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)

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