Wrexham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Rushden & Diamonds claimed their first away point of 2004 with a hard earned draw over Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground.

Jack cancelled out a goal from Carlos Edwards and then did enough in the second-half to warrant a share of the spoils.

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Underwood, Edwards, Roget, Hunter, Mills, Hanlon, Kitson, Jack, Gray. Subs: Hall, Duffy

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Rushden & