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.

AT HALF TIME: BOURNEMOUTH 0 DIAMONDS 1

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.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr K Hill

Attendance: 6,464

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood.

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