Macclesfield Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds huffed and puffed and they thought it would never come but with ten minutes remaining, they stole all three points when Onandi Lowe struck his seventh goal of the season.

But the goal came from a mistake in the Macclesfield defence and Duane Darby deserved all the plaudits when he unselfishly squared the ball across to his strike partner who slotted home into an empty net.

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to his starting line-up from the team that began proceedings in the disappointing performance against Exeter City.

Stuart Gray, who picked up a knee injury in that defeat at St James Park, was missing from the starting line-up, meaning David Bell switched from right to left. Paul Hall kept his spot on the right flank.

Barry Hunter was welcomed into the starting line-up after serving his one-match suspension meaning John Dempster was dropped to the bench. Andy Sambrook was also included amongst the substitutes.

Colin Little gained his first start for Macclesfield after completing his one-month loan spell from Crewe Alexandra only 24 hours prior to kick-off. Kyle Lightbourne, scorer of seven goals this season, started in attack with manager Dave Moss going with a 4-3-3 formation.

Diamonds started very brightly and, in the opening stages, were looking dangerous on the break. Lowe nearly connected with a header after three minutes but the Macclesfield defence cleared the danger.

A weak header from Chris Priest was the best effort Macclesfield could muster in the opening seven minutes of the half as Diamonds looked comfortably in control.

Little was forced to go off for Macclesfield after only eight minutes following a challenge from Hall.

Macclesfield were now starting to gain more of the possession and a mighty error from Adam Sollitt was nearly capitalized on by the home side but Hunter sparred his blushes by clearing a shot off the goal line.

After 15 minutes: Macclesfield 0 Diamonds 0

Diamonds nearly took the lead on 16 minutes when Darby done superbly to drag the ball back to Lowe whose effort was stopped by two Macclesfield defenders on the goal line.

This was certainly better football from Diamonds after the defeat against Exeter City and it looked only a matter of time when the visitors would break the deadlock.

There were plenty of handbags been thrown as Lowe began putting himself about and when a scuffle broke out on 24 minutes the match referee remarkable decided not to caution the Jamaican international or Steve Macauley.

After 30 minutes: Macclesfield 0 Diamonds 0

Lowe out jumped the Macclesfield defence on 36 minutes when he connected with a Hall free-kick. However, the effort went straight into the arms of Macclesfield goalkeeper Steve Wilson.

Lowe was causing Macclesfield all kinds of trouble and on 42 minutes he once again rose above the Macclesfield defence only to see a header go over the crossbar.

Diamonds thought they had taken the lead a minute into stoppage time when Lowe’s flicked header from Underwood’s delightful chipped pass went inches past the wrong side of a post.

The visitors continued to finish strong but they couldn’t find a way past the Macclesfield defence and Brian’s side had to be content with a goalless first-half.

At half-time: Macclesfield 0 Diamonds 0

Macclesfield started the second half sharply and Michael Welch nearly broke clear after just two minutes but the onrushing Sollitt blocked him in his path.

A Lowe free-kick on 51 minutes went the wrong side of a post but it was the home side who were looking stronger in this second half.

Lowe’s dominance of this game continued and on 57 minutes the Jamaican should have given Diamonds the lead when Mills’ delightful ball in between the Macclesfield defence carved them open.

However, after completing the hard work of rounding the goalkeeper, Lowe saw his shot stopped on the goal line from Hitchen.

After 60 minutes: Macclesfield 0 Diamonds 0

Lee Hardy drilled a low shot through the heart of the Diamonds defence on 64 minutes but Sollit got down low to fingertip the ball around his left-hand post.

Diamonds continued to push forward at every opportunity and Hall should have done better when he was given freedom down the right, only to deliver a poor cross into the penalty area.

After 75 minutes: Macclesfield 0 Diamonds 0

Diamonds were throwing everything at Macclesfield and Mills saw his low drive trickle the wrong side of a post.

The game looked as if it would be heading to a draw but Diamonds finally got the breakthrough with ten minutes remaining. A mistake from Hardy let Darby turn toward goal and square a perfect ball to Lowe who couldn’t miss a completely empty net.

Now it was back to the walls for Diamonds as they tried to soak up the pressure. But, to their credit, Diamonds held their nerves continuing to push forward at every opportunity.

Darby had a late effort saved by Wilson but Diamonds showed great spirit to hold off any Macclesfield threat and claim a fantastic away victory.

After 90 minutes: Macclesfield 0 Diamonds 1

Macclesfield Town: Wilson, Hitchen, Adams, Tinson, Lightbourne, Priest, Little (Hardy 8, Brackenridge 83), Welch, Macauley, Munroe (Abbey 65), Eaton

Subs not used: Martin, Askey.

Bookings: Hardy (36)

Diamonds: Sollitt, Bignot, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Bignot, Mills, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Naylor, Talbot, Sambrook, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Bell (56), Lowe (67)

Referee: Mr Eddie Ilderton

Attendance: 1,839

Diamonds’ MOTM: Duane Darby (His best performance for months)

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