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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