Rushden & Diamonds 2 Bristol Rovers 1

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds made it five league wins on the spin against Bristol Rovers on Saturday but despite dominating much of the play, Brian Talbot’s side could only find the net on two occasions.

However, Diamonds were impressive and showed great character to come from a goal down when Guiliano Grazioli struck home a penalty for Bristol Rovers.

Onandi Lowe hit a free-kick in the first-half to get Diamonds on level terms and a scrambled effort from Paul Hall secured maximum points that were thoroughly deserved.

Diamonds midfielder Stuart Gray and defender Barry Hunter were both included in the starting line-up after passing late fitness tests as Talbot made one change to the team that beat Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday.

Duane Darby was dropped to the bench as Lowe was recalled into the starting line-up. The Jamaican international teamed alongside Robert Duffy in attack, who scored in the win against Kidderminster.

Bristol Rovers boss Ray Graydon handed club debuts to new signings Graham Hyde and Kevin Street whilst former Charlton and Peterborough striker Bradley Allen, was named amongst the substitutes.

Grazioli, scorer of nine Bristol Rovers goals this season, started in attack although Chris Plummer and Wayne Carlisle both missed out for the visitors through injury.

Rovers were dealt a major blow on three minutes when they were forced to make a substitution. Trevor Challis went down under a nasty challenge and hobbled off to be replaced by Simon Bryant.

Gray carved open the first opportunity of the game on six minutes when the former Celtic midfielder hit a 30-yard effort over Scott Howie’s crossbar.

Rovers, who had made the brighter start of the two sides, were unfortunate not to have taken the lead when Hyde fired a shot that was blocked by an onrushing Mark Peters.

But moments later, the visitors took the lead. From a corner, Lowe was adjudged to have brought down Paul Tait and after the referee pointed to the spot, Grazioli beat Turley from 12-yards.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Bristol Rovers 1

Diamonds were struggling to get to grips with the game as Rovers continued to impress in the first-half.

But on 21 minutes, and against the run of play, Diamonds were on level terms. From 30-yards, Lowe struck a free-kick that took a big deflection to deceive Howie in the Rovers goal and roll into the net.

It was now the home-side who were gaining more of the possession and on 26 minutes Wardley nearly got onto the end of a perfect header from Lowe, but the midfielder was denied by the feet of Howie.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Bristol Rover 1

On 32 minutes, Lowe fired a thunderbolt free-kick straight through the Rovers wall, but on this occasion it whizzed past Howie’s post and into the stands.

The Diamonds were beginning to tear Rovers apart and a long-range effort from Paul Underwood on 36 minutes was deflected for a corner.

Moments later, Duffy saw a header cleared off the goal line by Danny Boxall as Diamonds continued to enjoy the majority of the possession.

On 42 minutes, Peters should have guided a header on target from six-yards out after a perfectly delivered corner from Paul Hall found it’s mark.

Rovers pushed on strong in closing stages of the first-half and Hyde went close on 45 minutes when he dragged a shot the wrong side of a post following a mistake from Gary Mills.

At half-time: Diamonds 1 Bristol Rovers 1

Diamonds made a promising start to the second half and Lowe nearly capitalized on a mistake from Kevin Austin, but the Rovers defender managed to clear his lines.

On 51 minutes, Vitaly Astafjevs, who was having a quiet game for Rovers, saw his shot deflected over Turley’s crossbar and go out for a corner.

Lowe showed great determination and strength to hold off two Rovers defenders on 56 minutes, but then, disappointingly, dragged his shot wide of the target, when it seemed as if he would give Diamonds the lead.

Hunter saw his header on 58 minutes roll across the face of the goal as Diamonds continued to create more opportunities then there struggling opponents.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Bristol Rovers 1

Diamonds were forced to make a substitution on 63 minutes as John Dempster was introduced to the action after Peters received a blow to the face and subsequently failed to resume after receiving treatment in the dugout.

On 67 minutes, Lowe caused havoc in the Rovers defence and when the ball dropped to Mills, the midfielder hit a shot over the Rovers crossbar.

