2001-02 Rochdale v RDFC Play Off

By Steven

The party will go on long into the night this evening as Rushden & Diamonds’ fairytale season continues thanks to a 2-1 win over Rochdale which see the club book a place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Onandi Lowe and Paul Hall were the men on target as Diamonds had to come from a goal behind and the scenes at the final whistle will live long in the memory of Diamonds supporters.

It was a fantastic evening with over 1,000 Diamonds supporters singing their hearts out throughout the game as Brian’s team held on superbly for over 10 minutes to claim the victory.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot kept faith with the same starting eleven than began proceedings three days ago in the first-leg at Nene Park although changes were made amongst the substitutes.

Stuart Gray was named on the bench, his first appearance for the first-team since the defeat against Hull City in February while Barry Hunter was also included. Gary Mills and Gary Setchell both dropped out.

Rochdale boss John Hollins was forced to make one change to his side. Clive Platt, who hobbled off in the first-leg with a hamstring injury and he was not passed fit to play this evening so Kevin Townson, the club’s leading marksmen stepped in.

The Spotland pitch left a lot to be desired. Boggy in patches, it looked a heavy surface and it was going to be interesting to see how both teams could cope with the heavy rainfall that had hit Rochdale during the course of the day.

The two teams were greeted to a fantastic ovation by a near full house at Spotland and this was certainly going to be a tense evening of football.

It was a shaky couple of opening minutes by both sides as the rain continued to lash down at Spotland but Townson had the opening chance of the game as he fired over the crossbar, for the home side, from inside the penalty area.

But Diamonds responded strongly to that early effort as Onandi Lowe showed his pace and strength to fire a shot across the face of the goal which Rochdale goalkeeper Neil Edwards had to make an important save.

There was a nervy moment in the Rochdale defence as a mix-up between Edwards and defender Matt Doughty nearly resulted in Scott Partridge sneaking through and finding a way through goal.

Hollins was forced to make a substitute within the first ten minutes as Richard Jobson fell awkwardly and after challenging Lowe for an aerial ball. Experienced defender Simon Coleman took over his role.

Townson was causing much of the problems for Diamonds and his run and shot on 12 minutes beat Billy Turley but went inches past his right-hand post.

After 15 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

A Paul Hall cross on 16 minutes was volleyed wide by Stuart Wardley as the Diamonds enjoyed some good possession, keeping the buoyant Rochdale crowd quiet.

On 19 minutes, Hall found space down the right and Partridge controlled his cross beautifully but Lowe skied his shot over the crossbar.

The visitors were now enjoying more of the possession and Brian’s team were looking the more likely to open the scoring. On 26 minutes, Tarkan Mustafa dragged a shot wide of the target.

After 30 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

On 32 minutes, Lowe created some space outside the Rochdale penalty area and fired a thunderbolt shot but it went inches wide Edwards’ right hand post.

Rochdale won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 35 minutes but David Flitcroft’s delivery was just too long for Townson.

Despite the conditions this was an exciting game and it was evident that Diamonds were having much better of the chances in the first-half.

Lowe flew at a header on 41 minutes that got the Diamonds bench off their seats as it flew wide of the Rochdale goal.

Rochdale pressed forward in the closing stages of the first-half but the two teams went in level as the half-time whistle blew.

Half-time: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

Both teams started brightly in the second-half as Townson broke free into the penalty area but was stopped in his tracks by Turley while Lowe skied a shot well over the bar just moments later.

The home side were now looking the stronger side as Peters and Tillson were put under considerable pressure but to their credit, Rochdale’s chances were minimal.

Townson continued to cause problems for Diamonds and on 56 minutes he should have done better when he got the better of Tillson.

After 60 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

Rochdale created the best chance of the second half on 61 minutes when Simpson put McEvilly in the clear but Turley was brave and saved at the strikers feet as he ran towards goal.

Lowe displayed his power and pace once again but fired wide on 62 minutes as chances were created at either end of the field.

But on 63 minutes, Rochdale took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Mustafa’s back pass took a nasty bobble and it deceived Turley and the ball rolled into the back of the net, much to the frustration of the Diamonds goalkeeper.

