Rushden & Diamonds 1 Exeter City 0

By Steven Dove

Duane Darby scored the only goal of a scrappy game against basement-boys Exeter City at Nene Park to keep Rushden & Diamonds firmly on-course for promotion.

The striker headed home from close range midway through the second half to secure maximum points. However, Exeter would have felt they should have secured something from this game as they struck the woodwork on two occasions.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to his starting line-up from the one that began proceedings against Rochdale on Monday night.

Stuart Gray returned to the left side of the midfield with David Bell, who had been suffering with sore throat, missing out. Onandi Lowe and Duane Darby were both fit to play and started in attack.

It meant Dean Holdsworth, the surprise deadline day signing, was amongst the substitutes bench and John Dempster was also recalled to the squad.

Exeter boss Gary Peters welcomed back Steve Flack to his starting line-up after serving his two-match suspension. Phil Barker, a deadline day signing from Bangor City, was included on the bench.

The visitors nearly opened the deadlock inside the opening minute when James Coppinger, bursting down the right flank, flashed in a cross only for Kwame Ampadu to fire over the crossbar from close range.

It was an early scare for Diamonds as Exeter, who had slipped to bottom in the Third Division only 24 hours ago following Swansea’s win over Oxford United, looked sharp on the attack.

Lowe sprung to life on six minutes when he acrobatically bicycle-kicked a shot towards goal but it was a comfortable save from Exeter goalkeeper Kevin Miller.

In a scrappy game, Diamonds were edging out the majority of the possession without creating too much and it was little surprise that Exeter were struggling to find a way past the home-sides defence.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Exeter City 0

The opening 15 minutes saw the game littered with 12 fouls with the football certainly not entertaining to the eye for either sets of managers.

Darby found the target on 21 minutes when he flashed a shot straight into the arms of Miller. Moments later Billy Turley made a comfortable save for Diamonds when Sean Devine guided a header towards goal.

A delightful ball from Andy Burgess put Darby in the clear on 27 minutes. However, after turning past the Exeter defender, Darby took one touch to many and Miller was able to prevent the Diamonds striker from finding the back of the net.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Exeter City 0

Exeter went close to breaking the deadlock on 38 minutes when Coppinger sent a 25-yard free kick crashing against the crossbar with Turley completely beaten by the pace.

Darby flashed a shot over the crossbar on 40 minutes following a mix-up in the Exeter defence with Diamonds gradually picking up the pace in the closing stages of the half.

Miller produced a breathtaking save on 42 minutes when Lowe’s thunderbolt shot was seemingly creeping into the corner of the net. But the Exeter shot-stopper palmed away the Jamaican’s effort at full stretch.

The Diamonds ended the first-half strongly but they were unable to make any impression and the score line was a fair reflection of the performance.

AT HALF-TIME: DIAMONDS 0 EXETER CITY 0

A mix-up in the Exeter defence nearly gave Diamonds the perfect start to the second-half when, after Paul Hall’s perfect cross from the right flank, Scott Hiley nearly headed into his own net.

The referee was spoiling the chance of the two sides playing decent football with some petty decisions, which was frustrating both sets of players.

Miller made a vital stop on 53 minutes when, after a long ball from Turley, Darby beat the offside trap to run through on goal. However the Diamonds striker saw the Exeter goalkeeper dive low and make an important stop.

But the deadlock was finally broken before the hour mark when Burgess’ corner was flicked on at the near post by Andrew Edwards, which enabled Darby to head home from close range.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Exeter City 0

Exeter’s attacks were rare but Flack went close with a header, which dipped the wrong side of the Diamonds crossbar.

Flack was soon making his presence felt when he got in between two Diamond defenders only for him to see his shot go over the crossbar from close range.

Holdsworth was introduced into the action on 69 minutes to a standing ovation, replacing Lowe, who also received the applause he deserved for a busy afternoon.

Exeter struck the crossbar for the second occasion on 72 minutes when Devine shot from inside the six-yard penalty area, beating an outstretched Turley.

Holdsworth nearly made a big impact a minute later when he showed his qualities that has made himself a fans favourite at Wimbledon and Bolton to chest down a bouncing ball to drill low and hard at Miller’s goal

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Exeter City 0

Flack was causing problems for the Diamonds defence and on 75 minutes he thumped a header towards goal, which Turley met with a flying save.

Diamond were soon on the back foot and the defence were having to hold firm in the closing stages with Exeter refusing to leave Northamptonshire empty handed.

Holdsworth nearly opened his Diamonds account on 89 minutes but failed to find the target from inside the penalty area. However, Diamonds held on for a vital win and it maintained the pressure on league-leaders Hartlepool United.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 1 EXETER CITY 0

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Edwards, Darby (Duffy 87), Burgess, Gray, Bignot, Hall (Mills 83), Lowe (Holdsworth 69).

