Rushden & Diamonds 4 Oldham Athletic 1

By Steven Dove

Onandi Lowe celebrated his 50th goal for Rushden & Diamonds in a convincing 4-1 win over Oldham.

The Diamonds striker, who had gone three games without a goal, notched up his 14th goal of the season following a mistake in the Oldham defence.

Rodney Jack had opened the scoring with a well taken goal and although Jermaine Johnson reduced the lead midway through the second-half, Andy Burgess and Paul Hall both converted close range efforts to seal a much-needed win.

Brian Talbot recalled Gary Mills to the starting line-up for his first appearance since the defeat by Peterborough. Leo Roget, who signed on loan until the end of the season, was handed his home debut.

Lowe played as a lone striker with Paul Kitson dropping to the bench. Robert Duffy was also named as a substitute, following his long spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Oldham boss John Sheridan kept faith with the same starting eleven that gained a creditable draw with Blackpool as the visitors looked to maintain their recent run of good results.

Hall should have broken the deadlock on four minutes when the midfielder blasted wide of the target following a mix-up in the Oldham defence.

Without causing many problems for the Diamonds defence, Oldham enjoyed more of the early pressure although both sides struggled to cope with the difficult conditions.

An Andy Burgess free header on 13 minutes fell straight into the arms of Oldham goalkeeper Les Pogliacomi with the home-side soon settling into their stride.

AFTER 15 MINS: DIAMONDS 0 OLDHAM 0

Pogliacomi was called to make a vital save on 19 minutes when Ritchie Hanlon’s goal bound effort was tipped over the crossbar.

Oldham’s pressure was showing but Diamonds deservedly took the lead through Jack’s tenth goal of the season on 25 minutes.

The St Vincent international raced onto Lowe’s header to scoop the ball over Pogliacomi and tap home into an empty net.

AFTER 30 MINS: DIAMOND 1 OLDHAM 0

Oldham had no answer to Diamonds’ neat and tidy football as the home side threatened to extend their lead through Gary Mills’ long range effort on 31 minutes.

Mills had a further effort on 35 minutes which tested Pogliacomi on the wet and slippery surface.

However, Diamonds didn’t have to wait long to double their advantage as Lowe capitalised on a mistake in the Oldham defence to guide the ball into an unguarded net.

A further mistake in the Oldham defence nearly enabled Diamonds to extend their advantage on 42 minutes but Jack was denied by the feet of Pogliacomi.

With the Oldham defence unable to contain Diamonds’ attacking play, it always looked likely that the home-side might extend their lead. Dean Holden was saved by his own crossbar as Diamonds finished the first-half strongly.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 2 OLDHAM 0

In a desperate bid to bring themselves back into the game Oldham brought Calvin Zola and John Eyre into the game.

With the wind in their favour, Oldham enjoyed their best spell of the game and Zola and Johnson both had chances to test Diamonds goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown.

Danny Boshall’s free-kick on 53 minutes was the visitors’ first effort on target which Ashdown somehow pushed away.

It was little surprise when Oldham brought themselves back into the game on 53 minutes when Johnson skipped past Barry Hunter’s challenge to beat Ashdown with a low drive.

AFTER 60 MINS: DIAMONDS 2 OLDHAM 1

At full stretch, Ashdown prevented Boshall from 30-yards on 64 minutes with a thunderous effort after the Diamonds defence gave the midfielder the opportunity to take aim.

Johnson was causing problems for the Diamonds defence and it was his cross on 67 minutes that nearly some confusion for the home-side.

Despite their second-half pressure, Oldham slipped further behind on 71 minutes when they failed to clear their lines which enabled Burgess to power home from inside the area.

AFTER 75 MINS: DIAMONDS 3 OLDHAM 1

Zola and Johnson continued to terrorise the Diamonds defence with their pace and power.

Diamonds had further efforts through Lowe and Jack with Oldham’s defence struggling to cope with the danger.

Gareth Owen had the chance to frighten Diamonds with a free header on 85 minutes but the defender watched as it flew over the crossbar.

Hall wrapped up the win on 87 minutes with a close range effort after Lowe threaded the ball to his Jamaican international team-mate.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 4 OLDHAM 1

Diamonds: Ashdown, Mills, Hunter (Dempster 90), Hanlon (Bell 60), Jack, Quinn, Burgess, Sambrook, Hall, Lowe, Roget.

Subs not used: Duffy, Talbot, Kitson.

Bookings: Hunter (34)

Oldham: Pogliacomi, Holden, Cooksey, Owen, Murray, Johnson, Vernon (Zola h/t), Boshell, Hall (Eyre h/t, Clegg 82), Haining, Griffin.

Subs not used: Clegg, Westwood, Eyres.

