Rushden & Diamonds 1 Brighton 3

By Steven Dove

There could be few complaints from Diamond followers following this defeat. Brighton showed their championship credentials with a top-class performance to seal a comfortable three points.

It never looked as if this would be Diamonds’ day straight from kick-off. Brighton displayed good attacking football and fully warranted their win with Guy Butters, Leon Knight and Zeshan Rehman on the score sheet.

A Stuart Gray penalty early in the second-half raised hopes but Brighton played the better football and had the majority of possession.

Brian Talbot named an unchanged side from the club’s 2-2 draw with Stockport County at the weekend.

Duane Darby remained in attack and partnered Rodney Jack as former Newcastle striker Paul Kitson was left on the bench.

Brighton boss Steve Coppell started with midfielder Zeshan Rehman, a recent on-loan signing from Fulham, but was without influential captain Danny Cullip.

After an uneventful opening Knight nearly drew first blood for Brighton on ten minutes with a long range effort which was spilled by Billy Turley.

The former Chelsea striker was displaying some blistering pace which was causing concern for the Diamonds defence in the early stages.

After making a relatively slow start, Diamonds came to life on 13 minutes when Jack picked up a loose ball, skipped past the challenge of a Brighton defender only to drill a shot wide of the target.


Brighton, who had made the better start, thought they had broken the deadlock on 19 minutes when Nathan Jones’ long range effort was spilled by Turley and when Chris McPhee tapped home from close range the celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

Diamonds hadn’t come close to scoring until 21 minutes when Brighton goalkeeper Michel Kuipers survived a nervous moment, making an instant block from Butters after Hunter had headed a dangerous ball into the box.

Rehman nearly marked his Brighton account with a goal, turning on the volley on 24 minutes to test Turley from 25-yards.

Paul Underwood threatened to do damage down the left flank for Diamonds on a number of occasions but the visitors were rarely troubled.


Although Brighton were in control of proceedings, Turley had little to do with Andrew Edwards and Hunter looking positive in defence.

Brighton, who went into the match just outside the top two in the division, continued to bombard the Diamonds defence and it was little surprise when they took the lead five minutes before the interval.

An in swinging from Jones caused confusion in the Diamonds penalty area and as the ball broke to Butters the former Gillingham defender blasted home from close range.

And at the half-time whistle nobody could complain at Brighton’s advantage as it was they had deserved.


Diamonds had a perfect chance to respond only three minutes in the second half when they were rewarded a penalty.

Jack’s pace saw him dart into the penalty box and the faintest of touches from Brighton’s Robbie Pethick sent the Diamonds striker to the ground. Gray kept his cool to send Kuipers the wrong way from the spot and get back on level terms.

However, the lead lasted only four minutes when Knight ran at the Diamonds defence and, after Edwards failed to put in a challenge, the striker blasted an effort into the corner of the net.

In between the two goals, Coppell was sent to the stands by the referee and Darby had the chance of giving the home-side a lead.

However, Brighton continued to look the more promising side and on 57 minutes Knight went close to adding a third for the visitors.


Jack was looking to the most dangerous player to get Diamonds back on level terms and the St Vincent international showed great trickery to skip past the challenge of a Brighton defender only to strike the side netting.

A tactical substitution saw Kitson called upon as Talbot reverted to a 4-3-3 formation. The change nearly put Diamonds back on level terms when Marcus Bignot’s cross saw Kuipers display great reflexes and shut out Gray’s pinpoint header.

The change in formation saw Diamonds begin to enjoy more possession although it was the final ball into the penalty area that was lacking quality.


Diamonds were soon beginning to get frustrated and as they went in search for an equaliser they were caught napping in defence as Brighton broke on the break.

With the Diamonds defence disjointed, Rehman let fly with a curling shot from 30-yards as the midfielder waved away in delight to virtually seal the points.

Knight could have extended Brighton lead on 82 minutes when the attacker created space in the penalty area only for his effort to be cleared off the goal line from Bignot.

Darby headed wide on 89 minutes and their were other chances for Edwards and Kitson but the three points headed to the Withdean Stadium and there could be few excuses.


Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills (Sambrook 85), Edwards, Hunter, Jack (Talbot 86), Darby, Gray, Bell (Kitson 62), Hall.

