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

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