Rushden & Diamonds 1 Boston United 0

 
Onandi Lowe is mobbed as he fires home the only goal of the evening

Barry Hunter tries to stop Stuart Douglas in his tracks

 

Onandi Lowe battles with Boston’s Alex Higgins

Mark Peters gets in a tussle with Boston’s Simon Weatherstone

Gary Mills skips past the tackle from a Boston player

Gary Setchell and Stuart Douglas do battle.

By Steven Dove
Onandi Lowe scored his first goal in ten games as Rushden & Diamonds held on to all three points in a tantalising encounter against Boston United at Nene Park this evening.

The Jamaican international fired home on nine minutes, as his goal was enough to record Diamonds’ first win in five league matches.

But Boston must be wondering how they failed to take anything from the game as they dominated proceedings in the second half and missed some golden opportunities. 

Barry Hunter was recalled to the starting line-up after serving his three-match suspension as he replaced Andy Tillson who had been suffering from his ongoing back problem. Billy Turley was also back in the starting line-up after recovering from his calf strain.

Otherwise, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named an unchanged starting line-up meaning David Bell kept his place in midfield while Gary Setchell continued at left back with Paul Underwood missing.

Boston boss Neil Thompson had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting line-up from the one that beat Rochdale over the weekend meaning Ray Warburton started against his former club.

Also in the Boston line-up was Tony Battersby, who recently had a trial with the Diamonds and former on-loan striker Stuart Douglas, who was named amongst the substitutes.

Diamonds carved open the first opportunity of the game on three minutes when after some good build-up play from Gary Mills and Marcus Bignot, Paul Hall spooned an effort over the Boston crossbar.

Chances were few and far between in the opening eight minutes as both sides struggled to get to grips with the slippery conditions following light rainfall during the afternoon.

But the deadlock was broken on nine minutes through Lowe. The Jamaican international striker struck from 25-yards, burring an effort into the bottom corner of the net and leaving Boston goalkeeper Paul Bastock helpless.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 1 Boston 0

Boston’s first effort of the game arrived on 15 minutes when Mark Angell’s crossball found Simon Weatherstone whose shot whizzed past Turley but the wrong side of a post.

Moments later, Warburton was lucky to stay on the field when he brought down Duane Darby. The former Diamonds skipper was the last defender but he was spared his blushes by the referee as he produced a yellow card.

The resulting free-kick nearly doubled Diamonds’ advantage but Lowe’s deflected effort rattled the crossbar with Bastock completely beaten by his thunderbolt shot.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Boston 0

Boston won their first corner of the game on 31 minutes, a true reflection on how little opportunities the visitors had created, but Tom Bennett’s low drive was well held by Turley.

On 35 minutes, Lee Thompson got a rare chance for Boston to get the visitors back on level terms but the pint-sized midfielder saw his shot beat Turley but go wide of the target.

Boston’s best effort of the half arrived on 37 minutes as the visitors continued to enjoy their best spell of the game. Weatherstone was given time outside the Diamonds penalty area to unleash a fierce shot which Turley had to be equal with and palm away out of danger.

But despite Boston dominating the final stages of the first-half, they couldn’t find a way through the Diamonds defence and it was the home-side who took the slender one goal advantage at the half-time whistle.

Half-time: Diamonds 1 Boston 0

Boston came storming out of the blocks in the second half and won three successive corners in the opening three minutes with Battersby creating the best chance with a close-range header.

On 49 minutes, Bell slid a ball to Lowe after finding space in the heart of the Boston midfield. Unfortunately, Lowe couldn’t create any worthwhile effort as Bastock stopped him in his tracks.

A sloppy ball from Mills nearly proved costly as Weatherstone went close with a header from Angel’s inch perfect cross.

A glancing header from Matt Hocking on 55 minutes nearly got Boston back on level terms as the visitors continued to dominate second half proceedings. 

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Boston 0

Boston should have got themselves back on level terms on 60 minutes when Weatherstone was gifted a golden opportunity. A ball, which ricocheted off Hall, found the Boston striker through on goal but he couldn’t beat Turley in a one-on-one situation.

Boston’s pressure was beginning to tell and Diamonds were on a knife-edge. The visitors really should have been back on level terms especially when Battersby missed a header from inside the six yard box.

Only a point blank save from Bastock on 68 minutes denied Lowe from grabbing his second of the game in a rare opportunity for the Diamonds in this one-sided second-half.

On 71 minutes, Darby picked out Wardley running into the centre of the Boston penalty area but the Diamonds midfielder saw his downward header saved by Bastock.

After Darby failed with a delicate chip over Bastock on 74 minutes, Hall went agonisingly close from the rebound as he fired just wide of the Boston goal with a thunderbolt effort.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Boston 0

Boston were keeping the pressure firmly on Diamonds and on 78 minutes, Battersby fired an effort on the turn but it flew high and wide of Turley’s goal.