Subs not used: Dempster, Story.

Bookings: Edwards (30)

Brighton: Kuipers, Mayo, Pethick, Knight, Hart (Piercy 85), Carpenter, Butters, Jones, McPhee, Hinshelwood, Rehman.

Subs not used: Virgo, Harding, Flitney, Robinson.

Bookings: Hart (55)

Referee: Mr D.R Crick

Attendance: 4,634 (1,232 from Brighton)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills


Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stockport 2

By Steven Dove

It was nearly the same old story for Rushden & Diamonds but on this occasion Andrew Edwards grabbed a vital goal to give Diamonds a share of the spoils against a plucky Stockport outfit.

It could have been much worse for Brian Talbot’s side. Having controlled large periods of the game and creating some notable opportunities, Diamonds were staring defeat in the face.

Stuart Barlow grabbed a brace with Stuart Gray, who also missed a penalty, putting Diamonds back on level terms five minutes after Stockport had taken the lead.

And with time ticking away and three points seemingly heading back to Edgley Park it looked as if Diamonds would slip to their fifth defeat of the season until Edwards showed bravery to power a header home.

With limited options in attack, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot partnered Duane Darby with Rodney Jack leaving new recruit Paul Kitson on the bench.

Barry Hunter was passed fit to play after picking up knocks in midweek whilst Marcus Bignot had recovered from a cold.

Stockport, languishing in the bottom four of the division, named a strong line-up with former Tranmere defender Dave Challinor in their side who possess one of the longest throws in the Football League.

Gary Mills fired over after three minutes as Diamonds started positively with Jack looking dangerous on the flank.

However, with their first attack Stockport broke the deadlock. Aaron Wilbraham’s tricky down right flank enabled the midfielder to pick out the perfect cross for Stuart Barlow who lost his marker to guide a header past Billy Turley.

Darby nearly responded on eight minutes with a turn-and-shot that may have crept into the net had it not taken a wicked deflection off a Stockport defender.

However, Stockport’s lead lasted five minutes as a well worked move involving Paul Hall’s cross from the right resulted in Stuart Gray thumbing an effort home from close range.

Diamonds were looking nervy at the back and Stockport nearly restored their lead when Aaron Lescott saw a shot blocked in a packed penalty area.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 1 Stockport 1

The visitors looked promising on the attack and were playing some delightful football; spreading the ball around the pitch and carving open the Diamonds defence.

David Bell teed up Paul Hall for an effort on 21 minutes and when Stockport goalkeeper Nick Colgan spilled the shot, Jack nearly poked the ball home but was intervened by a defender.

Barry Hunter touched a header wide of the target two minutes later with Diamonds beginning to look good in the Stockport area.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 1 Stockport 1

Just like the sunshine at Nene Park, Diamonds were playing some bright football but Stockport’s defence were proving a tough nut to crack.

Diamonds had the chance to take the lead on 33 minutes when Robert Jones handled inside the area but Gray struck the wood work from the penalty spot despite sending Colgan the wrong way.

The penalty miss gave Stockport a lifeline and spurred them out of first gear as they began to attack the Diamonds goal.

Barlow tested Turley from long range but the Diamonds goalkeeper made a relatively comfortable save as the visitors began to push bodies forward.

That proved to be a dangerous tactic for the visitors as Hall nearly caught Colgan unaware with a sweeping volley that flew inches over the crossbar.

Andy Welsh tried his luck before the interval but the 1-1 scoreline at the half-time whistle was a fair reflection on first-half proceedings.


Diamonds were unfortunate not to take the lead on 47 minutes when Jack fired a ball across the face of the Stockport goal with the onrushing Darby not able to touch home.

Looking comfortable on the ball and playing patiently, Stockport created few opportunities but warranted their second goal on 53 minutes when Barlow stole in unmarked to power home a header from Lambert’s free-kick.

Diamonds now had their work cut out for them with the Stockport defence holding their ground and threatening on the break.

Mills struck the outside of a post on 59 minutes after the midfielder found himself in acres of space on the edge of the area.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 1 Stockport 2

However, the visitors continued to push forward with John Hollins, Stockport’s Acting manager, seemingly ordering his players to go in search for a third.

Kitson was introduced into the action on 69 minutes replacing the unfortunate Darby, who had worked his socks off all afternoon.

