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)

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