2001-02 Mansfield Town v RDFC

By Steven

Onandi Lowe single-handedly ripped through the Mansfield defence as the striker scored his first hat-trick for the club to steer Diamonds to an excellent and well deserved 4-1 win at Field Mill.

And the game was capped off by a fine header from Brett Angell to score his first goal for Diamonds just 48 hours after completing a move to Nene Park from Walsall.

The only down side to this afternoon’s marvellous victory was the news that Duane Darby had to be carried off with what looked to be a nasty leg injury.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named an unchanged side to the one that recorded a 3-0 victory against Shrewsbury Town last weekend. That meant Duane Darby and Onandi Lowe started in attack.

Angell was named amongst the substitutes while Mark Peters was up against his former club.

For Mansfield, rookie goalkeeper Michael Bingham was called into action for his first ever league appearance with normal shot-stopped Kevin Pilkington out through suspension.

Stags boss Stuart Watkiss gambled in not naming a substitute goalkeeper amongst his five bodies on the bench but former Newcastle star Scott Sellars was included as a sub.

Mansfield went into the game looking for their first victory in three games while Diamonds arrived at Field Mill on the back of consecutive 3-0 victories.

Diamonds made the much brighter start out of the two sides and Stuart Wardley nearly put the visitors in front inside the first minute but his shot went straight into the arms of Bingham.

Then just moments later, Paul Hall went even closer. Picking the ball deep inside the Mansfield half the midfielder skipped past two defenders and his curling shot went just inches over the crossbar.

It was an electric start to the game, played in beautiful weather conditions. On three minutes, Mansfield had a penalty appeal waved away when David Kelly tumbled in the area.

Diamonds certainly started the brighter side. They were controlling large periods of the game, looking comfortable on the ball and creating a few goal scoring opportunities.

After 15 mins: Mansfield 0 Diamonds 0

On 15 minutes, Mansfield created their best chance of the game. A free-kick in a dangerous position caused the Diamonds defence all kinds of problems and when the ball broke to Kelly, Billy Turley had to be quick to react.

Mansfield were now getting themselves back into the game. Greenacre was causing the Diamonds defence some problems but it was clear that the home-side had soon stepped up a gear.

The home-side nearly took the lead on 24 minutes when after a shot from Greenacre was not held by Turley, Tarkan Mustafa had to make a vital clearance off the goal line to stop Kelly getting a vital touch.

There were worrying signs for Diamonds as the half-hour mark approached with Darby hobbling off after taking a whack from a Mansfield defender. But he soon returned and took his normal position in attack.

After 30 mins: Mansfield 0 Diamonds 0

But the pain was too much for Darby who could not carry on so it was an early debut for Angell who replaced the popular striker on 30 minutes.

Mansfield were keeping the pressure on without creating to many chances but on 38 minutes Diamonds took the lead in spectacular style.

It was another special strike from Onandi Lowe. Picking the ball up just outside the Mansfield penalty area the Jamaican powered past a defender and after finding some space he unleashed an unstoppable shot past Bingham.

It was probably what the visitors deserved, although at the time it may have been against the run of play but it certainly gave the lively Diamonds crowd something to cheer about.

At half-time: Mansfield 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds began the second-half brightly and could have extended their lead inside the first minute when Andy Burgess’ cross should have been stuck away by Hanlon but it hit the side netting.

That miss then proved costly as Mansfield got themselves back on level terms. Adam Murray sneaked in front of the Diamonds defence and burst through on goal to calmly slot the ball past Turley.

But then just moments later Diamonds restored their lead and it was that man again. Lowe capitalized on a mistake in the Mansfield defence and powered another unstoppable shot past Bingham from an impossible angle.

It was a great response from the Diamonds and soon they were looking the better side once again. Hall was creating some exciting runs down the right flank and Lowe was causing the Mansfield defence all kinds of problems.

After 60 mins: Mansfield 1 Diamonds 2

On 60 minutes Diamonds nearly extended their lead when Angell played a cross into the Mansfield penalty area and some confusion between Les Robinson and Bingham, Lowe nearly stole in to grab his hat-trick.

But his hat-trick did arrive on 63 minutes when he fired home Hall’s free-kick after the Mansfield defence failed to clear their lines.

It was a wonderful goal and this was turning out to be another fine performance from Diamonds – the question is could they hold on to three very valuable points.