But what a response from Diamonds as Lowe striker a fierce effort from inside the penalty area after a goalmouth scramble where Rochdale failed to clear their lines.

There was bad news for Diamonds on 66 minutes when Underwood had to be replaced by Gray as the visitors captain looked as if he had picked up a knock while going in for a tackle.

After 75 minutes: Rochdale 1 Diamonds 1

But Diamonds fans went ballistic on 75 minutes as they took the lead. Lowe spotted Paul Hall and the Jamaican international midfielder coolly ran past Edwards and slotted the ball into the empty net.

It was fantastic stuff but this wasn’t over as Rochdale threw men forward and Simpson drilled a long-range effort over the crossbar.

Partridge, who had been working tirelessly all evening, pulled a shot wide with just seven minutes to go but it was the home side who were now looking the stronger side as Brian’s team tried to hold on.

And they did and as the full time whistle blew the scenes were remarkable in front of a packed Spotland stadium.

Rochdale: Edwards, Evans, Doughty, Jobson (Coleman 10), Griffiths, Flitcroft (McCourt 72), Oliver, McLoughlin, Simpson, Townson (Connor 79), McEvilly.

Substitutes: Gilks, Durkan.

Booked:

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood (Gray 66), Peters, Tillson, Butterworth, Wardley, Burgess, Hall, Lowe, Partridge.

Substitutes: Angell, Pennock, Brady, Hunter.

Booked:

Attendance:8,485 (1,091 from Diamonds)

Referee: Mr RG Furnandiz

For video highlights see here

2001-02 RDFC v Rochdale Play Off

By Steven

Rushden & Diamonds came from behind twice to snatch a 2-2 draw against Rochdale meaning there is ‘all to play for’ when the two teams go head-to-head again in three days time for the second leg of this semi final play-off encounter.

Stuart Wardley and Garry Butterworth both struck for Diamonds to cancel out efforts from Lee McEvilly and Paul Simpson in front of over 6,000 supporters at Nene Park.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot kept faith with the same starting eleven that began proceedings in the 4-2 victory against Halifax Town last week, meaning Ritchie Hanlon was not included.

Butterworth maintained his place in the centre of midfielder and partnered Wardley, who 48 hours earlier had put pen to paper on a new two-year contract at Nene Park.

Scott Partridge kept his place in attack, after his impressive performance at The Shay and partnered Onandi Lowe meaning Brett Angell had to settle for a place on the substitute bench.

For Rochdale, they brought down an experienced and strong line-up. Simpson, the former Manchester City and Blackpool midfielder, started for the visitors while fans favourite Clive Platt started in attack.

Kevin Townson, Rochdale’s leading goalscorer, was named amongst the substitutes after missing the last few games through injury.

A near full capacity crowd greeted the two teams in this carnival atmosphere as Diamonds set the early pace as Partridge just failed to beat the offside trap inside the first minute.

Diamonds created the first chance of the game when Lowe powered his way past the Rochdale defence but the Jamaican international striker was forced wide by goalkeeper Neil Edwards and could not direct a shot towards goal.

On five minutes, Diamonds went even closer. Butterworth’s through ball from the centre of the field found Paul Hall but the midfielder saw his shot roll wide of the Rochdale goal.

But despite Diamonds’ early pressure it was Rochdale who took the lead after eight minutes. And it was amazing run from midfielder McEvilly that broke the deadlock as he skipped past four defenders after picking up the ball on the halfway line to slot past Billy Turley.

But the goal brought some controversy as the throw-in, which led to the goal, seemingly should have been given to Diamonds but referee Graham Barber gave it in the opposite direction.

On 12 minutes, Rochdale nearly extended their lead but Turley produced an excellent one-handed save from Simpson after the midfielder had broke into the penalty area.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 1

A dangerous free-kick from Mark Peters caused confusion in the Rochdale penalty area on 18 minutes but Partridge could not get the ball from under his feet a put a shot towards goal.

The Diamonds continued to play the better football, looking dangerous on the attack but Platt was also causing havoc of his own as Peters and Andy Tillson struggled to keep him quiet.

