Rushden & Diamonds 2 Wrexham 3

By Steven Dove

Wrexham walked away from Nene Park victorious having torn open the Diamonds defence in an outstanding first-half performance during this five goal thriller.

Diamonds were second best in most departments and despite getting back into the game in the second-half through a brace from Paul Kitson, there could be no complaints about this defeat.

Wrexham displayed good flowing football in the first-half and goals from Darren Ferguson, Carlos Edwards and a second-half strike from Hector Sam sealed all three points.

The result means Diamonds have failed to beat Wrexham in three league meetings.

Paul Evans, the club’s non-contracted goalkeeper, was handed a starting role in between the sticks with Billy Turley out through a knee injury.

It was the only change to the team which sealed a 3-2 win at Blackpool meaning Duane Darby remained out of the 16-man squad.

Wrexham boss Denis Smith kept faith with the same side which recorded a 4-0 win over Oldham in midweek although they did welcome back Brian Carey who was named amongst the substitutes.

The visitors made a bright start to proceedings when Lee Jones nearly broke the deadlock inside a minute. However the Wrexham striker fired over the crossbar.

Wrexham, one place above Diamonds in the Division Two table going into this encounter, continued to open up the better chances and on five minutes Dennis Lawrence powered forward but scuffed his effort at the vital moment.

It was little surprise that Wrexham broke the deadlock on ten minutes. Edwards’ surging run started deep in the Diamonds half and as the home-side backed away from the challenge, the midfielder was able to unleash a shot into the corner of the Diamond net.

Wrexham were certainly worthy of their early lead and troubles for Diamonds nearly continued as Sam fired across the face of the goal.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 0 Wrexham 1

Diamonds had no answer to Wrexham’s fwing football as the visitors continued to impress at Nene Park.

Wrexham should have extended their lead on 15 minutes when Jones’ right wing cross found Chris Llewellyn unmarked in the Diamonds penalty area but the former Norwich man wasted his opportunity.

Chances were few and far between from a Diamonds prospective as the home-side struggled to test Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Dibble.

The visitors were firing on all cylinders and when Llewellyn drilled a low shot past Evans wide of the target on 26 minutes, it was their eighth effort on the Diamonds goal.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 0 Wrexham 1  

Wrexham were forced into an early substitution when Craig Morgan was replaced by Carey after 31 minutes.

Wrexham continued to dominate the game and on 34 minutes Ferguson’s perfectly struck free-kick rebounded off the inside of a post and into the net.

It was a sloppy free-kick to concede as Gary Mills’ rash challenge on Ferguson sent the Wrexham midfielder crashing to the ground just outside the area.

There could be few complaints from Diamond faithful about Wrexham’s lead as the home side failed to muster a shot on or off target after 40 minutes.

AT HALF-TIME: DIAMONDS 0 WREXHAM 2

Brian Talbot, unsurprisingly, made changes to his side at the interval. Paul Underwood was asked to push into midfield with John Dempster covering in at defence.

Paul Hall was introduced into the action as Diamonds played three men in attack to try and threaten the Wrexham goal.

Evans was called to make a fingertip save from Llewellyn as the Wrexham midfielder stretched open the Diamonds defence on 47 minutes.

The football from Diamonds was a slight improvement from the first-half but still the home-side were made to look second best by this well organised Wrexham outfit.

The change of formation brought new fortune for Diamonds as they reduced the lead with their first shot on target on 52 minutes. Kitson lost possession on the edge of the Wrexham area but recovered to fire over Dibble and into the net.

Wrexham restored their two goal advantage four minutes later when Sam popped behind the Diamonds defence to calmly slot past Evans.

Dempster nearly brought Diamonds back into the game when he stretched to meet a cross. However, the defender was desperately unlucky as he saw his shot go inches wide.

AFTER 60 MINS: DIAMONDS 1 WREXHAM 3

To their credit, Diamonds kept their held high and Kitson’s header on 62 minutes took a deflection and from the resulting corner Dempster headed wide of the target.

However, Diamonds were rewarded for their battling display as Kitson grabbed his second of the game, heading home into an empty net after Barry Hunter’s effort had hit the crossbar.

Diamonds were beginning to enjoy their best spell of the game as the home-side looked to find an important third goal.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 2 Wrexham 3

Diamonds pushed bodies forward and, at times, looked as if they might find a vital breakthrough.

Sam had a chance to seal the match for Wrexham when he created space in the Diamonds penalty area but his weak shot flew straight into the arms of Evans.

Wrexham continued to push forward and a delightful turn and shot from Sam nearly extended the visitors’ lead on 81 minutes.

Rodney Jack and Kitson had efforts in the closing stages but this always looked as if it may be Wrexham’s day and it certainly was following their first-half performance.

 

Diamonds: Evans, Bignot, Underwood, Mills (Dempster h/t), Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Burgess, Gray (Hall h/t), Bell, Kitson.

Subs not used: Sambrook, Talbot, Story

Bookings: Edwards (71)

Wrexham: Dibble, Whitley, Roberts, Lawrence, Edwards, Jones (Thomas 65), Ferguson, Llewellyn, Edwards, Morgan (Carey 31), Sam

Subs not used: Holmes, Whitfield, Jones.

Referee: Mr K Friend

Attendance: 4,117 (434 from Wrexham)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Kitson

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Blackpool 2 Rushden & Diamonds 3

By Steven Dove

Just like the Blackpool lights, Diamonds shone brightly at Bloomfield Road and took all three points in an amazing five goal thriller.

It was hard to keep up with all the action in the second-half as this game went from one end to another.

Andy Burgess had brought Diamonds back on level terms moments before the half-time whistle after John Murphy opened the scoring for Blackpool after just three minutes.

And after struggling for the majority of the first-half, Diamonds opened the second period in an amazing spell with goals from Rodney Jack and a first from Paul Kitson putting the visitors into a commanding lead.

Despite a second goal from Murphy midway through the second-half, Diamonds held on to three excellent points and pleased a jubilant following from Northamptonshire.

Brian Talbot went into the match keeping the faith in the same eleven players that done the club proud in our 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

It meant Kitson kept his place in attack at the expense of Duane Darby, who for the second game running never made the squad of 16.

Blackpool, who were 4-0 winners over Hartlepool United at the weekend, also kept the same starting line-up as they looked to leapfrog Diamonds in the Division Two table.

Diamonds made the worst possible start to the game when they fell behind after three minutes. The victim of a bad error came from the unlikely Paul Underwood whose back pass fell short of Billy Turley.

John Murphy was onto the defender’s error in a flash and calmly beat Turley with ease, slotting the ball into the corner of the net.

Diamonds nearly responded moments later when, after some good build up involving Andy Burgess, Stuart Gray drilled a low shot straight into the arms of Blackpool goalkeeper Phil Barnes.

Underwood was nearly the culprit of another error on eight minutes. This time the defender gave away possession to Jonathon Douglas but the Blackpool midfielder blasted over the crossbar.

Blackpool continued to dominate proceedings and on 13 minutes, the home crowd thought Wellens had doubled their advantage but Turley was equal to his opening.

AFTER 15 MINS: BLACKPOOL 1 DIAMONDS 0

As Blackpool continued to pile more pressure on the Diamonds defence, Andrew Edwards was called upon to make a timely tackle on 18 minutes when he denied Douglas.

Diamonds continued to struggle to find an opening but when they did, Jack wasted a glorious opportunity to put the visitors on level terms.

The former Crewe striker found the opening on 22 minutes, beating the offside trap, but despite finding himself one-on-one with Barnes, Jack pulled his effort wide of the target.

However, the resulting chance seemed to spur Diamonds into life and moments later, Kitson should have found the target with a powerful header from Marcus Bignot’s pinpoint cross.

AFTER 30 MINS: BLACKPOOL 1 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds continued to impress with their passing display but rarely threatened the Blackpool goal as the final ball kept going astray.

The chances for Diamonds were rare but when they did come they failed to take full advantage. Kitson was guilty of another opening when his free header was pushed aside by Barnes.

The Blackpool goalkeeper made the relatively easy save from the former Newcastle striker although in truth Kitson should have done better from close-range.

It was the home-side which finished the first-half stronger but against the run of play, Diamonds found themselves on level terms just before the interval.

Having picked up the ball on the edge of the area, Burgess’ run and shot crept into the corner of the net, leaving Barnes no chance.

AT HALF TIME: BLACKPOOL 1 DIAMONDS 1

The second-half began in perfect style for Diamonds as they took the lead within the opening minute. Talbot couldn’t have asked for a better start when Jack latched onto a through ball, shrugging off a Blackpool defender to hit a looping shot over Barnes.

In actual fact, Diamonds made an encouraging start to the second-half and should have extended their lead but Bell wasted a golden opportunity, missing from six-yards with just the goalkeeper to beat.

What a turn around from the first-half this was for Diamonds! Further chances came for the visitors and Gray wasted a further opportunity when he blasted over from Bell’s cutback.

Diamonds began to run rings around the Blackpool defence and this amazing second-half continued when Kitson grabbed Diamonds’ third on 54 minutes as he bravely out jumped the Blackpool keeper to head home Barry Hunter’s long ball.

AFTER 60 MINS: BLACKPOOL 1 DIAMONDS 3

The turnaround in events prompted Blackpool boss Steve McMahon to make a change to his side. Knowing the importance of a quick goal, the Blackpool boss switched to a 4-3-3 formation as he introduced Mike Sheron.

And the Blackpool player made an immediate impact as he played a part in getting the home-side back into the game. The former Stoke player crossed a ball across the face of the goal for Murphy to tap home from close range.

The change in formation brought about a positive attacking display from the home-side and Sheron’s thunderbolt effort on 65 minutes flashed wide of the Diamonds goal.

With the buoyant Blackpool crowd now beginning to get behind their team, Diamonds soon found themselves on the back foot as they began to defend in numbers.

Blackpool thought they had brought themselves back on level terms when Kirk Hilton’s corner on 70 minutes was headed wide by Jonathan Douglas from close range.

It seemed like a goal for Blackpool was just bound to happen as the home-side continued to change the shape of the second-half.

AFTER 75 MINS: BLACKPOOL 2 DIAMONDS 3

Chances were being created at both ends in a pulsating game. Diamonds wasted a further effort on 77 minutes when, after some fine trickery from Bell, Paul Hall fired over the crossbar.

Diamonds should have surely been in a more comfortable lead with a number of good chances going begging as Blackpool tried to take advantage of the visitor’s misfortune.

Scott Taylor, the man who scored a hat-trick in for Blackpool in their win over Hartlepool, fired into the side netting on 83 minutes when the striker should have squared the ball across the face of the goal with a number of his team-mates waiting in the penalty area.

With time running out, Blackpool threw more bodies forward but the Diamonds defence continued to hold firm and thwart any attacking opportunities.

Bell went through one-on-one with the Blackpool goalkeeper with a minute to go before the full-time whistle and despite some late pressure from the home-side, Diamonds held on to all three points.

AT FULL TIME: BLACKPOOL 2 DIAMONDS 3

Blackpool: Barnes, Grayson (Coid 68), Clarke, Wellens, Murphy, Taylor, Bullock (Sheron 60), Hilton, Davis, Douglas, Danns

Subs not used: Flynn, Richardson, Evans

Bookings: Wellens (10)

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills (Hall h/t), Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Burgess, Gray, Bell, Kitson (Sambrook 86).

Subs not used: Dempster, Talbot, Story.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr M Miller

Attendance: 5,234

Diamonds MOTM: Andy Burgess

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds entered the big stage and turned in a grand performance as they took a valuable point against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

The visitors may have created few chances but they did exactly what was asked of them. Brian Talbot’s team defended in number and withstood the Wednesday attacking power and warranted something from the game.

Sheffield Wednesday had their chances and also had a goal disallowed but it would have been cruel on Diamonds if they had left Hillsborough empty handed.

There were a number of notable surprises to the Rushden & Diamonds team with Paul Hall, who was expected to be recalled to the starting line-up from Wednesday LDV Vans win over Oxford, named as a substitute and Duane Darby not even in the 16.

That left the door open for Gary Mills to join the midfield, who was expected to play out on the right flank, and Owen Story who amongst the substitutes. There was no space in the squad for Ritchie Hanlon or Paul Evans who were involved at the Kassam Stadium.

Sheffield Wednesday themselves made a number of notable surprises to their side. Chris Turner, the Wednesday boss, left out Lloyd Owusu, who had scored in the club’s last two league games.

It meant former Wolves striker Adam Proudlock partnered Grant Holt in attack with on-loan goalkeeper David Lucas remaining in between the sticks for the home side.

It may have been the big stadium or the 20,000 plus crowd but Diamonds made a nervy start at Hillsborough with Sheffield Wednesday nearly finding a opening inside the opening two minutes.

To their credit, Diamonds soon settled into their stride and began to enjoy some healthy possession.

However with the drums banging and the noise generated by the Kop Stand urging Wednesday forward, it always looked like the home-side would prove to be dangerous on the attack.

Turley was sparred his blushes by the linesmen when he deemed the ball rolled out of play as the Diamonds goalkeeper fumbled a simple pass back from Andrew Edwards.

The decision infuriated the Wednesday supporters although the resulting goal kick must have been a huge relief to Turley with Holt opening up a free goal to aim at.

AFTER 15 MINS: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Diamonds 0

Wednesday’s supporters were continuing to be frustrated by the referee as he turned down a penalty appeal on 17 minutes. Holt, bearing down on the Diamonds goal, was sent tumbling in the penalty area by Barry Hunter.

The referee waved away the protests much to the disbelief of the Wednesday bench who were seemingly certain that the resulting challenge warranted a spot kick.

The first notable opportunity of any kind never arrived until the 22nd minute. Terry Cooke’s cross was glanced towards the Diamonds goal by Proudlock only for the striker to be denied by a reflex save from Turley.

The Diamonds goalkeeper displayed great agility to dive low and push aside Proudlock’s header which would have certainly crept into the corner of the net.

AFTER 30 MINS: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Diamonds 0

It took 37 minutes for Diamonds to threaten the Sheffield Wednesday goal. A dipping shot from Jack caught Lucas unaware but the former Crewe striker was unfortunate to see his effort fly inches over the crossbar.

Diamonds’ excellent following continued to get behind their team but they were soon to get frustrated by the referee as Paul Kitson went into the notebook for an incident the official certainly didn’t witness.

David Bell’s trickery on 43 minutes enabled Marcus Bignot to deliver a threatening ball into the penalty area in a rare attack for Diamonds but they were thwarted by some excellent goalkeeping from Lucas.

AT HALF TIME: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 DIAMONDS 0

Turner was forced into making a substitution for the second-half. Holt, who had certainly carved open the best opportunities for the home-side, was replaced by striker Michael Reddy.

Early signs indicated some promising moments from a Wednesday prospective as Derek Geary tested Turley in the opening moments of the second-half.

However, the home fans soon witnessed Jack go close for Diamonds when, on 48 minutes, the striker tried to chip Lucas who had backtracked towards his goal after failing to claim a long ball.

A vital block from two bodies in the Sheffield Wednesday penalty area denied Marcus Bignot an opportunity of testing Lucas on 57 minutes after the Diamonds had superbly carved open the home sides defence with some creative passing football.

AFTER 60 MINS: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Diamonds 0

There were worrying times for Diamonds on 64 minutes when both Andy Burgess and Mills went down with knocks. However both continued after a lengthy stoppage as treatment was received.

In a rare chance for Wednesday, Robbie Mustoe sent a header wide of the target on 69 minutes, failing to really test Turley.

However, the Diamonds goalkeeper was soon called into action two minutes later when Proudlock swivelled on the edge of the area to fire a goal bound effort towards the Diamonds goal.

It nearly caught Turley unaware but the Diamonds shot-stopper displayed safe hands as he caught a difficult ball at the first attempt.

AFTER 75 MINS: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Diamonds 0

Wednesday thought they had taken on 79 minutes but were again set to be frustrated by the referee when he ruled out Graeme Lee’s effort for an infringement on Edwards.

This time there seemed little complaints from the Wednesday players as Diamonds survived.

Diamonds began to finish the game strongly and Wednesday soon found themselves on the back foot with Jack going close once again on 82 minutes.

Hunter’s thunderbolt header was saved comfortably by Lucas on 87 minutes although Wednesday had a good chance themselves with Geary heading over the crossbar.

Both sides threatened to pinch maximum points at the death but it was certainly Diamonds who would leave Hillsborough the far happier side.

Sheffield Wednesday: Lucas, Geary, Bromby, Lee, Smith, Mustoe, McLaren, Murphy, Holt (Reddy h/t), Proudlock, Cooke (Haslam 58).

Subs not used: Pressman, Wood, Shaw.

Bookings: Mustoe (53)

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Edwards, Hunter, Underwood, Bell, Burgess, Gray, Mills, Kitson, Jack.

Subs not used: Story, Dempster, Talbot, Sambrook, Hall

Bookings: Bell (27), Kitson (40), Gray (81)

Referee: Mr M Thorpe.

Attendance: 22,599

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills

Oxford United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

This may not have been a match which ranked highly on the importance scale but, nevertheless, a penalty from Stuart Gray secured Diamonds a win over Oxford in the LDV Vans Trophy.

Brian Talbot’s team will now discover their second round opponents on Saturday morning when the Second Round draw is made.

Gray struck fiercely from the spot after 36 minutes when Rodney Jack was sent tumbling in the area by Oxford’s Jon Ashton.

Diamonds made a number of changes to their side with non-contracted goalkeeper Paul Evans starting between the sticks and Ritchie Hanlon beginning his first competitive game for 18-months.

Gary Mills, Paul Kitson and John Dempster were given starting roles as Andy Burgess and Paul Hall were rested and settled for places amongst the substitutes.

Oxford boss Ian Atkins also rested key players. In came Dave Waterman, Danny Brown and Derek Townsley into midfield whilst Chris Hackett started in attack.

Chances were few and far between in the opening 20 minutes and, in truth, the football at times was uninspiring. A Paul Underwood cross was headed straight into the arms of Andy Woodman by Rodney Jack inside the opening minute and Hanlon nearly marked his return with a goal by crashing the woodwork with a 25-yard effort.

Oxford themselves created some worthwhile chances. Hackett, eager to convince Oxford boss Ian Atkins of a starting role in first-team, flicked a header narrowly over the bar on ten minutes whilst a Matthew Robinson cross caused problems for Evans.

Jack’s pace was causing the Oxford defence problems and the St Vincent international struck a 25-yard volley wide of the target.

It was little surprise when Jack played a part in Diamonds’ only goal of the game. His pace and trickery in the box took him into the area although at one point Ashton seemed to force the Diamonds strike wide.

However, as Ashton tried to nick the ball away from Jack the Oxford defender caught the Diamonds striker and the referee had no hesitation about rewarding a spot kick which Gray smashed home.

AT HALF TIME: OXFORD UNITED 0 DIAMONDS 1

A tactical change from Oxford saw them revert to a 4-3-3 formation with Derek Townsley playing just behind Hackett and his strike partner Jefferson Louis.

The change seemed to spark Oxford into life as Brown, on 51 minutes, fired over the Diamonds crossbar from 25-yards.

Unsurprisingly, Oxford began to force the pace although Hanlon and Gray both created worthwhile chances within the opening ten minutes of the second-half with long range efforts.

However it was the home side that began to look more likely to find the next goal and on 63 minutes Hackett showed good vision and skill to pick out Louis with a nice flick. The big striker shot first-time from six-yards and Evans was forced to push the ball over the bar.

In actual face, Evans was having a tidy game for Diamonds. The former Sheffield Wednesday shot-stopper done himself no harm at all in at least being taken for a further look at by the management staff at Nene Park, especially when he saved well from the feet of Manny Omoyinmi.

Diamonds and Oxford both created chances in the final stages of the game but it was Talbot’s side that progressed into the Second Round and probably marginally deserved their reward.

FULL TIME: OXFORD UNITED 0 DIAMONDS 1

Oxford United: Woodman, McNiven, Robinson, Waterman, Crosby, Bound (Omoyinm h/t), Brown, Townsey, Hackett, Ashton, Louis.

Subs not used: Wanless, Whitehead, Brooks, Cox.

Bookings: Crosby (40), Hackett (77)

Diamonds: Evans, Dempster, Underwood, Bignot (Sambrook h/t), Edwards, Gray, Hanlon, Mills, Bell, Kitson (Story 82), Jack (Burgess 78).

Subs not used: Darby, Hall

Bookings:

Attendance: 2,510 (152 from Diamonds)

Referee: Mr L Probert

Diamonds’ MOTM: John Dempster

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Chesterfield 1

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds responded to their manager’s call of ‘doing everything possible to secure a win’ to come up trumps and collect their first victory in four games.

It may have lacked excitement or entertainment but that won’t bother manager Brian Talbot as Diamonds deservedly kept all three points at Nene Park.

All three goals came in an amazing four minute spell in the first-half when Marvin Robinson cancelled out Barry Hunter’s headed goal. However, the winner came from Rodney Jack who grabbed the club’s 100th Football League goal at Nene Park.

Diamonds welcomed Jack and Andy Burgess to the starting line-up with Gary Mills dropping to the bench.

David Bell was also recalled to the side after only being named as a sub in last week’s defeat by Barnsley.

Chesterfield, rock bottom of the Second Division, included on-loan striker Mark De Bolla in their squad as he started amongst the substitutes.

After a slow start, the game’s first incident arrived on eight minutes when Jack’s pace took him into the area and as he went tumbling inside the box the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.

It didn’t take long for Diamonds to take the lead when, on 11 minutes, Stuart Gray’s corner was headed home by Hunter.

However, against the run of play, Chesterfield responded and were back on level terms moments later when Stewart Howson’s cross was headed past Billy Turley by striker Robinson.

Nobody could have predicted Diamonds restoring their lead on 14 minutes, especially after the poor start to the game. However, Duane Darby displayed great trickery to force a ball to Jack and the former Crewe striker fired home from the edge of the area.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 2 Chesterfield 1

At times, Diamonds were displaying some nice football and on 23 minutes a solo effort from Burgess nearly resulted in the home-side taking a two goal cushion.

Burgess’ burst of pace saw him skip past the challenge of one Chesterfield defender and fire a low shot which brought out a good save from Carl Muggleton.

It was easy to tell why Chesterfield had been struggling this season as Roy McFarland’s side caused Diamonds few problems.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 2 Chesterfield 1

A Bell free-kick on 34 minutes took a deflection off a Chesterfield player as Diamonds continued to look more likely in adding to their total.

Darby, who had been causing Chesterfield problems all afternoon, nearly got on the score sheet on 37 minutes but failed to get any power on a close range header.

Burgess was called upon to make an important defensive header on 40 minutes when Howson’s free-kick could have caused serious problems in the Diamonds defence.

However, despite one or two nervy moments, Diamonds held on and took a deserved interval lead.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 2 CHESTERFIELD 1

Chesterfield made a positive start to the second-half and on 49 minutes Jamie Cade fired a goal bound effort straight into the arms of Turley.