Turley was called to make a vital save on 71 minutes when he denied Lescott, after the midfielder skipped around the challenge of Paul Underwood. Jon Daly blasted the rebound over the bar.

With time ticking away, Diamonds threw bodies but were beginning to get frustrated by the visitors’ offside tactic.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 1 Stockport 2

Gray was caught offside on 78 minutes when Diamonds had carved open the Stockport defence and Hall went close moments later with a well struck shot.

Frustration was creeping into the Diamonds side with mis-placed passes and close offside decisions.

And it looked as if an equaliser was never going to come until, on 85 minutes, Underwood’s pinpoint cross picked out Edwards who stole in front of his markers to head home.

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills (Talbot 86), Edwards, Hunter (Dempster 72), Jack, Darby (Kitson 68), Gray, Bell, Hall.

Subs not used: Sambrook, Story.

Bookings: Mills (27), Hunter (67)

Stockport: Colgan, Smith, Challinor, Lescott, Wilbraham (Daly 62), Lambert, Jones, Hardiker, Welsh, Morrison (McLachlan 81), Barlow.

Subs not used: Spencer, Ellison, Williams.

Bookings: Wilbraham (28), Lescott (49)

Referee: Mr M Clattenburg

Attendance: 4,049 (490 from Stockport)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood

AFC Bournemouth 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds boss Brian Talbot must have felt like burying his head in Bournemouth’s south-coast sand following this defeat at the Fitness First Stadium.

Diamonds were left pointless after a double strike from Warren Feeney cancelled out a goal from Onandi Lowe after 75 seconds.

The home-side hadn’t recorded a shot on target until Feeney got Bournemouth on their way with Diamonds missing a number of notable efforts.

It was an outcome that will frustrate the Diamonds manager with his side in total control of proceedings up until Feeney’s goals.

Both sides named the same starting line-ups from their midweek matches, with Diamonds recalling John Dempster and Gary Mills to the substitute bench.

The new scoreboard erected at the Fitness First Stadium hadn’t registered a minute when Paul Hall flashed a shot over the crossbar.

And from a resulting corner Diamonds made the perfect start when Stuart Gray’s in-swinging cross was smashed home with a powerful header from Lowe.

It was a fantastic start for Diamonds as the visitors nearly doubled their advantage moments later when Rodney Jack burst into the box and had a shot blocked from an acute angle.

Darby burst through the Bournemouth defence on four minutes and was only denied by a well-timed tackle from Carl Fletcher.

Diamonds, who where comprehensively beaten by Bournemouth 3-1 at the Fitness First Stadium last season, were in total control and had a number of efforts to extend their advantage.

The flowing football, at times, was a delight to watch from a Diamonds perspective as Bournemouth struggled to find an opening.

AFTER 15 MINS: Bournemouth 0 Diamonds 1

Bournemouth, who gained promotion to Division Two through the play-offs last season, carved open their best opportunity on 21 minutes when Steve Fletcher nearly got the final touch on Wade Elliott’s cross.

Stephen Purches blasted over on 23 minutes as Bournemouth began to see more of the ball and stay in control of the possession.

For any neutral at the ground, this game was exciting to watch with the referee doing his best to allow the match to flow from end-to-end.

AFTER 30 MINS: Bournemouth 0 Diamonds 1

The home-side, who hadn’t caused Diamonds much threat, were all over the place when Jack collected a through ball from David Bell only for the St Vincent international to be denied by Bournemouth goalkeeper Neil Moss.

However, the former Southampton shot-stopper was unable to hold onto Jack’s effort and when the ball spilled to Lowe, the Jamaican somehow missed an open goal from 20-yards.

Diamonds’ flowing football warranted a further goal and they nearly got their reward on 38 minutes when Lowe went close with a header.

Bournemouth’s defence were at ‘sixes-and-sevens’ at times and Jack nearly capitalised on mistake from the two centre-backs before the interval by Moss made a vital save.

Diamonds’ domination was evident at the half-time whistle with the visitors recording six shots on target without a single reply from Bournemouth.


The second-half saw Purches squander an early opportunity for Bournemouth as the midfielder dragged a 25-yard effort wide of Billy Turley’s goal.

However, it was Diamonds who continued to look promising on the attack with the Bournemouth defence firmly on the back foot.

With Diamonds starting the second-half so positively, Bournemouth boss Sean O’Driscoll added further firepower to his attack on 50 minutes with the introduction of Feeney.

Lowe, a continued threat for Bournemouth, nearly added Diamonds’ second when the Jamaican flashed a header from Hall’s right-wing cross over the bar.

Diamonds’ defence were giving little away over a Bournemouth team who had remained unbeaten a at home this season.

Feeney had a half-chance for Bournemouth on 58 minutes but it was nothing too troublesome for Turley, who was enjoying a quiet afternoon.

AFTER 60 MINS: Bournemouth 0 Diamonds 1

Bournemouth soon changed their formation on the hour mark with O’Driscoll pushing three men in attack and his midfielder’s further forward.

The home side thought they had found an opening on 67 minutes when Derek Holmes discovered an opening but Turley was quick to react and made a vital block.

Bournemouth’s new look formation finally saw them get back on level terms when Feeney collected Shaun Maher’s pass, swivelled past the challenge of Marcus Bignot and squeezed a shot past Turley into the corner of the net.

And Feeney grabbed his second in a two minute spell as he guided a header from close range past Turley from a corner.

Lowe should have responded for Diamonds on 72 minutes when the Jamaican wasted a golden opportunity, firing wide with only the Bournemouth goalkeeper to beat.

Things went from bad to worse for Diamonds as Lowe hobbled off with a suspected hamstring injury as Owen Story was given his first senior appearance, partnering Jack in attack.

AFTER 75 MINS: Bournemouth 2 Diamonds 1

With Diamonds now looking to take risks, Talbot threw his men forward as they went in search for an equaliser.

Bournemouth went in search for a third and had a number of efforts to seal the game but were denied by some solid defending from Diamonds.

Turley, who came up for a last minute corner, nearly sneaked an equaliser but couldn’t connect with a cross from Gray.

AT FULL TIME: Bournemouth 2 Diamonds 1

Bournemouth: Moss, Purches, Hayter (Holmes 63), Fletcher, Broadhurst, O’Connor (Feeney 50), Browning, Elliott (Tindall 85), Fletcher, Cummings, Maher.

Subs not used: Stewart, Thomas

Bookings: Elliott (11)

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Darby (Story 74), Gray, Bell, Hall, Lowe (Mills 73)

Subs not used: Dempster, Sambrook, Talbot.


Referee: Mr K Hill

Attendance: 6,464

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood.

Notts County 1 Rushden & Diamonds 3

By Steven Dove

Notts County are virtually penniless and were also left pointless this evening by a rampant Rushden & Diamonds performance.

Onandi Lowe, Duane Darby and a Stuart Gray penalty erased memories of Saturday’s disappointing defeat by Brentford as Diamonds took full control of this encounter.

Brian Talbot’s side had fallen a goal behind through Mark Stallard’s overhead kick but this was always going to be Diamonds’ day as they ran rings around their struggling opponents.

Darby, a former Magpie, began proceedings with a starting role in attack, leaving Rodney Jack to operate on the left-flank and Gray pushing into the centre of midfield.

And there was a recall for Ritchie Hanlon, who was called upon to be amongst the substitutes, his first selection for a competitive first-team fixture for over a year.

Notts County included ex-Tottenham midfielder Darren Caskey in their side, with the club fresh off the back of a win over Chesterfield at the weekend.

The game was barely four minutes old when Lowe sent a header inches wide of the Notts County goal following Paul Underwood’s pinpoint cross.

Notts County had rarely threatened until ex-Rochdale midfielder Clive Platt’s mis-timed shot nearly caught Billy Turley off guard.

For all their possession, Diamonds carved open little opportunity but Duane Darby went close with a turn-and-shot following some excellent midfield work from Gray.

AFTER 15 MINS: Notts County 0 Diamonds 0

Darby was continually looking sharp and Lowe was causing the home side problems as Diamonds began to discover cracks in the County defence.

Jack tried his luck from outside the area on 22 minutes, swivelling past two defenders before unleashing a low shot straight into the arms of County goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall.

The home-side, who had rarely threatened, set up their best effort of the game on 24 minutes when Platt turned inside the Diamonds penalty area to hit his shot just wide.

