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)

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