The visitors had rarely troubled Diamonds but it was their first spell in the game where Chesterfield had the majority of possession.

Diamonds had struggled to get out of first gear in the second half and only a timely tackle from Paul Underwood on De Bolla prevented Chesterfield getting back on level terms.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 2 Chesterfield 1

Diamonds’ first effort of the second half never arrived until the 61st minutes when Burgess headed straight into the arms of Muggleton following Hall’s pinpoint cross from the right wing.

Jack pulled up on 68 minutes when Hall slipped a ball through to the Diamonds striker as the home side stepped up the pressure.

Neither side were providing entertaining football but a fantastic solo run from Burgess nearly produced a wonder goal on 74 minutes but the midfielder’s finished product was not as good as his surging run from midfield.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 2 Chesterfield 1

Gary Mills, who had replaced Hall earlier in the half, squandered an opportunity on 76 minutes when the midfielder blasted wide of the target.

Chesterfield threw men forward in the closing stages but Turley was enjoying a quiet afternoon as the visitors struggled to find a way through the Diamonds defence.

Darby’s poor chip on 85 minutes failed to trouble Muggleton but Diamonds refused to rush or do anything stupid as time ticked away.

Chesterfield squandered a good chance in the closing stages of the match but Diamonds breathed a huge sigh of relief at the full time whistle to record a much needed win.

AFTER 90 MINS: DIAMONDS 2 CHESTERFIELD 1

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Darby, Burgess, Gray, Bell, Hall (Mills 71).

Subs not used: Dempster, Sambrook, Talbot, Kitson.

Bookings:

Chesterfield: Muggleton, O’Hare, Blatherwick, Howson (De Bolla. H/t), Payne, Hudson, Davies, Brandon, Evatt, Robinson, Cade (Allott 77)

Subs not used: Reeves, Richmond, Rushbury.

Bookings: Robinson (74), Evatt (89)

Referee: Mr M Atkinson

Attendance: 3,817 (467 from Chesterfield)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Andy Burgess (a welcomed return)

Barnsley 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

It was probably a lot to ask of a disjointed Rushden & Diamonds team but they were always second best in this latest defeat at Barnsley.

If truth be told, Diamonds never really looked like taking anything from this game as strikes from Kevin Betsy and Dean Gorre either side of the interval set up a comfortable win for promotion-seeking Barnsley.

To their credit, Diamonds did create some worthwhile chances but at the end of the day, Barnsley showed more quality in the area and to seal a win.

Things had begun badly for Diamonds even before they had arrived at Oakwell with the news that Rodney Jack was out following his thigh injury sustained against Brighton in midweek.

That left Diamonds boss Brian Talbot no option but to start with Paul Kitson in attack. The short-term contracted player partnered Duane Darby with Onandi Lowe also missing from the squad.

Daniel Talbot was given his golden chance to make an impression and made his first starting appearance of the season with David Bell dropping to the bench. Ritchie Hanlon was also included on the bench for Diamonds.

Barnsley, without a win in five games going into this match, made four changes to their side which lost to QPR in midweek with Brian O’Callaghan, Steve Hayward, Betsy and Gorre all in the starting line-up.

Diamonds nearly got off to the worst possible start when Barnsley almost took the lead inside 30 seconds. Betsy skipped past the challenge of Andrew Edwards only to see his cross go straight across the face of the goal.

It needed the faintest of touches to open the scoring for Barnsley but the home-side needed no time to settle into their stride and Hayward’s 30-yard pile driver flew inches over the Diamonds crossbar.

The former Premiership outfit were already causing plenty of problems for Diamonds and inside the opening five minutes they had threatened the visitor’s goal on three occasions.

Diamonds’ first opening arrived on nine minutes when Kitson displayed great strength to shrug away the challenge of a Barnsley defender and hit an effort from an acute angle into the body of goalkeeper Sasa Ilic.