But Diamonds’ pressure finally paid off when they took the lead. The Rovers defence struggled to clear their lines and when the ball broke, Hall grabbed the vital touch for his sixth strike of the season.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Bristol Rovers 1

On 77 minutes, Tait should have put Rovers back on level terms when the striker powered past Marcus Bignot only to drill a shot across the ground and straight into the arms of Turley.

The Diamonds continued to control the second period as Rovers struggled to find a way past the home-sides defence.

Rovers pushed forward in the final stages of the game and Tait’s header on 86 minutes was comfortably held by Turley, who had enjoyed a relatively quiet game.

Rovers finished the stronger side but couldn’t find the back of the net as the three points deservedly stayed in Northamptonshire.

At full-time: Diamonds 2 Bristol Rovers 1

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters (Dempster 63), Wardley, Gray (Bell 86), Bignot, Mills, Duffy (Darby 68), Hall, Lowe

Subs not used: Sollitt, Talbot.

Bookings: Darby (90)

Bristol Rovers: Howie, Boxall, Challis (Bryant 3), Barrett, Austin, Quinn Tait, Grazioli (Allen 73), Hyde, Astafjevs, Street (Gilroy 82).

Subs not used: Hogg, Clarke.

Bookings: Astafjevs (59)

Referee: Mr A Butler (Nottinghamshire)

Attendance: 3,960

Diamonds’ MOTM: Onandi Lowe (Caused trouble)

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Rushden & Diamonds 2 Kidderminster Harriers 1

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds squeezed into the second round of the FA Cup; only after a nail biting end to a poor match against former Conference rivals Kidderminster Harriers at Nene Park.

Robert Duffy’s header combined with an effort from Stuart Wardley, either side of the interval, helped Diamonds take a two-goal lead. But Drewe Broughton’s late effort set up a tantalizing end.

However, despite late pressure from the visitors, Kidderminster couldn’t find a way through and now a glamour third round tie beckons for Brian Talbot’s team.

Talbot welcomed Paul Hall back to the starting line-up prior to kick-off. The Jamaican international midfielder replaced David Bell, who was subsequently dropped to the bench.

Stuart Gray, who had been struggling with a thigh injury, also started in midfield whilst Onandi Lowe, whose ongoing shin problem made him doubtful, was named as a substitute.

That meant youngster Robert Duffy continued his role in attack and partnered Duane Darby with Marcus Bignot started at right-back against one of his former clubs.

Kidderminster boss Ian Britton, who had a number of injury problems ahead of the game, included Adie Smith and Dean Bennett in his starting line-up, two players who didn’t start the first tie at the Aggborough Stadium.

Drewe Broughton, who scored the all-important goal to take this tie back to Nene Park and who was rated doubtful ahead of the game, started, whilst Bo Henriksen, who had a short spell at Nene Park, was also included.

The first effort never arrived until the sixth minute when Kidderminster should have taken the lead. A bad mistake from Billy Turley enabled Henriksen to thread a ball to Broughton, who somehow managed to miss an open goal.

Diamonds were struggling to find a way through the Kidderminster defence and it was the visitors who continued to enjoy the early possession, as they looked dangerous on the break.

The home-side’s first effort arrived on 12 minutes when Duffy capitalized on an error from Kenny Coleman. But the young striker saw his effort, from an acute angle, go just wide of the target.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 0

On 16 minutes, Bennett twisted on the volley to test Turley from 20-yards while moments later Gray had an effort that whizzed past Stuart Brock’s post.

Gary Mills fired a long-range effort the wrong side of a post on 21 minutes in a game of very few chances whilst Broughton hit a shot straight into the arms of Turley just moments later.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Kidderminster 0

In a poor game, in which Kidderminster were shading, Diamonds continued to struggle in attack with Darby and Duffy failing to find the target between them in the opening 30 minutes.

But against the run of play, Diamonds took the lead on 35 minutes. Paul Underwood’s cross from the left-flank was inch perfect for Duffy, who rose above the Kidderminster defence to guide a header past Brock.