Subs not used: Sambrook, Dempster.

Bookings: Hunter (77)

Exeter City: Miller, Power, Walker, Curran, Hiley, Ampadu (Cronin 63), Flack, Pettefer (Roscoe 80), Coppinger (Kilheeney 63), Devine, Todd.

Subs not used: Baker, Fraser.

Bookings: Flack (46)

Referee: Mr A Hall.

Attendance: 4,921 (393)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Andrew Edwards (Showed why he has played so many game for Peterborough)

Match Gallery Pictures courtesy of Mal Swinden

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Rochdale 3

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds had to settle for a point at Rochdale on Tuesday evening when a late strike from Patrick McCourt gave the visitors a share of the spoils.

Onandi Lowe struck twice and Paul Hall also got amongst the goals in a game that saw Diamonds come from behind on two occasions. But despite leading this game with two minutes remaining, McCourt’s deflected shot sealed a point for the visitors in a six-goal thriller.

The result means Diamonds are now five points behind league-leaders Hartlepool United with both sides having played the same number of games. 

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot received a huge boost prior to kick-off with the news that Lowe was passed fit to play despite doubts prior to the game after picking up a slight knock in the draw over Boston.

Paul Underwood also returned to the starting line-up after recovering from a hamstring injury that meant Andrew Sambrook, who impressed at York Street, dropped to the bench.

There were no sign of Mark Peters in the squad, which meant John Dempster was recalled to the substitute bench. Barry Hunter and Marcus Bignot both started despite carrying injuries.

Rochdale player-manager Paul Simpson named a similar side to the one that started proceedings in the 1-1 draw against Exeter City with dangerous striker Clive Platt leading the line in attack.

In an even opening to the first-half, the first opportunity of the game was gifted to Rochdale when a vital slip from Andrew Edwards enabled Paul Connor a sniff at goal but he wasted a chance by firing wide.

Lowe and Duane Darby were already looking dangerous in attack as the Rochdale defence struggled to cope with their power and pace.

This was a game of very few chances although Diamonds were certainly looking dangerous on the break. Neither goalkeeper had yet been forced into making a save.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 0

The game soon turned scrappy with neither side finding any openings. Platt was shown a half-chance on 17 minutes but it never troubled Diamonds goalkeeper Billy Turley.

But the game sprung into life on 26 minutes when Rochdale surprisingly took the lead. Simpson ran towards the Diamonds goal following a delightful flick from Connor and with Edwards backing off it allowed the player-manager to strike a low shot into the corner of the net.

The goal came out of nowhere and was the first notable effort on either goal. Darby had an opportunity to responded moment later but dragged the ball across the face of the goal when maybe he should have tested the Rochdale goalkeeper.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 1

Diamonds were soon putting Rochdale on the back foot although Lowe was struggling to have an influence on the game as the visitors defence kept the Jamaican at bay. 

Diamonds’ first effort on the visitors goal never arrived until 40 minutes when Underwood’s surging run produced a reflex save from Rochdale goalkeeper Matthew Gilks.

From the resulting corner, Diamonds came even closer when Hunter rose highest to crash a header across the face of the Rochdale crossbar.

But Diamonds had a chance to get on level terms when they were awarded a penalty following Lee Andrews’ handball in the penalty area following a mazy run from Underwood.

However, the home-side wasted their chance to score before half-time, which some would have said was undeserved, when Gilks guessed the right way to prevent Wardley.

AT HALF-TIME: DIAMONDS 0 ROCHDALE 1

Stuart Gray was introduced into the action at half time, replacing the quiet David Bell, who had struggled to make an impact in the first-half.

Rochdale made the brighter start to the second half and Simpson hit an early effort straight into the arms of Turley.

But Diamonds responded quickly and were back on level terms on 48 minutes when Underwood burst down the left flank to find the head of Hall, who nodded home from close range for his 15th goal of the season.

Gray nearly got his name on the score sheet on 52 minutes when the former Celtic midfielder struck a fierce shot goalbound only to see his effort fly narrowly wide.

Somehow, Gilks kept the scoreline level when he stopped Lowe’s effort from six-yards out after the Jamaican connected with Darby’s cross across the face of the Rochdale goal.

Darby should have scored on 57 minutes when, just like Lowe, he missed from six-yards with Gilks making a vital stop.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Rochdale 1

The pressure was coming from Diamonds and Wardley should have done better when he was gifted an opportunity from outside the area but the former QPR midfielder fired over the crossbar.

But an unfortunate break for Rochdale put them back in the lead when, after a scramble in the goalmouth, the ball struck Burgess, fell kindly to Simon Grand who sweetly swept home.

