Orient 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove
The championship title will go down to the wire following this 0-0 draw against Leyton Orient as Diamonds did everything but find the back of the net in an excellent team performance.

Hartlepool’s win over Shrewsbury has meant the last game of the season at Nene Park will be a nail-biting encounter as the top two do battle for the coveted prize.

Diamonds enjoyed the majority of the possession but couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net as Orient’s stubborn resistant wore off and done the trick.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot welcomed back Barry Hunter to his starting line-up as the former Northern Ireland international recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the recent win over Macclesfield.

That meant John Dempster moved to amongst the substitutes despite his excellent performance on Bank Holiday Monday. David Bell kept his place in midfield with Stuart Wardley and Gary Mills remaining on the sidelines.

Jamaican international Onandi Lowe was back in the Diamonds squad but had to settle for a place on the bench. The striker returned to Nene Park on Friday afternoon after flying to his home country for personal reasons but it was Duane Darby and Dean Holdsworth who started in attack.

Orient boss Paul Brush made two changes to his staring line-up. Ciaran Toner and Chris Tate were recalled to the starting line-up as Lee Thorpe and John Martin had to settle for a place on the bench.

Diamonds made a bight start to the game and nearly opened the scoring in spectacular fashion when Stuart Gray’s fierce volley flew inches past the Orient goal.

But within a few minutes, Orient had their chance to open the scoring. A long throw from Justin Miller was eloquently flicked on by Chris Tate who witnessed the ball fly inches over the Diamonds crossbar.

Diamonds, who were attacking the goal behind the thousands of travelling fans, remained impressive and Holdsworth continued to cause havoc for the Orient defence with aerial ability.

On 11 minutes, Paul Hall broke clear of the Orient defence to fire a shot but the Diamonds midfielder was denied by a flying one handed save from Orient keeper Glenn Morris.

Encouraged by the buoyant Diamonds fans, the visitors looked strong on the attack and on 14 minutes Darby was gifted his first opportunity which was spooned wide of the target.

After 15 minutes: Orient 0 Diamonds 0

A delightful cross-field ball by Burgess on 16 minutes was picked up by Gray whose pinpoint cross for Darby saw the Diamonds striker head over the Orient crossbar.

Burgess, whose display in the heart of the Diamonds midfield was noticeable, curled a breathtaking shot on 20 minutes which left Morris stranded but the Orient goalkeeper was relieved to see the shot go the wrong side of the post.

Orient’s attacks were rare but Tate’s went close to causing Diamonds trouble when he nearly connected with a right-wing cross from Matthew Joseph on 21 minutes.

Orient best chance of the game fell to Matthew Brazier on 27 minutes when the midfielder was denied by the onrushing Turley from six-yards.

After 30 minutes: Orient 0 Diamonds 0

A goalmouth scramble, which involved Darby and Gray both having efforts on goal, resulted in some nervy moments for Orient as Diamonds’ attacking play continued to look positive.

The first goal of the game should have arrived for Diamonds on 40 minutes. And it was skipper Paul Underwood who should have broken the deadlock when he blasted over from six-yard.

News began to flitter through that Hartlepool had taken the lead over Shrewsbury but, to their credit, Diamonds continued to push forward in the closing stages of the first half.

Gray had an opportunity in added time but despite enjoying the majority of the possession, Diamonds had to settle for going in all-square at the half-time whistle.

AT HALF TIME: ORIENT 0 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds nearly made an immediate impact in the second-half when after only 46 seconds, Bell’s fierce free kick struck the Orient wall.

The visitors continued to enjoy more of the early possession and on 50 minutes Marcus Bignot tested Morris with a long bouncing ball that nearly deceived the Orient goalkeeper.

Diamonds’ passing game, at times, was outstanding but it was the finally delivery that was sometimes the downfall as the visitors continued to impress.

On 59 minutes, Lowe was introduced to the action, replacing the unfortunate Holdsworth, who had worked his socks off all afternoon.

