Oxford United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove
Rushden & Diamonds slipped to their first defeat of 2003 following a below par performance at the hands of promotion-chasing Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.

It was the club’s first away league defeat since September and Diamonds could have no complaints after an Andy Crosby penalty and a brace from Dave Savage settled the difference between the two clubs.

It was an unchanged side from the one that thrashed Cambridge United last week for manager Brian Talbot ahead of the game meaning Andy Burgess and Andrew Sambrook kept their spots in midfield.

Paul Hall, scorer of four goals in the last two games, was again named as a striker, partnering Onandi Lowe whilst David Bell kept his spot on the right flank.

Gary Mills, who was rated doubtful prior to kick-off because of a hamstring injury, was named amongst the substitutes whilst Robert Duffy was also on the bench after completing his one match suspension.

Oxford boss Ian Atkins introduced Christian Edwards to the starting line-up for his home debut whilst Steve Basham, scorer of two goals in the last three games, continued in attack.

It was the home side that started this contest sharper and after a mix up in the centre of Diamonds’ defence Matthew Robinson nearly capitalised with a floating effort, which dipped over Billy Turley’s goal.

But Diamonds soaked up much of the home-side’s early pressure and nearly took the advantage when Lowe drilled an effort straight at the feet of Oxford goalkeeper Andy Woodman on seven minutes.

Oxford continued to bombard the visitor’s goalmouth and moment later James Hunt struck a free-kick which would have certainly tested Turley had the Diamonds wall not stood firm.

After 15 minutes: Oxford 0 Diamonds 0

On 16 minutes, Andy Scott’s cross from the left flank nearly put the Diamonds defence under pressure but Basham’s header was comfortably dealt with by Turley.

Few chances were now being created in this see-saw battle although the home side continued to look more dangerous on the break and put the Diamonds defence under pressure.

After 30 minutes: Oxford 0 Diamonds 0 

Lowe was booked on 31 minutes after scuffling inside the penalty area with Crosby whilst waiting for a corner. The resulting booking means the Jamaican will serve a suspension.

Scott tried his luck from long range on 36 minutes in one of few chances for either side. Hall also had a good effort for Diamonds moments later but saw his shot fly wide of the target.

Bell was beginning to threat down the right flank for Diamonds and it was his clever cross on 40 minutes, which nearly gave Lowe a sniff at the Oxford goal.

But despite the bight opening to the game, this disappointing half was brought to an end with neither side able to find the net although Basham saw a good effort float over Turley’s goal.

HALF TIME: OXFORD 0 DIAMONDS 0

Oxford came out for the second half rejuvenated and had the perfect opportunity to open the scoring when the referee pointed to the spot after Barry Hunter was adjudged to have brought down Basham.

Crosby made no mistake from the spot when he sent Turley diving the wrong way from 12-yards to open the scoring and set up a hard battle for the visitors.

Hall should have done better for Diamonds on 53 minutes when he picked up a short ball from Stuart Gray only to fire wide of the target.

After 60 minutes: Oxford 1 Diamonds 0

The home side continued to play tidy football, and it was them who were looking more likely to grab the next goal. And Roy Hunter nearly found it on 63 minutes when his volley crashed against the crossbar.

Diamonds attacks were rare and it was Hall who was creating opportunities for the visitors but the Jamaican midfielder couldn’t find a way past Woodman, who was enjoying a quiet afternoon.

Gary Setchell was introduced into the action on 71 minutes as Talbot gambled by pushing Paul Underwood into a more attacking position with Hall and Duffy, who had earlier replaced Lowe.

After 75 minutes: Oxford 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds started to throw plenty of bodies forward and Underwood should have fired a shot on goal but wasted time and was foiled by an Oxford defender who made a vital block.

Gray struck a low drive on 81 minutes which was heading goal bound by Woodman dived low to make an important stop.

But with minutes remaining, Diamonds slipped further behind when Basham got down the flank to deliver an inch perfect cross for Savage to head home from close range.

A third was added for Oxford moments later when Savage tucked the ball home from close range to seal a miserable afternoon for the Diamonds.

FULL TIME: OXFORD 3 DIAMONDS 0

Oxford United: Woodman, McNiven, Robinson, Savage, Hunt, Edwards, Basham, Hunter, Scott (Louis 90), Bound, Crosby.