Kidderminster nearly responded two minutes later when Bennett struck from outside the area but Turley scrambled across his line to divert the possible danger.

Kidderminster finished the stronger side in the closing stages of the half and Turley preserved Diamonds’ lead at the interval when he superbly denied Henriksen from close range.

At half-time: Diamonds 1 Kidderminster 0

Lowe, who had been missing since the win over Darlington, two weeks ago, was introduced for the second-half replacing Darby, who had seemingly been struggling.

And then, just moment later, Gray pulled up with what look to be a reoccurrence of his thigh injury. He was replaced by Bell as he took up his normal position on the left flank.

Hall created the first opportunity of the second half when he found space in the heart of the Kidderminster midfield to hit a shot that rocketed just over Brock’s crossbar.

On 57 minutes, Diamonds should have extended their lead when Hall skipped past the Kidderminster defence and rounded a challenge from Brock only to see his effort stopped on the goal-line.

But when the ball dropped to Lowe, the Jamaican international somehow hit the crossbar from inside the six-yard penalty area when it seemed certain he would smash the back of the net.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Kidderminster 0

Diamonds then virtually sealed the game on 66 minutes when, after some good build-up play, Wardley scored for the second consecutive game side-footing home from Bignot’s through ball.

In a desperate bid to turn the game around, Ian Foster was introduced into the action when he replaced Bennett. The substitution nearly worked when Henriksen hit a thunderous effort wide of the target.

But on 72 minutes, there was everything to play for when Coleman’s cross was met by the head of Broughton, beating Turley to his left-side post.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Kidderminster 1

Turley had to be alert on 77 minutes when he dived low to stop Henriksen’s grounded drive. The visitors were now beginning to look strong as they pushed for an important equalising goal.

Lowe was prevented from an almost certain goal when Lee Ayres got in a vital header. Moments later, the Jamaican international was off target with a better opportunity only to miss from six-yards.

With four minutes of added time, Kidderminster pushed Diamonds all the way but it was Talbot’s team who booked their passage into the next round – although it may not have been fully deserved.

At full-time: Diamonds 2 Kidderminster 1

 

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby (Lowe h/t), Gray (Bell 51), Bignot, Mills, Duffy, Hall

Subs not used: Sollitt, Talbot, Dempster.

Bookings: Lowe (74), Duffy (90)

Kidderminster: Brock, Williams, Hinton (Doyle 83), Smith, Bennett (Foster 67), Parrish, Broughton, Shilton (Joy 86), Henriksen, Ayres, Coleman.

Subs not used: Danby, Khela.

Bookings: Hinton (81), Henriksen (90)

Attendance: 3,391 (421 from Kidderminster)

Referee: Mr Clive Penton (Sussex)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Billy Turley (Some crucial saves)

Lincoln City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven Dove
A professional performance helped Rushden & Diamonds recorded their fourth consecutive league win after they made relatively easy work of Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.

Despite a late goal from Peter Gain and some late pressure, Diamonds looked in control for the majority of the match as a David Bell free-kick and a header from Stuart Wardley either side of the interval grabbed the three points.

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made one change to his starting line-up prior to kick-off. Gary Mills was welcomed back into the side after serving his one match suspension, meaning Gary Setchell dropped to the bench.

That meant the Diamonds boss kept faith with David Bell, starting on the right side of midfield and Robert Duffy who continued in attack with Onandi Lowe out through suspension.

Paul Hall, who was expected to come back into the starting line-up following his return from international duty with Jamaica, was named as a substitute whilst Paul Underwood slotted into his normal left-back position.

Lincoln City boss Keith Alexander introduced new signing and former Diamonds and Kettering midfielder Richard Butcher into the starting line-up for his club debut whilst Simon Yeo, who had scored six goals this season, was likely to cause most of the danger for Diamonds.

Despite heavy rainfall in Lincolnshire on Saturday morning, the Sincil Bank pitch was past playable by the match referee despite large puddles around the goalmouth towards the South Stand.

