Hartlepool 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

 
By Steven Dove

A spirited second-half performance from Rushden & Diamonds helped record the club’s first win on their travels in an amazing see-saw battle against league leaders Hartlepool.

The Diamonds had to come from behind after Adam Boyd had given Hartlepool the lead. But a header from Mark Peters and a fine individual effort from Paul Hall preserved all three points for the Northamptonshire side.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make a number of important changes to his side prior to the match. The most notable changes came in attack with Onandi Lowe missing through injury.

That left the way for Brett Solkhon to make his first ever league start. But with no Duane Darby in the side because of injury and Scott Partridge missing the match, despite travelling, it made interesting reading on who would partner the youngster in attack.

That job fell to Paul Underwood. The Diamonds captain would turn from a left-back to a striker for the day meaning Gary Setchell started his first game of the season.

Stuart Gray was welcomed back into the side replacing David Bell, who was named amongst the substitutes, while Marcus Bignot was also included in the squad and sat on the bench.

Hartlepool United, who went into the game top of the Third Division table, included former Sheffield Wednesday striker Ritchie Humpherys in attack while Mark Robinson replaced Paul Arnison in defence.

The Diamonds made a shaky start to the game and inside the first minute Darrell Clarke fired over the bar from close range as the visitors’ defence fell asleep.

Hartlepool were certainly looking strong in these opening stages of the game. Diamonds were struggling to get out of the blocks and despite moving the ball around the pitch they were creating few chances.

But to Diamonds’ credit, their heads didn’t drop. On six minutes the Northamptonshire side came agonisingly close when Stuart Wardley broke down the right and his cross was nearly put into his own net by Hartlepool defender Graeme Lee.

It was noticeable that Paul Hall was drifting into attack with Underwood playing slightly behind the attackers as Diamonds experimented throughout the match, trying to create opportunities.

Billy Turley came to the rescue on 11 minutes when he superbly stopped Eifion Williams’ point-blank header when the striker was left unmarked in the penalty area.

After 15 minutes: Hartlepool 0 Diamonds 0

On 15 minutes Hartlepool midfielder Mark Tinkler struck a fierce effort that Turley tipped over the crossbar whilst moments later Tommy Widdrington nearly had a sight at goal after outfoxing the Diamonds defence.

Hartlepool were continuing to throw the pressure to their opponents and were looking the more likely side to get on the scoresheet as they created the better chances.

A good move involving Underwood and Solkhon released Wardley down the right flank on 24 minutes but the former QPR midfielder couldn’t control his effort as it flew over the crossbar.

Gray powered his way past two Hartlepool defenders on 25 minutes to try his luck from 30-yards but despite getting his shot on target the ball flew into the hands of goalkeeper Anthony Williams.

Adam Boyd turned his marker and fired a good effort on 27 minutes but Diamonds also went close soon after as the game soon balanced out to be an evenly close contest.

After 30 minutes: Hartlepool 0 Diamonds 0

But despite preserving the pressure for large periods of the game, Diamonds fell behind on 31 minutes. A delightful ball over the top of the Diamonds defence found Boyd who chipped a rushing Turley from an acute angle to squeeze his effort into the net.

The Diamonds were falling to pieces at the back as the Hartlepool pressure began to take its toll. Few chances were being created in attack with the home-side controlling most of the possession.

Tinkler rattled the crossbar with a header for Hartlepool on 39 minutes while moments later Hall created a rare chance for Diamonds.

But it was no surprise at the half-time whistle that Hartlepool went in at the break one goal better off. They had controlled the game for long periods and deserved their lead.

At half-time: Hartlepool 1 Diamonds 0  

The Diamonds changed their system at the break. Despite working his socks off during the first-half, Solkhon never appeared for the second half and was replaced by Daniel Talbot.

It meant Wardley and Hall played in attack with Underwood dropping off into midfield. The change nearly proved effective right from the start when Wardley nearly got on to the end of a Gray cross.

But a resulting corner led to the equaliser for Diamonds. Talbot floated a fantastic delivery into the penalty area that gave Mark Peters the opportunity to rise above the Hartlepool defence and power home a header.

The game was open in the second half. Diamonds were seeing a lot more of the ball and on 53 minutes Setchell tried his luck from 35-yards although it failed to trouble Williams in the Hartlepool goal.

All of a sudden, the Diamonds were playing superb football – a completely different story from the first half. After some good work from Underwood, Mustafa had a shot tipped over the crossbar from Williams.

Hartlepool had hardly found a sniff at goal in the second half and on 60 minutes Underwood brought a ball down in the Hartlepool penalty area but couldn’t get his effort on target.

After 60 minutes: Hartlepool 1 Diamonds 1

Hartlepool’s first chance of the second half arrived on 61 minutes when Williams created some space in the penalty area but was only denied by an excellent stop from Turley.

Underwood, who was working his socks off at the back in attack, kept trying his luck and on 67 minutes he went close when his shot floated just over the Hartlepool crossbar.