Gilks was having an amazing game in the Rochdale goal. This time Hall struck from close range with the Dale goalkeeper pushing the midfielders effort onto the crossbar and over the bar.

But the resulting corner led to an equaliser from Diamonds. Burgess’ kick was met by the rising head of Lowe, who out jumping the Rochdale defence to power past Gilks.

The Diamonds pressure was starting to tell and Lowe put the home side into the lead when Underwood’s cross was met by the Jamaican who, once, again, out jumped the Rochdale defence to power home.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 3 Rochdale 2

Rochdale were refusing to let this game slip away from them and it was suddenly the Diamonds on the back foot with constant attacking pressure.

Hall nearly finished off a fantastic passing move when the midfielder linked up well with Lowe only for the Jamaican to squander a good opportunity from close range.

But a stroke of luck from Rochdale brought a further twist to this game when McCourt struck a shot, which took a wicked deflection off a Diamonds defender, deceiving Turley and flying into the corner of the net.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 3 ROCHDALE 3

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Edwards, Wardley, Darby, Burgess, Bignot, Bell (Gray H/T), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Mills, Sambrook, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings:

Rochdale: Gilks, Flitcroft (McCourt 77), Beech, Doughty, Simpson (Melaugh 73), Duffy, Platt (McEvilly 83), Andrews, Jobson, Grand, Connor.

Subs not used: Townson, Warner.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr L Cable.

Attendance: 3,444 (131 from Rochdale)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood (Contributed to two Diamond goals)

Boston United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove 
Duane Darby’s second goal in as many games helped secure a dramatic point for Rushden & Diamonds against relegation threatened Boston United at York Street.

The Diamonds striker pounced with ten minutes remaining to claim his 13th goal of the campaign and notch one shy of Paul Hall, who is currently the club’s leading goalscorer.

Darby’s strike cancelled out Boston debutant Graeme Jones’ second-half goal that looked as if it would be good enough to secure maximum points for the Lincolnshire side.

But the uneven pitch did little to help either side in this contest as the unattractive football showed throughout the 90 minutes.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to name Andrew Sambrook in his starting line-up with Paul Underwood not passed fit to play following a hamstring injury.

Andy Burgess returned to the centre of Diamonds’ midfield after he recovered from a calf injury meaning Gary Mills returned to the substitute bench. Onandi Lowe and Darby began in attack.

Boston boss Neil Thompson named the same starting eleven from the 1-0 victory over Darlington in midweek. However, Stuart Douglas returned amongst the substitutes bench whilst Jones, having signed from Southend United just 24 hours prior to kick-off, was also on the bench.

Diamonds enjoyed the majority of the early possession but it was the home side that looked more dangerous on the break.

Paul Hall was gifted Diamonds’ first opportunity of the game when, on six minutes Lowe linked up well with the play to feed in his Jamaican international teammate. However the midfielder was powered off the ball by Boston defender Mark Greaves.

Experienced campaigner Neil Redfearn struck a low free-kick on nine minutes which was comfortably dealt with by Billy Turley whilst moments later Mark Angel hit a first time effort over the crossbar.

Boston, who were in need of the three points, where looking dangerous on the attack and it was the home side who were looking the more likely to open the deadlock.

After 15 minutes: Boston United 0 Diamonds 0

The first real opportunity of the game arrived on 15 minutes when Simon Weatherstone broke the Diamonds offside trap to steal in behind the defence but the striker was denied a goal by an onrushing Turley.

Boston were certainly in control of the first-half and it wasn’t until the 26th minute when Diamonds had a good opportunity to break deadlock.

Stuart Wardley’s ball in the Boston penalty area found Darby in space but a nasty bobble off the York Street surface prevented the Diamonds striker from hitting the target.

A David Bell free-kick on 29 minutes resulted in Lowe rising above the Boston defence and produce a fantastic reflex save from Boston United goalkeeper Paul Bastock.

After 30 minutes: Boston United 0 Diamonds 0

Paul Ellender was doing a fantastic job in the Boston defence as he was keeping Lowe at bay and the Jamaican international striker was having a quiet game by his standards.

Redfearn nearly opened the scoring for Boston on 40 minutes when the midfielder picked up a ball outside the area to produce a breathtaking turn and shot which agonisingly went wide of Turley’s goal.

Weathstone when close for Boston moment later when he displayed great skill with a chip-and-shot effort that flew past Turley’s left-hand post.

But Diamonds finished the half the stronger side and could have broken the deadlock when Darby flashed a shot across the face of Bastock’s goal following a delightful ball from Lowe.

AT HALF TIME: BOSTON UNITED 0 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds came out for the second half with all guns firing and Lowe nearly gave the visitors a dream start but dragged a shot wide of Bastock’s goal after the Jamaican found himself in the clear.