The Diamonds created the first opportunity of the game when, on two minutes, Duane Darby twisted past a Lincoln defender to fire an effort over the home-sides crossbar.

Diamonds thought they had taken the lead just moments later when Duffy stroked the ball past Alan Marriott but the youngster was adjudged to have been in an offside position from Darby’s ball.

On six minutes, Lincoln created their best effort when Yeo delivered a right-wing cross that Dene Cropper agonisingly couldn’t connect with.

On 13 minutes, Ben Sedgemore fired a long-range effort that failed to trouble Diamonds goalkeeper Billy Turley, as Lincoln continued to enjoy the majority of the early possession.

After 15 minutes: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 0

The game was evenly matched with Diamonds and Lincoln both creating plenty of chances and on 19 minutes, Darby went close as he fired an effort over the crossbar.

But Diamonds took the lead on 25 minutes. A free-kick won from 25-yards out was drilled home by Bell, slipping through the fingers of Alan Marriott and straight through his legs.

It was the first shot on target both sides had created but it was probably what Diamonds had deserved after controlling large periods of the game and gaining much of the possession.

After 30 minutes: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 1

On 34 minutes, Mills cracked an effort from 30-yards just wide of its intended target as Diamonds continued to create the best of the few opportunities on show.

Chances were few and far between as both sides struggled to create many opportunities but just four minutes before the half-time interval, Bell went close from long-range.

Lincoln pushed on strong in the closing stages of the first-half but Diamonds had done enough to preserve their one goal advantage at the interval.

At half-time: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 1

Lincoln made a bright start to the second half and Yeo had a golden opportunity within the first minute when he fired a long-range effort over the Diamonds crossbar.

Barry Hunter made a vital tackle on Cropper on 50 minutes and just moments later Yeo hit a first time volley straight into the arms of Turley, for Lincoln’s first shot on target.

On 53 minutes, Duffy cracked a long-range effort straight into the arms of Turley as Diamonds began to put the pressure on their opponents.

Darby should have extended Diamonds’ lead moment later when Wardley squared the ball across the face of the goal only for Stuart Bimsom to prevent the former Hull striker.

But Diamonds didn’t have to wait long to grab their second goal when, on 56 minutes, Duffy’s delightful cross found it’s way to Wardley who powered home a header into the top corner of the net.

After 60 minutes: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 2

There was a scary moment for Diamonds on 68 minutes when Adam Buckley’s cross failed to be dealt with by Turley but he was quick to react when he stopped Yeo, who was impressive for Lincoln

Moments later Cropper should have reduced Diamonds’ lead when he fired over the crossbar from eight-yards out after the visitors defence failed to clear their lines.

After 75 minutes: Lincoln 0 Diamonds 2

Lincoln, to their credit, continued to push forward as they looked to try and grab a goal and Futcher went close after the Diamonds defence struggled to clear the ball from danger.

On 80 minutes, Buckley fired in a dangerous cross that Cropper rose to meet but the striker’s powerful header was saved superbly by the Turley.

But this game was far from over for Diamonds when on 83 minutes, after a sloppy mistake from Darby; Gain fired a 35-yard cracker straight into the corner of the net that beat Turley.

Hall, coming on from off the bench for Darby, nearly restored Diamonds’ two-goal advantage but was only denied from another excellent tackle by Bimsom. 

In the last minute, Weaver’s flicked header saw Turley produced an excellent reflex save and despite the fourth official indicating five extra minutes, the home side couldn’t find a way through.

At full time: Lincoln 1 Diamonds 2

Lincoln City: Marriott, Bailey (Mike 76), Futcher, Weaver, Bimson, Smith (Buckley 62), Sedgemore (Willis 57), Gain, Cropper, Yeo.

Subs not used: Pettinger, Camm.

Bookings: Bailey (38), Futcher (75), Gain (78)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Bignot, Bell, Wardley, Mills, Gray, Darby (Hall 84), Duffy (Talbot 90).

Subs not used: Sollitt, Sambrook, Dempster.

