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.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 0 BRENTFORD 1

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.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 0 BRENTFORD 1

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.

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