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

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