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)

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