After 60 minutes: Orient 0 Diamonds 0

Toner struck a rare effort for Orient on 61 minutes wide of Turley’s goal as the home side struggled to find a way past the Diamonds defence.

The Diamonds bench were out of their seats on 63 minutes when a quick free-kick from Darby released Bell. As the youngster burst into the Orient penalty area the onrushing Toner denied the midfielder cutting the ball back for the waiting Lowe, who would certainly stuck the ball home.

Moments later, Bell was gifted a golden opportunity when he found himself all alone in the Orient penalty area after Lowe had squared the ball across the face of the box. However, the midfielder struggled to get the ball from underneath his feet and a tame shot meant an easy save Morris.

After 75 minutes: Orient 0 Diamonds 0

Orient began to enjoy their best spell of the game as they looked to spoil the championship party. On 78 minutes, Tate caused concern for Diamonds with a shot that flew inches wide.

Diamonds continued to throw bodies forward and a bizarre header from Lowe on 83 minutes brought out a fantastic reflex save from Morris.

With news coming through that Hartlepool seemed set to pick up all three points, Diamonds threw caution to the wind with extra bodies being deployed in attack.

It was Orient finishing the game stronger and a Andy Harris long range shot nearly caught Turley off guard.

But Diamonds could off sealed the championship in glorious style in the closing stages but Darby somehow couldn’t scramble the ball home from close range.

Orient: Morris, Joseph, Lockwood, Heald, Toner, Brazier (Fletcher 65), Purser, Tate, Alexander, Turner, Miller (Harris 68).

Subs not used: Harrison, Thorpe, Martin.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Edwards, Holdsworth (Lowe 59), Darby, Burgess, Gray, Bignot, Bell, Hall.

Subs not used: Talbot, Sambrook, Duffy, Dempster

Bookings: Edwards (17)

Referee: Mr Phil Prosser (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 5,180 (1,240 from Diamonds)

Diamonds MOTM: Stuart Gray (Non stop work rate)

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Rushden & Diamonds 3 Macclesfield Town 0

By Steven

Dean Holdsworth’s brace was overlooked by a stunning strike from David Bell in the 3-0 win over Macclesfield Town which puts Rushden & Diamonds needing one win from two games to secure the Third Division title.

Hartlepool’s 2-2 draw against Rochdale means Diamonds could capture the converted prize at Leyton Orient should they go to Brisbane Road and collect all three points.

Bell’s stunning strike midway through the second half will be the talking point from this game as the promotion party continued at Nene Park. Holdsworth also his celebrated his performance with a brace.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot was without Stuart Wardley and Barry Hunter prior to the game and with Onandi Lowe also missing, there were a few changes to the side.

In came John Dempster at the heart of the Diamonds defence, partnering Andrew Edwards, who passed a late fitness test prior to the game following an injury at Carlisle.

Bell was drafted into the centre of midfield alongside Andy Burgess meaning Stuart Gray kept his place on the left flank. Gary Mills missed out after picking up an ankle injury with Holdsworth and Duane Darby starting in attack.

Macclesfield Town boss David Moss was able to name the same starting line-up to the one the picked up three vital points against Darlington on Saturday.

The visitors showed their sporting gesture prior to the game when they applauded Diamonds onto the field after securing their promotion on Saturday at Carlisle.

Macclesfield, playing in attractive tangerine shirts, shorts and socks, made a positive start and nearly opened the scoring on nine minutes when Danny Whitaker smashed a 25-yard shot against the crossbar.

Diamond nearly responded when Burgess’ shot was blocked by a mass of Macclesfield defenders who had descended into the penalty area following a mazy run from Bell down the right flank.

Holdsworth was unfortunate not to open the scoring on 14 minutes when he found space in the Macclesfield penalty area but saw his shot bravely blocked by Macclesfield goalkeeper Lee Martin.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Macclesfield Town 0

Bell’s shot on 18 minutes flew over the Macclesfield crossbar but Diamonds continued to create the better opportunity in a free-flowing encounter.

Diamonds continued to enjoy the majority of the possession and Darby and Holdsworth both squandered half-chances in quick succession.