Platt, who played for Rochdale during Diamonds’ play-off encounter two-years-ago, was a constant threat for the visitors with his height and presence.

And on 26 minutes he played a role in the opening goal when he gained the vital flick on from a long throw to enable Stallard to capitalise on a mistake from Underwood and find the net with an acrobatic overhead kick.

However, the lead lasted just two minutes as a Paul Hall corner was met by a rising header from Lowe, who lost his marker in the penalty area and gave Mildenhall no chance.

AFTER 30 MINS: Notts County 1 Diamonds 1

County’s wayward passing was frustrating their supporters as Diamonds tried to capitalise on their generosity.

Darby saw an effort from an acute angle on 37 minutes blocked by Mildenhall and the resulting corner led to Lowe going close with a header.

Despite Diamonds’ domination, Notts County should have restored their lead on 43 minutes when Paul Bollard fired over from close range as they ripped through the visitors’ defence.

However, Diamonds themselves thought they had taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Lowe saw Mildenhall first produce a stretching save from a towering header and then block the Jamaican’s follow-up effort.

AT HALF TIME: Notts County 1 Diamonds 1

Diamonds started the second-half in a positive manner and were in front just three minutes after the restart when Lowe was sent tumbling in the area by Tony Barras resulting in Gray firing home from the spot.

With County behind, the pressure from the home side increased as Stallard nearly took advantage of a slip from Barry Hunter but the striker was denied by a vital tackle from Turley.

Lowe hit a 30-yard effort straight into the arms of Mildenhall on 55 minutes and Jack went close moments later.

Chances were few and far between for County as Diamonds’ defence held firm and limited the home-side to few openings.

AFTER 60 MINS: Notts County 1 Diamonds 2

A weak effort from Ian Baraclough on 62 minutes was County’s best effort in the second-half, drilling a low shot straight into the arms of Turley.

Diamonds kept pushing bodies forward in an attempt to secure three valuable points and David Bell maybe should have tested Mildenhall on 63 minutes but a moment of hesitation forced the youngster wide.

The football from Diamonds was, at times, of a high standard but for all their possession they couldn’t find a third.

Notts County were struggling to find a way through the Diamonds defence but Turley was forced to make an acrobatic save from Baraclough’s in swinging shot on 69 minutes.

AFTER 75 MINS: Notts County 1 Diamonds 2

With time ticking away, County boss Billy Dearden pushed his men forward and the resulting tactic nearly ended in an equaliser with Stallard firing wide.

Jack was causing problems for the Magpies down the left flank and after winning a free-kick, Diamonds nearly grabbed a third with a Lowe header.

However, Darby deservedly sealed all three points when he finished off a wonderful flowing move on 82 minutes, crashing a shot off the inside of a post and past Mildenhall.

Diamonds went in search for a fourth in the closing stages but at the full time whistle they left the field to a standing ovation from the travelling contingent who made themselves heard throughout this contest.


Notts County: Mildenhall, Fenton, Baraclough, Barras, Platt (Hackworth 79), Caskey (Brough 79), Stallard, Nicholson (Riley 79), Bolland, Baldry, Livesey.

Subs not used: Deeney, McFaul.


Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Darby, Gray, Bell, Hall, Lowe

Subs not used: Hanlon, Sambrook, Talbot, Story, Petterson.


Referee: Mr G Cain

Attendance: 4,250

Diamonds MOTM: Duane Darby (Outstanding)

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brentford 1

By Steven Dove

Brentford may not have recorded an away win prior to this game, having fallen to three defeats on the road, but their defensive display combined with some excellent goalkeeping from Alan Julian frustrated Diamonds on a disappointing afternoon.

Lady luck was with Brentford on today when a cruel deflection off the foot of Stephen Hunt midway through the first-half inflicted Diamonds’ first home defeat of the season.

However, Diamonds had their fair share of chances and Lowe was twice denied by some outstanding saves from Julian, who stood out for the visitors in an impressive performance.

Marcus Bignot and Rodney Jack both started this encounter despite their doubts with injury problems prior to the game whilst Andy Petterson, who signed on a non-contract basis on Friday, was included on the bench.

John Dempster, as suspected, replaced the suspended Andrew Edwards in the heart of the Diamonds defence with Gary Mills also missing.

And Brentford included Tommy Wright on the substitutes bench, just 24 hours after completing a month’s loan from Leicester City.

Diamonds had rarely threatened until the eighth minute when Paul Underwood’s surging run was headed powerfully by Onandi Lowe who witnessed Julian produce a fantastic acrobatic save in the Brentford goal.

Brentford, sporting bright amber shirts, had struggled to produce an opening until Ben May’s weak effort on ten minutes was comfortably gathered by Billy Turley.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Brentford 0

Brentford struggled to cope with Lowe’s presence and on 17 minutes the Jamaican nearly got on the end of a Paul Hall cross to divert a header towards the visitor’s goal.

To their surprise, Diamonds slipped behind on 18 minutes when a Tony Rougier free-kick took a wicked deflection off the foot of Hunt and the Bees midfielder watched his effort creep into the back of the net.

It was unfortunate for Diamonds but, to their credit, they nearly hit back moments later when Lowe’s header sailed over the crossbar.

Bignot was the first name in the referee’s notebook on 27 minutes and as Diamonds began to step up the pressure, the visitors were starting to show cracks in the defence.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 0 Brentford 1

Jack’s weak effort on 37 minutes was one of few openings Diamonds had created despite enjoying large spells of possession.

Stuart Gray guided a rare header towards goal moments later but a deflection saw Brentford keep their slender one goal lead.

Diamonds began to push Paul Underwood and Bignot forward more frequently as the home-side looked to break down the Brentford defence.

Jack missed a golden opportunity to put Diamonds back on level terms before half-time when the St Vincent international striker fired over the crossbar from three-yards after Lowe’s header towards goal.

And Brentford managed to remain ahead at the interval despite late efforts from Lowe and David Bell.


To give more options down the flanks, Andy Burgess was replaced at half-time by Duane Darby giving Jack the role of working down the left wing and enabling Gray to move into the centre of midfield.

Gray’s role in the centre of midfield saw him fire the first effort of the second-half wide of the Brentford goal on 49 minutes, when the former Celtic midfielder should have really hit the target.

Diamonds’ new look was looking promising and on 51 minutes Lowe’s weak header caused Brentford a few scares.

Darby nearly found a breakthrough on 54 minutes when his turn-and-shot was caught by Julian.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 0 Brentford 1

Diamonds enjoyed the majority of possession and Lowe was moving closer to getting the home-side on level terms with some notable efforts.

The Jamaican international was being presented with plenty of chances and the striker was unable to guide a header on target on 64 minutes when Gray picked him out from the corner.

Bignot, who had pushed further forward, let fly on 68 minutes but, with his shot seemingly heading towards goal, a slight deflection took it off course and out for a corner.

In actual fact, the corner count after 70 minutes showed Diamonds domination of the game with it reading 10-1 in the home-sides favour.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 0 Brentford 1

Hall fired wide on 77 minutes as Diamonds continued to dominate second-half proceedings.

Brentford managed to keep their one goal advantage when Julian produced a breathtaking save from Lowe’s pinpoint header on 78 minutes.

It was a save worthy of winning any match and was rightfully applauded by the Peter De Banke terrace and the Brentford faithful.

A glancing header from Darby flew agonisingly wide in the closing stages and Lowe also went close but this was never going to be Diamonds’ day.


Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Hunter, Jack, Burgess (Darby H/T), Gray, Dempster, Bell, Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Sambrook, Talbot, Story, Petterson.

Bookings: Bignot (26)

Brentford: Julian, Somner, Smith, Roget, Sonko, O’Connor (Hughes 90) , Hunt, Fieldwick, Hutchinson, May (Wright 72), Rougier.

Subs not used: Tabb, Peters, Stannard.

Bookings: Hunt (30)

Referee: Mr M.R.Warren

Attendance: 4,396 (826 from Brentford)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Stuart Gray.

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Wycombe Wanderers 0

By Steven Dove

Rodney Jack and Onandi Lowe were both on target as they eventually managed to break down a nine-man Wycombe Wanderers side.

Lawrie Sanchez’s side lost goalkeeper Frank Talia after only three minutes for a foul on Lowe and Chris Vinnicombe deep in the second-half for a second bookable offence.