Subs not used: Whitehead, Oldfield, Steele, Hackett

Bookings: Crosby (31), McNiven (58)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Burgess, Gray, Bignot, Bell (Setchell 71), Sambrook, Hall, Lowe (Duffy 65).

Subs not used: Mills, Talbot, Dempster.

Bookings: Lowe (31)

Referee: Mr P Crossley

Attendance: 6,508 (928 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Gray (Enjoyed a good game)

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Cambridge United 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds and Cambridge United contributed to a fantastic local derby but it was youngster David Bell who stole the show with a fine individual goal, which virtually sealed this important 4-1 win.

Bell, who superbly set-up Stuart Gray for the opening goal, ran half the length of the pitch to notch his second goal of the season side footing past Cambridge United goalkeeper Shaun Marshall.

Paul Hall added a third for Diamonds in the final stages and despite Paul Wanless stroking home a penalty, the Jamaican international midfielder added his second of the game.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was dealt a blow before a ball was kicked when Stuart Wardley went down with an upset stomach and had to be replaced by Andy Burgess.

With Gary Mills, Duane Darby, Robert Duffy and Adam Sollitt already missing it meant Andrew Sambrook was drafted into the centre of midfield with Bell switching to the right flank.

Hall partnered Onandi Lowe in attack with Gray also included despite suffering with a thigh problem that threatened to keep him out of this contest. Marcus Bignot also started despite suffering with the flu in recent days.

The shortage of numbers meant both youth team players; Owen Story and Magnus Okuonghae were given spots on the substitute bench.

Cambridge United boss John Taylor was given a massive boost ahead of kick-off as he named Dave Kitson in his starting line-up despite remaining doubtful after suffering with a rib injury following the defeat against Millwall in the FA Cup.

Diamonds carved open the first effort of the game when Burgess fired from 30-yards straight into the arms of Marshall.

In a blistering pace to the game, Diamonds started brightly as Cambridge began on the back foot and Hall went close shortly after with a close range effort.

Cambridge created their opening effort on six minutes when a Stevland Angus free-kick brought out a reflex save from Billy Turley.

Lowe couldn’t direct a header towards goal on nine minutes after Bell’s cross from the left flank was delivered perfectly into a dangerous position in the Cambridge penalty area.

Turley was then asked to make another vital save when, on 13 minutes, Shane Tudor drilled a low shot which was heading goal bound until the Diamonds goalkeeper made a timely stop.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Cambridge 0

Despite Diamonds enjoying most of the possession, it was the visitors who should have broken the deadlock when Omer Riza blasted over the crossbar from six-yards out.

Cambridge were continuing to carve open the best opportunities and Kitson somehow failed to hit the target after skipping past the challenge from Barry Hunter.

On 19 minutes, Tom Youngs was foiled by another brilliant save by Turley after the Diamonds defence were exposed by the crisp passing from the visitors, who were beginning to look impressive.

Bell tried a long range shot on 25 minutes but, despite the effort dipping all the time, Marshall wasn’t troubled as the ball dipped over the crossbar.

A trademark Lowe free-kick nearly found it’s way into the net on 28 minutes but the impressive Marshall made a vital stop, tipping the effort over the crossbar.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Cambridge 0

Lowe’s powerful long distance run nearly broke the deadlock on 31 minutes but Marshall superbly dived to deny the Jamaican international and palm the ball away from danger.

On 38 minutes, Diamonds broke the deadlock thanks to some hard work from Bell. The young midfielder slipped past Angus down the right flank and delivered an excellent cross for Gray to side foot home past Marshall.

Cambridge reacted strongly to Diamonds’ opening goal and Kitson was denied a shot on goal after an excellent tackle from Burgess inside the penalty area.

HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 1 CAMBRIDGE 0

Both sides were struggling to create any worthwhile opportunity in the opening stages of the second half but Andrew Duncan was lucky to stay on the field for Cambridge after tussling with Hall on 55 minutes.

But the game sprung back into life thanks to a fine individual effort from Bell when he capitalized on some slow reaction in the Cambridge midfield to score past Marshall following a powerful run.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 2 Cambridge 0

Diamonds were now fully in control of the game and Bell, with his confidence sky high, tried an effort from 25-yards, which flew straight into the arms of Marshall.

The Diamonds defence somehow dealt with a Cambridge bombardment in a crazy 30-second spell, which saw Underwood and Hunter, make vital clearances.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Cambridge 0

Luke Gutteridge should have reduced Diamonds’ lead on 79 minutes but the Cambridge substitute somehow spooned his effort wide of the target following a good run from Daniel Chillingworth.