Bookings: Boshall (43), Murray (84)

Referee: Mr R Pearson

Attendance: 4,591 (671 from Oldham)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Rodney Jack

Plymouth Argyle 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Not even a penalty save from Jamie Ashdown could prevent Rushden & Diamonds from defeat over title-chasing Plymouth.

Diamonds suffered a miserable afternoon in Devon with Marcus Bignot being shown the red card and Barry Hunter leaving on a stretcher.

Diamonds could have no complaints about this defeat with the Plymouth goals coming early in the second-half through Graham Coughlan and Ian Stonebridge and a late stunning strike from Paul Wotton

Plymouth could have easily added more to their total by Ashdown was in fine form making a number of key saves.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot went into this game keeping faith with the same side that drew 2-2 over Luton Town last week.

It meant Onandi Lowe continued his partnership with Paul Kitson in attack despite suffering bruising to the ribs.

Plymouth, who had only lost one league home game all season, made no fewer than four changes to their side which drew 0-0 with Grimsby last week as they tried to keep their lead at the top of the Division Two table.

Diamonds made a steady start in the breezy conditions at Home Park and Rodney Jack was tormenting Paul Connolly down the left-flank.

As early as the second minute, Jack skipped past the challenge of Connolly to deliver a cross which was just short of Paul Hall’s reach.

Some shaky moments in the Diamonds defence almost allowed Lee Hodges to open the scoring but the Plymouth midfielder could only find the side netting.

Diamonds were given a huge let off on ten minutes when Nathan Lowndes scuffed a golden opportunity after he found himself free inside the visitors’ penalty area.

Ashdown produced a breathtaking penalty save from Haney Aljofree on 12 minutes after Andy Burgess hauled down Mickey Evans in clear vision of referee Clive Penton.

The on-loan Reading goalkeeper was at full stretch as he palmed away Aljofree’s effort around the post.

AFTER 15 MINS: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

With the Diamonds defence at ‘sixes and sevens’, Plymouth continued to look dangerous on the break and Evans couldn’t find the vital touch from Lowndes’ cross.

Diamonds were dealt a blow on 20 minutes when Hunter, following a 50/50 challenge with Evans, had to leave the field on a stretcher.

The visitors remained on the back foot and Connolly’s right wing cross on 27 minutes was headed straight into Ashdown’s arms by Evans.

Jack, continuing to cause problems for the Plymouth defence, tried his luck from 20-yard and, haven beaten Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick, the nippy midfielder was unfortunate to see his effort go the wrong side of a post.

AFTER 30 MINS: Plymouth 0 Diamonds 0

Lowe, who was continuingly been marked out of the game, had a rare header comfortably saved on 36 minutes by McCormick as Diamonds struggled to threaten.

As the second-half drew to a close, Diamonds began to look strong and Hall dragged a shot on 40 minutes inches wide of the target.

Despite the fourth official adding six additional minutes to the first-half, neither side could open the scoring although Jack went close late on.

AT HALF TIME: PLYMOUTH 0 DIAMONDS 0

David Bell was introduced into the action at half-time, replacing Kitson. It meant Lowe partnered Jack in attack.

However, Diamonds made the worst possible start to the second-half as Coughlan headed home Hodges’ corner inside the first minute. Ashdown was left no chance as the Plymouth defender guided his effort into the bottom corner.

Plymouth continued to create the better chances and Hodge tested Ashdown from 30-yards with a well struck shot.

Diamonds slipped further behind on 57 minutes when Stonebridge struck from close range after David Norris has fed a delightful ball into the penalty area.

It went from bad to worse for the visitors as Bignot was shown a straight red card. The Diamonds defender could have few complaints as his rash challenge on Hodges left the referee with no choice.

AFTER 60 MINS: Plymouth 2 Diamonds 0

With Diamonds down to ten men, the visitors struggled to find any attacking momentum.

Ashdown produced a further stunning save from Norris on 68 minutes, palming away a fierce 25-yard pile driver which would have crept into the top corner of the net.

Plymouth should have extended their lead on 72 minutes when Friio somehow scooped the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard penalty area.

AFTER 75 MINS: Plymouth 2 Diamonds 0

Despite Diamonds suffering a miserable afternoon, Ashdown was continuing to shine when he blocked Norris’ powerful shot.

Plymouth’s continued to carve open plenty of openings. Hodges had time to take aim on 77 minutes but dragged his shot wide of the target.

Ashdown made saves from Evans and Friio as Diamonds tried in vain to salvage some consolation.

Barry Quinn and Andy Burgess both had efforts blocked before Hall had somehow failed to hit the target from inside the six-yard penalty area.

Paul Wotton rubbed salt in the wounds for Diamonds late on with a stunning 35-yard free-kick late on.