On 80 minutes, Hocking found space inside the Diamonds area to glance a header that beat Turley but floated just over his crossbar.

Douglas, who had come into the action on 76 minutes, should have got Boston back on level terms when he missed the target from six yards after Angel had driven ball across the face of the goal.

The visitors kept pushing until the final whistle as Weatherstone had an opportunity to pinch a point for the Pilgrims but Turley came rushing out of his to preserve the win.

After full-time: Diamonds 1 Boston 0

Diamonds: Turley, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Bignot, Mills, Setchell, Bell (Talbot 90), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Mustafa, Sollitt, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Setchell (19)

Boston: Bastock, Clifford (R. Weatherstone 27), Chapman, Bennett, Battersby, S. Weatherstone, Angel, Hocking, Warburton, Thompson (Douglas 76), Higgins.

Subs not used: Redfearn, Cook, Conroy.

Bookings: Warburton (15), Chapman (27)

Referee: Mr G Hegley

Attendance: 4,079.

Diamonds’ MOTM: David Bell (Making excellent progress at first team level)

Hull City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds had to settle for a point at Hull City this afternoon but it could have been so much more after an excellent second-half performance warranted all three points.

Stuart Gray volleyed home Diamonds’ goal in the first half after the Northamptonshire side had gone behind inside the first minute through Scott Green.

Diamonds went into the match without the services of skipper Paul Underwood. He was missing after failing to recover from a heel injury that also kept him out of Tuesday’s LDV Vans Trophy defeat against Cambridge.

But boss Brian Talbot was able to name Billy Turley in the starting line-up. He was struggling prior to the game with a calf injury but started the match with Adam Sollitt going back on the substitutes bench.

Marcus Bignot started his first league game of the season since August, replacing Tarkan Mustafa, who was named on the bench, while David Bell started in midfield, replacing Stuart Wardley.

In what was officially Peter Taylor’s first home game in charge of Hull City, the new Tigers manager included danger man Alexander and on-loan striker Stuart Green, both players having scored against Diamonds last season.

There was a surprise before kick-off with Turley failing to show for the first-half. It meant Sollitt started the match and coach Stuart Naylor was named amongst the substitutes.

The game was only 36 seconds old when Hull took the lead. A delightful through ball by Stuart Elliott found Green racing through the heart of the Diamonds defence but despite Sollitt saving the initial effort, the striker struck home the rebound.

The Diamonds were struggling to get a grip with the game in the early stages and a free-kick from Onandi Lowe that hit the Hull wall, was the best effort the visitors could muster.

Chances were few and far between in this scrappy opening. But on 13 minutes, Paul Hall got in around the back of the Hull defence to lob the ball just over the Paul Musselwhite’s crossbar.

Just a minute later, Diamonds created a better chance. Lowe picked the ball up deep inside the Hull half and his powerful run enabled him to lay a pass off to Duane Darby who narrowly missed the target.

After 15 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were starting to get control of the game and on 19 minutes, Gray’s free-kick should have caused confusion in the Hull penalty area but the visitors were slow to react.

Gary Mills tried his luck from long-range just moments later when his dipping effort nearly beat Musselwhite, who was making his 600th career appearance.

On 26 minutes, Hull created their best chance since their opening minute goal when a Green free-kick was header just over the Diamonds crossbar from John Anderson.

After 30 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 0

Green went close for Hull on 35 minutes but Sollitt was always in control of his weak header as he out jumped the Diamonds defence.

But the Diamonds were back on level terms on 37 minutes when Hall found space on the right wing to deliver a perfect cross to Darby. His directed header found the unmarked Stuart Gray whose unstoppable shot whizzed past Musselwhite.

Elliott nearly put Hull back in front just before the interval but Darby had a better chance for Diamonds moments later. However, the former Hull striker was only denied by a superb first time tackle from Ashbee.

At half-time: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1  

Hull started brightly in the second half and two good chances were wasted in the opening moments of the game as the visitors started nervously.

But on 48 minutes, Diamonds responded to the early pressure and Bell fired a long-range effort that beat Musselwhite but went the wrong side of a post.

Ashbee’s hit and hope shot hit row Z of the stand behind Sollitt’s goal although it was an encouraging spell for the home side who had lost their way at the end of the first 45 minutes.

Lowe’s power and pace nearly brought a goal for Diamonds on 54 minutes but his effort went high and wide of the target when really the Jamaican international should have done better.

On 57 minutes, Alexander twisted and turned past the Diamonds defence but couldn’t keep his effort on target.

After 60 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1

Hull were now pushing forward and Alexander should have done better when he broke past the Diamonds defence to shoot straight at Sollitt.

The game was now completely thrown open in the most entertaining period of the match. Both sides were looking dangerous although no really opportunity had been created.

Sollitt made a vital save on 69 minutes when an Jevons’ cross found its way to Alexander who needed two bites at the cherry after the Diamonds goalkeeper couldn’t hold onto the striker’s first effort.

Lowe saw a header saved by Musselwhite on 74 minutes while moments later, Alexander, who had been causing problems for Diamonds all afternoon, hit a shot wide of the target.

After 75 minutes: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1

A run, which covered over half the pitch, from Lowe nearly, brought out a spectacular individual goal but the Diamonds striker couldn’t get his effort on target after beating two Hull defenders.

Diamonds pushed forward and Darby’s power nearly enabled him to get a shot in on goal but some superb defending from an impressive Ashbee stopped the striker in his tracks.

But despite some frantic moments at the end, Diamonds were unable to grab a winner and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

At full-time: Hull City 1 Diamonds 1

Hull City: Musselwhite, Ashbee, Anderson, Elliott (Williams 55), Alexander, Green, Whittle, Jevons (Bradshaw 80), Delaney, Regan, Keats (Burton 80)

Subs not used: Peat, Deeney.

Bookings: Keats (34), Ashbee (78)

Diamonds: Sollitt, Peters, Tillson, Darby, Gray, Bignot, Mills, Setchell, Bell (Wardley 72), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Mustafa, Naylor, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Bignot (71)

Referee: Mr Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 10,659

Diamonds’ MOTM: Marcus Bignot (welcome return to the side)

Cambridge 4 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds were comprehensively beaten by Cambridge United this evening as the Northamptonshire side tumbled out of the LDV Vans Trophy at the Abbey Stadium.

On what was a poor display from the Diamonds, manager Brian Talbot could have no complaints as Cambridge ran rings around his side all evening to seal a comfortable passage into the second round of the competition.

Brian handed Adam Sollitt his Rushden & Diamonds debut, replacing Billy Turley while Marcus Bignot started his first game since the match against Torquay United in August.

Mark Peters was given captains responsibilities for the evening with Paul Underwood missing through injury while David Bell, Daniel Talbot and Gary Setchell all started.

But despite admitting that he would be resting a few players, the Diamonds boss did include Onandi Lowe who partnered Robert Duffy in attack, with Duane Darby amongst the substitutes with Paul Hall, Stuart Wardley and Andy Sambrook.

Cambridge United boss John Taylor handed youngster Franco Nacca his league debut as he named five changes to his side that began proceedings in the 1-1 draw against Oxford United on Saturday.

The first opportunity of the half arrived on four minutes. Shane Tudor found space down the right flank to deliver but fired a wicked shot straight into the arms of Sollitt.

But just a minute later, Cambridge took the lead. Daniel Chillingworth picked out a ball to enable Paul Wanless to run through the centre of the defence a side foot a shot past Sollitt.

Setchell nearly scored a 30-yard cracker on ten minutes when he struck a shot on the volley. But an amazing save from Shaun Marshall kept Cambridge in front in the early moments of the game.

After 15 minutes: Cambridge 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were creating the better chances in a relatively exciting opening to the game. On 15 minutes, Duffy almost put Diamonds back on level terms but narrowly missed a long-range effort.

Cambridge nearly doubled their advantage on 19 minutes when Nacca’s pace enabled him to deliver a dangerous ball into the penalty box but Omar Riza couldn’t direct his header on target.

The game was now turning scrappy as both teams struggled to create many chances. But on 23 minutes, Riza went inches close as his shot flew past Sollitt’s right-hand post.

After 30 minutes: Cambridge 1 Diamonds 0

On 31 minutes, Cambridge should have extended their lead when Chillingworth headed a Stephen Jordan cross onto the crossbar and as the rebound bounced to Nacca, he saw his effort scooped off the line from Setchell.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure as the Diamonds defence looked shaky. Moments later, a dangerous Tony Scully cross nearly caused havoc in the Diamonds defence but the danger was cleared by an excellent stop from Andy Tillson.

Lowe struck the woodwork in a rare attack for Diamonds on 40 minutes although the Cambridge defence caught the Jamaican international striker offside.

Duffy, who was looking impressive for Diamonds, tried a curling effort from inside the Cambridge penalty area and although it beat Marshall, his strike went narrowly over the crossbar.

But despite some late pressure from Diamonds in the closing stages they couldn’t find a way through Marshall’s goal as they went in a goal down at the interval.

Half-time: Cambridge 1 Diamonds 0

Brian made two changes in the second half as Lowe and Gray were withdrawn being replaced by Darby and Hall respectively. It was clear in the early stages of the second-half that Diamonds were refusing to throw in the towel.

Cambridge were certainly looking for a second and Riza was causing danger to the Diamonds defence with his pace and power.

On 55 minutes, Chillingworth, who was having an impressive game for Cambridge in the centre of their midfield, fired a shot from long range that beat Sollitt but fizzled the side netting.

A mistake in the Cambridge defence nearly gave Diamonds the opportunity to level the match on 58 minutes but Darby slipped at the vital moment to enable Marshall to clear the danger.

After 60 minutes: Cambridge 1 Diamonds 0

Diamond attacks were rare but on 65 minutes Peters should have done better when he connected with a header that flew over the crossbar.

But moments later, Cambridge went close themselves when Chillingworth struck from 30-yards which whistled past Sollitt’s left-hand post.

On 70 minutes, Cambridge produced the move of the match when Tudor fired a long-range effort but he was only denied by a fantastic one handed save from Sollitt.

But from the resulting corner, Cambridge extended their lead when, following a goal mouth scramble, Adam Tann managed to get a header on target which hit the inside of a post to beat the Diamonds goalkeeper. 

After 75 minutes: Cambridge 2 Diamonds 0

Cambridge looked dangerous on the attack and on 77 minutes, Warren Goodhind nearly made it three for Diamonds but he saw his effort goes agonisingly wide of the target.

On 80 minutes, the tie was sealed as Diamonds fell further behind. A through ball from Kitson enabled Tudor to run past Setchell and fire a ball past a helpless Diamonds goalkeeper.

To their credit, Diamonds continued to push forward for a late consolation and Bell hit a first time volley over the crossbar when, maybe, he had time to cushion a bouncing ball.

Cambridge continued to dominate until the final whistle and on 87 minutes, Riza showed tremendous skill to beat two defenders and fire an unstoppable shot past Sollitt.

And their was no way back for Diamonds in this one sided affair and it completed Diamonds miserable history in this competition – which has seen them fall at the first hurdle three times.

At full-time: Cambridge 4 Diamonds 0

Cambridge: Marshall (Brennan 75), Goodhind, Tann, Angus, Wanless (Fleming h/t), Chillingworth, Scully (Kitson 70), Nacca, Tudor, Riza, Jordan.

Subs not used: Guttridge, Paynter.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Sollitt, Peters, Tillson, Gray (Hall h/t), Bignot, Mills, Setchell, Bell, Talbot (Wardley 72), Duffy, Lowe (Darby h/t).

Subs not used: Turley, Sambrook.

Bookings: Talbot (52)

Referee: Mr J Ross

Attendance: 2,116 (156 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Robert Duffy (The best of a bad performance from Diamonds)

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Bury 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds fell to their first home defeat of the season after a single goal from Bury midfielder Chris Billy separated the two sides in an entertaining encounter at Nene Park.

Despite sustaining much of the late pressure, Diamonds couldn’t find a way past the Bury defence, and to their credit Andy Preece’s side were worthy of their three points.

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to his side prior to kick-off. Andy Tillson returned to the starting line-up with Barry Hunter out through suspension.

It was Tillson’s first start since the 4-1 defeat against Cambridge United in August and he partnered Mark Peters in the centre of defence. John Dempster was also missing through suspension.

The Diamonds boss also made a surprise change, as Daniel Talbot was also included in the starting line-up. He replaced Gary Mills, who was named amongst the substitutes. Onandi Lowe returned to the attack and partnered Duane Darby.

Preece was forced to make one change to his side. Colin Woodthorpe was drafted into the starting line-up as Pawel Abbot was out through suspension.

Bury had the first opportunity of the game when inside the first minute, Lee Unsworth broke down the right flank. But instead of taking a shot, the former Crewe midfielder crossed into the box that was dealt with by Tillson.

But two minutes later, Diamonds went agonisingly close and Lowe was only denied by an excellent reflex save from Glyn Garner after Paul Underwood had delivered a good cross.

Bury were enjoying some good early possession and on nine minutes, Michael Nelson swivelled on the volley to pull a shot just wide of Billy Turley goal’s.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Bury 0

After a bright start, Diamonds were now struggling to create many chances and it was the visitors who were looking more dangerous on the break. On 19 minutes, Paul Hall did well to prevent Billy getting a sight at goal.

On 23 minutes, Darby had time to tee up a shot from 25-yards but the former Hull and Notts County striker dragged his effort wide of the goal and it failed to trouble Garner.

Lowe fired a free-kick straight at the wall on 26 minutes while moments later a dangerous cross from Talbot almost caused confusion amongst the Bury defenders.

Gareth Seddon had an excellent opportunity to give Bury the lead on 29 minutes but Turley was equally to the effort as the striker shot from an acute angle.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Bury 0

Turley was then equal to another effort from Seddon just moments later as the Diamonds goalkeeper acrobatically tipped over the Bury striker’s effort when it looked as if it had crept into the net.

Then, on 35 minutes, Matthew Barrass should have given Bury the lead. The defender was alone in the centre of the pitch and when he skipped past Underwood his woeful effort resulted in a wasted chance for Preece’s team.

On 40 minutes, Mustafa pushed forward into the Bury half and tried his luck from 30 yards. It was a good effort from the Diamonds defender as the Bury goalkeeper spilled his effort and out for a corner.

But just moment before the half-time whistle, Diamonds fell behind. A poor defensive header from Mustafa enabled Billy to nip in ahead of Tillson and side foot a shot past Turley.

Lowe had a good chance to bring Diamonds back on level terms before the whistle but that was the last action of the half and Bury were worthy of their slender lead.

Half-time: Diamonds 0 Bury 1

Both sides made a good start to the second-half without creating many scoring opportunities and it wasn’t until 50 minutes when Lowe saw a header cleared off the goal line from Swailes.

Lowe, who was connecting with every cross, once again saw a header go wide of the Bury goal as the Diamonds enjoyed the possession.

A short free kick from Hall saw Wardley glance a header inches wide of Garner’s goal while Lowe saw another header beat the Bury goalkeeper but fly past the wrong side of a post.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Bury 1

On 65 minutes, Hall burst down the right flank to beat his marker. And his perfect cross was nearly headed into the back of the net by Lowe, who had been working tirelessly all afternoon.

The Diamonds were dominating this second half but despite all their efforts they could not get the ball in the back of the net.

Darby tried an effort from an acute angle but failed to trouble Garner while Wardley went close moment before he was replaced by Mills.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Bury 1

Mills hit a shot wide of the target on 79 minutes as time began to run out for the Diamonds. Moments later, Peters made a vital tackle on Newby to deny him a certain goal scoring opportunity.

Just moments after coming on, Preece, the player-manager, saw a header beat Turley but go over the bar.

With five minutes remaining and after a goalmouth scramble, Underwood hit a first time shot on the volley straight into the arms of Garner.

Turley kept Diamonds in the game in the final moments when he produced a point-blank save from David Nugent.

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Wardley (Mills 74), Darby, Gray, Talbot (Setchell 67), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Sollitt, Bell, Duffy.

Bookings:

Bury: Garner, Barrass, Stuart, Swailes (Nugent 74), Nelson, Unsworth, Billy, Seddon, Dunfield (Preece 82), Woodthorpe, Newby.

Subs not used: Forrest, O’Shaughnessy, Whaley.

Bookings: Billy (55), Unsworth (64)

Referee: Mr M Thorpe

Attendance: 3,925

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood (Solid display)

Exeter City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds had to make do with a share of the spoils against Exeter City this afternoon despite a fantastic second half performance where the Northamptonshire side had plenty of chances to win the game.

Exeter went into the lead after only four minutes but a fine individual goal from Duane Darby meant Brian Talbot’s side took something from this game. The only downside saw Paul Underwood hobble off in the second half.

Prior to the game, Talbot welcomed Underwood to the starting line-up. The Diamonds defender had been struggling with a groin injury that had kept him out of the side in recent weeks.

Underwood was likely to play in a striker’s role with Darby. Onandi Lowe was missing for Diamonds because of his ongoing shoulder injury whilst Robert Duffy was included on the bench.

Exeter, who included former Wolves legend Don Goodman in their side, went into this match looking for their first victory in seven games. Their winless run had seen them sink to 21st in the Third Division and cost John Cornforth his job.

Both teams made an encouraging start. Exeter carved out the first opportunity of the game when James Coppinger’s cross found Goodman, whose chest pass nearly found Steve Flack but Mark Peters made a timely tackle.

Exeter began to enjoy more of the early possession and on five minutes the deadlock was broken. Andy Roscoe’s corner was perfectly delivered for Flack to rise above the Diamonds defence and power home a close range header.

The game was certainly a scrappy affair and Diamonds were struggling to find a way through the Exeter defence. Kevin Miller, in the Exeter goal, hadn’t had a save to make.

After 15 minutes: Exeter 1 Diamonds 0

The first opportunity for Diamonds arrived on 15 minutes. Underwood’s break down the left flank enabled him to deliver a cross into the penalty area that Darby was unable to connect to despite a brave attempted header.

But Exeter continued to dominate the game. Goodman was looking impressive and on 22 minutes the Exeter striker saw a header deflected over the crossbar and out for a corner.

Billy Turley came to the rescue on 25 minutes when he was equal to a Roscoe free-kick which would have crept into the top corner of the net.

But on 28 minutes, Diamonds were back on level terms with their first attack of the game. A delightful ball from Mark Peters found Darby, who had broken from the Exeter defence to waltz past Miller and side foot a shot into an empty net.

After 30 minutes: Exeter 1 Diamonds 1

The Diamonds were still struggling to get into this encounter as Exeter continued to be the stronger outfit. On 36 minutes, Goodman went close but was denied by a flying save from Turley.

However on 41 minutes, Diamonds nearly took the lead. Gary Setchell’s cross nearly found Darby but as the ball flew across the penalty box, Hall nearly snuck a shot at the back post but Miller reacted quickly.

As the half came to a close, Diamonds were, for the first time in the game, looking the stronger outfit and Underwood went close to giving his side a half-time lead.

Darby went close in the closing stages of the half while Exeter suffered a blow with Goodman forcing to go off with an injury. But both teams went in all square at the interval after an enjoyable 45 minutes of play.

After 45 minutes: Exeter 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds started the second half brightly. Just a minute into the restart, Underwood delivered a cross from the left flank that Darby failed to direct a header on target.

On 52 minutes, Exeter should have taken the lead. Justin Walker skipped past a challenge from Setchell to leave substitute Reinier Moor with an empty net but he somehow hit his shot over the crossbar.

But just a minute later, Miller kept Exeter in the match with a breathtaking save. Turley’s free-kick found Hall who side-footed a pass to Underwood. But the Diamonds captain was only denied by an excellent reflex save from the Exeter shot-stopper.

Diamonds were now sustaining much of the pressure on the home-sides defence and a Hall corner on 59 minutes nearly caused confusion amongst the Exeter defence.

After 60 minutes: Exeter 1 Diamonds 1

On 61 minutes, Gray was gifted with a good opportunity at the far post but the former Reading and Celtic midfielder scuffed his opportunity high and wide after Hall delivered an inch perfect cross.

Then just a minutes later, Turley’s superb reflex save denied Moor, who had done everything right as he hit a shot from outside the penalty area.

There were problems for Diamonds on 65 minutes as Underwood went down to the deck clutching his leg. The Diamonds skipper later replaced by Duffy for his first taste of first-team action this season.

On 72 minutes, Peters made a vital stop from Kwame Ampadu when the Exeter midfielder made a pacey midfielder burst into the box. Moments later, Walker tried an effort from long range but it drifted wide of the goal.

After 75 minutes: Exeter 1 Diamonds 1

This game was swinging from one way to the other in the closing stages. On 78 minutes Hall went close then just moments later Flack saw a header go inches wide for the home side.

Wardley saw a volley blocked by the Exeter defence on 83 minutes as both sides continued to attack in this breathtaking second half whilst Mustafa somehow managed to keep the ball out of his own goal following a dangerous cross.

Both sides threw bodies forward in the closing stages but a point apiece was a fair reflection of an entertaining afternoon of football in Devon.

Exeter: Miller, Whitworth, Walker (Lock 90) , Simpkins, Hiley, Roscoe (Ampadu 69), Flack, Gaia, Goodman (Moor 45), Coppinger, Cronin.

Subs not used: Fraser, Power.

Bookings: Goodman (9), Cronin (69)

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood (Duffy 67), Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby (Talbot 82), Gray, Mills, Setchell, Hall.

Subs not used: Sollitt, Bell, Dempster.

Bookings: Setchell (24), Talbot (90)

Referee: Mr. Ray Olivier (West Midlands)

Attendance: 2,884

Diamonds’ MOTM: Duane Darby (Hard working performance)

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Leyton Orient 0

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds got back to winning ways this afternoon as two goals in the final ten minutes, both from Duane Darby, sealed three points against an impressive Leyton Orient side.

The Diamonds striker returned the starting eleven to score his first goals since the win against Shrewsbury in August as the Nene Park outfit bounced back from their heavy defeat against Coventry.

Leyton Orient certainly had their chances to win the game and manager Paul Brush would have been disappointed that his side didn’t take anything from this match.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot welcomed back Onandi Lowe and Duane Darby to the attack. Lowe had missed the last two games for Diamonds while Darby made his first start since the defeat against Bournemouth.

But the Diamonds boss was without Paul Underwood, who has been struggling with a groin injury. That meant Gary Setchell continued at left back with Barry Hunter continuing in the centre of defence.

Leyton Orient, who have only won once away from home since last October, came to Nene Park in confident mood having beaten Darlington last week and narrowly losing to Birmingham in the Worthington Cup.

Lee Thorpe, the former Lincoln City striker, was dropped to the bench along with Ciaran Toner meaning Jabo Ibrhre and Donny Barnard were both brought back into the action.

With Underwood missing from the side, Brian named Paul Hall as Diamonds’ new captain, a reward for his fine individual performances over the last couple of weeks.

The first chance of the afternoon arrived on two minutes when Leyton Orient’s Jamal Campbell-Ryce powerful run in between the Diamonds defence but dragged his shot wide of Billy Turley’s goal.

It was the visitors who continued to make the brighter start but on six minutes Diamonds created their best chance when a dangerous cross from Stuart Gray nearly found Darby but Glenn Morris in the Orient goal intervened to make a vital stop.

Without creating too many opportunities, Orient continued to enjoy more of the possession then their opponents and were looking impressive on the attack.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 0

On 19 minutes, Darby was unfortunate to be given offside after Lowe showed his power and pace to shrug off three defender to play a through ball into the heart of the penalty area.

Then just a minutes later, Carl Hutchings went close when, after some good build-up play from the visitors, the midfielder side footed an effort past Turley’s left-hand post.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 0

Campbell-Ryce was proving to be a real handful for Diamonds and much of Orient’s play was coming from the pint-sized winger.

Orient went agonisingly close on 33 minutes as Orient continued to be the stronger outfit. Matthew Lockwood fired a free-kick over the wall which beat Turley but just brushed the wrong side of a post.

Jabo Ibehre, moments later, should have done better when he beat Mustafa but dragged a shot past a post.

It was the visitors who continued to create the better chances and Lockwood made a breath-taking run into the heart of the Diamonds defence on 38 minutes but dragged an effort wide of the goal.

The best effort of the half arrived just two minutes before the interval when Brazier found time outside the penalty area and tried to chip to Diamonds goalkeeper but Turley tipped his effort over the crossbar.

The visitors had certainly created the better chances of the first half and would have been somewhat unfortunate not to have gone into the lead at the half-time interval.

At half-time: Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 0

The O’s began the second-half exactly how they finished the first when on 46 minutes Campbell-Ryce floated a cross over Turley but Brazier couldn’t keep his effort under the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

Lockwood fired a free-kick over the Diamonds wall which Turley saved well as the visitors continued to throw more pressure on the home-side.

Orient were having all the possession and certainly creating the better chances. On 56 minutes, Campbell-Ryce continued to display his phenomenal pace when his amazing run nearly brought a goal but the effort brushed a post.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 0

On 62 minutes, Diamonds were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty. Lowe was sent tumbling in the penalty area but just as the referee looked as if he would point to the spot he, seemingly changed his mind, and awarded a corner kick.

For the first time of the game, Diamonds were threatening the Orient goal and on 66 minutes, Stuart Wardley saw a header go just over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Darby turned an Orient defender to brush the side netting as the home side looked, for the first time in the game, the more likely team to break the deadlock.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 0

Orient should have broken the deadlock on 76 minutes when Mark Peters nearly made a costly mistake after he failed to connect with a header but Nugent blasted over the crossbar.

But, against the run of play, Diamonds took the lead. A Gray free-kick was delightfully flicked on by Lowe on 80 minutes which gave Darby the chance to turn and hit a shot that cannoned of the inside of a post

Darby nearly grabbed a second goal on 83 minutes when a long ball over the top of the Orient defence found the Diamonds striker but he couldn’t keep his shot on target.

But the game was made safe just three minutes from the end when Hall beat a defender down the right flank and found Darby, three yards out, who had the easiest jobs of poking home from close range.

Orient finished strong but would be disappointed not to have taken anything from their visit to Nene Park after dominating large periods of the game.

After 90 minutes: Diamonds 2 Leyton Orient 0

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Gray, Mills, Setchell, Hall, Lowe.

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

Bookings: Lowe (24)

Leyton Orient: Morris, Lockwood, Smith, Harris, Hutchings, Brazier, Nugent, Ibehre, Barnard (Thorpe 83), Ryce, Miller

Subs not used: Toner, Barrett, Martin, Fletcher.

Bookings: Barnard (66), Nugent (77)

Referee: Mr E Evans

Attendance: 4,381

Diamonds’ MOTM: Mark Peters (Solid defensive display)

Coventry City 8 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

The record books at Rushden & Diamonds were rewritten, but for all the wrong reasons on Wednesday night as a dominant Coventry side tore Brian Talbot’s side apart at Highfield Road.

Despite looking encouraging in the opening moments of the game, Diamonds were totally outplayed by their First Division opponents as the difference between the two sides showed throughout the 90 minutes.

The result of 8-0 will go into the record books as the heaviest defeat in the clubs history and to make matters worse Barry Hunter and John Dempster were both sent-off for the Diamonds.

With injuries aplenty to many of his key players, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to start the game with a less than strong side.

Paul Underwood, Onandi Lowe and Duane Darby were all missing for the Diamonds as Daniel Talbot and David Bell were handed rare first-team starts in midfield.

After his impressive performance at Hartlepool United on Saturday, Gary Setchell kept his place at left back as the Diamonds boss started the game with Paul Hall and Stuart Wardley in attack.

Scott Partridge, Marcus Bignot, Dempster and Brett Solkhon were named amongst the substitutes with Barry Hunter given captain’s responsibility for the evening.

Coventry boss Gary McAllister made four changes to his side from the one that was defeated by Millwall on Saturday. Barry Quinn, Robert Betts, David Pipe and new loan signing Richie Partridge all came into the equation with the boss resting himself.

The Diamonds got off to a reasonable start against their First Division opponents, looking comfortable on the ball and enjoying some of the early possession.

It was evident in the early stages of the game that Diamonds had come to Highfield Road to attack their opponents although Coventry were certainly looking impressive as they moved forward.

The Diamonds were playing attractive football and although they were creating few chances it was some encouraging stuff by the visitors.

But against the run of play, Diamonds fell behind. On 10 minutes, Pipe squared the ball across the face of the box to find Gary McSheffrey who had the easiest jobs of tapping home from close range.

After 15 minutes: Coventry 1 Diamonds 0

But, to their credit, the Diamonds continued to play encouraging football. The visitors were not panicking and Gary Mills fired the clubs first chance on 15 minutes that flew straight into the arms of Fabien Debec.

On 16 minutes, Diamonds, somehow, managed to avoid a scare when after some sloppy defending from the visitors the ball broke to Betts who managed to miss an empty net.

The visitors continued to enjoy more of the possession and on 20 minutes, Mark Peters, who scored at Hartlepool on Saturday, went close with an acrobatic effort from Talbot’s corner.

But the Diamonds went further behind on 24 minutes when a mix up from Billy Turley and Hunter let Lee Mills in, all alone, to side foot home into an unguarded net.

On 28 minutes, Talbot scuffed an opportunity after some good build-up work down the right flank while moments later Mills had an opportunity for Coventry, which was stopped by Turley.

After 30 minutes: Coventry 2 Diamonds 0

Troubles worsened for Diamonds when Hunter was shown a second yellow card following a challenge on Mills on 30 minutes.

That left Gray to push back to the centre of defence while Hall dropped back into the centre of midfield leaving Wardley as the lone striker.

Diamonds were up against it now and it looked evident that Coventry were going to runaway with the game.

And that seemed to be the case on 35 minutes when McSheffrey added Coventry’s third and his second, beating Turley from inside the penalty and stroking the ball into the bottom corner.

Mills went close for Diamonds on 40 minutes as the visitors refused to give up the chase and pressed for goals to give themselves some credibility.

This game was now turning one sided as Coventry extended their lead. Mills latched onto a through ball to lob a shot over Turley and into the net.

At half time: Coventry 4 Diamonds 0

Two minutes after the restart, Jay Bothroyd, a half-time substitute for Coventry, nearly extended the home sides advantage after he fired a shot following a positive move in midfield.

But Coventry continued the second half were they had finished the first and on 50 minutes, Youssef Safri completed an excellent Coventry move by firing over Turley and into the net.

Partridge nearly scored on his home debut as he toyed with the Diamonds defence, firing a low shot straight into the arms of Turley.

After 60 minutes: Coventry 5 Diamonds 0

Coventry’s supreme football continued as the match wore on as Bothroyd connected with header that Turley got a hand onto but couldn’t keep the effort out.

Diamonds were now deflated and Coventry were running rings around their opponents. On 64 minutes, Diamonds nearly went further behind when Partridge fired just over the crossbar from an acute angle.

The best chance of the evening for Diamonds fell on 66 minutes when Mustafa fed a through ball to Wardley who hit a wicked shot just past Debec’s right-hand post.

Diamonds could have easily found themselves further behind when Partridge continued to cause the visitors all kinds of problems and smashed a chance just past Turley’s left-hand post.

After 75 minutes: Coventry 6 Diamonds 0

McSheffrey nearly grabbed his hat-trick for Coventry and the seventh for the home-side but despite having no defenders to beat he scooped his shot over Turley’s crossbar.

Things continued to go from bad to worse for Diamonds and a terrible decision from the referee resulted in a penalty, which was converted by Betts, and Dempster being shown the red card for, apparently, handling inside the area.

It meant if Diamonds were not to score in this game it would be the worst defeat in their history.

Bothroyd added Coventry’s eight goal of the match as the nine men of Diamonds looked deflated. That goal capped a miserable night for the Northamptonshire side and one everyone will want to forget.

After 90 minutes: Coventry 8 Diamonds 0

Coventry City: Debec, Konjic (Shaw 38), Partridge, Mills (Bothroyd 46), Quinn, Safri (Ford 53), McSheffrey, Caldwell, Betts, Davenport, Pipe.

Subs not used: Hyldgaard, Stanford.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Gray, Mills, Setchell, Bell (Dempster 34), Talbot (Bignot 72), Hall (Partridge 72).

Subs not used: Sollitt, Solkhon

Bookings: Hunter (13, 30)

Sent-off: Hunter (30)

Referee: Mr G Salisbury

Attendance:

Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Wardley (Tried his hardest)

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