Macclesfield’s attacks were rare but Whitakers had an effort on 28 minutes which was blocked by the Diamonds defence.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Macclesfield Town 0

On 30 minutes, Holdsworth showed great trickery on the edge of the Macclesfield penalty area to twist and shot past Martin’s left-hand post.

A mistake by Michael Welch in the heart of the Macclesfield midfield gifted Holdsworth with an excellent opportunity but the former Bolton and Wimbledon striker lifted his effort over the crossbar.

Macclesfield came close to breaking the deadlock when John Miles struck a curling shot on 36 minutes against the crossbar although Turley seemed to get the faintest of fingertips to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net

Paul Underwood hit a long-range effort straight into the arms of Martin on 40 minutes as Diamonds continued to impress on the attack.

Diamonds went close on 41 minutes when Bell’s shot was spilled by Martin but from the resulting corner, Diamonds broke the deadlock.

Burgess’ corner was spilt by Martin and Holdsworth was there to poke home from close rang to notch home his first goal in Diamonds colours.

It was a fitting end to an excellent first-half which saw both sides create good opportunities in an entertaining game.

AT HALF-TIME: DIAMONDS 1 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 0

Macclesfield nearly got off to the perfect start in the second-half when George Abbey flashed an effort across the face of Turley’s goal immediately after the restart.

Darby nearly capitalized on some hesitation in the Macclesfield defence on 47 minutes when he chased a lost cause to intervene the onrushing Martin. However the Diamonds striker was unable to get the ball from underneath his feet and the Macclesfield defence were able to clear.

Kyle Lightbourne, who having a quiet game for Macclesfield, tasted hit first notable effort on 53 minutes when his turn-and-shot went straight into the arms of Turley.

Darby was denied on 55 minutes by a brave save from Martin after the Diamonds striker was put in the clear by Marcus Bignot’s long ball into the penalty area.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Macclesfield Town 0

As the game became scrappy, Diamonds doubled their advantage in spectacular fashion as Bell struck a magnificent 20-yard curling shot on 65 minutes to leave Martin watching ball fly into the back of his net.

The goal saw Turley come rushing out of his goal as Bell was swamped by his team-mates and the Diamonds bench.

And a third goal was not far away as five minutes later; Holdsworth grabbed his second when Edwards guided a header into the path of the striker to head home from two-yards.

To their credit, Macclesfield kept pushing and Lighbourne went close with a header but Turley was aware of the situation and made a relatively easy save at his near post.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 3 Macclesfield Town 0

Macclesfield were gifted the chance of a late consolation when they were rewarded a penalty but Whitaker wasted the opportunity by blasting wide from 12-yards.

Diamonds had further opportunities in the closing stage of the half through Holdsworth and Darby as Diamonds continued to go in search for a forth goal.

Holdsworth had an effort blocked on the line late on but with Hartlepool only drawing the celebrations went on at Nene Park late in the night

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 3 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 0

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Edwards, Holdsworth, Darby (Duffy 87), Burgess, Gray (Talbot 87), Bignot (Sambrook 87), Bell, Hall, Dempster.

Subs not used: Peters, Setchell.

Bookings:

Macclesfield Town: Martin, Adams, Tinson, Lightbourne, Priest, Whitaker, Welch, Abbey, Macauley, Munroe, Miles.

Subs not used: Hitchen, Tipton, Haddrell, Little, Higgins.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr T.A Parkes.

Attendance: 4,494 (221 from Macclesfield)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Duane Darby (battling performance)

Carlisle 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds celebrated their promotion to the Second Division by returning to the top of the league following this 2-1 victory over Carlisle United at Brunton Park.

But the game ended in disappointment as Stuart Wardley, who scored the opening goal, left the field with minutes remaining on a stretcher following a horrific challenge from Mark Summerbell, which resulted in the midfielder being shown a second yellow card.