AT FULL TIME: PLYMOUTH 3 DIAMONDS 0

Plymouth: McCormick, Connolly, Hodges (Wotton 80), Friio, Coughlan, Norris, Stonebridge, Aljofree, Gilbert, Evans, Lowndes (Keith 75).

Subs not used: Sturrock, Phillips, Capaldi.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Hunter (Dempster 21), Hanlon (Talbot 66), Jack, Quinn, Burgess, Sambrook, Kitson (Bell h/t), Hall, Lowe.

Subs not used: Mills, Akinfenwa

Bookings:

Referee: Mr Clive Penton

Attendance: 13,021

Diamonds’ MOTM: Jamie Ashdown

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Luton Town 2

By Steven Dove

Although the losing rot over Luton Town hasĀ  been stopped, Diamonds had the perfect chance to record their first win over their local rivals.

Only a vital penalty save from Marlon Beresford to prevent Ritchie Hanlon from giving Diamonds a late second half lead saved Luton from defeat.

The visitors had twice taken the lead through Peter Holmes and Adrian Forbes but two headed goals, one from Paul Kitson and another from Barry Hunter, gave Diamonds a share of the spoils.

Barry Quinn was handed his Diamonds debut just 48 hours after completing his loan move from Coventry City.

It meant John Dempster was unfortunate to drop to the substitute bench as the Republic of Ireland international partnered Hunter.

Luton were without the services of Matthew Spring and Sol Davis so Ian Hiller and Holmes were recalled to the starting line-up.

A left footed drive from Andy Burgess after three minutes was an early indication that Diamonds were eager for all three points over a side they haven’t beaten in six attempts.

However, Forbes soon hushed the Diamonds crowd when he pocked home from close range on six minutes after Steve Robinson had found space on the right flank.

Steve Howard’s free header on nine minutes should have extended Luton’s lead after the Diamonds defence had fallen asleep but Jamie Ashdown was equal to the striker’s effort.

Hanlon’s free-kick tested Beresford in the Luton goal although the midfielder couldn’t connect sweetly with the 30-yard effort.

Diamonds brought themselves back on level terms on 15 minutes with a move which was started and finished by Kitson. The former West Ham striker pushed a ball out to the right flank where Paul Hall delivered an inch perfect cross for Kitson to head home past Beresford – the ball striking the inside of a post.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 1 Luton Town 1

Luton almost immediately restored their lead but Ashdown was strong at his near post to prevent Chris Coyne pouching a rare goal for his side.

The visitors continued to show more urgency in their play and Holmes’ 25-yard drive flew inches wide of Ashdown’s post.

Holmes squandered a further effort moments later when he skipped past a challenge from Burgess only to drag the shot wide of the target.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 1 Luton Town 1

After the early promise from both sides, neither team were beginning to show the flowing football that was evident in the opening 15 minutes.

However, Diamonds slipped behind on 39 minutes through a well-worked goal. Ahmet Brkovic’s work down the left flank gave him enough room to whip over a delivery which was tucked away by Holmes.

Lowe had an effort held by Beresford on the stroke of half-time but Diamonds couldn’t find a way past a stern Luton defence.

AT HALF-TIME: DIAMONDS 1 LUTON 2

Within the opening minute of the second-half, Hanlon’s flying header from Hall’s cross swept the wrong side of Beresford’s post.

Diamonds showed more urgency in their play and Kitson’s header on 50 minutes flew wide of the target.

Jack flashed a shot over the crossbar on 55 minutes and Lowe had a header which should have tested Beresford.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 1 Luton 2

Diamonds’ second-half performance warranted a goal and they got it on 65 minutes when Burgess’ corner found its way to Hunter whose header somehow flew into the top corner of the net.

Luton soon responded and Brkovic’s bicycle kick on 68 minutes was comfortably saved by Ashdown.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 2 Luton 2

A poor free-kick from Robinson failed to test Ashdown on 78 minutes as the visitors struggled to pile on the pressure.

Diamonds had the perfect chance to take the lead when Robinson was adjudged to have handled inside the area on 82 minutes. The former Northern Ireland international was shown a yellow card but Hanlon was denied from the spot by an excellent save from Beresford.

Diamonds threw men forward in the closing stages and Lowe was gifted a golden opportunity at the death but it was to end all-square in a pulsating fixture.

AT FULL-TIME: DIAMONDS 2 LUTON 2

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Hunter, Hanlon, Jack, Quinn, Burgess, Sambrook, Kitson, Hall, Lowe

Subs not used: Mills, Dempster, Bell, Talbot, Akinfenwa.

Bookings: Lowe (90)

Luton Town: Beresford, Forbes, Robinson, Coyne, Boyce, Brkovic, Howard, Hillier (Leary 54), Holmes, Mansell, Foley.

Subs not used: Showunmi, Davis, Brill, O’Leary.