Wardley and Darby both had good chances in the opening five minutes of the second half to break the deadlock and Lowe wasted a good opportunity on 57 minutes when he shot over the Boston crossbar.

Boston had certainly not started the second half in the same manner that they had controlled the first 45 minutes as Diamonds came storming out of the blocks.

After 60 minutes: Boston United 0 Diamonds 0

But despite all Diamonds’ good openings, it was surprising when Boston opened the scoring. On 66 minutes, Angel crossed from the left flank to allow Jones to drill a low effort through the Diamonds defence and past Turley.

Diamonds tried to immediately hit back but the Boston defence were holding firm limiting the visitors to long range shots which were hardly troubling Bastock.

After 75 minutes: Boston United 1 Diamonds 0

Hall hit a first time volley wide of the Boston goal on 75 minutes following some good work from the impressive Wardley and it looked as if Diamonds would never hit the target.

Lowe tried an ambitious overhead kick on 77 minutes and Hall’s work rate looked as if it wouldn’t be rewarded and he went close shortly after striking just wide of Bastock’s goal.

But the vital equaliser did eventually come for Diamonds. Lowe headed a Sambrook’s cross into the path of Darby and the former Hull striker swept the ball home from inside the penalty area to give the visitors that vital goal.

Diamonds attempted to grind out a winner in the closing stages and Sambrook nearly caught Bastock napping when he free-kick dipped the wrong side of the cross bar.

However Diamonds couldn’t get that winner although they did close the gap on Hartlepool to six points following Mike Newell’s side defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers.

Boston United: Bastock, Chapman, Ellender, Greaves, Weatherstone, Angel, Hocking, Redfearn, Rusk (Jones 59), Balmer, Logan.

Subs not used: Duffield, Price, Gould, Douglas.

Bookings: Rusk (49)

Diamonds: Turley, Hunter, Edwards, Wardley, Burgess, Darby, Bignot, Bell, Sambrook, Hall (Gray 83), Lowe.

Subs not used: Peters, Mills, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Bell (49)

Referee: Mr C Webster

Attendance: 3,504 (754 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter (Solid performance and controlled the team in captains role)

Bury 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Duane Darby’s 12th goal of the season midway through the second-half was enough to give Rushden & Diamonds only their second away win of 2003 over promotion-chasing Bury.

The Diamonds striker displayed determination and pace to slot home a no-hope ball into an empty net when he caught Bury goalkeeper Glyn Garner napping.

And despite a late onslaught from the home-side, Diamonds defended in a professional manner and take a further step towards promotion to the Second Division.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to his side from the one that began proceedings against Hull City on Saturday. Andy Burgess failed a late fitness test following a calf injury sustained in that 4-2 victory at Nene Park.

It meant Gary Mills was given an opportunity to impress in the heart of the Diamonds’ midfield, partnering Stuart Wardley. Darby continued in attack despite struggling prior to kick-off with a hamstring injury.

John Dempster was recalled to the substitute bench but there was no place for Adam Sollitt despite the former Northampton shot-stopper travelling with the squad.

Bury boss Andy Preece made two changes to his starting line-up. Having signed for the club just hours before kick-off, Pawel Abbott replaced Colin Cramb whilst Colin Woodthorpe was also included in the starting eleven.

Diamonds nearly got off to the perfect start when after 28 second Darby’s header nearly looped over stranded Garner.

And the visitors started much the brighter side with Darby causing havoc in the Bury defence, showing encouraging signs that the striker is over the worst of his hamstring injury.

Onandi Lowe was causing trouble for the Bury defence early on and after six minutes he hit a 25-yard shot, which went high and wide of the Bury goal.

But the best effort arrived at the feet of Jon Newby who was only denied a goal by a flying tacking from Marcus Bignot after the Bury striker managed to create himself enough space following a powerful run and cross from David Nugent.

After 15 minutes: Bury 0 Diamonds 0

Diamonds continued to enjoy more of the possession but were failing to create any worthwhile effort with Lowe struggling to find the target from a number of long-range efforts.

The game slowly becoming a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to find any passing rhythm to their game and not being able to create many scoring opportunities.

Billy Turley nearly got himself into all kinds of trouble on 27 minutes when he struggled to clear the danger from a back pass. But the Diamonds goalkeeper showed great trickery to beat Nugent with a clever dummy just yards in front of his own goal.

Newby’s spectacular overhead kick on 29 minutes flew over the Diamonds crossbar but it was the home side that continued to struggle to get to grips with this contest.

After 30 minutes: Bury 0 Diamonds 0

Newby was causing the majority of the danger towards the Diamonds defence but it was the final ball that was let down for the home side as they struggled to test Turley.

