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.


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


Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Wardley (Tried his hardest)


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