However it didn’t dampen the promotion party as Diamonds leapfrogged Hartlepool. Andrew Edwards added a second for Diamonds and despite a late consolation and onslaught from Carlisle, the visitors held on for victory.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot went into the match making one change to the side that secured a vital win against near-neighbours Lincoln City last Saturday at Nene Park.

Onandi Lowe was missing from the starting line-up due to personal reasons, which resulted in him flying back to Jamaica. Dean Holdsworth, making his second start in Diamonds colours, replaced the striker in the starting line-up.

Paul Underwood and Duane Darby, who were both substituted during the win over Lincoln, were passed fit to play. Stuart Gray kept his place on the left side of midfield.

Carlisle boss Roddy Collins made four changes to his side. Mark Birch, Lee Maddison, Jon McCarthy and Craig Farrell were all back in the starting line-up after missing the 1-1 draw against York City in midweek.

Carlisle started brightly and a right-footed driven shot in the opening minute from captain Peter Murphy was an early indication that the home-side were fully intending to put Diamonds’ promotion party on hold.

Moments later, Carlisle should have been in front when Craig Russell skipped past the challenge of Andrew Edwards to deliver an inch perfect cross, only for Farrell to side foot a shot over the crossbar.

Holdsworth nearly broke the deadlock for Diamonds in a blistering start to the game. The former Wimbledon and Bolton striker struck on four minutes but saw his effort, from the edge of the box, travel over the crossbar.

Diamonds were certainly struggling to get the ball out of their own half as Carlisle continued to impress in the opening stages of this contest.

After 15 minutes: Carlisle 0 Diamonds 0

On 15 minutes, Holdsworth’s trickery in the centre of the park released Wardley, but the Diamonds midfielder wasted a glorious opportunity when he blasted over the Carlisle crossbar.

As the large Brunton Park crowd tried to cheer on their side, Diamonds continued to show signs that they may break the deadlock as Holdsworth’s effort from close range on 20 minutes fizzled wide.

Gray’s miss-hit free-kick on 25 minutes failed to cause Carlisle goalkeeper Matthew Glennon any trouble although Diamonds continued to show positive signs of breaking the deadlock.

Wardley, who started the game impressively for Diamonds, nearly picked out the perfect pass for Holdsworth but the striker strayed into an offside position, much to the frustration on the visitor’s bench.

After 30 minutes: Carlisle 0 Diamonds 0

A sloppy spell of defending in the Diamonds defence resulted in a dangerous free kick for the home side and Billy Turley acrobatically saved Russell’s left footed shot.

A header from Will McDonagh resulted in Turley having to make an important save on 38 minutes as Carlisle began to get themselves back into the game.

Diamonds’ first corner of the game resulted in Darby having a glorious opportunity to open the scoring but the striker failed to connect with the moving ball.

The first-half concluded with Diamonds creating a good opportunity. A deadly ball from the right flank caused problems in the Carlisle defence and Birch had to make a timely tackle to stop an obvious goal.

AT HALF TIME: CARLISLE 0 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds thought they should have been awarded a penalty two minutes into the second half when Holdsworth, who skipped past two Carlisle defenders, was bundled over. The referee, however, waved away the protests.

The visitors started the second-half brightly and Darby went close with a long-range effort, which flew wide of Glennon’s goal.

But the deadlock was broken for Diamonds on 55 minutes. Darby’s cross from the right flank was dummied beautifully by Marcus Bignot and as the ball rolled across the face of the box, Wardley was on hand to smash a shot in the back of the net.

After 60 minutes: Carlisle 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds edged closer towards the Second Division when they added a second on 63 minutes when Burgess’ delightful free-kick was powered into the back of the net by a fierce close-range header from Edwards, to notch his first goal for the club.

Carlisle refused to lie down and they continued to attack Turley’s goal with some long-range efforts.

Rundle squandered a good opportunity for Carlisle on 68 minutes, which drifted wide of Turley’s goal.

Paul Hall brought out a fantastic save from Glennon on 70 minutes when the Jamaican midfielder struck from 30-yards as the Carlisle shot-stopper tipped the effort over the crossbar.