Setchell went down in a heap on 68 minutes after making a superb flying tackle on Williams. But the Diamonds defender was soon back on his feet and continued at left-back.

Hartlepool were soon getting back into this ‘action packed’ game as Mustafa had to clear a shot off the goal line as Hartlepool’s Lee was given time to direct a header.

After 75 minutes: Hartlepool 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds were soon putting the pressure back on the home side and Wardley went close for the visitors with a header after Talbot delivered an excellent cross from the left.

It was now Hartlepool’s turn to throw the pressure in this sea-saw battle and Williams should have done better on 82 minutes when he was awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position.

But out of the blue, Diamonds’ hard work paid off as they took the lead. Again, Talbot was the provider as he fed in Hall but the Jamaican international took all the credit, as his individual run was worthy of a goal after shaking off the challenge from two defenders.

It came out of the blue but it was a performance they would surely have put a smile on the Diamond boss face at the final whistle.

At full time: Hartlepool 1 Diamonds 2

Hartlepool: Williams, Barron, Lee, Westwood, Clarke, Robinson (Smith 80), Widdrington, Tinkler, Humpherys, Boyd, Williams.

Subs not used: Provett, Sharp, Henderson, Sweeney.

Bookings: Tinkler (88)
 
Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Gray, Mills, Setchell, Hall, Solkhon (Talbot 46).

Subs not used: Bignot, Sollitt, Bell, Dempster.

Bookings: Hunter (41), Peters (43)

Referee: Mr P Dowd

Attendance: 5,502 (192 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood (Non-stop work rate)

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Rushden & Diamonds 2 Wrexham 2

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds twice had to come from behind to protect their unbeaten home record in a thrilling encounter against an impressive Wrexham side at Nene Park.

And Paul Hall was the hero for Diamonds as he scored twice. Both goals involved Onandi Lowe but this was certainly Diamonds’ toughest task this season on their own patch.

But the bad news for Diamonds was both Barry Hunter and Mark Peters left the field because of injuries, meaning Paul Underwood had to play the majority of the game in the centre of defence.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made several changes to the starting line-up that began proceedings against Bournemouth on Tuesday night at Dean Court.

The Diamonds boss was forced to make one change in attack. Scott Partridge started his first league game of the season with Duane Darby out with a groin injury that may keep him out for two weeks.

The surprise was the inclusion of David Bell, who was making his full league debut. The youngster replaced Stuart Gray who was out with a knee problem sustained at Bournemouth.

Hunter also went up against his former club. He replaced John Dempster in the centre of defence and partnered Peters. Gary Setchell was also named amongst the substitutes.

For Wrexham, boss Dennis Smith had the luxury of naming an unchanged side. They included Andy Morrell, who has fired nine goals, the leading marksmen in England’s top divisions.

Wrexham came to Nene Park in confident mood having recorded back-to-back 4-0 victories in the last seven days.

With both teams trying to figure the other out it was a slow start to the game. Lowe carved out the first on three minutes but saw his effort blocked and then just moments later the same player dragged his shot wide of the target.

But it was the visitors who were looking the stronger side and on eight minutes they took the lead.

A run down the left flank from Hector Sam deep inside the penalty area enabled his to pick our Carlos Edwards who had the simple job to tap home from close range.

The Diamonds were forced to make an early change to their side. Earlier, Hunter had to go off the field with a face injury and didn’t return. He was quickly replaced by Dempster.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Wrexham 1

Chances were rare for Diamonds, who, unlike their recent home form, were struggling to keep possession. Wrexham looked strong on the break and were causing problems for the Diamonds defence.

Wrexham were firmly keeping the pressure on their opponents and it was evident for the first time at Nene Park that Diamonds’ were not totally in control of the match.

Sam had the chance to double Wrexham’s advantage on 28 minutes when the home side broke from a Diamonds corner but the striker failed to lob Turley, who had drifted out of his goal.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Wrexham 1

On 37 minutes, Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Dibble was finally tested. Lowe’s curling free-kick nearly deceived the former Luton shot-stopper but Dibble acrobatically denied the Diamonds striker.

Lowe done well on 41 minutes when he drove past Dibble. But the Diamonds striker went wide of the goal and had to settle for drilling the ball back in the box with Hall having an effort stopped on the line.

But a minute later the Diamonds got themselves back on level terms. Lowe tried another free-kick that was pushed out by Dibble but only as far as Hall who poked home from close range.

It was certainly not what Diamonds deserved at the half-time whistle and the Diamonds boss was sure to have some strong words to say back in the dressing room.

At half-time: Diamonds 1 Wrexham 1 

Two minutes into the second-half, Wrexham should have got themselves back in front. After some good work in midfield the ball dropped to Dan Bennett who fired over the bar from inside the penalty area.

On 54 minutes, Lowe had a free header but failed to put it on target while Morrell went close for Wrexham just moments later.

For the first time in the match the Diamonds were beginning to control the match and Hall was nearly put through in on goal but Mills’ ball was a touch too hard for the Jamaican international

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Wrexham 1

On 63 minutes Diamonds should have taken the lead. Hall fed a through ball to Mustafa who done all the hard work done the right flank. His ball into the box went past everyone but Partridge should have done better at the far post.

But despite Diamonds’ good pressure, they fell behind on 65 minutes. And Morrell was the hero for Wrexham as he superbly beat Turley, rounding the Diamonds goalkeeper and sticking the ball home from a tight angle.

That goal also saw Peters go off on a stretcher. He was replaced by Setchell, meaning Underwood drifted into the centre to partner Dempster.

On 72 minutes, Daniel Talbot, on as a substitute, floated an excellent ball to Lowe. The Jamaican international controlled the ball delightfully with his chest but saw his shot saved by Dibble.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Wrexham 2

It was now all hands to the pump for Diamonds who were looking to keep their unbeaten home record firmly in-tact.

Trundle had an effort which flew over the Diamonds crossbar on 79 minutes as Wrexham continued to mount the pressure but just moments later the Diamonds squared the encounter.

And it was Hall who became the hero. But much of the thanks went to Lowe who battled for possession deep in Wrexham’s half of the field and squared the ball for his international team-mate who rounded Dibble and slotted into an empty net.

Trundle went close for Wrexham on 84 minutes and moments later Setchell drilled an effort straight at Dibble.

In five minutes of injury time, Wrexham came closest but the Diamonds would be happy with the point after being made to fight all the way.

At full-time: Diamonds 2 Wrexham 2

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Hunter (Dempster 11), Peters (Setchell 67), Wardley, Partridge (Talbot 71), Mills, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Sollitt, Setchell, Solkhon.

Bookings: Mills (18)

Wrexham: Dibble, Whitley, Roberts (Lawrence 87), Edwards (Holmes 46), Ferguson, Morrell, Barrett, Edwards, Bennett, Pejic, Sam (Trundle 61)

Subs not used: Rogers, Campbell.

Bookings: Bennett (37)

Referee: Mr A Penn

Attendance: 4,090

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Hall (Non-stop work rate)

Bournemouth 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds slipped to only their second defeat of the season as they were comprehensively outplayed by a strong Bournemouth outfit at Dean Court on Tuesday night.
The Diamonds went in at half-time all square following John Dempster’s first goal in league football. But Bournemouth looked much stronger in the second period and recorded their first home win of the season.
And to make matters worse for the Diamonds, striker Duane Darby hobbled off with an injury and had to be replaced by Scott Partridge just a few minutes into the first half
Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named an unchanged line-up from the one that began proceedings in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against York City.
It meant former Northern Ireland international Barry Hunter, who returns to the squad after completing a two-match suspension, had to content with a place on the bench.
Bournemouth boss Sean O’Driscoll named a very attacking line-up. They included Marcus Browning, who had a trial period with Diamonds during the pre-season campaign.
O’Driscoll actually named an unchanged line-up from the one that lost to Bury on Saturday and Alan Connell was the leading man in attack. Experienced midfielder Carl Fletcher was also included.
Bournemouth took control of the game in the early stages. The home side looked confident on the ball as Diamonds took a while to get into their stride.
The first effort of the game arrived on four minutes. Both Dempster and Mark Peters slipped at vital moments to allow Wade Elliott to run down the right flank. His ball across the face of the goal found Derek Holmes but Billy Turley came to the rescue with an important stop.
It was an encouraging start from the home side with Diamonds still struggling to find their feet. Elliott was causing most of the problems for Diamonds down the right flank with his power and pace.
Gary Mills had Diamonds’ first effort of the game. He picked the ball up outside the Bournemouth penalty area on nine minutes but the midfielder drilled his shot over the crossbar.
There was worrying news for Diamonds on 13 minutes when Darby was seen hobbling around the pitch. He didn’t last much longer and was quickly replaced by Partridge.
After 15 minutes: Bournemouth 0 Diamonds 0
On 17 minutes Dempster made an excellent flying tackling to deny a ‘sure goal’ for Connell, when the Bournemouth striker found himself unmarked in the centre of the Diamonds penalty area.
Paul Hall delivered an excellent cross from the right flank on 19 minutes and Onandi Lowe connected with a flying header but it failed to trouble Bournemouth keeper Neil Moss.
But, out of the blue, the deadlock was broken. And it was a fine individual goal from Stephen Purches as he unleashed an unstoppable shot from 30-yard past a stranded Turley.
Diamonds were really struggling to get themselves into the game and this was nothing like the performance at Bootham Crescent on Saturday, which they controlled the game for large periods.
After 30 minutes: Bournemouth 1 Diamonds 0
But Diamonds got themselves back in the game in the most bizarre circumstances. A corner from Hall was not dealt with by the Bournemouth defence and Dempster was on-hand to stab home his first goal of his career from close range.
It may not have been what Diamonds deserved but it certainly brought to life a game that had been struggling to get to going with limited chances.
Bournemouth gradually began to throw more bodies forward and the Diamonds were bombarded with pressure. Danny Thomas should have got the home side back in the lead but he failed to connect with a bouncing ball inside the penalty area.
Browning hit a first time shot through a crowd of Diamonds players on 38 minutes but Turley stayed alert and made a vital stop.
Both sides tried their luck in the closing stages of the half. Connell had a golden opportunity in stoppage time but he dragged his effort wide of the goal.
At half time: Bournemouth 1 Diamonds 1
Both sides started the second half at a quick pace. On 47 minutes a mistake by Browning nearly proved costly as Lowe latched onto it in a shot but narrowly missed the target.
Wardley cracked a long-range effort just two minutes later after some patient build up from Diamonds as the visitors mounted the early pressure.
The home side was now getting themselves back in the game and they soon restored their lead. On 58 minutes Thomas’ corner was met with a glancing header from Maher that left Turley with no chance.
After 60 minutes: Bournemouth 2 Diamonds 1
Despite taking the lead, Bournemouth refused to take their foot off the pedal and Turley was magnificent on 67 minutes when he stopped a point-blank header from Connell.
By this time Andy Burgess had replaced Wardley and it was his corner that caused confusion in the Bournemouth defence. But somehow they managed to keep out the danger and hold onto their lead.
After 75 minutes: Bournemouth 2 Diamonds1
Chances were few and far between for Diamonds, who were, once again, losing out in this game. The home side continued to look the stronger side and the more likely team to score.
The Diamonds were trying everything. Lowe was finding himself a busy man as the long balls kept flying in his direction while Partridge was working his socks off. However, nothing seemed to work.
But the contest was finally over on 85 minutes when Connell had the easiest jobs to tap home from the close range following some delightful work from Browning down the right flank.
At full-time: Bournemouth 3 Diamonds 1
Bournemouth: Moss, Young, Purches, Browning, Maher, Fletcher, Elliott, Holmes (Eribenne 89), Connell, Tindall, Thomas.
Subs not used: O’Connor, Hayter, Stock, Bernard.

Bookings:
Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Dempster, Peters, Wardley (Burgess 66), Darby (Partridge 15), Gray, Hall, Mills, Lowe

Subs not used: Hunter, Sollitt, Talbot.
Bookings:

Referee: Mr P Rejer
Attendance: 4,527

Diamonds’ MOTM: Billy Turley (Fantastic stops)

York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds had to be satisfied with a share of the spoils following a 0-0 draw in a scrappy performance against York City at Bootham Crescent.

The Diamonds had plenty of chances to steal all three points, most notable when Onandi Lowe saw his point blank header saved by Alan Fettis in the closing stages. It was the first time this season both sides have failed to score this season.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot recalled Lowe to the starting line-up prior to kick-off. The Jamaican international striker was rested for the Worthington Cup win against Millwall and he replaced Scott Partridge in attack.

Gary Mills, who on Friday morning was rated doubtful because of a hamstring injury, was included in the starting line-up while John Dempster kept his place in the centre of defence with Andy Tillson on the bench.

Deadly duo Peter Duffield and Lee Nogan started in attack for York City. Alex Mathie made the third striker in a 3-4-3 formation for Terry Dolan’s side, who were unbeaten at home going into the match.

The Diamonds started the match brightly. On three minutes, Stuart Gray saw his shot from outside the area blocked by a strong looking York defence, as Diamonds enjoyed the early possession.

Then just three minutes later the former Celtic and Reading midfielder went even closer. Duane Darby knocked the ball down to Gray whose first time volley nearly beat Alan Fettis in the York goal.

But York soon stamped their authority on the game. On eight minutes, Tom Cowan’s free-kick was floated into a dangerous position but it was just out of Gary Hobson’s reach, who lost his marker at the back post.

Diamonds continued to enjoy more of the possession but were not creating too many scoring opportunities. Hobson was closely marking Lowe while Darby was struggling to get past the back three.

Despite enjoying more of the possession, it was York who were creating the better chances and on 14 minutes, Nogan fired a shot wide of Billy Turley’s right-hand post.

After 15 minutes: York 0 Diamonds 0

The home side were soon finding their feet. Dolan’s side were moving the ball around the pitch with confidence trying to find gaps in the Diamonds defence.

Chance were rare with the match swinging either way but on 25 minutes Lowe should have broken the deadlock when he waltzed past Fettis but directed his shot into the side netting.

Darby had a golden opportunity himself to put Diamonds ahead but when Lowe’s flick found the Diamonds striker he dwelled on his shot for too long and Chris Smith got in a timely tackle.

After 30 minutes: York 0 Diamonds 0

Turley came to the rescue for Diamonds on 32 minutes when he made a vital stop from Nogan’s point-blank header. The Diamonds goalkeeper could only spill his effort but he done enough to stop the attack.

Lowe tried a long range free-kick on 41 minutes but his effort was blocked while Darby saw an effort go wide of the goal in the closing stages of the first half.

At half-time: York 0 Diamonds 0

Diamonds started the second half in a positive manner. Four corners in quick succession brought a fierce opening and Hall went close but his header was blocked by the York defence.

On 50 minutes, Diamonds should have broken the deadlock. A through ball by Underwood released Lowe who failed to get around Fettis but when the ball broke to Darby his first time shot was blocked when he really should have put his strike partner back in the clear.

A Hall free-kick was perfectly delivered and Stuart Wardley went agonisingly close to getting his name on the score sheet but the midfielder’s header drifted just wide of the target.

After 60 minutes: York 0 Diamonds 0

Lee Bullock fired wide on 61 minutes when the York midfielder should have done better. But it was a positive move from the home side as Dolan’s side began to look dangerous on the break.

On 65 minutes, Nogan got the better off a mistake from Dempster and the City striker was unfortunate not to get his name on the score sheet when he saw his shot saved by the legs of Turley.

Darby had a good effort on 72 minutes but he saw he shot blocked on the goal line from captain Chris Brass as Diamonds continued to enjoy the majority of the possession.

After 75 minutes: York 0 Diamonds 0

Lowe fired a header over the bar on 78 minutes before York made the first substitute of the game. Levent Yalcin, a striker, came on for his first appearance in front of the Bootham Crescent crowd.

Diamonds tried their best to mount several attacks but it was the final ball that was letting the visitors down.

It was a frantic final period of the game with Lowe seeing a close range header saved by Fettis but both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

After 90 minutes: York 0 Diamonds 0

York: Fettis, Edmondson, Cowan, Hobson, Brass, Bullock, Nogan (Carvalho 87), Duffield, Mathie (Yalcin 78), Brackstone, Smith.

Subs not used: Potter, Howarth, Jones.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Gray, Mills, Hall, Dempster, Lowe.

Subs not used: Tillson, Partridge, Burgess, Sollitt, Talbot

Bookings:

Referee: Steve Baines (Derbyshire)

Attendance: 4,102 (343 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Gray (Improving after every match)

2002-03 RDFC v Millwall


Brian Talbot talks to his players as they prepare for extra time


Tony Warner can’t stop Diamonds progressing through to the next round of the Worthington Cup


Hero Billy Turley stops another Millwall attack to keep his side in the competition


Paul Underwood and Billy Turley celebrate after penalites


Billy Turley is the hero as he saves this penalty from Charley Hearn


Gary Mills is in the thick of the action


Duane Darby mounts another attack for Diamonds


Stuart Wardley tries to skip a challenge of a Millwall midfielder

By Steven Dove

It ended in a dramatic penalty shoot out but it was game Rushden & Diamonds thoroughly deserved to win. A 5-3 win on penalties against First Division Millwall took Diamonds through to the next round of the Worthington Cup.

Paul Underwood took the decisive spot kick and combined with another save from the spot from Billy Turley, who also scored one of the penalties, Diamonds booked their place in the next round of the competition.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two changes to the starting line up which claimed a 3-0 victory over Southend United on Saturday. Scott Partridge started his first game of the season replacing Onandi Lowe, who was left out with a knee injury.

The back four was forced to change with Barry Hunter starting his two-match suspension. John Dempster was preferred in the centre of defence instead of Andy Tillson, who was named amongst the substitutes.

Millwall boss Mark McGhee was forced to make a number of changes with Neil Harris and Tim Cahill both missing for the Lions. Ben May came into the starting eleven while Christophe Kinet was also included.

But Millwall had many experienced professionals in their side including Stuart Nethercott, Darren Ward, David Livermore and Steve Claridge, who was amongst the substitutes.

The game started at a fast pace. Millwall won a corner in the first minute and it was a scary moment for the Diamonds as the defence had to clear their lines.

But the first real effort of the game arrived on five minutes. Paul Hall delivered a cross from the right, which Duane Darby met with a powerful header, but it went inches wide of the target.

Chances were few and far between as both sides struggled to break down their respective defences. Diamonds were enjoying more of the possession as Millwall struggled to find any threat in front of goal.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Kinet tried his luck from out on the right wing on 20 minutes. It nearly caught Billy Turley unaware but the ball just went inches over the crossbar, in Millwall’s first real effort of the game.

Following some good work from Tarkan Mustafa, Hall dragged an effort wide of the target on 22 minutes when the Jamaican international midfielder really should have done better.

Millwall were struggling to get a grip of the game. Diamonds were certainly enjoying more of the possession as we approached the half-an-hour mark, but we were still waiting for our first shot on target.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

On 32 minutes, Partridge pulled out to the wing to deliver a cross that Darby met with a powerful header but his effort flew inches wide of Tony Warner’s goal, in what was the closest effort of the game.

The game was very scrappy. Millwall were still struggling to stamp their mark on the game and although chances remained rare Diamonds were looking in control.

Livermore struck a long-range effort wide of the target but the game was still waiting for it’s first shot on target.

With just a minute remaining in the first half, Darby carved out a cross from the left wing and when the ball broke to Mills, the young midfielder hit a first-time volley just wide of the target.

At half-time: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

McGhee made two changes to his side at the interval with Claridge and Ronnie Bull being introduced into the action.

But it was still Diamonds who continued to look in control. However, Diamonds were also forced into an early substitution as Mills hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Andy Burgess.

Some good, patient, build up play involving Partridge, Hall and Wardley gave Darby a shot from an acute angle but Warner closed the gap and did well to deny the former Hull striker.

The Diamonds were now turning on the style. Gray pushed a ball out on the right wing which Hall forced another good save from Warner. The Diamonds were certainly impressive against their First Division opponents.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Partridge had the first notable effort on target on 60 minutes but Warner had the easiest job and dived low to his right to make the important save.

But Diamonds came close to taking the lead on 63 minutes. Gray lobbed the Millwall defence and the ball found Darby who remained onside. Having done the hard work the Diamonds striker rounded the goalkeeper but ran wide of the goal and struck the outside of the post.

John Dempster received the yellow card when he accidentally brought down May just outside the penalty area as the visitors started to get themselves back in the encounter.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Paul Ifill, who was quiet for Millwall, should have done better on 78 minutes when he skipped past two challenges and created some space in the penalty area. However the Millwall midfielder dragged his shot across the ground and it was easy work for Turley.

Millwall were looking dangerous on the attack but the threat on Turley’s goal was rare and this game was now firmly in the balance with extra time looming.

Kinet had a golden opportunity to seal tie for Millwall with just minutes remaining but his long-range effort beat Turley but went agonisingly wide of the target. Then in stoppage time May went close.

Full time: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Three minutes into the first period of extra time, Matt Lawrence fired a shot from 30-yards and Turley had to be alert as he tipped his effort over the crossbar and out for a corner.

The ball was now constantly in the Diamonds half of the pitch as Millwall looked strong going forward finding gaps in the home-sides defence.

The visitors were now looking strong and Claridge saw a header saved by Turley, although the Diamond goalkeeper didn’t know much about it.

Turley then produced the save of the match in the closing stages of the first period of extra time when the Diamonds goalkeeper dived low to prevent Bull scoring with a fierce header.

After 105 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Kinet rattled the crossbar three minutes into the second period but the linesman adjudged the ball to be out of play when the midfielder crossed from out on the left flank.

It was evident that the players were getting tired as this match continued although Diamonds were still holding their own as this game remained in the balance.

In the closing stages, Darby had an effort cleared off the line but this game was going into penalties after 120 minutes of exciting football.

After 120 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

PENALTIES

(D) – Stuart Gray – GOAL.
(M) – Charlie Hearn – SAVED
(D) – Paul Hall – GOAL
(M) – Paul Ifill – GOAL
(D) – Stuart Wardley – GOAL
(M) – David Livermore – GOAL
(D) – Billy Turley – GOAL
(M) – Andy Roberts – GOAL
(D) – Paul Underwood – GOAL

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Wardley, Partridge, Darby, Gray, Mills (Burgess 48), Hall, Dempster.

Subs not used: Tillson, Sollitt, Bell, Talbot

Bookings: Dempster (65)

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Ryan (Bull 46), Nethercott, Ifill, Livermore, Ward, Roberts, Kinet (Hearn 111), Phillips (Claridge 46), May.

Subs not used: Gueret, Robinson.

Bookings: May (68)

Referee: Mr Paul Robinson (East Yorkshire)

Attendance: 2,731

Diamonds’ MOTM: Mark Peters (Millwall chances were rare).

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Millwall 0 (Diamonds win 5-4 on Penalties)

By Steven Dove

It ended in a dramatic penalty shoot out but it was game Rushden & Diamonds thoroughly deserved to win. A 5-3 win on penalties against First Division Millwall took Diamonds through to the next round of the Worthington Cup.

Paul Underwood took the decisive spot kick and combined with another save from the spot from Billy Turley, who also scored one of the penalties, Diamonds booked their place in the next round of the competition.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two changes to the starting line up which claimed a 3-0 victory over Southend United on Saturday. Scott Partridge started his first game of the season replacing Onandi Lowe, who was left out with a knee injury.

The back four was forced to change with Barry Hunter starting his two-match suspension. John Dempster was preferred in the centre of defence instead of Andy Tillson, who was named amongst the substitutes.

Millwall boss Mark McGhee was forced to make a number of changes with Neil Harris and Tim Cahill both missing for the Lions. Ben May came into the starting eleven while Christophe Kinet was also included.

But Millwall had many experienced professionals in their side including Stuart Nethercott, Darren Ward, David Livermore and Steve Claridge, who was amongst the substitutes.

The game started at a fast pace. Millwall won a corner in the first minute and it was a scary moment for the Diamonds as the defence had to clear their lines.

But the first real effort of the game arrived on five minutes. Paul Hall delivered a cross from the right, which Duane Darby met with a powerful header, but it went inches wide of the target.

Chances were few and far between as both sides struggled to break down their respective defences. Diamonds were enjoying more of the possession as Millwall struggled to find any threat in front of goal.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Kinet tried his luck from out on the right wing on 20 minutes. It nearly caught Billy Turley unaware but the ball just went inches over the crossbar, in Millwall’s first real effort of the game.

Following some good work from Tarkan Mustafa, Hall dragged an effort wide of the target on 22 minutes when the Jamaican international midfielder really should have done better.

Millwall were struggling to get a grip of the game. Diamonds were certainly enjoying more of the possession as we approached the half-an-hour mark, but we were still waiting for our first shot on target.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

On 32 minutes, Partridge pulled out to the wing to deliver a cross that Darby met with a powerful header but his effort flew inches wide of Tony Warner’s goal, in what was the closest effort of the game.

The game was very scrappy. Millwall were still struggling to stamp their mark on the game and although chances remained rare Diamonds were looking in control.

Livermore struck a long-range effort wide of the target but the game was still waiting for it’s first shot on target.

With just a minute remaining in the first half, Darby carved out a cross from the left wing and when the ball broke to Mills, the young midfielder hit a first-time volley just wide of the target.

At half-time: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

McGhee made two changes to his side at the interval with Claridge and Ronnie Bull being introduced into the action.

But it was still Diamonds who continued to look in control. However, Diamonds were also forced into an early substitution as Mills hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Andy Burgess.

Some good, patient, build up play involving Partridge, Hall and Wardley gave Darby a shot from an acute angle but Warner closed the gap and did well to deny the former Hull striker.

The Diamonds were now turning on the style. Gray pushed a ball out on the right wing which Hall forced another good save from Warner. The Diamonds were certainly impressive against their First Division opponents.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Partridge had the first notable effort on target on 60 minutes but Warner had the easiest job and dived low to his right to make the important save.

But Diamonds came close to taking the lead on 63 minutes. Gray lobbed the Millwall defence and the ball found Darby who remained onside. Having done the hard work the Diamonds striker rounded the goalkeeper but ran wide of the goal and struck the outside of the post.

John Dempster received the yellow card when he accidentally brought down May just outside the penalty area as the visitors started to get themselves back in the encounter.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Paul Ifill, who was quiet for Millwall, should have done better on 78 minutes when he skipped past two challenges and created some space in the penalty area. However the Millwall midfielder dragged his shot across the ground and it was easy work for Turley.

Millwall were looking dangerous on the attack but the threat on Turley’s goal was rare and this game was now firmly in the balance with extra time looming.

Kinet had a golden opportunity to seal tie for Millwall with just minutes remaining but his long-range effort beat Turley but went agonisingly wide of the target. Then in stoppage time May went close.

Full time: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Three minutes into the first period of extra time, Matt Lawrence fired a shot from 30-yards and Turley had to be alert as he tipped his effort over the crossbar and out for a corner.

The ball was now constantly in the Diamonds half of the pitch as Millwall looked strong going forward finding gaps in the home-sides defence.

The visitors were now looking strong and Claridge saw a header saved by Turley, although the Diamond goalkeeper didn’t know much about it.

Turley then produced the save of the match in the closing stages of the first period of extra time when the Diamonds goalkeeper dived low to prevent Bull scoring with a fierce header.

After 105 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Kinet rattled the crossbar three minutes into the second period but the linesman adjudged the ball to be out of play when the midfielder crossed from out on the left flank.

It was evident that the players were getting tired as this match continued although Diamonds were still holding their own as this game remained in the balance.

In the closing stages, Darby had an effort cleared off the line but this game was going into penalties after 120 minutes of exciting football.

After 120 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

PENALTIES

(D) – Stuart Gray – GOAL.
(M) – Charlie Hearn – SAVED
(D) – Paul Hall – GOAL
(M) – Paul Ifill – GOAL
(D) – Stuart Wardley – GOAL
(M) – David Livermore – GOAL
(D) – Billy Turley – GOAL
(M) – Andy Roberts – GOAL
(D) – Paul Underwood – GOAL

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Wardley, Partridge, Darby, Gray, Mills (Burgess 48), Hall, Dempster.

Subs not used: Tillson, Sollitt, Bell, Talbot

Bookings: Dempster (65)

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Ryan (Bull 46), Nethercott, Ifill, Livermore, Ward, Roberts, Kinet (Hearn 111), Phillips (Claridge 46), May.

Subs not used: Gueret, Robinson.

Bookings: May (68)

Referee: Mr Paul Robinson (East Yorkshire)

Attendance: 2,731

Diamonds’ MOTM: Mark Peters (Millwall chances were rare).

See here for a video snippet of the penalty shootout.

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Southend 0

By Steven Dove

Stuart Gray claimed a brace as Rushden & Diamonds made easy work of dispatching a woeful Southend side in an entertaining encounter at Nene Park.

Paul Hall also got on the score sheet for the Diamonds to round off the victory while Billy Turley showed why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the Third Division with his second penalty save of the season.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two changes to the starting line-up that were defeated against Cambridge United last week, as the Northamptonshire side looked to maintain their impressive start to the season.

Mark Peters started his first game of the season and partnered Barry Hunter in the centre of defence. Andy Tillson, who had been struggling with an injury prior to the game, was left out of the side while John Dempster was amongst the substitutes.

Stuart Wardley returned to the side and partnered Gary Mills in the centre of midfielder meaning Gray was pushed out on the left wing leaving Andy Burgess on the bench.

Southend United boss Rob Newman had the luxury of naming an unchanged line-up from the one that began proceedings against Rochdale meaning Mark Rawle and Graeme Jones started in attack.

The game started at a slow pace but on three minutes, following some good play in midfield, Mills found time and space outside the Southend penalty area to strike a shot which beat goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan but rattled the crossbar.

But on eight minutes, Diamonds took the lead. Onandi Lowe displayed his powerful pace to beat Southend defender Stephen Broad for pace.

The Jamaican international was then brought down in the penalty area by the Southend defender in which the linesman flagged for a penalty. Gray had no hesitation from the spot and blasted it past Flahavan.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 1 Southend 0

Diamonds continued to attack the Southend goal, with the visitors really struggling to get out of the blocks. Billy Turley hadn’t had any notable save in the opening 20 minutes.

Duane Darby was unlucky not to connect with a diving header when Paul Underwood sent over a cross from the left. Diamonds continued to look the stronger side.

Lowe tried his luck from around 40-yards that flew inches wide of the post as chances remained few and far between.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Southend 0

But then, out of the blue, on 33 minutes, Diamonds extended their lead. Darby found Hall out on the right and the Jamaican international midfielder delivered an excellent cross for Gray to volley past Flahavan for his second goal of the game.

Just moments later, Southend nearly reduced the lead when Neil Jenkins’ shot brought out a reflex save from Billy Turley, with their first shot of the game.

Wardley headed inches wide on 41 minutes as Diamonds continued to be the only side in this game. Southend were really struggling to mount any serious challenge on the Diamonds goal and their attacks were rare.

Hall floated a free-kick over the wall on 44 minutes but it failed to trouble Flahavan while Rawle hit the side netting moments before the half-time whistle.

At half-time: Diamonds 2 Southend 0

The Diamonds came storming out of the blocks in the second half and for the second time in the match Mills drove forward an beat Flahavan but brush the outside of a post.

Mustafa found space in the Southend defence moments later but his effort was well saved by Flahavan, who was having a busy afternoon in the visitor’s goal.

On 53 minutes, Mustafa put Hall through on goal and although the midfielder beat Flahavan, his effort was cleared off the line by the Southend defence.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 2 Southend 0

Darby nearly got a sniff at goal when Hall put him in the clear but Broad kept his nerve in the Southend defence and denied the Diamonds striker.

Bramble should have done better when he skipped past a challenge from Mustafa but the Southend midfielder failed to get his effort on target and trouble Turley.

Lowe tried his luck from a free-kick but it went high and wide of the target and into the Peter De Banke terrace. The Diamonds remained comfortable throughout the game.

Southend were soon getting frustrated and two players went into the referee’s book in quick succession.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Southend 0

Jay Smith should have reduced Southend’s lead on 78 minutes but he was denied by an excellent save from Turley as the visitors mounted some late pressure.

But despite the late pressure from the visitors, the game was put beyond doubt as Lowe fed his international team-mate Hall, who coolly slotted home past Flahavan from 12-yards.

Southend had the chance to get a consolation when Underwood was deemed to have handled in the penalty area after Jones had a shot from inside the penalty area.

Jones steeped up to take responsibility from the spot but Turley saved his second penalty of the season as Rawle fired over the target from the rebound.

It brought and exciting end to the game as Diamonds’ unbeaten home record remained firmly intact.

Full-time: Diamonds 3 Southend 0 

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Gray, Mills (Bell 87), Hall, Lowe

Subs not used: Partridge, Burgess, Sollitt, Dempster

Bookings: 

Southend: Flahavan, Broad (Belgrave 74), Searle, Cort, Maher, Bramble, Rawle, Beard (Whelan 74), Jenkins (Clarke 56), Jones, Smith

Subs not used: Gay, Maye.

Bookings: Beard (72), Cort (73), Jones (75)

Referee: Trevor Parkes (West Midlands)

Attendance: 4,176

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills (Impressive performance)

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