Turley produced another reflex save on 23 minutes when he stopped a powerful header from Gareth Griffiths but at the other end Partridge went close with a dipping 25-yard effort which was well saved by Edwards.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 1

Lowe tested Edwards from 40 yards with a powerful free-kick that went inches wide of the woodwork and then Diamonds had the ball in the back of the net just moments later but the offside flag intervened.

But then just a minute later, Diamonds got themselves back on level terms. A delightful delivered free-kick from Hall found Wardley in space and the former QPR midfielder header into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

But Rochdale nearly responded just moments later. A long ball found Simpson in the penalty area and his turn and shot brought another reflex save from Turley.

Tillson fired a header over the Diamonds crossbar on 37 minutes from another impressive free-kick by Hall and this match continued to be entertaining to the neutral spectators.

Lowe went close following an excellent find from Butterworth but the Jamaican international overstretched and could not put the ball on target.

Half-time: Diamonds 1 Rochdale 1

Diamonds started the second-half brightly as Lowe sent a curling shot towards goal but Edwards made no hesitation and took an easy catch amongst a crowded penalty area.

On 51 minutes, Lowe displayed his power by holding off the challenge from Jobson but his shot rolled inches wide of the target with Edwards scrambling across the face of his goal.

A shot-cum-cross from David Flitcroft nearly deceived Turley as Peters sent a header over his own crossbar and out for a corner.

But Rochdale regained the lead on 56 minutes when Simpson unleashed a powerful 35-yard shot that deceived Turley. It certainly sent the 1,100 Rochdale fans wild as they celebrated the goal.

Diamonds thought they had got themselves on level terms just a minute later but Lowe’s goal was ruled out for a foul on a Rochdale defender.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Rochdale 2

The goal seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of Diamonds, as Rochdale looked the more likely team to get the next goal as they continued to throw more bodies forward.

On 67 minutes, Diamonds rattled the crossbar as Partridge fired a delightful ball from 30-yards out over the head of Edwards as the home-side were now beginning to put more pressure on the visitors.

But on 73 minutes, Diamonds got themselves back on level terms and it came from an unlikely source. A Peters free-kick was not cleared by the Rochdale defence and the ball broke to Butterworth whose shot struck the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Rochdale 2

Both teams were throwing bodies forward in the closing stages of this game and Butterworth was stopped in his tracks by a fantastic tackle from Griffiths when Wardley put the Diamonds midfielder in the clear.

On 86 minutes, Townson found space in the Diamonds penalty area but Turley produced a good save at his feet and then the Rochdale striker saw his second shot go wide of the target.
At full-time: Diamonds 2 Rochdale 2

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Butterworth, Wardley, Burgess, Hall, Lowe, Partridge (Angell 82).

Subs not used: Brady, Mills, Pennock, Setchell.

Booked: Lowe (75), Angell (90)

Rochdale: Edwards, Evans, Griffiths, Flitcroft, Oliver, Doughty, Simpson, McLoughlin, McEvilly, Platt (Townson 53), Jobson.

Subs not used: Coleman, Gilks, Durkan, McCourt.

Booked: Simpson (32), Oliver (37), Griffiths (75)

Referee: Mr G Barber.

Attendance: 6,015

For Video Highlights see here.

2001-02 Halifax Town v R&DFC

By Steven

RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS HAVE SECURED A PLACE IN THE THIRD DIVISION PLAY-OFFS and it came in emphatic style as they came from a goal behind to record a 4-2 victory over basement boys Halifax Town.

A brace from Onandi Lowe and a goal a piece from Stuart Wardley and Paul Hall sealed a memorable victory for the Diamonds as jubilant supporters partied well after the final whistle.

It was a fantastic second-half performance from the Diamonds as they tore Halifax apart after player-manager Neil Redfearn was sent-off for retaliation on Warldey.

The only thing that spoiled the game was the sending-off of Andy Burgess that left the Diamonds bench fuming.

Diamonds went into the game knowing that a victory would be good enough to seal a play-off place as they went up against a Halifax side, whose relegation to the Conference was sealed a few weeks ago.

Boss Brian Talbot made two key changes to the starting line-up from the side which began proceedings in the defeat against Kidderminster Harriers last week.

Ritchie Hanlon missed out for Diamonds so Garry Butterworth was recalled to the starting line-up, having recovered from a hamstring injury while Scott Partridge took over duties in attack from Brett Angell, who was named as a substitute.

After days of confusion on whether the Halifax players would actually turn-up for this game due to their financial problems, boss Neil Redfearn named a relatively strong side although youngster Nicky Heinemann was named in the starting eleven.

Diamonds fans had turned out in force as they made the majority of the noise prior to kick-off as The Shay looked half empty.

The visitors made the brighter start of the two teams. Paul Underwood found space down the left flank in the opening stages of the game but Onandi Lowe could not connect with the header.

Diamonds continued to start off very brightly and the ball remained in the Halifax half of the field as Underwood and Burgess looked lively down the left-flank.

Halifax won a corner on six minutes and Paul Stoneman fired a header wide of the Diamonds goal although it failed to trouble goalkeeper Billy Turley.

The home-side were now trying to take the game to Diamonds as Craig Middleton and Ian Fitzpatrick continued to look lively and put pressure on the visitors defence.

After 15 mins: Halifax 0 Diamonds 0

But the best chance of the game arose on 15 minutes. Lowe beat two Halifax defenders to put Stuart Wardley in the clear but the Diamonds midfielder dragged his shot wide of the target.

Diamonds continued to mount more pressure on the Halifax defence without creating too many good chances as the home-side looked jittery in this evenly contested game.

But there was bad news for Diamonds on 21 minutes when Andy Tillson was adjudged to have brought down Fitzpatrick in the penalty area. And Paul Harsley had no hesitation from the spot despite the best efforts from Turley.

So Diamonds now had to come out of the block and take the game to Halifax. The visitors hadn’t created many openings and Halifax were looking the brighter side.

On 25 minutes, Harlsey was the hero for Halifax as he got a vital block on a Butterworth shot after Lowe played him through towards goal.

After 30 minutes: Halifax 1 Diamonds 0

On 30 minutes, Lowe struck the side netting after pulling himself away from two Halifax defenders as the visitors began to look strong and surely a goal was just around the corner.

The Diamonds fans were trying their best to get behind the lads and Butterworth fired a header straight into the arms of Halifax goalkeeper Barry Richardson on 35 minutes.

Harsley, who was having an excellent game for the home-side, fired a 30-yard shot on 37 minutes which Turley had to react quickly to and it looked as if the rebound was going to be put away but Underwood made a vital tackle.

Burgess fired over the crossbar on 42 minutes when Tarkan Mustafa’s cross was not dealt with by the Halifax defenders as the visitors struggled to trouble Richardson in the visitors’ goal.

The Diamonds tried their hardest to get back into the match in the closing stages but as the half-time whistle went, Brian’s team found themselves a goal down and had a lot of work to do in the second-half.

Half-time: Halifax 1 Diamonds 0

But the Diamonds came storming out in the second-half and just 52 seconds into the restart, Lowe climbed above the Halifax defence to head home into the bottom corner of the net from Underwood’s cross.

And then just moments after knocking the Diamonds in front, Lowe was on hand to add the second as he stole into the penalty area unmarked to head home a beautiful delivery from Scott Partridge.

What a start to the second-half for Diamonds. Lowe, who has a relatively quiet first-half, had begun the second-half in storming fashion and the large following from Northamptonshire were now in a jubilant mood.

There was still plenty of work to do and Turley was nearly caught embarrassed on 57 minutes when he thumbled a weak shot and Farrell nearly capitalised on his error.

But then a major turning point occurred. On 55 minutes, Redfearn was adjudged to have brought down Wardley. The Halifax player-manger didn’t take to kindly to the referee’s decision and was subsequently shown the red card.

It gave Diamonds the chance to open the game up and Partridge showed great skill inside the penalty area to fire a shot straight into the arms of Richardson.

After 60 minutes: Halifax 1 Diamonds 2

And the one-man difference was now becoming evident as Diamonds took an extra step towards the play-offs with the third goal. Partridge again showed excellent work in the penalty area to pull the ball back to Wardley who tapped home from close range.

The turn around in fortune was incredible and Diamonds were well on course to picking up the three points needed to seal that place in the play-offs.

Lowe went close to grabbing a hat-trick on 66 minutes when he towered above the Halifax defence to see a header go inches over the crossbar.

On 70 minutes, Farrell struck the crossbar with a delightful curling effort that left Turley stranded in his goal as Halifax, to their credit, continued to push bodies forward.

After 75 minutes: Halifax 1 Diamonds 3

And the game was made safe on 75 minutes when Hall sent a curling shot into the corner of the net, which Richardson had no chance to keep out.

That goal meant Brian could start changing his team and Tony Pennock replaced Turley while Angell replaced Lowe, who left the field to a standing ovation from the Diamonds supporters.

Halifax grabbed a consolation through Fitzpatrick after a mistake in the Diamonds defence and Burgess was dismissed in the final moments of the game, although it was not clear as the reasons why.
At the final whistle there was cheers of joy as Diamonds celebrated a memorable win in a season that is now not over.

Full-time: Halifax 2 Diamonds 4

Halifax: Richardson, Stoneman, Mitchell, Heinemann, Jules, Middleton (Herbert 66), Redfearn, Bushell, Harsley (Smith 83), Fitzpatrick, Farrell.

Subs not used: Crookes, Birchall, Midgley.

Bookings: Middleton (9)

Sent-off: Redfearn (60)

Diamonds: Turley (Pennock 78), Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth, Partridge, Burgess, Hall, Wardley, Lowe (Angell 78), Tillson.

Subs not used: Brady, Mills, Setchell.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr M S Pike

Attendance: 2,699

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 2

By Steven

A lapse in concentration from Stuart Wardley and then from goalkeeper Billy Turley, gifted Kidderminster Harriers a 2-0 win, meaning Rushden & Diamonds will need a win at Halifax in the final game of the season to secure a place in the play-offs.

Wardley’s mistake on 52 minutes let in Richie Appleby to give Kidderminster the lead and then Turley failed to collect a ball that enabled striker Bo Henriksen to tap home into an empty net.

It was Diamonds’ fourth league home defeat of the season and it could prove costly as other team picked up valuable wins.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one significant change to the starting line from the team that began proceedings in the 1-1 draw against Scunthorpe last week.

In came Gary Mills, replacing Ritchie Hanlon who sustained a hamstring injury in the game at Glanford Park, meaning that Garry Butterworth had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

Back in the Diamonds side was Tony Pennock, after he was recalled from his loan spell at Farnborough and he was amongst the substitutes, replacing Adam Dowell.

For Kidderminster they were forced to make do without Scott Stamps and Drewe Broughton through suspension but Dean Bennett, who is the clubs leading goal scorer, started in attack.

The visitors made much the brighter start as they won a corner inside the first five minutes and it was a clear indication that Kidderminster were not going to settle for nothing less than a victory.

It was certainly an excellent start form Kidderminster as they carved openings through the Diamonds defence and Ian Foster was causing some problems down the right flank.

Diamonds created their first chance of the game on 10 minutes when Burgess scuffed a cross into the penalty area but Onandi Lowe could not connect and guide the ball towards goal.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 0

On 15 minutes, Diamonds created another excellent chance when after some good build-up play from Burgess and Paul Underwood down the left flank, the ball broke to Brett Angell but the striker shot straight at Kidderminster goalkeeper Stuart Brock from inside the six-yard box.

Kidderminster continued to look the more impressive team, passing the ball with confidence and Foster broke down the right-flank but Billy Turley was quickly out of his goal to shut out the danger.

There was a nervy moment on 24 minutes when Colin Larkin collected a deep ball and when Turley came racing out of his goal, the Diamonds goalkeeper was sparred his blushes after the Kidderminster midfielder could not direct his cross to Henriksen.

Although they had not created any real goal scoring chances, Kidderminster were certainly impressive as they continued to look dangerous as they broke on the attack.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 0

Paul Hall nearly broke the deadlock for Diamonds on 32 minutes when he broke into space in the penalty area but his first touch let him down and he dragged his shot wide of the target.

There was nearly an embarrassing moment for Craig Hinton when he nearly diverted the ball into the own net but his header brushed the side netting. From the resulting corner, Andy Tillson brought out an acrobatic save from Brock.

Both teams pushed forward in the final stages of the first-half but neither could find a way through, and a goalless 45 minutes was a fair outcome in an average period.

Half-time: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 0

Kidderminster began the second-half much similar to the first period. Ian Joy found plenty from a short corner and his cross was well cleared from Tillson inside the six-yard penalty area.

But on 52 minutes Kidderminster took the lead. And the goal came after an error from Wardley as the Diamonds midfielder played the ball back towards Turley but failed to spot Appleby who had the easiest job to put to ball past the Diamonds goalkeeper.

Diamonds nearly responded just a minute later when Lowe dragged the ball back into the penalty area but Angell’s shot rattled the woodwork and Wardley’s rebound shot flew straight into the arms of Brock.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 1

With the clock ticking, Brian threw on Scott Partridge, replacing Angell, to add more pace in attack and on 64 minutes Lowe towered above the Kidderminster defence to see a header come off the outside of a post.

Wardley and Lowe went close in the space of a minute as Diamonds began to throw bodies into the penalty area as the home-side continued to enjoy more of the possession.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 1

The game went from bad to worse for Diamonds on 76 minutes when Kidderminster extended their lead. And it came from another error, this time Turley failed to come and collect a ball, which Foster collected, and Henriksen tapped home into an empty net.

Diamonds were now begging to push forward but the Kidderminster defence continued to hold firm and the home-side struggled to make any breakthrough.

Kidderminster finished the stronger side in the closing stages and they could have easily extended their lead but Turley made a number of vital saves.

Full-time: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 2

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Burgess (Brady 74), Angell (Partridge 63), Mills, Hall, Wardley, Lowe, Tillson.

Subs not used: Butterworth, Pennock, Setchell.

Bookings: Tillson (77)

Kidderminster: Brock, Hinton, Smith, Williams, Foster, Bennett, Joy, Sall, Larkin, Appleby, Henriksen.

Subs not used: Shilton, Clarkson, Ducros, Bird, Danby.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr G Salisbury

Attendance: 5,478

Scunthorpe United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven

Rushden & Diamonds produced another hard working, determined and impressive performance to come away with a precious point against Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park.

And it was Onandi Lowe, who again popped up with the vital goal, to cancel out an own-goal from Paul Underwood in the first-half which had given the home-side the lead.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named an unchanged starting line-up to the one that demolished Swansea City 4-0 at Nene Park on Easter Monday.

That meant Onandi Lowe partnered Brett Angell in attack with Duane Darby ruled out through injury while, despite the return to fitness of Barry Hunter, Andy Tillson and Mark Peters started in defence.

Scunthorpe United, who went into the match looking for their first win in three games, included Peter Beagrie and top goal scorer Steve Torpey in their starting line-up while Lee Hodges was on the bench.

Diamonds started the game the brighter side without creating too many opportunities as Lowe looked dangerous in the opening stages and Paul Hall creating some exciting runs down the right flank.

And Diamonds should have taken the lead inside the first five minutes. Lowe was the provider as he played a delightful ball to Ritchie Hanlon but the midfielder saw his shot well saved by Tom Evans.

Then, just moments later, Hanlon fired a fierce free-kick straight through the Scunthorpe wall and the shot was so powerful that Evans had to parry the ball away from his goal.

It was a fantastic start by Diamonds with the home-side yet to create any worthwhile opportunity and they failed to put any danger on Billy Turley’s goal.

After 15 mins: Scunthorpe 0 Diamonds 0

Scunthorpe’s first effort of the game arrived on 15 minutes but it wasn’t anything special as Alex Calvo-Garcia blasted the ball wide off the target.