Greenacre fired wide off the target on 70 minutes but despite being 3-1 in front it was Diamonds who looked the more likely side to grab another goal. Turley was having a quiet afternoon.

Mansfield went close to reducing the lead on 72 minutes when Sellars dragged his shot wide of the target as Diamonds’ defence was exposed.

After 75 mins: Mansfield 1 Diamonds 3

The home-side were slowly getting themselves back into the game and Bradley should have done better when he fired his shot wide off the target when it looked easier to score.

But the game was made safe on 80 minutes. Hall delivered an excellent cross from out on the right wing and Angell headed home from close range to score on his debut for the club.

Lowe was substituted on 80 minutes and went off to a standing ovation from all sections of the Field Mill ground as he was replaced by Scott Partridge.

Hall nearly made it five to Diamonds with five minutes remaining but only brought out an outstanding save from Bingham.

This was an outstanding performance from Diamonds and at the final whistle they fully deserved their standing ovation they received from the excellent support from the fans.

Full-time: Mansfield 1 Diamonds 4

Mansfield: Bingham, Robinson, Disley, Barrett, Pemberton, Murray, Williamson (Sellars 57), Kelly (White 60), Corden (Bradley 75), Greenacre, Hassell.

Subs not used: Asher, Reddington.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Hall (Brady 86), Hanlon, Wardley, Burgess, Lowe (Partridge 80), Darby (Angell 30).

Subs not used: Dowell, Setchell.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr H Halsey

Attendance: 5,807

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Rushden & Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury Town 0

By Steven

Rushden & Diamonds have lifted themselves into a play-off position this afternoon after goals from Onandi Lowe, Ritchie Hanlon and Tarkan Mustafa sealed a 3-0 victory against Shrewsbury Town at Nene Park.

But this victory was sealed by a magnificent team performance, masterminded by some terrific saves from goalkeeper Billy Turley and some solid defending from Mark Peters and Andy Tillson. 

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to the starting line-up from the one that gained an impressive 3-0 victory against Bristol Rovers last week.

In came Mustafa, replacing Andrew Sambrook who had to go off at the Memorial Ground because of a hamstring injury. So that meant Duane Darby retained his place in attack while Stuart Wardley shook off a niggling injury to play in the centre of midfield.

Shrewsbury arrived at Nene Park looking for their first win on their travels since the turn of the year. Mark Atkins started for Kevin Ratcliffe’s side while top goal scorer Luke Rodgers was partnered by Ryan Lowe in attack.

The early signs for Shrewsbury were positive. They were making early chances and inside the second minute Rodgers fired a shot across the face of the goal and then just moments later he broke clear and Turley was called into action.

Despite Shrewsbury looking the better side in the early stages, Diamonds won their first corner on five minutes but visitors goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin was hardly tested.

Lowe fired a shot wide on six minutes as the home-side steadily got back into the game but that effort rolled well off target.

But on nine minutes Diamonds should have taken the lead. A brilliant ball from out on the right-wing by Mustafa beat the Shrewsbury defence but Lowe dragged his shot wide off the target.

Then just seconds later, Lowe fired a shot from outside the penalty area and had the effort been on target, Dunbavin would have struggled to have kept it out.

After 15 mins: Diamonds 0 Shrewsbury 0

The game was certainly eventful with both teams looking impressive on the attack and the goalkeepers having to be called into the action right from the start.

Atkins fired a fierce shot straight into the arms of Turley on 19 minutes and just moments later Rodgers forced a fine save from the Diamonds goalkeeper when he unleashed an effort from out on the left wing.

This game was producing many opportunities with both teams playing attacking football making this an exciting affair for the fans.

After 30 mins: Diamonds 0 Shrewsbury 0

The first goal of the game arrived on 33 minutes and it went in favour of the Diamonds. Tillson delivered an excellent cross from just inside his own half and Lowe towered above the Shrewsbury defence to beat Dunbavin and see the ball roll into the net.

But the goal didn’t seem to affect Shrewsbury. They continued to look impressive and Rodgers’ pace was causing the Diamonds defence mountains of problems and he nearly forced his way past Peters but he was stopped in tracks by the assistant referee.

However Diamonds extended their lead on 37 minutes. Darby played a ball across the penalty area after he dealt with a difficult floating cross and Hanlon was on hand to fire home from 25-yards out for his ninth goal of the season.