Diamonds should have added a third on 81 minutes when Lowe’s cross-field ball found Hall who skipped past a Cambridge defender only to see his shot rattle the crossbar.

But a third was added just moments later when Hall struck a low drive at Marshall’s nearside post to beat the Cambridge United goalkeeper.

However these frantic remaining minutes continued when on 86 minutes Peters was adjudged to have tripped Kitson in the penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty, which Wanless converted, sending Turley in the wrong direction.

Hall added a fourth to make sure the game was completely safe, side footing a shot past Marshall from 25-yards. It capped off a marvellous afternoon of football for Diamonds supporters.

Full time: Diamonds 4 Cambridge United 1

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood (Setchell 90), Hunter, Peters, Burgess, Gray, Bignot, Bell, Sambrook, Hall, Lowe (Talbot 90).

Subs not used: Dempster, Story, Okuonghae.

Bookings: Bell (41)

Cambridge United: Marshall, Goodhind, Duncan, Tann, Angus (Bridges 78), Wanless, Fleming, Kitson, Youngs, Tudor (Chillingworth 62) Riza (Guttridge 62).

Subs not used: Brennan, Nacca

Bookings: Duncan (55)

Referee: Mr M.R Warren

Attendance: 5,206

Diamonds’ MOTM: David Bell (Goal worthy of Man of Match)

For Video Highlights see here

Kidderminster Harriers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

by David Gudgeons

Brian  Talbot made just one change to the starting line-up from last week’s 1-1 draw with Torquay United, David Bell replacing Andy Burgess in the midfield.

Kidderminster kicked off on this cold, sunny afternoon at the Aggborough. Both teams went on the attack in the early stages of the match, but the first real effort fell to the Diamonds on 6 minutes after a cross from Bignot was headed onto the bar by Lowe.

Just two minutes later, Kidderminster had a great chance to take the lead but Bishop’s shot went past Turley’s right-hand post. Diamonds broke to the other end straight away but Hall’s effort was well wide of the goal.

On 13 minutes, Diamonds had a great chance after great work from Bell released Hall, but his shot from 19 yards was saved by Brock. Lowe got his header on target from the resulting corner but again it was saved by Brock. Just a minute later Paul Hall latched onto Lowe’s pass in the Kidderminster area and he struck the ball into the bottom corner of the net from 12 yards.

15 minutes: Kidderminster 0, Diamonds 1

Kidderminster put Diamonds on the back foot for the next few minutes, but were unable to make the final ball count.

On 18 minutes, Hall knocked the ball through to Lowe who was free on goal, but the assistant referee adjudged him to be offside. The two sides were fairly evenly matched for the next ten minutes or so and neither team had any notable chances on goal.

Then the game came to life again with the Diamonds on the attack, Darby found himself just inside the Harriers box and held the ball up well for Lowe, but Lowe needed just a little too much time and when he shot for goal, his effort was blocked and cleared.

30 minutes: Kidderminster 0, Diamonds 1.

Kidderminster had a good chance to equalise on 33 minutes after Bennett managed to get in a low cross but Bishop mis-kicked and Diamonds cleared the danger.

On 35 minutes, Kidderminster’s, Coleman had a shot from 35 yards but his effort went well over the bar. Three minutes later, Lowe got in a shot from a tight angle but his shot hit the side netting.

The Diamonds manager and coach could not believe the assistant referee when he flagged Darby offside after Shilton passed back to his own ‘keeper from 40 yards.

One minute of injury time was shown by the fourth official as the first half drew to a close. Kidderminster’s Henriksen, had the last chance of the half, but his effort from 25 yards went well wide of the target.

HALF-TIME: Kidderminster 0, Diamonds 1.

Diamonds kicked off the second half looking to increase their lead, but it was Harriers who had the first shot of the half. Paul Hall was penalised for a foul on Shilton, but his free-kick went over the bar.

Henriksen should have equalised on 50 minutes, when he found himself free in the penalty area, but his shot from 6 yards was well saved by Turley at point blank range.

Duane Darby left the pitch just a minute later with what looked like a hamstring strain and Robert Duffy entered the frame in his place.

Although Diamonds had an even share of possession, it was the Harriers who looked more likely to score, with several efforts coming in a short space of time as they tried to get themselves back into this match.