Nugent hit a volley on 37 minutes straight into the arms of Turley following some good build up play from the Shakers whilst Paul Hall went close moments later, with a first time effort that flew wide of the Bury goal.

But as the half drew to a close, neither side looked as if they would edge out in front and it was no surprise when it ended goalless at the half-time whistle.

AT HALF TIME: BURY 0 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds returned for the second half with no Paul Underwood. The Diamonds captain showed no signs of any injury when he walked off at half-time but he was replaced by Andrew Sambrook.

Brian’s side, once again, started the half the stronger side and Lowe was unfortunate not hit the target on 47 minutes when he struggled to get the ball from under his feet.

But Diamonds should have broken the deadlock on 50 minutes when Wardley was denied by a fantastic save from Garner who flung himself at the former QPR midfielder from close range.

George Clegg wasted a good opening for Bury on 54 minutes when the midfielder spooned a long-range effort high and wide of the Diamonds goal when he really should have found the target.

A fantastic effort from Abbott on 56 minutes nearly broke the deadlock. The former Preston North End midfielder hit a beautiful volley from 25-yards which beat Turley but flew wide of the Diamonds goal.

After 60 minutes: Bury 0 Diamonds 0

Abbot went close for Bury on 63 minutes when the midfielder saw a close range effort pushed clear by Turley as Bury enjoyed their best spell of the game.

Garner was called upon to make an important save for Bury on 64 minutes when Lowe’s power enabled the Jamaican to fly in a cross that Darby managed to flick goal bound from six yards out.

But a mistake from Bury captain Michael Nelson on 69 minutes gifted Diamonds an opening goal. However, the determination of Darby was there for all to see when the striker battled a no-hope ball to lob Garner and slot home into an empty net.

Bury nearly hit back immediately on 75 minutes when Nelson’s cross from the right flank couldn’t be tucked away by any of the onrushing strikers bearing down on the Diamonds goal.

After 75 minutes: Bury 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds continued to take the game to Bury and Lowe went close on 80 minutes with a blistering shot that flew agonizingly wide of Garner’s post.

Darby nearly caught Garner unaware on 85 minutes but the Bury goalkeeper recovered to deal with a dangerous ball in the penalty area.

But despite a late onslaught from the home-side, Diamonds packed their defence in numbers and managed to keep Bury at bay for an important away victory.

AT FULL TIME: BURY 0 DIAMONDS 1

Bury: Garner, Stuart, Swailes, Nelson (Cramb 79), Forrest, Nugent, Clegg, Connell, Abbott, Woothorpe, Newby.

Subs not used: Preece, Dunfield, O’Shaughnessy, Unsworth.

Bookings: Connell (83), Swailes (85), Clegg (89)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood (Sambrook h/t), Hunter, Edwards, Wardley, Darby (Duffy 86), Bignot, Mills, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Peters, Gray, Dempster.

Bookings: Darby (66)

Referee: Mr P Robinson.

Attendance: 2,291 (193 from Rushden & Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Andrew Edwards (A more solid performance in the centre of defence)

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Hull City 2

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds displayed fantastic fighting qualities to bounce back from 2-1 down to win an astonishing game against promotion-hopefuls Hull City at Nene Park.

The Diamonds were seemingly heading for only their third home defeat of the season when ten-men Hull had cancelled out an unfortunate own goal with strikes early in the second-half.

Diamonds had taken the lead as early as the second minute when Stuart Wardley fought a loose ball with Damien Delaney only for the Hull defender to slot the ball past his own goalkeeper.

But, after going down to ten men following the controversial dismissal of Justin Whittle, Hull hit back in the second half with Jon Otsemobor, on loan from Liverpool, and Jonathan Walters hitting the target.

However, Diamonds’ never say die spirit was evident and when Paul Hall equalised shortly after it seemed as if Brian Talbot’s side would run out worthy winner.

And when Onandi Lowe popped up to hit home his 11th goal of the season, Diamonds knew they had done the job. However, Wardley also got on the act at the death to wrap up a fantastic match and secure three vital points.

Brian recalled Duane Darby to his starting line-up after passing a late fitness test whilst Paul Underwood and Marcus Bignot came back into the side after completing their suspensions.

Andy Edwards was handed his home debut with Hall reverting to the right side of midfielder following his striking role in last weeks defeat against Wrexham.

Hull boss Peter Taylor brought a mass of experience in his side, which included the likes of Stuart Elliott, Ritchie Appleby and former Northampton Town striker Jamie Forrester.

Diamonds started the first half brightly and despite dominating the opening 15 minutes of the game, Delaney’s own goal was all they could show for their efforts.

Andy Burgess and Stuart Wardley bossed the midfield as Hull struggled to get into the game and Darby was full of determination, as he desperately wanted to impress against his former club.