And for Diamonds the game continued to get better when on the stroke of half-time Mustafa scored his first ever league goal when he calmly slotted past Dunbavin following a good pass from Lowe.

As the half-time whistle went the Diamonds went off to a standing ovation. It certainly was an exciting half and surely Brian’s team were on their way to three very valuable points.

At half-time: Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury 0

Shrewsbury began the second-half fairly similar to the first and Turley, once again, produced a fantastic save from Jamie Tolley when the midfielder burst through and ran half the length of the pitch.

Then, just moments later, Matthew Redmile stole behind the Diamonds defence from a corner and his header flew just over Turley’s crossbar.

Shrewsbury were, unsurprisingly, starting to pile on the pressure in the early stages of the second-half and on 51 minutes Rodgers showed his pace and strength to deliver an excellent ball to Lowe but the striker dragged his shot wide of the target.

Turley was again called into action on 52 minutes when Rodgers showed his skill on the ball to get past Mustafa but the Diamonds goalkeeper pulled off an excellent one-handed save.

Darby had his first shot of the game on 56 minutes but the striker could not direct his header on target from Burgess’ beautifully delivered corner.

After 60 mins: Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury 0

Diamonds now seemed to be in control of proceedings. Peters twice went close with headers from set-plays while Rodgers was finally being kept tamed by the home-sides defence.

Turley was enduring a busy afternoon and he again produced another fantastic save denying Lowe who shot from outside the penalty area after beating Peters.

After 75 mins: Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury 0

Darby fired a shot on target on 80 minutes when, despite a Shrewsbury defender pushing him wide, the striker forced an effort that Dunbavin had to be alert too.

On 85 minutes Turley raced out of his goal to save at the feet off Rogers and this was going to be Diamonds’ day as at the full time whistle the players received another standing ovation from the Nene Park faithful.

At full-time: Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury 0

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Tillson, Peters, Hall, Hanlon (Mills 81), Wardley, Burgess, Lowe (Partridge 87), Darby.

Subs not used: Brady, Setchell, Dowell.

Bookings: Hanlon (48)

Shrewsbury: Dunbavin, Rioch, Tolley, Redmile (Tretton 81), Atkins, Rodgers, Aiston, Lowe, Woan, Moss, Heathcote.

Subs not used: Murray, Wilding, Walker, Cartwright.

Bookings: Redmile (64), Heathcote (66), Woan (73)

Referee: Mr K.D. Hill

Attendance: 5,432

Bristol Rovers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3

 
By Steven

Diamonds are still hot on the heels of the play-offs following a fantastic 3-0 win over a poor Bristol Rovers side at the Memorial Ground on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t a fantastic encounter but two goals in the space of one second-half minute sent Diamonds on their way to three very important points and leave the Rovers crowd jeering at their players at the final whistle.

Onandi Lowe scored twice, his first a fantastic individual effort, and Ritchie Hanlon also fired home as the 218 travelling Diamonds supporters went home delighted with their team’s performance.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two key changes. Andrew Sambrook was recalled to the starting line-up and replaced Tarkan Mustafa.

But the key change to the game was the inclusion of popular striker Duane Darby. He was included in the starting eleven for the first-time since the home encounter against Darlington at the beginning of February.

Bristol Rovers made one change to their side that drew 0-0 against Carlisle United on Tuesday evening. In came Sergio Ommel in attack, replacing Ross Wear who is sidelined through a back injury, and partnered top goal scorer Nathan Ellington.

There was beautiful sunshine at Bristol as the game got underway but the Memorial Ground pitch left a lot to be desired as it looked patchy in places, especially in both penalty areas.

Rovers made the brighter start of the two-sides and inside the first minute Mark Smith fired a shot across the face of the goal, although it failed to trouble Billy Turley.

The home-side continued to look more threatening as they enjoyed the majority of the possession and Diamonds had yet to make a threat towards the Rovers goalkeeper Scott Howie.

Diamonds’ best effort of the game arrived on 10 minutes. Paul Underwood played a delightful free-kick into a dangerous position and Wardley stole in front of his marker to guide a diving header towards goal but Howie produced an excellent save.

After 15 mins: Rovers 0 Diamonds 0

As the game drifted on, neither team were creating many opportunities as the fans became restless, both teams struggling to find any opportunity in and around the penalty area.

This game certainly wasn’t a thrilling encounter and both teams were sloppy in midfield and both goalkeepers were having a quiet afternoon.

After 30 mins: Rovers 0 Diamonds 0

Paul Hall sent a first time shot over the cross bar from long range as Diamonds enjoyed the better of possession looking more likely to break the deadlock.

Andy Tillson nearly scored against his former club on 35 minutes when, after Hall’s corner wasn’t cleared by the Rovers defence, the Diamonds defender shot inches wide from inside the penalty area.

Rovers were getting back into their stride and on 37 minutes, Ellington turned Mark Peters but he fired a shot wide of the target.

But out of nowhere Diamonds took the lead in spectacular style through Lowe. The Jamaican international picked the ball up inside the Rovers half and his pace and strength enabled him to beat two defenders to smash the ball home into the top corner of the net. Howie stood no chance.

Underwood hit the woodwork on the stroke of half-time and although it may not have been deserved Diamonds went off delighted at the referee’s whistle.

Half-time: Rovers 0 Diamonds 1

Rovers started the second-half brightly, much like they did in the first-half and Ellington fired a shot on the volley just over the Diamonds crossbar.

But that effort was matched, just moments later, by David Hiller who sent a delightful free-kick towards goal and Turley had to be on full alert to make the save.

Rovers were now pressing on strong in the second-half. Ellington, who had a quiet first-half was looking threatening and he nearly stole in front of Underwood to get a shot in on goal.

After 60 mins: Rovers 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds were slowly getting themselves back into the game and Lowe was causing problems in the Rovers defence as the home-side looked rusty in their passing and off the ball movements.

And Diamonds’ pressure soon paid off with two goals in the space of a minute. The first came from Hanlon on 66 minutes when, after Burgess shot from Hall’s corner was blocked, the Diamonds midfielder fired home the rebound.

And then just moments later Lowe grabbed his second of the game when Wardley, unselfishly, squared the ball across the face of the goal for the Jamaican to slot home from close range.

The only worrying sign for Diamonds was that Underwood had to go off after pulling up with what looked like a hamstring strain.

And then just moments later, Sambrook was the next to go after a challenge with a Rovers defender meant the young defender could not continue. He was replaced by Jon Brady.

After 75 mins: Rovers 0 Diamonds 3

Burgess could have made it four to the Diamonds on 83 minutes when he found himself in space in the Rovers penalty area but his shot was blocked by a Rovers defender.

Diamonds remained in control of the game until the final whistle and the delighted on Brian and Terry Westley’s face was plain to see as they jumped out of their dugouts.

Full-time: Rovers 0 Diamonds 3

Bristol Rovers: Howie, Challis, Foran, Foster, Smith (Walters 81), Hillier, Shore (Thomson 58), Hogg, Wilson, Ommel (Gall 58), Ellington.

Subs not used:  Astafjevs, Clarke.

Bookings: Wilson (77), Foran (88)

Diamonds: Turley, Sambrook (Brady 74), Tillson, Peters, Underwood (Setchell 71), Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Burgess, Darby, Lowe (Duffy 89).

Subs not used: Partridge, Dowell.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr Trevor Parkes

Attendance: 5,240 (218 from Diamonds)

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Luton 2

By Steven

A goal from former Northampton Town striker Steve Howard, just nine minutes from time, meant Diamonds fell to their first league defeat at Nene Park since the beginning of September.

Diamonds had taken the lead through Paul Hall but a simply tap-in from Dean Crowe midway through the second-half combined with Howard’s header meant Luton went home happy with maximum points.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named an unchanged side to the one that began proceedings in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory against Exeter City.

That meant Scott Partridge retained his place up front and partnered Onandi Lowe while Ritchie Hanlon kept his place in the centre of midfield as Garry Butterworth was ruled out because of a knee injury.

For Luton, they recalled Howard to the starting line-up after serving his suspension. He was partnered by Dean Crowe in attack while Kevin Nicholls was passed fit to play after being rated 50:50 on Friday.

Diamonds nearly broke the deadlock inside the first five minutes when Partridge skipped past long serving Luton defender Marvin Johnson and when the striker found Hanlon his shot rebounded off the feet of Hatters goalkeeper Carl Emberson.

It was a great start by Diamonds in such blustery weather conditions at Nene Park and just moments Andy Burgess nearly scored against his favourite club but he dragged his shot wide of the target.

And the Diamonds’ excellent start to the match continued when Paul Hall’s free-kick was caught in the wind and Emberson had to make an acrobatic save to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Luton created their first effort of the game on 12 minutes when Adrian Forbes’ 20-yard run and shot flew straight over Billy Turley’s crossbar.

After 15 mins: Diamonds 0 Luton 0

After such an excellent start to the game, Diamonds were beginning to find it difficult to get past the Luton defence and the wind was causing havoc towards both teams.

On 22 minutes, Luton won a free-kick in a dangerous position when Mark Peters brought down Matthew Spring just outside the penalty area but Taylor saw his shot saved by the resilient Diamonds wall.

Lowe had an excellent chance to break the deadlock on 25 minutes but the Jamaican international could find enough power in his header after Luton failed to clear their lines.

After 30 mins: Diamonds 0 Luton 0 

Diamonds nearly took the lead on the half-hour mark. Lowe was causing havoc in the Luton defence and his cross-cum-shot was turned towards goal by Partridge but Emberson saved well with his feet.

Chances were now becoming few and far between as the wind continued to cause havoc to the game.

The first-half ended goal less but Diamonds could certainly be encouraged by their performance as they limited Luton to few opportunities.

Half-time: Diamonds 0 Luton 0

Luton created only their second shot on target on 47 minutes when Matthew Taylor wriggled past two defenders but his shot was easily saved by Turley.

But Diamonds got off to the perfect start when just two minutes into the second-half they broke the deadlock. Lowe broke down the left-flank and squared the ball across the face of the goal for Hall to poke home.

It nearly got better for Diamonds just a minute later when Partridge found time and space in the Luton penalty area but he fired his shot straight at Emberson as the ball rolled out for a corner.

But Luton were back on level terms on 57 minutes. Taylor broke down the left-flank to deliver a cross across the face of the goal and Crowe had the simplest of jobs to just tap home from close range.

After 60 mins: Diamonds 1 Luton 1

Luton should have taken the lead on 62 minutes when, once again, Taylor delivered a cross into the penalty area and after Diamonds failed to clear the ball, Crowe couldn’t test Turley from inside the six-yard penalty area.

Luton were now the team on top as Diamonds defence was put under pressure but this game was far from over as we went into the last 20 minutes of the match.

After 75 mins: Diamonds 1 Luton 1

Darby was thrown into action on 77 minutes as Diamonds looked for the winning goal but this game was still very much in the balance.

Luton nearly stole a goal against the run of play when a weak effort from Taylor was not held by Turley but Underwood scrambled the ball from off the goal line.

But Luton pushed forward and got their reward with just nine minutes remaining when a cross from Taylor was powerfully headed home by Howard and although Turley got a hand to it, it hit the post and rolled into the net.

Diamonds threw everyone forward in the final stages of the game but they could not find a way past the Luton defence.

After 90 mins: Diamonds 1 Luton 2

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Partridge (Darby 75), Burgess, Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Lowe, Tillson.

Subs not used: Brady, Setchell, Sambrook, Dowell.

Bookings:

Luton: Emberson, Spring, Perrett, Johnson (Bayliss 75), Forbes (Hughes 66), Nicholls, Coyne, Taylor, Howard, Crowe, Neilson.

Subs not used: Ovendale, Boyce, Valois, Bayliss.

Bookings: Taylor (53), Nicholls (55), Hughes (85)

Referee: Mr M Fletcher

Attendance: 5,876

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Exeter 1

By Steven
Diamonds held on to three valuable points against Exeter City this evening as they extended their unbeaten home record to 16 games in a 2-1 victory at Nene Park.

Diamonds seemed to be coasting to victory when Andy Burgess struck in the first-half and Ritchie Hanlon fired home from the penalty spot but Exeter hit back in the second-half.

However the visitors were reduced to ten-men when Barry McConnell was sent-off and it proved too much as Diamonds held on to a well deserved and valuable three points.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two key changes prior to the game with Tarkan Mustafa and Hanlon both being recalled to the side in place for Andrew Sambrook and Garry Butterworth respectively.

Scott Partridge and Onandi Lowe retained their place in attack as Duane Darby kept his place on the substitute bench along with Butterworth, Jon Brady, Gary Setchell and Adam Dowell.

For Exeter, Sean McCarthy started while Alex Watson was recalled to the starting line-up after serving his one-match suspension.

Exeter made the brighter start out of the two sides, enjoying the better possession and spreading the ball around the park as Diamonds struggled to create an attack.

Chances were few and far between inside the first ten minutes and Hanlon cracked a shot from outside the penalty area but it hit the unfortunate Partridge on the back of the head and went out for a goal-kick.

Exeter were certainly playing the better football in the early stages and although goalkeeper Billy Turley had yet to be tested it was certainly an encouraging start for the visitors.

On 13 minutes, Diamonds created their first chance of the game. Burgess and Paul Underwood did well on the left-flank and Lowe managed to direct his free-header on target but Exeter goalkeeper Arjan Van Heusden held onto his effort.

After 15 mins: Diamonds 0 Cheltenham 0

Diamonds were struggling to keep possession and chances remained few and far between as neither team looked threatening with both goalkeepers having little to do.

The game was certainly a scrappy affair and each time the Diamonds moved forward Exeter were equal to every cross and cleared their lines.

On 27 minutes, Stuart Wardley arrived late into the penalty area to direct a header towards goal but Van Heusden was again equal to the midfielder’s effort.

After 30 mins: Diamonds 0 Cheltenham 0

But on 30 minutes the game struck into life when Burgess gave Diamonds the lead, breaking away from the Exeter defence to side-foot home Hall’s right wing cross.

And the Diamonds had the perfect opportunity to extend their lead when they were awarded a penalty after Lowe was sent tumbling in the area by Chris Curran and Hanlon made no mistake from the spot as the home-side doubled their advantage.

Diamonds may have not deserved a two-goal advantage but it certainly livened up the game and Turley was called to make a spectacular save on 37 minutes when he acrobatically tipped over Alex Watson’s close-range header.  

Exeter continued to push forward and Andy Roscoe ballooned a shot over the crossbar and into the stands from 30-yards out.

At half-time: Diamonds 2 Exeter 0

Diamonds made an excellent start to the second-half and certainly set out their stalls early in the second-half as the home-side looked bright on the attack.

Hanlon went close to adding his second of the game when Exeter failed to clear their lines and the Diamonds midfielder struck from outside the penalty area but it went straight into the arms of Van Heusden.

After 60 mins: Diamonds 2 Exeter 0

Exeter should have reduced the lead on 61 minutes when they carved open their best opportunity of the game. Roscoe broke clear of the Diamonds defence but his shot was saved by the legs of Turley.

But that chance was soon forgotten as Exeter reduced the lead on 64 minutes when McCarthy managed to get a header onto a long throw and the ball found the top corner of the Diamonds net.

This was going to be a testing period for the Diamonds. Exeter was now looking the more dangerous team as they were finding gaps in the home-sides defence.

But Exeter’s chances of grabbing a point were dealt a serious blow on 74 minutes when they were reduced to ten-men as McConnell was shown the red card, for which looked like foul and abusive language.

After 75 mins: Diamonds 2 Exeter 1

Partridge had an excellent chance to restore the two goal advantage when he found himself in space outside the penalty area but his run and shot fizzled against the side netting.

Exeter were now struggling as the one-man advantage to Diamonds looked to prove too much for the visitors.

It was a frantic finish as the visitors tired to grab a vital point but Diamonds were excellent in defence and deserved their three points which kept the club firmly in touch with the play-off contingent.

At full-time: Diamonds 2 Exeter 1

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Partridge (Darby 79), Burgess, Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Lowe, Tillson.

Subs not used: Dowell, Butterworth, Setchell, Brady

Bookings: Tillson (50), Underwood (68)

Exeter City: Van Heusden, Power, Curran, Ampadu (Buckle 59), McCarthy (Tomlinson 81), Roscoe, Breslan (Flack 54), McConnell, Watson, Cronin, Roberts.

Subs not used: Whitworth, Fraser.

Bookings: Curran (33), Watson (88)

Sent-off: McConnell (74)

Referee: Mr F Stretton

Attendance: 3,343

Cheltenham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 
By Steven

A superb individual effort from Onandi Lowe gave Diamonds a well deserved point against Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon but the Northamptonshire side could have easily collected maximum points after dominating the second-half.