Paul Underwood tried his luck from long range on 14 minutes as Diamonds slowly began to settle down.

AFTER 15 MINS: Barnsley 0 Diamonds 0

With Diamonds beginning to look more confident on the ball they slowly began to threaten the Barnsley goal and Stuart Gray might have done better on 16 minutes when he fired over from 25-yards.

After a bright and positive start, Barnsley were beginning to look disjointed although Diamonds were failing to capitalise on their wayward football.

Rory Fallen should have given Barnsley the lead on 26 minutes when, after picking the ball on the edge of the area, he deceived Barry Hunter to swivel and shoot over the bar.

Diamonds responded moments later and Gray, once again, should have done better when he miss-hit Paul Hall’s lay off, firing the ball straight into the arms of Ilic.

The former Charlton goalkeeper had his captain, Pete Handyside, to thank shortly after as the defender cleared Kitson’s goal bound effort off the goal line when Hall had fired a ball across the face of the goal

AFTER 30 MINS: Barnsley 0 Diamonds 0  

The response from Diamonds would have satisfied Talbot after his side had made such a slow start.

And with the visitors looking as if they might snatch a goal it came as a blow when the home side opened the scoring on 32 minutes with Betsy heading home Gorre’s right wing cross from close range.

Gary Mills’ driven shot from 25-yards on 40 minutes was a further effort Diamonds had created but the visitors were struggling in the final thirds of the pitch.

Diamonds enjoyed some healthy possession before the half-time whistle and despite Mills testing Ilic with another long range effort, Barnsley had shaded the first-half proceedings.

AT HALF TIME: Barnsley 1 Diamonds 0

A tactical change from Diamonds saw Bell introduced into the action for the start of the second half at the expense of Talbot.

Just like the first-half, Diamonds started poorly and nearly fell behind on 46 minutes to a Craig Ireland header that flew over the crossbar.

However, unlike the first-half, Diamonds soon responded and maybe Hall should have brought the visitors back on level terms when he squandered a header from Underwood’s pinpoint cross.

In a blistering opening to the second-half, Turley was called to make a vital save on 50 minutes, tipping over Gorre’s free-kick which was heading into the top corner of the Diamonds goal.

It was little surprise when Diamonds slipped further behind on 57 minutes when Gorre collected a through ball to smash a right foot shot past Turley and into the net.

AFTER 60 MINS: Barnsley 2 Diamonds 0

With time slipping away from them, Diamonds were beginning to lose their shape as Barnsley continued to push bodies forward.

To their credit, Diamonds continued to move forward but looked unlikely to find an opening as Barnsley packed their defence.  

AFTER 75 MINS: Barnsley 2 Diamonds 0

Hanlon was given his first league appearance for the club in over a year when he replaced Mills whilst Owen Story replaced Kitson.

As the rain pelted down at Oakwell, Betsy should have extended Barnsley’s lead but a moment of hesitation from the striker enabled Edwards to make a crucial tackle.

A bizarre spillage from Turley on 79 minutes saw Ireland denied by a goal line clearance from Edwards.

Story and Hanlon both nearly found the target in the space of a minute but on each occasion fired wide with Ilic not troubled.

Bell forced a save from Ilic in the final moments but Diamonds couldn’t respond as they slipped to their fourth game without a win.

AT FULL TIME: BARNSLEY 2 DIAMONDS 0

Barnsley: Ilic, Crooks, Gallimore, Handyside, Ireland, O’Callaghan, Lumsdon, Hayward (Kay 41), Betsy, Fallon (Neil 90), Gorre (Austin 73).

Subs not used: Flinders, Rankin.

Bookings: Kay (90)

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Edwards, Hunter, Darby, Gray, Talbot (Bell h/t), Kitson (Story 75), Hall, Mills (Hanlon 75).

Subs not used: Dempster, Sambrook.

Bookings: Hunter (49), Darby (72)

Referee: Mr M.Pike

Attendance: 8,461 (295 from Diamonds)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Paul Underwood

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