Without creating any chances, the home-side were now starting to put a bit of pressure on the Diamonds goal. Martin Carruthers fired wide of the target from long range on 16 minutes.

Lowe, who was causing Scunthorpe no ends of problems, dragged another shot wide of the target on 20 minutes as the visitors continued to dominate the game and make the home-side look quiet.

Scunthorpe were slowly clawing their way back into the game but they had still yet to fire a shot on target as the defence continued to hold firm and limit the home-side to a few opportunities.

After 30 mins: Scunthorpe United 0 Diamonds 0

Carruthers burst through towards goal on 33 minutes and dragged his shot wide of the target although the Scunthorpe striker was standing in an offside position.

But on 35 minutes, Scunthorpe created their best opportunity of the game when Carruthers escaped the tackle of Mark Peters only to see his shot roll wide of the target.

Then, just a minute later, Lowe produced an acrobatic bicycle kick that Evans had to tip over the bar and out for a corner. That resulted in Lowe heading just inches over the crossbar from Hall’s in swinging corner.

The game was heading for a draw but with just two minutes until the half-time whistle a Beagrie cross from out on the right wing was headed home by the unfortunate Underwood.

Half-time: Scunthorpe United 1 Diamonds 0

As the second-half got underway, Scunthorpe started brightly as they began to open gaps in the Diamonds defence and Underwood had to make a vital block when Carruthers fired a shot on goal.

Scunthorpe’s corners were causing some concern as Turley was regularly kept under tight control.

Scunthorpe were now looking the stronger team as Lowe and Angell struggled to find a way past the home-sides defence.

After 60 mins: Scunthorpe 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were slowly getting themselves back into the game.  Lowe continued to cause problems; Angell was looking dangerous in patches while Burgess and Hall were providing exciting runs down the flanks.

There were worrying signs for Diamonds on 67 minutes when Hanlon hobbled off with physio Simon Parsell with what looked to be a strain to the stomach. He was quickly replaced by Gary Mills.

After 75 mins: Scunthorpe 1 Diamonds 0

Scunthorpe continued to push forward at every opportunity and Beagrie was starting to come too life in the game after a very quiet first-half.

But Diamonds continued to play some nice attacking football and Nathan Stanton nearly guided the ball past his own goalkeeper when he came under pressure from Hall.

But with ten minutes remaining, Diamonds deservedly got themselves back on level terms when Burgess’ long-range effort was only parried by Evans and Lowe stuck home the rebound.

It was what the visitors deserved. They had matched Scunthorpe every inch of the way and Lowe was deserving of his goal after working hard throughout the game.

Scunthorpe pressed forward late on in the game but despite a goal line clearance in the final minute, Diamonds held on.

After 90 mins: Scunthorpe United 1 Diamonds 1

Scunthorpe: Evans, Dawson, Stanton, Vaughan, Jackson, Beagrie, Sparrow, Garcia, Graves, Torpey, Carruthers (Jeffrey 85).

Subs not used: Sheldon, McCombe, Hodges, Bennion

Bookings: Jackson (3), Vaughan (10),Sparrow (??)  Dawson (56)

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Hall, Hanlon (Mills 68), Wardley, Burgess, Angell (Partridge 71), Lowe.

Subs not used: Dowell, Brady, Setchell. 

Bookings:

Referee: Mr S Mathieson

Attendance: 4,794 (including 686 from Rushden)

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Swansea City 0

By Steven

Rushden & Diamonds recorded their biggest win in the Football League with a comprehensive 4-0 victory against Swansea City at Nene Park in a thrilling Easter Monday encounter.

And although Onandi Lowe, who scored two of Diamonds’ goals, was again outstanding it was another fantastic team performance over a poor Swansea side, struggling to find any form.

The result lifted Diamonds further up the Third Division table and a play-off place looks on the cards with only three games remaining this season.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change prior to kick-off with Brett Angell making his home debut for the club after the withdrawal of Duane Darby in Saturday’s win against Mansfield Town.

But it was ‘as you were before’ as Diamonds went into the match looking for their fourth consecutive win while Swansea were looking to banish the memories of their 3-1 defeat against Luton Town just two days ago.