David Bell, back from a trial spell with Middlesbrough, nearly found the target on seven minutes but the midfielder’s shot was palmed away by former York City goalkeeper Alan Fettis.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 1 Hull City 0

But after 15 minutes, Hull soon found their feet. Forrester was looking dangerous and Walters also could have found the net but their closet effort arrived on 17 minutes when Stuart Elliott’s drilled an effort across the face of the goal.

On 22 minutes, Forrester displayed good striking qualities to chest down a difficult floating ball and hit a volley past Billy Turley but wide of the target.

Hall nearly grabbed Diamonds’ second on 23 minutes when he linked up well with Bignot and Darby to drill a dipping shot just over the Hull crossbar.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Hull City 0

But a controversial decision by the match referee, Eddie Evans, turned this game on its head. When Darby collected a long ball, Whittle was adjudged to have denied the Diamonds striker a scoring opportunity although it seemed as if there was cover in the Hull ranks.

 

Hull protested loudly to the referee but they were turned away. It surprised many at Nene Park but the referee stuck with his decision and the Hull midfielder departed.

It wasn’t until the sending-off that Hull turned on the style and somehow Forrester managed to squander a great opportunity when he struck a post following a big error from Edwards.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 1 HULL CITY 0

The second half saw Hull come storming out of the traps and Walters could have got his side back on level terms when his turn and shot nearly caught out Turley but his effort flew past a post.

Forrester had another golden opportunity but squandered a chance on 50 minutes as the Diamonds defence, for the first time in this game, looked jaded with Hull pushing at every opportunity.

And it was little surprise when Otsemobor headed past Turley on 59 minutes to get Hull back on level terms. The defender was unchallenged and he saw his header fly over the Diamonds goalkeeper much to the surprise of the travelling contingent.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Hull City 1

What was more of a surprise was when the visitors took the lead. From another corner, Walters drilled a low shot into the corner of the Diamonds net after he had lost his marker in the penalty area.

But this breathtaking match was full of surprises and as Diamonds push forward they soon saw themselves back on level terms when Hall tucked home a loose ball.

Lowe hit a post on 70 minutes although Fettis saved well from the Jamaican international and Bell also rattled the crossbar before he limped off the field of play with cramp in the leg.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Hull City 2

Forrester should have restored Hull’s lead on 78 minutes when he fired over the crossbar but this was always going to be Diamonds’ day.

Darby nearly connected with a header from Lowe’s cross on 82 minutes and as the timed ticked away it looked as if the home side would have to settle for a share of the spoils.

But with three minutes remaining, Hull struggled to clear their lines and when the ball dropped to Lowe, there was only one likely outcome as the striker fired a shot past Fettis and into the back of the net.

Diamonds even added a fourth when Hall managed to keep the ball in play and as the Jamaican midfielder squared the ball across the face of the goal, Wardley was on hand to power home. It was a fantastic goal to end a fantastic game.

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Edwards, Wardley, Darby, Burgess, Bignot, Bell (Gray 83), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Peters, Mills, Sambrook, Duffy.

Bookings: Edwards (37)

Hull City: Fettis, Anderson, Elliott, Walters, Appleby (Smith h/t), Whittle, Reeves (Melton 74), Forrester, Otsemobor, Delaney, Keates.

Subs not used: Musselwhite, Jevons, Regan.

Bookings: Reeves (72)

Sent off: Whittle (34)

Referee: Mr Eddie Evans

Attendance: 4,713 (949 from Hull City)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Andy Burgess (Was sheer class throughout)

Wrexham 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds could certainly have no complaints about this emphatic defeat as Wrexham kept their promotion hopes alive with a deserved 3-0 victory at the Racecourse Ground.

And it was Andy Morrell who stole the show for the home side with a brace with Diamonds struggling to come to terms with the tricky weather conditions and the pace of midfielder Carlos Edwards, who also grabbed a goal.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was forced to include Andrew Sambrook and Gary Setchell in his starting line-up with both Paul Underwood and Marcus Bignot out through suspension.

Sambrook was given the responsibility of occupying the right side of defence with Setchell playing down the left flank alongside the recalled Stuart Gray.

New signing Andrew Edwards was named amongst the substitutes meaning John Dempster kept his place in the starting line-up alongside Barry Hunter, who was set to go up against his former club.

Paul Hall was reverted back to a striker and played alongside Onandi Lowe, who started despite complaining of illness on Friday. David Bell switched back to the right side of midfield.

Wrexham recalled Jim Whitley and Lee Trundle into their starting line-up as the home side continued to play their traditional 3-5-2 formation with Morrell leading the line in attack.

Wrexham started the half the stronger side in blustery conditions and Paul Edwards’ shot on three minutes, after skipping past two challenges, flew straight into the arms of Billy Turley.