On 57 minutes, Harriers’ leading scorer, Henriksen had another effort, but again he failed to hit the target. His shot from the edge of the area went 10 yards wide of Turley’s left upright.

Two minutes later, Melligan’s header was knocked onto the post and out of play by Turley’s outstretched arm and Kidderminster were foiled once again.

60 minutes: Kidderminster 0, Diamonds 1.

On 63 minutes, Lowe was booked for a foul from behind on John Melligan. Five minutes later, despite being against the run of play, Hall doubled his and the Diamonds tally, after Brock could only parry Lowe’s 35-yard free-kick and the Jamaican was on hand to fire home the rebound from 8 yards out.

75 minutes: Kidderminster 0, Diamonds 2.

On 76 minutes, Duffy became the second player to be shown the yellow card when he kicked the ball away after the referee had blown his whistle for a tight offside decision. A minute later, Harriers’ manager, Britton introduced Ian Foster into the action, taking off Dean Bennett.

On 82 minutes, Kidderminster almost halved the deficit when Henriksen’s goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Bignot.

Diamonds almost made it 3 with just 5 minutes remaining, but Wardley didn’t get enough power from Hall’s cross. Diamonds continued to break at every possible opportunity and after some good play, Underwood almost scored, but his lob lacked height and Brock held the ball with ease.

John Melligan almost snatched a late consolation,but his shot-come-cross went wide of the goal. With just a minute of normal time remaining, Lowe was replaced by Sambrook, who took up the right midfield position and Hall advanced into the striker’s role.

During the 3 minutes of added time, Wardley latched onto a great through ball from Hall and his effort was tipped over the bar by Brock.

FULL TIME: Kidderminster Harriers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2.

Attendance: 3,417 (369 from Diamonds).

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby (Duffy 51), Gray, Bignot, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

Substitutes: Setchell, Talbot, Sambrook, Duffy, Demspter.

Bookings: Lowe 63 (Foul), Duffy 76 (Unsporting Behaviour),

Kidderminster: Brock, Williams, Hinton, Bennett (Foster 79), Shilton, Henriksen, Ayres, Flynn, Melligan, Coleman, Bishop.

Substitutes: Foster, Smith, Danby, Doyle, Hodge.

Bookings:

Referee: Alan Butler (Notts)

Assistant Referees: Russell Green & Jon Cordy

Fourth Official: Patrick Kean

MOM: Paul Hall (Right Place at the Right Time)

See a video of the Onandi Lowe free kick here.

Torquay United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Duane Darby scored a wonderful 30-yard lob against his former club to help Rushden & Diamonds grind out a point against promotion hopefuls Torquay United at Plainmoor.

The Diamonds striker pounced on 57 minutes to lob Torquay goalkeeper Kevin Dearden after Jason Fowler had opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half.

Diamonds could have stolen all three points in this see-saw battle but Dearden produced some fine saves either side of the interval to help the home side.

Andy Burgess was given his first start in the Diamonds first team since September following David Bell’s leg injury, sustained during the 5-1 win over Shrewsbury Town.

That was the only change for Rushden & Diamonds although Gary Setchell was welcomed back to the substitute bench, which, once again, had no substitute goalkeeper.

Torquay, looking for only their second win in seven competitive games, introduced Steve Woods to the side for only his second start of the season whilst Kevin Wills was also given his first opportunity in midfield with Alex Russell missing through suspension.

Despite heavy rainfall in Devon during the week, the Plainmoor pitch was looking in good but very soft condition.

Torquay, playing a 3-5-2 formation, made the brighter start of the two sides when Jo Kuffour stole at the near post on two minutes to make Billy Turley dive low and produce fine stop.

The home side were certainly starting brightly and on five minutes Fowler tried to ambitiously lob Turley from 30-yards but the Diamonds goalkeeper was able to make a comfortable save.

Moments later, Fowler tried a further effort when his driven shot flew over Turley’s crossbar after the Diamonds defence failed to close down the midfielder.

Diamonds carved open their first opportunity of the game on 12 minutes when Darby combined with Onandi Lowe for him to power a low drive that was well held by Dearden.

After 15 minutes: Torquay 0 Diamonds 0

The home side continued to dominate this game and Fowler was proving instrumental in midfield whilst Tony Bedeau was proving a handful for the Diamonds defence.

