Hull City 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot must have wondered how his side failed to leave Boothferry Park with nothing as they fell to a narrow defeat at the hands of promotion-chasing Hull City this afternoon.

A goal either side of the interval was enough for Hull to claim all three points and although Ritchie Hanlon fired home from the penalty spot it wasn’t enough as the Northamptonshire side left empty handed.

Brian was forced to make one change ahead of the game. Andy Tillson was included in the starting line-up, just 24 hours after completing his move from Walsall, and he partnered Mark Peters in the centre of defence.

Otherwise it was an unchanged starting line-up from the one that began proceedings against Oxford United on Tuesday. However amongst the substitutes was Gary Mills, while former Hull favourite Duane Darby was also on the bench.

Hull recalled striker Lawrie Dudfield to the starting line-up after missing the last two games for the club and he partnered top goal scorer Gary Alexander in attack.

Diamonds created the first opportunity of the first-half when a Ritchie Hanlon cross found Stewart Wardley on the edge of the penalty area but his shot flew over the Hull crossbar.

Diamonds settled in quickly and looked confident on the ball in bright sunny conditions with the Boothferry Park pitch in reasonable condition after some heavy rainfall overnight.

Hull started slowly and the strong winds were causing the home-side more problems as they struggled to get out of the starting blocks.

On ten minutes, the first shot on target was registered when Stuart Gray sent in a free-kick from out on the right flank but the ball went straight into the arms of Hull goalkeeper Paul Musselwhite.

But despite all the good pressure from Diamonds, it was Hull who took the lead on 13 minutes. Ryan Williams turned Tillson inside the penalty area and squared the ball to Alexander who beat goalkeeper Billy Turley.

After 15 mins: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Hull were now looking full in control as they swept forward causing problems in the Diamonds defence every time the home-side move forward.

Hanlon tested Musslewhite from distance on 20 minutes but it was still the home-side who remained dangerous with David Beresford causing problems for Tarkan Mustafa down the right-flank.

Diamonds refused to take their foot off the pedal as they continued to play good football but Onandi Lowe and Scott Partridge had yet forced a shot on target.

Turley produced a brave save on 24 minutes when he dived at the feet of Alexander and Diamonds had a penalty appeal turned down shortly afterwards as Lowe went tumbling inside the penalty area.

After 30 mins: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Both sides were enjoying good possession without creating any real chances but Diamonds had gone off the boil a bit after such a positive opening to the game.

Alexander, who was having a very good game for the visitors, fired a long-range effort straight into the arms of Turley but on 38 minutes, Diamonds should have got themselves back on level terms.

The referee played some good advantage play after Partridge was fouled from behind and Hall sent an excellent cross into the penalty area but Wardley failed to guide his header home inside an empty net from just three yards out.

On the stroke of half-time Partridge was able to turn in the penalty area after an excellent ball from Hanlon but Musselwhite managed to get a hand to his shot.

At Half-Time: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds made two changes at the interval with Darby replacing Partridge and Jon Brady, who hit the winner against Oxford United in midweek, coming on for Gray.

On 50 minutes, Lowe broke free but his shot hit the side netting as Diamonds started the second-half in a similar style to the way they began the first-half.

Diamonds were looking strong but they still found themselves behind as Hull were looking second best in an impressive display from the visitors.

After 60 mins: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Hull were getting themselves back in the game although Darby was causing some problems for the Hull defence as the visitors side continued to battle on.

Hull won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 67 minutes after Tillson stopped Dudfield in his tracks but the Alexander’s shot took a massive deflection off the wall and went out for a corner.

But Diamonds fell further behind on 70 minutes when nobody in a white shirt failed to stop Jason Van Blerk in his tracks and he fired home his first goal for the club with a low shot.

After 75 mins: Hull City 2 Diamonds 0

But Diamonds had the chance to get themselves back in the game when Hanlon was sent tumbling down in the penalty area from Wicks. It was a controversial decision and Van Blerk was sent-off for a second bookable offence for dissent.

Hanlon made no mistake from the penalty spot as he lashed home leaving Musslewhite no chance at all.

Douglas was introduced into the action as the Diamonds boss went into ‘all out attack’ mode in a bid to try and salvage a draw, which they really do deserve.

Alexander nearly made the game safe in spectacular style with seven minutes remaining when he hit a shot from a tight angle that beat Turley but struck the crossbar.

Diamonds continued to try their luck in front of goal but they failed to beat Musslewhite as the
club’s poor away record continued.

Full-time: Hull City 2 Diamonds 1

Hull: Musselwhite, Edwards, Greaves, Wicks, Williams (Philpott 79), Dudfield, Alexander, Beresford (Holt 29), Johnsson, Sneekes (Whittle 61), Van Blerk.

Subs not used: Glennon, Roberts

Bookings: Van Blerk (58, 77)

Sent-Off Van Blerk (77)

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Hall, Hanlon, Warldey, Gray (Brady h/t, Douglas 79), Partridge (Darby h/t), Lowe.

Subs not used: Pennock, Mills

Bookings: Brady (61)

Referee: Mr M Cowburn

Attendance: 8,825

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