The home-side continued to look the more impressive side in the early stages of this contest and Paul Edwards was continuing to look a consent danger down the left flank.

Diamonds were struggling to cope with the weather conditions and it was the home side who continued to take advantage of the situation with some excellent attacking play.

After 15 minutes: Wrexham 0 Diamonds 0

And it was little surprise when Diamonds fell behind on 16 minutes. Paul Edwards run down the right flank enabled him to cross into a dangerous position and Carlos Edwards was on hand to poke home from close range.

Wrexham continued to look strong going forward and Morrell went close with a header moments later, which failed to trouble Turley.

Lowe attempted a ‘trademark’ free-kick on 21 minutes which flew over the crossbar and later witnessed his effort go across the goal line after beating two Wrexham defenders.

However, it was still the home side who was controlling proceedings and Paul Edwards was giving Sambrook a torrid time down the right flank with his frightening pace.

Turley was called to make an important save on 26 minutes when Brian Carey rocketed a shot from inside the penalty area goal bound. The Diamonds goalkeeper displayed great reflexes to tip the shot over the crossbar.

After 30 minutes: Wrexham 1 Diamonds 0

Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Dibble had not been tested as Wrexham continued to control proceedings in this one sided contest.

In a rare effort, Hall fired over the Wrexham crossbar on 35 minutes after Lowe had battled hard to win a loose ball on the right flank.

Darren Ferguson tested Turley on 38 minutes with a spectacular curling free-kick which would have certainly crept into the net had the Diamonds goalkeeper not reacted quickly.

The home side continued to finish the first half the stronger side and warranted their lead at the interval with Diamonds struggling to cope with the weather conditions.

AT HALF TIME: WREXHAM 1 DIAMONDS 0

Tony Battersby was introduced in the second half, replacing Gray at the interval and the switch nearly paid off when Andy Burgess was gifted a site at goal but blasted high and wide of the target.

But it was Wrexham who, once again, looked the stronger outfit and Carey was given plenty of freedom to fire an effort just over the Diamonds crossbar on 49 minutes.

Wrexham should have doubled their advantage on 56 minutes but Dempster became the hero when he somehow managed to stop Carlos Edwards a near certain goal scoring opportunity.

After 60 minutes: Wrexham 1 Diamonds 0

Edwards was introduced into the action on the hour mark, replacing the unfortunate Setchell who was forced to be replaced after going down in a heavy challenge.

Moment later, Dempster brought out a fine save from Dibble, his first of the match but the home side soon doubled their advantage.

On 62 minutes, Morrell, somehow, managed to lob to ball over the onrushing Turley to notch up his 23rd goal of the season in all competitions.

Morrell was continuing to look dangerous for the home side and the Diamonds defence had no answer for his continued threat. On 67 minutes he was unfortunate to see an effort curl over the Diamonds crossbar.

A Lowe free-kick was spilled by Dibble on 72 minutes but the onrushing Bell couldn’t guide a header into the Wrexham net.

After 75 minutes: Wrexham 2 Diamonds 0

Battersby had a good chance on 76 minutes to reduce Wrexham’s lead but the former Boston and Lincoln striker was thwarted by Dennis Lawrence, who had certainly impressed in the home sides defence.

Diamonds, to their credit, refused to lie down but the game was now over when Morrell delightfully guided a diving header past Turley following Trundle’s excellent cross from the left flank.

Hall saw an effort blocked on the goal line on 81 minutes as Diamonds went in search for a consolation goal but the visitors were certainly not enjoying any luck.

Wrexham were certainly delighting their home crowd with good attacking football as Diamonds were left to reflect on a bad day at the office following the full time whistle. Lowe skied a penalty in the final moments.

AT FULL TIME: WREXHAM 3 DIAMONDS 0

Wrexham: Dibble, Whitley, Roberts (Pejic 83), Carey, Lawrence, C Edwards, Trundle, Ferguson, Morrell, P Edwards, Thomas.

Subs not used: Rogers, Holmes, Jones, Green.

Bookings: Roberts (81)

Diamonds: Turley, Hunter, Wardley, Burgess, Gray (Battersby h/t), Setchell (Edwards 60), Bell, Sambrook, Hall, Dempster (Mills 68), Lowe.

Subs not used: Peters, Duffy.

Bookings: Dempster (52), Lowe (73)

Referee: Mr G Laws

Attendance: 3,441

Diamonds MOTM: Onandi Lowe (Hardworking)

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Bournemouth 1

By Steven Dove

Onandi Lowe’s penalty deep in the second-half helped give Rushden & Diamonds three vital points in their bid to gain automatic promotion this season against promotion contenders Bournemouth.