After 75 minutes: Carlisle 0 Diamonds 2

With news flittering throw that both Hartlepool and Bournemouth were both losing, the large Diamonds crowd began the celebrations as the visitors began to look for a third.

But this match was not over as Carlisle pulled a goal back. Brian Wake crossed from the right flank and as Turley could only palm away the ball into the box, Stuart Green struck home on 80 minutes.

With five minutes remaining, Diamonds were on the back foot and Edwards, who was enjoying his best game for the club, made a timely tackle on Wake to prevent a goal scoring opportunity.

But Carlisle’s opportunity of snatching an equaliser was dented as Summerbell was dismissed for an awful challenge on Wardley, whose impressive performance ended on a stretcher.

But despite a late onslaught, Diamonds held on to an excellent victory as the promotion party began.

AT FULL TIME: Carlisle 1 Diamonds 2

Carlisle: Glennon, Birch, Maddison, Murphy, McDonagh (Green 41), Kelly, McCarthy (Baldacchino 59), Summerbell, Russell, Rundle, Farrell (Wake 53).

Subs not used: Andrews, Keen.

Bookings: Summerbell (57 + 85), Birch (62)

Sent-off: Summerbell (85)

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Hunter, Edwards, Bignot (Sambrook 58), Wardley (Bell 88), Burgess (Mills 83), Gray, Hall, Holdsworth, Darby.

Subs not used: Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Holdsworth (36), Edwards (90)

Referee: Mr S Mathieson.

Attendance: 5,468

Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Wardley (Deserved his goal)

Match Gallery Pictures courtesy of Mal Swinden

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Lincoln City 0

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds are one win away from securing promotion this season as they edged out a battling Lincoln City side thanks to Onandi Lowe’s first-half goal.

Lowe struck with a header to give Diamonds all three points and keep the championship bandwagon rolling along. The promotion party was spoilt on the day as other results failed to go in Diamonds’ favour.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot welcomed Duane Darby to the starting line-up after he was passed fit to play following doubts over a hamstring injury which has plagued him over the past few weeks.

That meant Dean Holdsworth moved back amongst the substitutes with Stuart Gray also keeping his place in the side despite David Bell returning from a trial spell with Middlesbrough.

There was no place for Mark Peters, Adam Sollitt or Daniel Talbot meaning John Dempster, Robert Duffy and Andrew Sambrook kept their places in the squad.

Lincoln boss Keith Alexander made two changes to his side with Simon Yeo and Stuart Bimson being drafted into the side. Ex Diamonds’ star Richard Butcher started with captain Paul Morgan also in the starting line-up after passing a late fitness test.

Both sides made an encouraging start and Lowe was unfortunate not to hit the target when his effort was blocked by the onrushing Lincoln defenders.

Lowe was continuing to cause problems for the Lincoln defence as his power and pace was getting the better of Imps defender Simon Weaver.

On eight minutes, Lowe struck and trademark free-kick over the Lincoln crossbar as Diamonds continued to impress in the opening stages of the game.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Lincoln City 0

Neither side were looking likely to open the deadlock until the 17th minute when Lowe pounced on a cross from Gray to guide a header past Lincoln goalkeeper Alan Marriott and into the corner of the net.

Lincoln, who were struggling to make an impact on the game, nearly fell further behind on 20 minutes when Marcus Bignot’s cross was met by the head of Stuart Wardley but Marriott was able to make a comfortable save.

Darby miss-timed shot on 23 minutes nearly crept into the corner of the net as Diamonds continued to completely dominate proceedings in this one-side contest.

Marriott produced a breathtaking save on 29 minutes when he denied Darby a goal bound header to keep his side in this game, which Diamonds continued to dominate.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Lincoln City 0

Lowe, who was enjoying an impressive afternoon, hit another good free kick on 37 minutes from 25-yards, which Marriott was able to gather.

Diamonds continued to look impressive as the visitors struggled to make an impact and Lowe went close minutes before half-time with a blistering shot, which flew inches wide.

