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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