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

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