Bookings: Mills (39), Duffy (45), Hunter (88)

Attendance: 3,198 (488 from Diamonds)

Referee: Mr M A Cooper.

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood

Kidderminster Harriers 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds & Kidderminster will have to do battle all over again after the two teams could not be separated in a thrilling four goal encounter at the Aggborough Stadium.

Robert Duffy, who was impressive for Diamonds, scored both goals for the Northamptonshire side but Kidderminster showed great character to come back twice, one through a Gary Setchell own goal, to snatch a replay.

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two changes to his starting line-up from the one that began proceedings in the 2-0 win against Darlington last week at Nene Park.

With Gary Mills suspended, Setchell was recalled to the starting line-up after being dropped against Darlington. Paul Hall, who had returned back to Britain just 48 hours before the game after being away with Jamaica, was named as a substitute.

But the Diamonds boss was also forced to start Duffy in attack, for only his second senior start, with Onandi Lowe missing from the side because of a shin injury that had been troubling him all week.

Kidderminster boss Ian Britton was without Scott Stamps who was missing because of an injury meaning Ian Foster was handed a rare start for the home-side.

JJ Melligan, who has fired seven goals for Kiddy, missed out with his club, Wolves, refusing the Aggborough team permission for him to be cup-tied.

Without creating many opportunities, it was the home side that began the game more brightly, as Diamonds struggled to get to grips with the early moments of this encounter.

And Kidderminster’s bright start nearly brought them an opening goal on two minutes when Bo Henriksen turned past Barry Hunter but his low drive went the wrong side of Billy Turley’s goal.

Kidderminster’s early pressure continued and Hunter’s slip on six minutes nearly proved costly as Drewe Broughton’s low drive skimmed across the face of Turley’s goal.

The home side continued to dominate the early moments of this game and Diamonds first effort never arrived until 12 minutes when Stuart Gray rocketed a shot straight into the arms of Kidderminster goalkeeper Stuart Brock.

After 15 minutes: Kidderminster 0 Diamonds 0

On 19 minutes, Foster should have done better for Kidderminster when he was given the freedom in the Diamonds penalty area only to blast a shot high and wide of Turley’s goal.

Two minutes later, Sean Parrish burst through the heart of the Diamonds defence but wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he fired an effort over the crossbar.

After 30 minutes: Kidderminster 0 Diamonds 0

Kidderminster were continuing to enjoy plenty of possession and on 31 minutes Sam Shilton rose above Mark Peters but directed his header wide of Turley goal.

On 34 minutes, Diamonds created their best opportunity of the game when Duane Darby’s ball put David Bell in the clear and after displaying great strength to shrug off a Kidderminster defender his shot narrowly went wide of Brock’s goal.

Diamonds were throwing bodies forward and looking dangerous on the attack but the Northamptonshire outfit were struggling to find a way past the Kidderminster defence.

However, despite Kidderminster finishing the half the stronger side, it was Diamonds who took an unexpected lead when Gray’s free-kick was buried home by Duffy, drilling an effort into the bottom corner.

After 45 minutes: Kidderminster 0 Diamonds 1

Hall was introduced to the action at half-time, surprisingly replacing Darby, but it seemed to make a difference as Diamonds started brightly in the second half.

On 47 minutes, after Diamonds failed to clear their lines, Flynn rocketed a shot high over Turley’s goal, when the Kidderminster captain should have really done better.

Underwood had a good opportunity to extend Diamonds’ lead shortly after, but a vital tackle from Kenny Coleman denied the skipper a shooting chance.

Hall played a vital role when Setchell nearly extended Diamonds’ lead on 57 minutes but it was the same player who made a costly error to get Kidderminster back on level terms.

A dangerous cross from Shilton was not dealt with by the Diamonds defence and Setchell didn’t know too much about it when he somehow side footed a ball past Turley.

After 60 minutes: Kidderminster 1 Diamonds 1

Chances were now becoming few and far between and Duffy should have done better on 64 minutes when the ball broke outside the Kidderminster penalty area.