Diamonds ended the half the same way they had started and the 1-0 score line was thoroughly deserved with Lincoln not able to register a single shot on target.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 1 LINCOLN CITY 0

Diamonds began the second half strongly and Lowe was nearly put into the clear but Gray’s final ball was cut off by Morgan, who was looking impressive in the Lincoln defence.

There were shouts for a penalty when Darby went tumbling in the Lincoln penalty area on 54 minutes but the match referee waved away the protests from Diamonds players.

Lincoln still hadn’t got out of the blocks and Chris Cornelly should have done better when the striker was gifted a shot on goal moments later, deciding instead to fire the ball across the face of the box.

Lincoln’s first shot on target arrived on 58 minutes when Mark Bailey drilled an effort straight into the arms of Turley.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Lincoln City 0

Turley produced a heroic save on 65 minutes when Bailey’s header was met by a close-range header from Dean Cropper. The Diamonds goalkeeper displayed great reflexes to prevent the Imps striker from scoring.

Holdsworth was introduced into the action, replacing Darby, who got a standing ovation from the Diamonds faithful for his hard-working performance.

Peter Mayo spooned a free kick over the crossbar on 72 minutes as Lincoln began to show signs that they could get into the game.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Lincoln City 0

Burgess tried his luck from 25-yards on 76 minutes but the midfielder saw his shot fly over the crossbar after creating some space on the left flank.

Lowe displayed great trickery on 81 minutes as he avoided two tackles to fire a shot, which was saved well by the onrushing Marriott.

Bimson’s drive on 83 minutes whistled past Turley’s right-hand post whilst Holdsworth saw an effort saved by Marriott, diving low at his near post.

Cropper’s close range header was saved by Turley as Lincoln enjoyed their best spell of the game, trying to grab something from this game.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 1 LINCOLN CITY 0

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood (Sambrook 75), Hunter, Edwards, Wardley, Darby (Holdsworth 69), Burgess, Gray, Bignot, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Bell, Duffy, Dempster.

Bookings: Hunter (59), Wardley (70)

Lincoln City: Marriott, Bailey, Futcher, Morgan, Gain, Yeo (Pearce 62), Weaver, Bimson, Butcher, Bloomer (Cropper 51), Cornelly (Mayo 65).

Subs not used: Smith, Sedgemore.

Bookings: Mayo (67), Butcher (79)

Referee: Mr M Fletcher

Attendance: 4,962 (812 from Lincoln)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Onandi Lowe (Hard working display)

Bristol Rovers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven Dove

Onandi Lowe maintained his incredible scoring record against Bristol Rovers as he bagged a brace to put Rushden & Diamonds closer to the Third Division championship

The Jamaican international striker grabbed a goal either half to put him on 15 goals for the season, level pegging with midfielder Paul Hall in the race for the clubs top marksmen. Lowe has now scored six goals in four games against Rovers.

Diamonds had gone behind as early as the second minute when Vitalijs Astafjevs had put Rovers into the lead. But Diamonds kept their heads held high to keep their unbeaten running going.

Dean Holdsworth was handed his Diamonds debut with Duane Darby continuing to struggle with a hamstring injury, which has hampered him all week.

The former Wimbledon and Bolton striker partnered Lowe in attack with Stuart Gray also keeping his place of the left-side of midfielder despite the return of David Bell, who was named amongst the substitutes.

There was no place in the squad for Mark Peters meaning Andrew Sambrook, Robert Duffy and John Dempster were included on the bench for Diamonds.

Bristol Rovers’ new signing Andy Rammell was handed his home debut for the club following his transfer from Wycombe Wanderers. Ijah Anderson was out for Rovers through injury meaning Danny Boxall was drafted in to cover in defence.

Diamonds made the worst possible start to the game when, after only two minutes, Rovers broke the deadlock. Following a long kick up field, Astafjevs was able to skip past Paul Underwood and fire an unstoppable shot past Billy Turley.

After Diamonds had made a good opening to the game, it shocked the visitors and a quick response was needed.

However, it was the home side who continue to look dangerous on the attack and Rammell nearly doubled Rovers advantage on six minutes when he saw his header scooped off the line from Barry Hunter.

