Rushden & Diamonds 2 Oxford United 1

By Steven

Jon Brady fired a spectacular free-kick midway through the second-half to extend Diamonds unbeaten run to three games as the home-side overcame a tough Oxford team 2-1 at Nene Park on Tuesday night.

Onandi Lowe fired Diamonds into the lead in the first-half but Dean Whitehead’s second-half strike look to have wrapped up a point for the visitors.

But Brady hit his first league goal of the season in spectacular style with a 30-yard free kick that left Oxford goalkeeper Richard Knight no chance.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named one change to the starting line-up that began the game against Darlington. Duane Darby was placed amongst the substitutes and he was replaced by Scott Partridge.

Gary Setchell was missing because of a calf injury but Barry Hunter, Stuart Gray and Mark Peters all shock of niggling injuries to start for Diamonds with Garry Butterworth amongst the substitutes.

For Oxford, Knight returned in between the sticks and Lee Maddison was making his debut for the club after completing his loan-move from Carlisle United.

There was an immediate clash of heads inside the first minute when Oxford defender Paul Powell and team-mate Robert Quinn went up for the same ball. Quinn had to be taken off for treatment and failed to return to action as he was replaced by Whitehead.

When the game did get underway it was the home-side who made the brighter start as they controlled the early possession.

The first effort of the game arrived on six minutes when former Barnet midfielder Sam Stockley found time and space in the centre of the field to unleash a fierce shot straight into the arms of Diamonds goalkeeper Billy Turley.

There was a worrying sign for Diamonds on seven minutes when Tarkan Mustafa had to be taken off for treatment as he fell awkwardly out on the right flank.

Diamonds had yet tested Knight in the Oxford goal and it was the visitors who were now in control of proceedings as Manny Omoyimni continued to cause problems down the left flank.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Oxford 0

Oxford were now finding space around the Nene Park pitch, as Stockley looked dangerous moving forward for the visitors and Omoyimni’s pace and trickery causing the Diamonds defence problems.

Diamonds were still struggling to find a way past the Oxford defence as the visitors continued to look the stronger side.

Chances were few and far between and Diamonds had yet tested the Oxford goalkeeper as the visitors continued to control large parts of the game.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Oxford United 0

Lowe was struggling to get into the game as Oxford’s defenders kept the Jamaican at bay.

But just moments later Lowe fired Diamonds in front when his run and shot took a wicked deflection of Andy Crosby and the ball flew past Knight. It was the Diamonds’ first shot on target and against the run of play.

On 38 minutes, Lowe could have added a second when he took up a similar position outside the penalty area but this time his shot flew wide of the target, as Diamonds enjoyed some good possession.

As Diamonds continued to enjoy more of the possession, Partridge broke in between two Oxford defenders to fire a shot across the face of the goal but it rolled just wide.

There was five minutes of added time to the first-half but even though some may argue it wasn’t deserved, Diamonds would have been delighted to go into the changing rooms with a one-goal advantage.

Half-Time: Diamonds 1 Oxford United 0

Diamonds were forced to make a change at the interval. The earlier injury to Mustafa forced him to depart and he was replaced by Brady, who occupied the right side of defence.

And Diamonds could have immediately extended their lead inside the first minute of the second half when the ball broke nicely to Hall, but his shot was well saved by Knight.

Diamonds began the second-half brightly but on 52 minutes Oxford received a free-kick in a dangerous position but Whitehead’s shot was well held by Turley with the ball bouncing right in front of the former Northampton goalkeeper.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Oxford United 0

The game was getting a bit scrappy but Oxford should have got themselves back on level terms on 61 minutes. Powell’s left-wing cross found Omoyimni all alone in the penalty area but he saw his header flash wide of the goal.

Noticing that he needed to change it around, Oxford boss Ian Atkins threw on Chris Hackett but it was Diamonds who were still looking in control as we entered the final 25 minutes of the game.

But out of nowhere, Oxford nearly got themselves back on level terms. On 65 minutes a right wing cross from David Morley found Whitehead who struck a hard shot straight against the post.

But Diamonds continued to play their game and nearly doubled their advantage when Partridge volleyed over the crossbar from just inside the penalty area.

Whitehead had another long-range effort for Oxford on 72 minutes which Turley saved but from the resulting corner, Oxford got themselves back on level terms when Bound fired home, leaving Turley with no chance.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Oxford United 1

But Oxford’s lead was short lived as Brady hit a spectacular free-kick into the top corner of the net for his first league goal of the season.

Oxford were now pressing forward as Diamonds’ defence were put under pressure and there was some nervous moments as Dave Savage put a teasing ball in the penalty area after breaking free.

Hall had an effort that trickled wide of the goal that would have sealed the match and Morley saw a free-kick just go over Diamonds’ crossbar deep into stoppage time.

Full-Time: Diamonds 2 Oxford United 1

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa (Brady h/t), Underwood, Peters, Partridge (Douglas 76), Gray, Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Lowe (Darby 89), Hunter.

Subs not used:

Bookings: Lowe (15).

Oxford United: Knight, Powell, Savage, Omoyimni, Stockley (Hackett 63), Quinn (Whitehead 2), Morley, Bound, Moody, Crosby, Maddison.

Subs not used:

Bookings: Whitehead (75), Crosby (77), Maddison (90)

Referee: Mr Mark Cooper

Attendance: 4,484

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