On 69 minutes, Broughton rose above the Diamonds defence to meet Dean Bennett’s cross but it flew inches over Turley’s crossbar.

But two minutes later, Underwood delivered an excellent cross from the left-flank and Duffy directed a perfect header into the corner of the net to put Diamonds back into the lead.

Kidderminster nearly got themselves back on level terms but lady luck was certainly on Diamonds side as the visitors somehow managed to scramble clear a goalmouth bombardment.

After 75 minutes: Kidderminster 1 Diamonds 2

But a silly free-kick conceded on 76 minutes resulted in Kidderminster getting back on level terms when Shilton’s cross was met with a perfectly directed header past Turley.

Scott Partridge was thrown into the action on 83 minutes and should have been gifted a free-kick moments later was he was dragged down by Danny Williams.

Gray drilled a low effort deep into stoppage time which Brock was able to fingertip around the post, but neither side could find an all important winning goal.

At full-time: Kidderminster 2 Diamonds 2

Kidderminster: Brock, Williams, Hinton, Parrish, Broughton, Foster (Bennett 60), Shilton, Henriksen, Ayres, Flynn, Coleman.

Subs not used: Sall, Smith, Danby, Doyle.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Bignot, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Setchell, Bell, Gray, Darby (Hall h/t), Duffy (Partridge 83).

Subs not used: Sollitt, Dempster, Talbot.

Bookings: Bignot (4), Darby (29), Hunter (59)

Referee: Mr Clive Penton (Sussex)

Attendance: 3,079 (417 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Robert Duffy (Two goals and impressive performance)

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Darlington 0

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds made it three wins on the spin this afternoon but were made to work for their victory after disposing a struggling Darlington side at Nene Park.

A great individual goal from Onandi Lowe and a bizarre own goal from Matt Clarke were enough for Diamonds to seal the three points but it was still a below-par performance from Brian Talbot’s team.

Diamonds were given a massive boost ahead of kick-off when Talbot named Paul Underwood, who was expected to miss the game through his heel injury, in the starting line-up.

And Diamonds also welcomed Stuart Gray, who had been missing since the 1-1 draw with Hull City, back into the starting line-up with young David Bell moving out to play at right midfield with Paul Hall away on international duty.

Gary Setchell was dropped onto the substitutes bench meaning Tarkan Mustafa missed out altogether whilst Marcus Bignot continued his role at right-back after impressing in recent weeks.

Darlington brought a strong line-up to Nene Park as they looked to extend their unbeaten run to four games. Barry Conlon, who had fired six goals this season, started in attack and was likely to prove the biggest danger.

Diamonds made a bright start to the first half and nearly took the lead inside the first minute. Gray delivered a perfect cross into the heart of the Darlington defence, which Lowe met with a powerful header, but Darlington goalkeeper Andy Collett made a reflex save to deny the Jamaican striker.

Darlington’s first effort of the game arrived on five minutes when Clark Keltie fired a shot from 25-yards over Billy Turley’s goal.

And the visitors continued to throw the pressure on Diamonds when Conlon dragged his shot wide of the target after some good build-up play from Mick Tait’s side.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Darlington 0

A glancing header from Barry Hunter after a perfect delivery out on the right flank from Bell’s nearly produced a goal but the ball trickled across the face of the goal despite a vain effort from Duane Darby to get a vital touch.

Diamonds were certainly creating chances but were failing to test the Darlington goalkeeper, who was having a relatively quiet game.

On 24 minutes, Bell, who was looking impressive on the right flank for Diamonds, teed up Gray for a long-range effort but the former Celtic midfielder saw his effort go inches wide of the target.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Darlington 0

Darlington nearly took the lead on 33 minutes when Simon Betts delivered a cross on the right flank that Conlon met with a powerful header but he could only see his effort go wide of the target.

The visitors continued to push forward and a minute later a weak header from Underwood failed to reach its intended target. It enabled Neil Wainwright to nip through but Turley did enough to prevent the midfielder from getting on the score sheet.