Diamonds gained revenge for their 3-1 defeat at the Fitness First Stadium earlier this season when Duane Darby grabbed a first before Lowe’s spot-kick sealed the win after Warren Fenney had got the visitors back on level terms.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot received a huge boost prior to kick-off with the news that Darby and Barry Hunter both passed fitness tests following reports they both could miss the game because of injury.

Both players were given fitness tests prior to kick-off and started for Diamonds after coming through OK. It meant Mark Peters and Tony Battersby both remained on the substitute bench.

Meanwhile, Stuart Gray was recalled to the squad following his recovery from a hamstring injury meaning Robert Duffy gave way and failed to make the squad of 16.

Marcus Browning, who had a short spell at Diamonds during the pre-season campaign, was recalled to the Bournemouth side after completing his suspension spell. Six points separated the two teams going into this fixture.

Bournemouth carved open the first opportunity of the game on five minutes when Garreth O’Connor picked the ball up from 25-yards to unleash a shot which beat Billy Turley but brushed the top of the crossbar.

But Diamonds responded soon after with some good attacking football and Lowe was already proving to be a handful with his power and pace.

And Lowe could have easily found the net on ten minutes when he displayed some wonderful ability on the ball to fire wide of Neil Moss’ goal.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Bournemouth 0

Diamonds did eventually break the deadlock on 18 minutes when Darby latched onto a spill from Moss after the former Southampton goalkeeper couldn’t push away Lowe’s low drive. The Diamonds striker slotted home into an empty net.

After going a goal down, Bournemouth responded brightly and the impressive Wade Elliott was looking bright down the right flank and was causing Paul Underwood problems.

Bournemouth were struggling to respond to Diamonds’ pressure and only a dragged effort from Elliott on 29 minutes was the only notable effort in the last 15 minutes.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Bournemouth 0

Lowe dragged an effort wide of the post on 31 minutes as Diamonds continued to look sharp going forward, causing the visitors problems in defence.

James Hayter’s free header rebounded off the crossbar on 35 minutes when Elliott, who continued to look impressive for the visitors, delivered a fantastic cross from the right flank.

This was Bournemouth’s best spell of the game as Diamonds looked under the cosh. Elliott saw a low drive fly wide of the target on 37 minutes.

And Bournemouth, who had looked threatening towards the Diamonds goal for some time, grabbed a deserved equaliser when Feeney slotted home from close range.

Lowe tried a ‘trademark’ free kick minutes before the half-time whistle that whistled wide but it was all square at the interval.

AT HALF TIME – DIAMONDS 1 BOURNEMOUTH 1

Diamonds arrived for the second half without Darby, meaning Battersby partnered Lowe in attack. Battersby nearly made an immediate impact but couldn’t connect with Paul Hall’s cross on the right flank

Diamonds started the second half stronger than their opponents and Lowe was guilty of not releasing the ball to Battersby on 52 minutes which would have seen the former Boston striker have a clear sight on goal.

Diamonds were continuing to put pressure on the visitors defence and Lowe continued to look dangerous and his shot on 59 minutes failed to find its target.

After 60 minutes: Bournemouth 1 Diamonds 1

Danny Thomas, who had replaced Fenney on 59 minutes, was causing some danger for Diamonds down the left flank as Bournemouth continued to mount pressure.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Bournemouth 1

Bournemouth were creating plenty of opportunities but couldn’t find the final touch in front of goal as Diamonds were firmly on the back foot.

But in the space of two mad minutes, Diamonds were back on level terms when an apparent handball in the home sides penalty area left Lowe to tuck away a spot kick for his tenth goal of the season.

It left the Bournemouth players frustrated but Lowe struck the penalty with confidence as he hammered the ball home into the top corner of the net.

Bournemouth began to throw bodies forward and Steve Fletcher connected with a header, which flew into the arms of Turley deep into stoppage time.

The visitors continued to press forward in the final stages of the match and it was a nervous ending to the game but Diamonds held on to three vital promotion points.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 2 BOURNEMOUTH 1

DIAMONDS: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Wardley, Darby (Battersby h/t), Burgess, Bignot, Bell, Hall, Dempster, Lowe.

Subs not used: Peters, Gray, Mills, Sambrook.

Bookings:

BOURNEMOUTH: Moss, Purches (Holmes 85), Browning, Feeney (Thomas 59), C Fletcher, S Fletcher, Elliott, O’Connor, Hayter, Tindall (Buxton 80), Cummings.

Subs not used: Stock, Tardif.

Bookings: C Fletcher (55), Browning (79), Tindall (80), Cummings (82)

Referee: Mr F Stretton

Attendance: 4,353 (672 from Bournemouth)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Andy Burgess (settling in well in the centre of midfield)

%d bloggers like this: