Rushden & Diamonds 2 Scunthorpe 0

By Steven Dove

A gutsy Rushden & Diamonds performance against promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe United helped record a 2-0 win at Nene Park thanks to goals from Andy Burgess and Onandi Lowe.

Scunthorpe were unfortunate losers having struck the crossbar on two occasions but despite going down to ten men – when Barry Hunter was dismissed – Diamonds turned on the style.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot welcomed back Hunter to the centre of defence. He partnered youngster John Dempster with Andy Tillson missing out.

Gary Mills kept his place alongside Stuart Gray in the centre of midfield despite the return of Stuart Wardley, who, on Saturday, welcomed a new addition to the family as his wife gave birth to a baby girl.

Burgess was recalled to the left wing position at the expense of Daniel Talbot, who was named amongst the substitutes. Duane Darby and Lowe remained up front in attack.

The other change for Diamonds was the inclusion of Tarkan Mustafa, his first start of the season, replacing Andrew Sambrook.

Scunthorpe boss Brian Laws had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting line-up from the one that began proceedings in the narrow 2-1 victory against York City.

The first effort of the game arrived after three minutes. Mills done a good job down the right flank to enable Paul Hall to float a cross straight onto the head of Darby, but the Diamonds striker couldn’t keep his effort on target.

Diamonds continued to enjoy more of the possession without creating many scoring opportunities.

But on nine minutes Peter Beagrie hit a free kick that Billy Turley could only palm away to Mark Jackson who fired back a shot against the crossbar. The Scunthorpe players protested that the ball had crossed the goal line.

And as the visitors continued to protest, Diamonds broke away and took the lead just a minute later. An excellent long ball by Mills found Lowe who broke through the Scunthorpe defence to slot a ball past Tom Evans.

But Scunthorpe nearly hit back immediately. On 12 minutes Paul Underwood had to clear the ball off the line following a goalmouth scramble and Wayne Graves found himself in acres of space in the penalty area but was denied by a fantastic stop from Billy Turley.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 1 Scunthorpe 0

Darby nearly deceived Evans on 21 minutes when he tried to lob a header over the Scunthorpe goalkeeper and just moments later Andy Dawson fired a long-range effort over the crossbar for the visitors.

Scunthorpe were looking dangerous on the attack and Dawson had another long range effort on 26 minutes but the former Nottingham Forest loan player dragged his effort wide of the target.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Scunthorpe 0

The Diamonds were trying to put pressure on the visitors. Lowe and Darby were linking up well in attack while Mills was looking solid in midfield as Scunthorpe struggled to get into the game.

A dangerous ball from Dawson on 42 minutes left Carruthers to out jump the Diamonds defence and glaze a header inches wide of the goal.

But on 43 minutes Turley combined with Dempster to clear a Scunthorpe attack off the line but when the ball broke out to Graves he fired a shot that beat the Diamonds goalkeeper but rattled the crossbar.

Diamonds ended the half as the stronger outfit but the home side could count themselves lucky to go in at the break one goal better off than their opponents.

Half-time: Diamonds 1 Scunthorpe 0

Diamonds started the second half brightly and a Gray cross couldn’t find Darby and Evans intervened to stop an early attack.

But the Diamonds extended their lead on 50 minutes. A ball from Mills found Burgess in the penalty area who slotted a shot past Evans for his first goal of the season.

The home side continued to play bright football in the second half and Burgess was continuing to cause problems down the left flank and trouble Scunthorpe defender Nathan Stanton.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 2 Scunthorpe 0

But this game now came back to life when Diamonds were reduced to ten men. Barry Hunter, for the second time this season, was shown the red card for leading with his elbow on a challenge on Torpey.

It meant Brian was forced to withdraw Darby and replace him with Mark Peters as Scunthorpe threw on Scott Brough to put more pressure on the Diamonds defence.

Then Mustafa crossed which Gray nearly connected with while Carruthers, moments later, saw a header go inches over the Diamonds crossbar.

On 68 minutes, Lowe produced an amazing run deep inside the Scunthorpe penalty area. He then, unselfishly, fed a through ball to Gray but the former Celtic and Reading midfielder dragged his shot wide of the target.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Scunthorpe 0

Beagrie should have done better when he got the better of Mustafa down the right flank but the former Everton and Bradford star struck the side netting.

Scunthorpe continued to throw bodies forward and Torpey’s header went wide of the goal while Peters nearly got himself in all kinds of trouble when he had to deal with a Brough cross.

Jackson wasted a free-kick with seven minutes remaining after Mills had given away a free-kick in a dangerous position.

Diamonds nearly extended their advantage in the closing stages but Lowe saw a free-kick rattle the post

Diamonds ended the game the stronger side and it was another positive result from the players as they now head for a local derby against Cambridge United on Saturday.

After 90 minutes: Diamonds 2 Scunthorpe 0

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Hunter, Darby (Peters 63), Burgess, Gray, Mills, Hall, Dempster, Lowe.

Subs not used: Partridge, Wardley, Sollitt, Talbot.

Bookings: Hunter (31, 61), Mills (73)

Sent-off: Hunter (61)

Scunthorpe: Evans, Stanton, Dawson, Jackson, Cotterill (McCombe 78), Sparrow (Wheatcroft 78), Graves (Brough 64), Carruthers, Torpey, Beagrie, Calvo-Garcia.

Subs not used: Barwick, Collins   

Bookings: Dawson (27), Beagrie (88)

Referee: Mr Phil Crossley (Kent)

Attendance: 3,849

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills (Hard working and tough tackling)

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