Rushden & Diamonds 4 Colchester United 0

By Steven Dove

Colchester may have been the team in form going into this match but Rushden & Diamonds made their opponents look ‘second best’ in this 4-0 win at Nene Park.

Diamonds just tore Phil Parkinson’s team apart as Colchester, who had Craig Fagan sent-off early in the first-half, never looked in the game.

Onandi Lowe, Stuart Gray, Andy Burgess and a fantastic shot from Marcus Bignot set up the win to seal the clubs first win in four matches.

Lowe was recalled to the starting line-up as he made his first partnership in attack with Trevor Benjamin, who was making his home debut.

Barry Hunter, Gary Mills (suspensions) and David Bell (international duty) were missing as Andrew Edwards and Burgess returned back to the first-team frame with John Dempster also called into action.

Colchester, riding high in Division Two with six wins on the spin, included Wayne Andrews in their starting line-up as he replaced Scott McGleish.

The visitors, sporting bright orange jersey’s, made a promising start and if it wasn’t for a vital tackle from Andrew Edwards on Andrews then Colchester could have been in front inside the opening two minutes.

After surviving that small scare, Diamonds made a perfect start and took the lead on three minutes. Rodney Jack, playing in a right wing roll, burst inside the penalty area to cut the ball across the face of the goal for Lowe to tap home from close-range.

The big Jamaican striker stole in front of his marker and Jack’s pinpoint cross was good enough to cause problems for the Colchester defence.

Diamonds continued to control the early spells of a fast flowing game and Ritchie Hanlon’s long-range effort on 14 minutes tested Simon Brown, the Colchester goalkeeper, who pushed aside the midfielders shot.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 1 Colchester 0

Diamonds continued to bombard the Colchester goal and in the space of a minute, Brown was called to tip over the crossbar from Lowe and Edwards.

The Colchester goalkeeper was far the busier as Diamonds’ free flowing football carved open the visitors defence on a number of occasion.  

Colchester’s attacking threat was coming from Andrews and the former Watford attacker saw a goal bound effort blocked by a flying tackle from Dempster.

Jamie Ashdown was called to make his first save on his home debut when he comfortably dealt with a tricky shot from Rowan Vine, as the midfield cut inside the Diamonds defence.

The visitors were dealt a blow on 27 minutes when an off the ball incident involving Dempster and Fagan saw Colchester reduced to ten men.

Andy Hall, the match official, had no hesitation and produced a straight red towards the youngster.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 1 Colchester 0

Colchester’s attacks were rare but Andrews was certainly causing the Diamonds defence problems.

It was little surprise when Diamonds doubled their advantage. The home-side had been in control of possession and Lowe’s power and pace was causing so much of the damage.

On 39 minutes and at the second attempt, Lowe crossed, easily skipping past Colchester’s Scott Fitzgerald, and as the visitors struggled to clear their lines, Gray was on hand to thump the ball home from inside the six-yard area.

For a team who had won six on the spin prior to this game, Colchester were being torn apart and Diamonds should have extended their lead on 42 minutes but Benjamin wasted a glorious opportunity firing straight at Brown when being put into the clear.

Colchester had their chances to reduce their lead before the half-time whistle but Vine’s snapshot flew over the Diamonds crossbar.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 2 COLCHESTER 0

Neither side made a promising start to the second-half with the closet effort arriving on 54 minutes when Paul Underwood’s cross needed the faintest of touches to put it past Brown.

The Diamonds captain had put the ball into a dangerous position but neither Lowe on Hanlon could get the vital touch as the Colchester defence went asleep.

The second-half sparked into life on 57 minutes when Diamonds extended their lead. Gray’s corner was headed into a dangerous area where Burgess’ instant reaction guided the ball into the back of the net

On 59 minutes, Colchester went close in a rare opportunity as Vine’s long range effort sent Ashdown scamper across his goal.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 3 Colchester 0

Benjamin tested Brown on 62 minutes as the on-loan Leicester City striker displayed great skill on the edge of the area to catch the Colchester defence unaware.

The pace of the game had slowed down considerably when Hanlon’s tame effort failed to test Brown on 69 minutes.

Despite their superior lead, Diamonds continued to march forward and Lowe’s header on 70 minutes flew inches wide of the target.

Ashdown was called upon to make an important save when he flung himself at Scott McGleish’s shot on 72 minutes.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 3 Colchester 0

Diamonds continued to push forward and a smashing volley from Bignot extended the home-side’s lead on 80 minutes.

The defender unleashed an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net leaving Brown with no chance.

Eric Manangu, the Diamonds youngster, had his chance to shine for his first appearance, replacing Lowe.

Benjamin had the chance to rub salt into the wounds of Colchester in the closing stages but his fierce effort produced a flying save from Brown.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 4 COLCHESTER 0

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Underwood, Edwards (Okounghae 87), Hanlon, Jack, Benjamin, Burgess, Gray, Dempster, Lowe (Manangu 83).

Subs not used: Sambrook, Talbot, Hall.

Bookings: Dempster (25)

Colchester United: Brown, Myers, Fitzgerald, Pinault (Izzet,59, Duguid, Andrews (McGleish 69), Fagan, Vine, Bowry, Chilvers, Stockley.

Subs not used: Keith, Gerken, White.

Bookings: Bowry (8)

Sent-off: Fagan (27)

Referee: Mr AR Hall

Attendance: 4,149 (744 from Colchester Utd)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Onandi Lowe

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