Tranmere 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds spoilt the Tranmere party by recording their first away victory in Division Two.

Rodney Jack and David Bell grabbed the goals as Tranmere missed out on equalling a club 18-match undefeated record.

Despite Gary Jones pulling a goal back for the home-side and hitting the crossbar late on, Diamonds held on to a fully deserved three points.

Diamonds went into the match without the services of Onandi Lowe, scorer of three goals this season, with a head injury.

It meant Duane Darby partnered Rodney Jack in attack with Gary Mills keeping his place in the starting line-up at the expense of Stuart Gray.

Owen Story was given his first taste of first-team football with a spot amongst the substitutes.

Tranmere boss Ray Mathias named an unchanged starting line-up to the side that drew with Hartlepool United last week.

Simon Haworth nearly gave Tranmere the perfect start to the game inside the opening minute when he was given a free header which the striker guided wide.

The home-side started strongly and moment’s later Haworth was given another header but on this occasion he failed to trouble Billy Turley.

However, despite soaking up the early pressure Diamonds took the lead on six minutes. A cross from the right flank by Marcus Bignot saw Jack sweep the ball home on the volley past Rovers goalkeeper John Achterberg.

Tranmere nearly responded soon after when Ryan Taylor’s corner was flicked towards goal by Haworth, which forced Turley to tip over the crossbar.

After 15 minutes: Tranmere 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds soon began to find their feet after a nervy start and on 19 minutes Paul Hall struck the side netting from Andy Burgess’ pinpoint cross.

Turley produced a breathtaking save on 23 minutes to keep his side in front when he stretched to meet Jones’ powerful header.

Jack had a header cleared off the line on 27 minutes as Diamonds, following a slow start, began to control the game.

After 30 minutes: Tranmere 0 Diamonds 1

Ian Sharps flashed a header wide on 30 minutes as Tranmere tried to discover their early match form.

And Diamonds’ fantastic play saw them double their advantage when Bell’s one-two with Jack saw the young midfielder lob Achterberg in spectacular style on 33 minutes.

Mills tried a 30-yard effort on 37 minutes and moments later Jack went close with a snap-shot from inside the area.

Tranmere nearly responded before the break but Iain Hume’s curling effort flew the wrong side of a post.

AT HALF-TIME: TRANMERE 0 DIAMONDS 2

Tranmere came out of the blocks in the second-half and Taylor’s corner on 46 minutes was headed towards goal by Graham Allen, which Turley was equal with.

The home-side began to push bodies forward and their was nearly an embarrassing moments for Burgess as he went close to diverting the ball into his own net.

Darby had a shot blocked on 58 minutes in a rare second-half effort for Diamonds.

After 60 minutes: Tranmere 0 Diamonds 2

Eugene Didi went close for Tranmere in a number of successive corners won on 61 minutes but the Diamonds defence stood strong to combat the bombardment.

Tranmere continued to enjoy the majority of the possession without really testing Diamonds and a wayward effort from Sean Connelly on 66 minutes was the closest the home-side had come for some considerable time.

However, moments after coming on the field substitute Alex Hay crossed for Jones whose diving header from close range was unstoppable by Turley.

As the Prenton Park fans got behind their team, Tranmere began to spur on, and Haworth went inches wide on 71 minutes with a thunderous header.

Turley was forced to make an important stop from Jones on 73 minutes when the Tranmere striker found space in the penalty area to drive a low shot.

After 75 minutes: Tranmere 1 Diamonds 2

Hall tried his luck from 30-yards on 76 minutes although Achterberg made a comfortable save.

Tranmere continued to push bodies forward but Andrew Edwards and Barry Hunter were turning solid performances’ at the heart of the Diamonds’ defence.

Haworth nearly caught Turley unaware on 84 minutes with a snap-shot that nearly crept into the corner of the Diamonds net.

Tranmere hit the crossbar in the closing stages when Hume deflected Jones shot and Turley pulled off a breathtaking from Haworth to help record a first ever away victory in Division Two.

AFTER 90 MINUTES: TRANMERE 1 DIAMONDS 2

Tranmere: Achterberg, Connelly, Roberts, Allen, Sharps, Hume, Mellon, Haworth, Jones, Nicholson (Dadi 55), Taylor (Hay 69).

Subs not used: Gray, Howarth, Navarro

Bookings: Sharps (42), Roberts (56)

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills, Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Darby, Burgess, Bell, Hall.

Subs not used: Gray, Dempster, Sambrook, Talbot, Story.

Bookings: Edwards (29), Underwood (51), Mills (89)

Referee: Mr S Mathieson.

Attendance:

Diamonds’ MOTM: Billy Turley

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