Bookings: Howard (53), Robinson (81)

Referee: Mr S.J Tanner

Attendance: 5,823 (2,345)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Andrew Sambrook

See here for video highlights of the game.

Queens Park Rangers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

Despite a spirited second-half performance, Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a narrow defeat at Loftus Road.

Diamonds had a number of good opportunities in the second-half after Kevin Gallen had put the home-side into a first-half lead.

Paul Hall struck the woodwork with a formidable effort and Rodney Jack was denied an injury time equaliser by a finger tip save from QPR shot-stopper Chris Day.

Onandi Lowe was recalled to the starting line-up after missing Sunday’s win over Wycombe with the flu meaning Trevor Benjamin dropped to the bench.

Andy Burgess recovered from a knock sustained at the Causeway Stadium to partner Ritchie Hanlon in midfield and Andrew Sambrook continued in the Diamonds defence in the absence of Paul Underwood.

QPR, undefeated in 12 home league games, were without Tony Thorpe after the former Bristol City and Luton striker failed a late fitness test. Paul Furlong was recalled to the starting line-up.

As expected, QPP started the stronger of the two sides and Gallen was only denied a scoring opportunity on four minutes by a fine tackle from John Dempster.

Moments later, Jamie Ashdown, who recently completed his loan move to Nene Park for the remainder of the season, pulled off a fine save from Furlong.

The on-loan Reading goalkeeper was then called into action on eight minutes when he somehow kept out Gallen’s surging run and shot as Diamonds’ offside trap was broken.

AFTER 15 MINS: QPR 0 Diamonds 0

Diamonds’ first sight at goal arrived on 16 minutes when Hall, collecting a ball on the right flank, skipped past the challenge of one defender only to miss-hit a shot wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.

QPR’s attacks were rare but Marcus Bean should have found the target on 21 minutes when the Diamonds defence was caught asleep as the midfielder found himself in acres of space in the visitor’s penalty area.

It was little surprise when QPR opened the scoring on 24 minutes as Gallen slotted home from inside the penalty area, finishing off some fine work from Martin Rowlands.

AFTER 30 MINS: QPR 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds began to enjoy their best spell of the game and Lowe’s first opening on 31 minutes was a tame effort which was easily smothered by Day.

Furlong’s powerful close range header on 37 minutes from Gallen’s free-kick flew over the crossbar as QPR began to sustain further pressure on the Diamonds goal.

The home-side should have doubled their advantage on 38 minutes but Daniel Shittu was guilty of missing the target with only Ashdown to beat from six-yards.

Rowlands tried his luck from 30-yards although Ashdown was equal to his effort and Gallen continued to cause problems for the Diamonds defence.

AT HALF-TIME: QPR 1 DIAMONDS 0

With Diamonds looking to make an instant impression in the second-half, Burgess struck from 20-yards on 46 minutes although Day wasn’t troubled.

Diamonds conjured the best opening on 51 minutes when Lowe found some space in the QPR penalty area only to blast over the crossbar.

A splendid effort from Hall on 57 minutes was worthy of bringing Diamonds back on level terms but the Jamaican international watched as his strike from an acute angle rebounded off Day’s post.

AFTER 60 MINS: QPR 1 Diamonds 0

Diamonds continued to enjoy the majority of the possession in the second half and Lowe, who had been closely marked all game, had a rare header comfortable saved by Day.

On 66 minutes, Marc Bircham fired over an empty target after Ashdown was forced to come outside his area to force a save from Gallen.

Ashdown’s busy afternoon continued on 70 minutes when he was forced to tip over Gallen’s 30-yard pile driver.

AFTER 75 MINS QPR 1 Diamonds 0

A timely tackle from Gino Padula to prevent Jack a goal scoring opportunity was much-needed as the Diamonds midfielder looked destined to find the back of the net.

Diamonds suffered heartbreak on 83 minutes when Lowe’s free-kick was heading goalbound until Benjamin diverted it off course with a header.

The visitors continued to throw bodies forward in the closing stages. Lowe had a half-volley blocked and Benjamin went close moments later.

Jack had a late chance saved by Day and despite their best efforts, Diamonds couldn’t force an equaliser and slipped to a narrow defeat which their second-half performance probably didn’t deserve.

AT FULL TIME: QPR 1 DIAMONDS 0

QPR: Day, Forbes, Padula, Carlisle, Shittu, Bircham, Gallen, Rowlands, Bean, McLeod (Ainsworth 84), Furlong.

Subs not used: Culkin, Palmer, Rose, Sabin

Bookings:

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Hunter, Hanlon, Jack, Burgess, Dempster, Sambrook, Kitson (Benjamin 67), Hall (Bell 59), Lowe.

Subs not used: Talbot, Okounghae, Akinfenwa.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr A Butler

Attendance: 14,141

Diamonds’ MOTM: Jamie Ashdown

%d bloggers like this: