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)

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