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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