Lowe struck deep into the first-half to cancel out an earlier header from Julian Alsop as Diamonds dug-in and finished the stronger side at the final whistle.

Brian recalled Scott Partridge into the starting line-up, replacing Stuart Douglas, in the mangers only change to the side from the one that started in the 1-1 draw with Torquay United on Tuesday.

But Jon Brady and Gary Setchell were both recalled to the substitute bench as Diamonds went into the match looking for only their fourth away win of the season, against a team who had only lost once at home.

If Diamonds were to get a victory today, then they would have to cope with the goal scoring form of Alsop and Tony Naylor who have scored 35 goals between them in all competitions.

Cheltenham made the brighter start of the two sides as Alsop fired a shot straight into the arms of Diamonds goalkeeper Billy Turley.

Just two minutes later, Cheltenham nearly struck again. Lee Williams found time and space down the right flank to fire a shot towards goal and Turley had to make an acrobatic save.

But Diamonds also made an encouraging start. Andy Burgess managed to deliver a good ball into the penalty area but Lowe fired a shot wide, although the Jamaican was standing in an offside position.

But Diamonds should have taken the lead on 10 minutes. A beautiful ball from Stuart Wardley found Partridge in space who delivered an excellent cross but Lowe could not keep his header on target.

After 15 mins: Cheltenham 0 Diamonds 0

There was a mighty scramble in the Diamonds penalty area on 16 minutes when Turley flapped at Russell Milton’s corner and when the ball broke loose the visitors goalkeeper had to climb over bodies to retrieve the ball.

Cheltenham were certainly the team on top and each time they moved forward they were causing Diamonds no ends of problems as the defence struggled to cope with the home-sides strength and pace.

Turley was called to make an excellent save on 22 minutes when Alsop rose above the Diamonds defence to direct a header towards goal.

The Diamonds goalkeeper was, unsurprisingly, having a busy afternoon and he made a spectacular save from Naylor after beating Mark Peters for pace.

But that save resulted in a corner and from it, Cheltenham took the lead, when Alsop rose above the Diamonds defence to head home from close range.

But to their credit, Diamonds nearly got themselves back in the game just a minute later when Garry Butterworth struck a shot from outside the penalty area but it hit Steve Book’s left-hand post.

After 30 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were enjoying some good possession as the half-an-hour mark passed but it was still the home-side who looked more dangerous on the attack.

And Diamonds were rewarded for their good possession when Lowe fired Diamonds back on level terms in excellent style. The Jamaican international picked the ball up deep inside the Cheltenham half and his run and shot found it’s way into the corner of the net.

It was what Diamonds deserved as they had looked likely to get themselves back in the game, enjoying more of the possession.

After 45 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds made a very encouraging start to the second-half as they pressed forward early on, winning a corner inside the first two minutes but Wardley could not direct his header on target.

Just moments later Diamonds had a better effort when Partridge turned and shot but it was well saved by Book as the visitors began the second-half the much stronger team.

Partridge direct a shot on target on 55 minutes as the visitors continued to make the better chances.

After 60 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

Cheltenham were trying their best to find a way past Diamonds defence and despite having nine shots on target, Turley was enjoying a relatively quiet second-half.

Lowe directed a header from Hall’s cross on target on 66 minutes but it failed to trouble Book.

After 75 mins: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

The Diamonds boss withdrew Butterworth on 79 minutes and replaced him with Ritchie Hanlon in the hope it would give more scoring options in the centre of midfield.

And all of Diamonds’ pressure should have paid off when Wardley went inches wide of the target after Burgess had sent an excellent corner into the Cheltenham penalty area.

Diamonds continued to surge forward in the closing stage but could not find that vital winning goal despite dominating all of the possession.

At full-time: Cheltenham 1 Diamonds 1

Cheltenham: Book, Duff, Victory, Brough, Howells, Yates, Milton (Grayson 87), Griffin, Alsop, Naylor, Williams.

Subs not used: Higgs, Devaney, Howarth, Jones

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth (Hanlon 79), Burgess, Partridge (Darby 89), Hall, Sambrook, Wardley, Lowe, Tillson.

Subs not used:, Brady, Setchell, Dowell

Bookings:

Referee: Mr M J Brandwood

Attendance: 4,584

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