However, Diamonds had to work hard for their victory and only broke down a resilient Wycombe defence on a few occasions.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made one change to his starting line-up from last week’s defeat against Oldham. Stuart Gray was drafted into midfield, replacing Gary Mills, who dropped to the bench.

Despite struggling with a toe injury, Jack partnered Lowe in attack with Duane Darby remaining on the bench.

Wycombe boss Lawrie Sanchez recalled Daniel Senda to his starting line-up replacing Stephen Dell whilst Jermaine McSporran started in attack.

Diamonds nearly opened the scoring on two minutes when Jack’s volley sailed wide of the Wycombe.

However, Wycombe were in trouble after only three minutes when goalkeeper Talia was dismissed for a clumsy tackle on Lowe, who was bearing down on the Wycombe goal.

With no goalkeeper on the bench, the responsibility between the sticks laid with Richard Harris.

Lowe’s pace and power was causing Wycombe all kinds of problems and his fierce shot, after skipping three challenges, struck the side netting on nine minutes.

Jack sent a looping header towards goal on 14 minutes, drifting wide of the target as Diamonds pilled on the pressure.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 0 Wycombe 0

Harris had yet to be tested in the Wycombe goal with the visitors standing firm and frustrating the home-side.

Chances were few and far between and Lowe’s well struck shot, which was saved by Harris, was given offside.

Diamonds created their best opportunity of the half on 28 minutes when Lowe’s surging run and shot was dragged wide of the Wycombe goal.

Hall had a shot cleared off the goal line from an indirect free-kick on 30 minutes as Diamonds threw bodies forward.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 0 Wycombe 0

And with Diamonds in total control of the game, it was little surprise that they took the lead on 35 minutes when Gray’s cross was spilled by Harris and poked home by Jack.

The goal upset Sanchez on the Wycombe bench and after confronting the linesman, he was sent to the stands by the referee to add to the visitor’s woe.

Gray’s deflected shot on 36 minutes left Harris stranded but he was saved as it rebounded off the woodwork.

Wycombe, who had been struggling to make an impact on the game, rarely threatened and Michael Simpson’s tame effort on 41 minutes failed to trouble Turley.

AT HALF TIME: Diamonds 1 Wycombe 0

Wycombe started the second-half brightly and McSporran should have brought the visitors back on level terms when he capitalized on a mistake from Andrew Samrbook, who had replaced Marcus Bignot at the start of the first-half, only to tamely hit his effort at Turley.

Jack was forced to limp off after 55 minutes and was replaced moments later by Darby.

Turley was called upon to make a point-blank save from Onoura as Wycombe made a tactical change swapping around their goalkeeper.

Steve Brown came on and took on the goalkeeper duties leaving Harris to move in attack and partner McSporran.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 1 Wycombe 1

Darby nearly pounced on a spillage from Brown on 66 minutes but the makeshift goalkeeper was able to grab hold of Bell’s cross from the right flank at the second attempt.

Diamonds were enjoying plenty of possession but couldn’t find a way past the Wycombe defence and Lowe’s wayward effort on 73 minutes never caused Brown any trouble.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 1 Wycombe 0

The visitors threw bodies forward in the closing stages as they tried to squander an equaliser.

Currie tried his luck on 77 minutes with a shot-cum-cross that never troubled Turley.

Diamonds created very little against the ten-men but it was credit to Wycombe who protected their makeshift goalkeeper exceptionally well.

However, Diamonds wrapped up the three points after Vinnicombe was sent off for a second bookable offence and Lowe smashed home the resulting free-kick.

Wycombe kept pushing forward but couldn’t find a way through as Diamonds kept their first clean sheet of the season.

AT FULL TIME: Diamonds 2 Wycombe 0

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot (Sambrook 14), Underwood, Edwards, Hunter, Jack (Darby 58), Burgess, Gray, Bell (Mills 73), Hall, Lowe

Subs not used: Dempster, Talbot.

Bookings: Gray (60)

Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Vinnicombe, Johnson, Rogers (Roberts 75), Currie, McSporran (Holligan 70), Bulman, Harris, Onoura (Brown 58), Simpson

Subs not used: Thomson, Dell

Bookings: Vinnicombe (16, 83), McSporran (17)

Sent Off: Talia (3) Vinnicombe (83)

Referee: Mr P.T Crossley.

Attendance: 4,192 (677 from Wycombe)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood.

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