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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