travelled with the side because of an infected toe. That meant Gary Setchell would occupy the left-hand side of defence and partner Stuart Gray down the flank.

But there was another change forced on the Diamonds manger with Michael McElhatton starting his second consecutive game because of an injury picked up by Ritchie Hanlon in training on Friday afternoon.

Onandi Lowe and Scott Partridge started in attack while Andy Burgess was recalled to the substitute bench along with youngster Robert Duffy who had already been involved in action during the youth side’s game against Notts County on Saturday morning.

For Lincoln, they were missing Lee Thorpe through suspension and a number of other injuries meant that they were forced to use youth team coach John Seafield amongst the substitutes.

Around 400 Diamonds supporters had made the short journey up the A1 to Sincil Bank and there was a relatively healthy crowd at the ground for this important encounter.

Diamonds kicked-off the first half attacking the South Park stand where the Lincoln supporters were housed.

Lincoln made an encouraging early start when former Luton and Nottingham Forest midfielder Kingsley Black broke down the right but his cross was well held by goalkeeper Billy Turley.

But it was Diamonds who took an early lead when Lowe fired a shot from outside the penalty area and with the aid of a deflection it beat Lincoln goalkeeper Alan Marriott.

It was a great start for the Diamonds as they soon began to settle down and frustrate the home side, who were desperate for victory themselves, with only nine points separating them and bottom placed club Halifax Town.

Lincoln nearly got themselves back in the game on seven minutes when Dave Cameron shrugged off a challenge from Underwood but fired his shot over the Diamonds crossbar.

On 10 minutes Lincoln went even closer. Black, who was causing the major threat for the Diamonds, shot from the right flank and with the ball beating Turley, the midfielder saw his effort cannon off the crossbar.

Lincoln were now beginning to look dangerous and on 13 minutes Peter Gain sent in a cross from the left which Ben Sedgemore headed inches past Turley’s left hand post.

But despite all Lincoln’s pressure, Diamonds extended their lead on 15 minutes when a ball from Setchell found Paul Hall all alone in the penalty area and his side footed shot beat Marriott.

After 15 minutes: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 2

It was the perfect 15 minutes for the Diamonds but Lincoln were still looking strong on the break and causing some trouble in the visitors defence, with Black and Gain causing a lot of the damage down the flanks.

But Diamonds were certainly playing some good football with Garry Butterworth and McElhatton controlling the midfield and Hall looking dangerous on the right wing.

At times the football was a bit scrappy but on 26 minutes Gain, who had linked up well with Cameron, saw his weak effort beat Turley but cleared off the line by Underwood.

Diamonds were living dangerously but every time the visitors pushed forward they looked good on the break and were causing havoc in the Lincoln defence.

After 30 minutes: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 2

Finally all of Lincoln’s pressure paid off when they reduced Diamonds’ lead. It was a well-worked goal from the home side and it was neatly finished by the impressive Black.

It was what Lincoln deserved but, just like at Southend on Boxing Day, this was going to be a testing period for the Diamonds with only 12 minutes remaining until half time.

Hall hit a weak effort on 35 minutes following some good work from Partridge but it was Lincoln who were shading the better opportunities and looking more dangerous.

And it wasn’t a surprise when Lincoln got themselves back on level terms. Cameron broke down the right and his perfect cross found Battersby who stole in front of Andrew Sambrook to score from close range.

All of a sudden Diamonds began to look dangerous and Hall made one or two threatening runs down the right wing and Partridge has an effort blocked that resulted in a corner for the visitors.

But despite Diamonds trying to get themselves in front before the interval they couldn’t with Lowe seeing a heading go wide of the goal in the closing stages of the half.

Half Time: Lincoln 2 Diamonds 2 

Both teams were forced to make a substitution at the interval with Duane Darby replacing Partridge, who picked up a knock at the end of the first half and Mark Camm was introduced into the action for Lincoln.

Lincoln made the brighter start to the second half with Adam Buckley doing well down the right flank and causing some early trouble for Sambrook.

Lincoln won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 50 minutes but the Diamonds defence was not put under any danger and cleared their lines well.

It took 10 minutes in the second-half for Diamonds to create their first real effort when Hall struck a low shot wide of the Lincoln goal that failed to trouble Marriott.

After 60 minutes: Lincoln 2 Diamonds 2

The game was getting a bit scrappy and neither side were looking impressive and both goalkeepers were having little to do.

Diamonds won their first corner of the half on 63 minutes and Gray saw a fierce header go inches wide of the goal following a perfect delivery from Hall.

Diamonds were controlling the game in midfield without creating many chances but on 66 minutes Lowe went close with a header although it didn’t trouble the Lincoln goalkeeper.

Darby found himself in space on 70 minutes an the striker found McElhatton who burst clear but he couldn’t cut the ball back to his intended target.

Brian made his second substitution of the game on 72 minutes with a straight swap, Burgess replacing Gray on the left side of midfield.

And the move paid off when Burgess pulled a ball back to Darby who hit struck a ball across the face of the goal for Hall to poke home Diamonds’ third goal from close range.

After 75 minutes: Lincoln 2 Diamonds 3

Lincoln nearly responded shortly afterward when Black fired an effort from a difficult angle but Turley done well to hold his effort.

Lincoln were pushing forward but Diamonds extended their advantage with just 10 minutes remaining. Sambrook fired a delightful cross from the right and Darby was in the right place to tap the ball home.

The goal left Diamonds fans jubilant and an away win was now on the cards. Diamonds’ second half performance had certainly been better than the first 45 minutes and this was an excellent afternoon for the Diamonds.

Lincoln tried their best to get back into the game but Diamonds deserved the three points and it was them who left Sincil Bank happy.

Full Time: Lincoln 2 Diamonds 4

Lincoln City: Marriott, Black, Finnigan, Battersby, Gain, Sedgemore, Brown, Mayo, Buckley, Cameron, Bailey (Camm 46).

Subs not used: Horrigan, Morgan, Pinkney, Schofield.

Bookings: Brown (33)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, McElhatton, Butterworth, Partridge (Darby 46), Setchell, Gray (Burgess 72), Hall, Sambrook, Lowe, Hunter.

Subs not used: Pennock, Mustafa, Duffy.

Bookings: Lowe (42)

Referee: Mr G Frankland

Attendance:  3,170 (including 522 from Diamonds)

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