Bedeau and the whole of the Torquay support through they had broken the deadlock when the nippy striker got behind the Diamonds defence only for him to see Turley tip his effort into the side netting.

Lowe tried a curling free-kick on 24 minutes but Dearden was hardly troubled in a rare effort for Diamonds.

Turley came to the rescue on 26 minutes when he dived low to meet Wills’ low drive that was creeping into the bottom corner of the Diamonds net.

Diamonds came agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock when Lowe’s powerful run and shot was deflected onto a post. The follow-up effort from Stuart Wardley trickled inches wide.

After 30 minutes: Torquay 0 Diamonds 0

But Torquay had the perfect opportunity to open the deadlock on 39 minutes when Stuart Gray, who was booked for arguing the decision, sent down Wills tumbling in the penalty area. Fowler took the responsibilities and calmly beat Turley from the spot.

Burgess twisted and turned to fire a shot on 42 minutes, which deflected wide for a corner. And that resulting kick nearly brought Diamonds on level terms but Lowe’s header was superbly saved by Dearden.

Torquay finished the stronger side but couldn’t find a way through the Diamonds defence and had to settle for a single goal lead at the interval.

AT HALF TIME: TORQUAY 1 DIAMONDS 0

Andy Sambrook was introduced to the action for the second-half, replacing Burgess. It meant Diamonds boss Brian Talbot went for a change of formation pushing Hall further up field.

And the change nearly paid off immediately when Lowe powered a low drive, which was saved by the impressive Dearden.

Darby through he had given Diamonds the lead on 51 minutes but his effort was ruled offside when Marcus Bignot’s miss-hit drive found the Diamonds striker.

Diamonds then had a second effort disallowed just two minutes later when Lowe was adjudged to have impeded a Torquay defender after heading home a Hall cross.

Lowe was carving open all the opportunities for Diamonds and his flying header on 57 minutes was saved by Dearden.

But it was his striking partner, Darby, who brought Diamonds back on level terms with a delightful chip over the head of Dearden from around 25-yard out to score against his former club.

After 60 minutes: Torquay 1 Diamonds 1

It was Diamonds who were now controlling this see-saw battle and Hall went close but saw his header saved by Dearden.

Darby nearly made it two lobbed goals but on this occasion the Diamonds striker failed to hit the target as he saw the ball fly over Dearden’s head an over the crossbar.

Torquay slowly started to get themselves back into this contest and on 73 minutes Turley was tested when Bedeau got a slight flick to push the ball towards goal.

After 75 minutes: Torquay 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds began to throw bodies forward and Lowe was causing all the trouble for the Torquay defence with his power and pace.

Darby had a golden opportunity to give Diamonds the lead on 79 minutes when Lowe fed a ball to the Diamonds striker who somehow missed the target from 10-yards.

Diamonds continued to push forward but the visitors couldn’t find a winner despite Lowe and Darby both going close in the closing stages.

AT FULL TIME: TORQUAY 1 DIAMONDS 1

Torquay United: Dearden, Canoville (Stevens 78), Hazell, Woozley, Wills (Hankin 73), Hockley, Fowler (Benefield 87), Hill, Woods, Bedeau, Kuffour.

Subs not used: Corderoy, Bond,

Bookings: Woods (74)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby, Burgess (Sambrook h/t), Gray, Bignot, Hall, Lowe.

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

Bookings: Gray (37), Sambrook (59)

Referee: Brian Curson (Leicester)

Attendance: 2,651

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter (Solid display in defence)

Rushden & Diamonds 5 Shrewsbury Town 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds started 2003 with a bang after recording their biggest league win of the season with a demolition job over a woeful Shrewsbury Town outfit.

Duane Darby celebrated his 100th appearance in a Diamonds shirt by scoring a brace before leaving the field at half-time with a broken nose. Onandi Lowe, Stuart Gray and Paul Hall all added goals to record a 5-1 win.

The only downside of this victory was the controversial sending-off of Robert Duffy after he was booked twice in the space of two minutes in the second half.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot stuck with the same eleven that were defeated by Oxford United on Saturday meaning Darby and Onandi Lowe started in attack.

Gray continued in midfield, a clear indication that he is finally over his knee injury, meaning Andy Burgess, who played ten minutes against Oxford United, remained on the substitute bench.

Shrewsbury boss Kevin Ratcliffe welcomed Nigel Jemson to his strike force meaning the visitors were likely to play a 4-3-3 formation with Ryan Lowe and Luke Rodgers set to play in attack.

Despite the torrential downpours in Northamptonshire, the Nene Park turf was passed playable by the match referee and the pitch was looking in fine condition.

The game was barely two minutes old when Lowe struck from 30-yards but the Jamaican international saw his effort fly wide of Ian Dunbavin’s goal

Diamonds broke the deadlock on eight minutes when Darby out jumped Dunbavin to head home David Bell’s corner from inside the six-yard penalty area.

Shrewsbury, who had made a quiet start to the first half, registered their first effort of the game when Jemson tested Turley from 25-yards, which the Diamonds goalkeeper failed to hold.

Lowe’s run and shot for Shrewsbury tested Turley on 14 minutes as the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 1 Shrewsbury 0

In the slippery conditions both sides were struggling to play attractive football but it was Diamonds who continued to look dangerous on the break.

On 22 minutes, Stuart Wardley shifted the ball onto his left foot to try and curl a ball past Dunbavin from outside the penalty area but the midfield was unable to hit the target

Darby thought he had found his second goal of the game after he chipped the ball over the head from Dunbavin, but the Diamonds striker was adjudged to have impeded Peter Wilding by the match referee.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Shrewsbury 0

Lowe struck a volley on 35 minutes that took a wicked deflection off Barry Hunter but the Shrewsbury striker saw the ball roll the wrong side of a post.

Just moment later Hall’s pinpoint cross enabled Darby to fire a volley that was heading goal bound until it took a deflection from a Shrewsbury defender.

But the Darby didn’t have to wait long for his second goal when, after Lowe trickled a delightful pass to the Diamonds striker, he avoided two tackles to slot a ball into an empty net.

On 40 minutes, Diamonds added a third when, after Lowe’s shot was saved by Dunbavin, Gray popped up to crash home his fourth goal of the season from close range.

Darby was rushed to the treatment room just moments before the half-time whistle but it was a perfect end to an excellent first half in which the home side dominated.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 3 SHREWSBURY 0

Darby’s bid for a hat-trick was halted in the second half when he was substituted with a suspected broken nose and was quickly replaced by Duffy.

And the second half got off to the worst possible start for Diamonds when Rodgers capitalized on an error from Turley after just 28 seconds after the goalkeeper could only palm Jemson’s low drive.

Paul Underwood’s low drive nearly beat Dunbavin as the Diamonds responded well to Rodgers’ early strike in the second-half.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury 1

But Diamonds settled their nerves with a fourth goal on 60 minutes when Lowe met Bell’s corner with a powerful header to leave Dunbavin stranded in the Shrewsbury goal.

But a crazy two-minute spell meant Diamonds were reduced to ten men. Duffy was originally booked on 62 minutes for handbags and scuffles in the penalty box whilst the players awaited a corner.

But what occurred just moment later baffled Diamond supporters as Duffy went up to try and head home a corner kick which saw the goalkeeper bundled over the goal line.

After a frantic response from the Shrewsbury players and a discussion with his assistant the referee booked Dunbavin and then proceeded to book Duffy for a second time, resulting in a red card.

But that sending off didn’t affect Diamonds as they added a fifth. After a delightful run from Underwood, the captain squared the ball across the face of Shrewsbury’s goal, which enabled Hall to poke home from close range.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 5 Shrewsbury 1

Shrewsbury continued to push forward looking for any consolation goal and Lowe hit an effort wide of his intended target.

Rodgers nearly grabbed his second goal of the game when he hit a shot on 84 minutes that
Turley acrobatically tipped onto the crossbar.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 5 SHREWSBURY TOWN 1

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Peters, Wardley, Darby (Duffy h/t), Gray, Bignot, Bell (Burgess 68), Hall, Lowe (Sambrook 88).

Subs not used: Talbot, Dempster.

Bookings: Gray (58), Duffy (62), Lowe (85)

Sent-off: Duffy (64)

Shrewsbury: Dunbavin, Moss, Jagielka, Atkins, Rodgers, Jemson (Aiston 70), Wilding, Lowe, Woan (Murray 70), Artell, Smith.

Subs not used: Tolley, Redmile, Kendall.

Bookings: Moss (62), Dunbavin (64)

Referee: Mr R Olivier (West Midlands)

Attendance: 4,144

Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Gray (Hard working midfield role)

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