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)

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