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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