Rushden & Diamonds 2 Plymouth Argyle 1

By Steven Dove

Two goals in the space of a minute from Onandi Lowe and Rodney Jack gave Diamonds their first win in Division Two.

Lowe’s towering header and Jack’s solo effort, his first ever goal for Diamonds, in the second half were enough to seal three points against Plymouth Argyle.

Tony Capaldi kept Diamonds nerves jangling with a 76th minute strike but Diamonds did enough to secure an opening win at Nene Park.

Brian Talbot was handed a boost prior to kick-off as he named an unchanged side to the one that was defeated against West Ham United.

Jack partnered Lowe in attack with Stuart Gray and Duane Darby remaining on the bench for Diamonds.

Plymouth, winners of the Third Division championship two-seasons-ago, named a strong starting line-up with Jason Bent and Marino Keith expected to cause Diamonds problems.

After a scrappy start, Diamonds nearly opened the scoring on two minutes when Paul Hall’s volley was dragged wide of the target.

Diamonds were praying from a penalty on six minutes when Lowe was seemingly brought down by Argyle’s centre-half Paul Wotton. However, the referee waved away the appeals.

Lowe was causing torment in the Plymouth defence and saw a free-kick on eight minutes strike the wall.

Jack was handed a golden opportunity two minutes later when the Diamonds striker fired over the crossbar from close-range following Lowe’s right wing cross.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Plymouth 0

Plymouth, who were sporting bright orange jersey’s, carved open their first opportunity when David Norris cut in from the right to drag a shot wide of Turley’s goal.

Diamonds continued to enjoy more of the possession and Lowe’s 30-yard effort nearly caught out Plymouth goalkeeper Romain Larrieu.

The visitors rarely threatened but a thunderous shot on 19 minutes from Lee Hodges produced a fine flying save from Billy Turley.

Lowe was causing Plymouth problems as the Jamaican’s power and pace gave him a number of opportunities at the visitor’s goal.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Plymouth 0

Keith should have tested Turley on 34 minutes when the Argyle striker dragged an effort after creating himself space in the Diamonds penalty area.

Chances were few and far between as the referee made a number of decisions to the frustration of the Diamond fans.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 0 PLYMOUTH 0

The second-half saw a slow opening and it wasn’t until Graham Coughlan had a header saved on 52 minutes by Turley that the game began to open up.

And as the game began to open up, Diamonds broke the deadlock as Lowe climbed above the Plymouth defence to head home Gary Mills’ cross.

And moments later, Diamonds doubled their advantage as Jack capitalised on a back pass from Lee Hodges to round past Larrieu and slot into an empty net.

Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock had already criticised his defence following last week’s Carling Cup exit against Colchester and no doubt the former Dundee manger would be fuming at this latest showing.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 2 Plymouth Argyle 0

Plymouth rarely threatened and Keith’s tame effort on 64 minutes gave Turley little trouble.

Burgess’ left wing cross on 68 minutes picked out Hall in the centre of the area but the Jamaican was unable to find any power behind his header.

Norris’ header on 71 minutes was a rare effort for Plymouth as Diamonds remained firmly in control of proceedings.

An awful challenge from Friio on Burgess left the Diamonds bench fuming and resulted in Brian being sent to the stands for consistent arguing.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Plymouth Argyle 0

Plymouth, unexpectedly, got themselves back into the game on 76 minutes when Capaldi’s curling effort from outside the area gave Turley no chance.

Ian Stonebridge fired over on 80 minutes as Plymouth pushed bodies forward in the closing stages.

Turley was asked to make a number stops with five minutes remaining as the pressure on the Diamonds defence increased. 

However, Plymouth could not find a way through to spark celebrations from the Diamonds fans and record the clubs first ever win in Division Two.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 2 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills, Edwards, Hunter, Jack (Darby 79), Burgess, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Gray, Dempster, Talbot

Bookings: Mills (4)

Plymouth Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell (Adams 80), Hodges (Stonebridge 66), Friio, Coughlan, Norris, Bent, Evans, Capaldi, Wotton, Keith (Lowndes 75).

Subs not used: Aljofree, McCormick.

Bookings: Friio

Referee: Mr B Knight

Attendance: 4,045 (989 from Plymouth)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Onandi Lowe

Date Published: 16th August 2003

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