Diamonds were struggling to find a way past the Rovers defence and with the home side pursuing with the offside trap, it saw the visitors limited in their opportunities.

After 15 minutes: Rovers 1 Diamonds 0

A horrible mistake from Turley on 15 minutes nearly gifted Rammell a goal but the Diamonds goalkeeper was sparred his blushes when his miss-kick was dealt with by Hunter.

Diamonds first notable effort arrived on 17 minutes when Lowe twisted past Kevin Austin to fire a shot from an acute angle past Rovers goalkeeper Scott Howie’s left-hand post.

Hunter fired over the crossbar two minutes later but it was Rovers who continued to look dangerous on the attack.

After 30 minutes: Rovers 1 Diamonds 0

Rovers were completely running the show and Diamonds were showing nothing for their efforts as the Pirates continued to look the more likely to team to score.

Diamonds’ chances were rare but, against the run of play, the visitors were back on level terms. Stuart Wardley headed in a loose ball back into the area for Lowe to bravely beat Howie on 36 minutes with his head to nod home from close-range.

The goal was somewhat undeserved but it sparked Diamond and Lowe nearly went close moments later with a header but the Jamaican was edged out by Austin.

Rovers ended the half strongly but they had to make do with going in level at the interval, despite dominating large periods of the opening 45 minutes.

AT HALF-TIME: ROVERS 1 DIAMONDS 1

It was a jaded start for both sides in the second half with missed opportunities and some bad passing.

Lowe was struggling to display his power and pace and threaten the Rovers goal as the Diamonds striker was closely watched by Austin.

Diamonds nearly took the lead on 53 minutes when Andy Edwards, who had pushed forward for a free kick, was denied by a reflex save from Howie, who managed to scoop the ball out from underneath his body.

Rovers went close on 57 minutes when Rob Quinn drilled a volley wide of the target but it was the visitors who, for the first time in the game, were beginning to enjoy the majority of the possession.

After 60 minutes: Rovers 1 Diamonds 1

Holdsworth, who was having a quiet game for Diamonds, went close on 64 minutes after the striker cut in from the flank to fizz a shot just inches the wrong side of Howie’s post.

Diamonds were looking dangerous on the attack and on 67 minutes, the visitors took the lead.

A delightful sweeping move involving Andy Burgess, Underwood and Holdsworth enabled Hall to chip the ball over Howie from the flank to leave Lowe with the simplest of goals, scoring from a few yards into an empty net.

Rovers’ play was starting to frustrate the home crowd with their inaccurate passing and their sloppy play as Diamonds began to take full advantage.

After 75 minutes: Rovers 1 Diamonds 2

Rovers boss Ray Graydon was quickly forced to make changes to his side which quickly saw Grazioli and Wayne Carlisle thrown into the action, with the home side playing three in attack.

Astafjevs tried his luck from a 25-yard free-kick which was pushed aside by th flying Turley as Rovers continued to push bodies forward to try and salvage something from this contest.

Lowe nearly opened an opportunity to extend Diamonds’ lead on 83 minutes but the striker was thwarted by Boxall.

Rovers threw bodies forward in the closing stages but were unable to get past the Diamonds defence as the visitors held on with four added minutes remaining.

AT FULL TIME: ROVERS 1 DIAMONDS 2

Rovers: Howie, Parker (Carlisle 76), Boxall, Austin, Barrett, Quinn (Tait 71), Hodges, Hyde, Llewellyn (Grazioli 64), Rammell, Astafjevs.

Subs not used: Bryant, Street.

Bookings: Rammell (42), Quinn (45)

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Hunter, Edwards, Underwood, Hall (Sambrook 81) Wardley, Burgess, Gray, Lowe, Holdsworth (Duffy 84).

Subs not used: Mills, Bell, Dempster.

Bookings: Bignot (43), Hall (62), Wardley (82)

Referee: Mr Clive Penton.

Attendance: 6,736 (350 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Barry Hunter (Consistent)

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