Underwood was, somewhat, fortunate to stay on the field on 41 minutes when he seemingly brought down Wainwright as the midfielder was heading towards goal. But the referee spared his blushes as he was only shown the yellow card.

Diamonds threw on the pressure towards the visitors in the closing stages of the first-half but they couldn’t find their way past a solid Darlington defence.

Half Time: Diamonds 0 Darlington 0

It was an evenly contested opening to the second-half as Diamonds’ first effort came on 49 minutes when Mills made a powerful run through the heart of the Darlington midfield to fire an effort straight into the arms of Collett.

On 51 minutes, a pass from Wardley found Darby outside the visitors penalty area but his turn and shot went flying over the Darlington crossbar.

Attacks from the visitors were rare but on 57 minutes Wainwright should have given his side the lead. However, the midfielder failed to control a bouncing ball after breaking between the Diamonds defence and Turley was able to make a comfortable save.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Darlington 0

Diamonds were struggling to get themselves in this encounter, as chances from both sides were rare in an evenly matched contest.

Richard Hodgson tried a special effort on 67 minutes but his volley from 40-yards failed to trouble Turley whilst moment later Darby had a rare effort for the home side.

Lowe fired a free-kick on 70 minutes over the Darlington crossbar which failed to trouble Collett but Darlington should have taken the lead a minute later but Turley came to the rescue.

Conlon burst through the Diamonds defence showing his power and pace but the striker was stopped in his tracks by a fantastic one handed save from the Diamonds goalkeeper to keep the scores level.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Darlington 0

On 75 minutes, Darby showed great strength to get past the Darlington defence but after delaying his shot for a vital second, Stuart Whitehead produced a vital tackle to keep his side on level terms.

But with the game heading towards a draw, Diamonds finally broke the deadlock on 78 minutes. With his back towards goal, Lowe turned past the Darlington defence to drill a shot past Collett, who stood no chance.

Hunter had to make a vital header on the goal line when Turley missed a Keltie cross into the penalty area as the visitors continued to push forward.

But on 84 minutes, Diamonds had sealed the three points in bizarre circumstances when Clarke, under pressure from Lowe, saw his back pass go straight through the legs of an unfortunate Collett and into the back of the net.

To their credit, Darlington kept battling until the end but they couldn’t find a way past Turley, who had made a number of vital saves in keeping his side in the match.

At full-time: Diamonds 2 Darlington 0

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Gray, Bignot, Mills, Bell, Lowe

Subs not used: Sollitt, Setchell, Talbot, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Underwood (41), Lowe (44), Mills (65)

Darlington: Collett, Valentine, Betts, Liddle, Conlon, Hodgson (Ford 86), Wainwright (Clark 86), Keltie, Clarke, Nicholls, Whitehead.

Subs not used: Naylor, Porter, Rundle.

Bookings: Keltie (65), Clark (69), Ford (90)

Referee: Mr A Hall (West Midlands).

Attendance: 3,911

Diamonds’ MOTM: David Bell (Done a solid job in right midfield)

Rochdale 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds sealed only their second away win of the season, as Duane Darby’s goal, deep in the second-half, was enough to secure victory over a woeful Rochdale side.

Darby reacted quickest to a Gary Mills shot to prod home the only goal of the game. The three points was certainly what Diamonds deserved as Rochdale fell to their fourth defeat in five league games.

Prior to the game, Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was able to name an unchanged side to the one that began proceedings in the 1-0 victory over Boston United on Tuesday night.

That meant there was no Stuart Gray, who had been struggling with a thigh injury prior to the game, and Paul Underwood was also missing through a heel injury that had been keeping him out of the side in recent weeks.

Despite admitting he was not 100 per cent fit, Billy Turley continued in goal whilst David Bell continued in midfield after impressing in recent weeks and Gary Setchell continued at left back.

For Rochdale, manager Paul Simpson was also able to name an unchanged side from the one that began against Exeter. Simpson, who had scored nine goals this season started in midfield with Paul Connor and Clive Platt leading the attack.

Rochdale created the first attack of the game inside the first minute when, after some good build-up play, Matt Doughty twisted past Mills to see a deflected shot go straight into the arms of Turley.

But Diamonds soon responded to that early pressure and Stuart Wardley should have done better when he was unmarked in the six-yard penalty area but could guide a header, from Bell’s corner, on target.

Wardley was nearly involved in an embarrassing moment moments later when, on six minutes, he nearly diverted a Simpson cross into his own net. But Turley was on hand to make a vital stop.

This was certainly a scrappy affair in the opening moments of this game as both teams struggled to keep possession of the ball.

After 15 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

On 17 minutes, the best chance of the game was created when Onandi Lowe’s fierce free-kick took a wicked deflection off someone in the Rochdale wall but goalkeeper Neil Edwards produced a fantastic save.

Rochdale were starting to put pressure on the Diamonds defence and on 23 minutes, Simpson went close with a long range effort but it failed to trouble Turley.

Hall nearly deceived Edwards on 25 minutes when he struck from almost 40-yards. The slippery surface nearly caught out the Rochdale goalkeeper but he was equal to the effort to make an important save.

A side-footed shot from Wardley on 27 minutes would have certainly given Diamonds the lead had it not taken a wicked deflection from a Rochdale player. But this was certainly Diamonds’ best spell of the game.

After 30 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

Diamonds continued to create the better chances and on 31 minutes Bell tried his luck from 30-yards as his first-time shot whistled over the Rochdale crossbar.

Mills fired a low drive on 34 minutes, which Edwards was equal too, and moment later Lowe should have done better when he found a gap in the Rochdale defence.

Diamonds continued to throw the pressure on the home-side but a mistake from Setchell on 41 minutes nearly proved costly as Platt saw a rare chance go a begging as his header was saved by Turley.

A thunderbolt of a shot from Lowe rattled the side netting after some excellent play from Bell but Rochdale came closest towards the half-time whistle when Simpson’s free-kick rattled the post.

At half-time: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0.

The Diamonds started the second-half in the same fashion they had finished the first and looked dangerous from the start.

But the first opportunity of the half didn’t arrive until 53 minutes when Platt flung himself at a cross but it rolled harmlessly away for a goal kick.

The rain was now lashing down at Spotland making playing conditions extremely difficult. But it was all credit to both sets of players as chances continued to be created throughout the game.

After 60 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

After such a bright start, Diamonds were struggling to create chances although Rochdale were not posing any danger as the play was beginning to get scrappy.

But the deadlock was broken on 65 minutes and it was Diamonds who took the lead. Rochdale struggled to clear Bell’s corner and when the ball broke to Mills he hit a shot which Darby was quickest to react and prod a shot past Edwards.

It was what Diamonds deserved although Rochdale were now beginning to turn on the pressure as the home side pushed forward at every opportunity.

On 73 minutes, Turley produced a fantastic save to prevent David Flitcroft from getting on the score sheet as he flung himself at a long range shot which was destined to go in the back of the net.

After 75 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 1

Rochdale, who had been poor throughout this contest, struggled to find any way through the Diamonds defence and Barry Hunter and Mark Peters were having solid games.

Lowe fired a free-kick over the wall with ten minutes remaining as Diamonds went seeking for a second goal that would virtually seal a win.

But Rochdale continued to push forward and on 85 minutes the home side should have done better when they won successive corners but failed to threaten on both occasions.

Simpson tried a long-range shot that flew inches past Turley’s goal in a rare attack from Rochdale. But Diamonds kept their composure until the end to secure an excellent win.

After 90 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 1

Rochdale: Edwards, Evans, Griffiths, Flitcroft, Beech, Doughty, Simpson, McEvilly, Duffy, Platt, Connor (Townson 71).

Subs not used: Gilks, Jobson, Oliver, Fernandez.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby (Duffy 88), Bignot, Mills, Setchell, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

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

Bookings: Lowe (9), Mills (45)

Referee: Mr PJ Prosser

Attendance: 2,628

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter (Rochdale chances were rare)

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