The visitors made a number of changes to their side. Jason Jones was the Swansea goalkeeper, replacing Roger Freestone while Nick Cusack was recalled to the starting line-up.

The one-minute silence as a mark of respect for the recent loss of the Queen Mother was well observed as the game got off to a blistering start.

It took just 66 seconds for Diamonds to take the lead. Paul Hall found space in the centre of the park and the Jamaican international unleashed a tremendous shot that took a wicked deflection into the net.

It was a fantastic start by the home-side but Swansea nearly hit back just second later. Andrew Mumford fired a free-kick from 25-yards out that Billy Turley had to produce an acrobatic save.

The game really began at a blistering pace but to their credit Swansea were looking the better side. They certainly hadn’t come to Nene Park to defend and inside the first five minutes they had won two corners.

After 15 mins: Diamonds 1 Swansea 0

Swansea were looking impressive each time they move forward and they went close on 15 minutes when after some good link up play with Mamady Sidibe, midfielder Jonathan Coates hit a shot straight into the arms of Turley.

But just a minute later Diamonds extended their lead. Andy Burgess skipped past two Swansea defenders down the left-flank and when the ball broke to Lowe the striker made no hesitations and fired the ball past Jones.

Swansea maintained their impressive attacking play and Sidibe was looking impressive as the visitors moved forward.

After 30 mins: Diamonds 2 Swansea 0

The game was now becoming a bit scrappy. The fast flowing football witnessed in the first 20 minutes had disappeared although Diamonds were now looking the stronger side on the break.

Diamonds should have extended their lead on 35 minutes when Lowe beat Jones to a high ball and when it broke to Angell the striker could not guide his effort on target.

Turley was called into action on 42 minutes when Hanlon diverted an excellent cross from out on the left-wing towards his own goal.

It was an excellent first-half for the home-side and although the visitors remained dangerous on the attack, Diamonds fully deserved their interval lead.

Half-time: Diamonds 2 Swansea 0

Swansea nearly reduced the lead just 20 seconds into the second half. Chris Todd managed to get past two Diamonds defenders and when the ball went past Turley, Paul Underwood was on hand to make a vital clearance off the goal line.

But Diamonds responded quickly and Lowe fired a 30-yard effort towards goal and Jones produced an excellent save. The Swansea goalkeeper then reacted quickly to prevent Angell getting on the score sheet.

And on 53 minutes the game was made safe. Some more good build up play from Lowe released Angell who fired home a low shot past Jones for his second goal for Diamonds.

The game was now turning into a one-team contest as Diamonds added a fourth. It was that man Lowe again as he capitalised on an error from Jones following a good cross from Hall.

The atmosphere inside Nene Park was electric as Diamonds continued to produce some fantastic football. Hall was exciting down the right flank and Burgess and Underwood were linking up well down the left.

After 60 mins: Diamonds 4 Swansea 0

On 60 minutes, Lowe was replaced by Partridge and the Jamaican international received a standing ovation after another fantastic individual performance from the striker.

Burgess nearly scored from a fantastic goal on 64 minutes when he caught Jones off his line but his chip failed to go under the crossbar.

Partridge went close when he shot from inside the Swansea penalty area as Diamonds continued to dominate this one-sided affair.

After 75 mins: Diamonds 4 Swansea 0

Stuart Wardley fired over the crossbar after some fantastic work from Scott Partridge and it looked likely that the home-side might score a fifth.

Swansea tried to force a consolation goal but they were no match for a superior Diamonds side who controlled the game throughout the second-half.

At full-time: Diamonds 4 Swansea 0 

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood (Setchell 75), Peters (Mills 84), Burgess, Angell, Hall, Hanlon, Wardley, Lowe (Partridge 60), Tillson.

Subs not used: Brady, Dowell.

Bookings: Peters (63)

Swansea City: Jones, De-Vulght, Howard, Cusack, Smith, Mumford (Casey 83), Phillips, Coates, Todd, Watkin, Sidibe (Brodie 65).

Subs not used: Freestone, Romo, Williams.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr A Leake

Attendance: 4,671

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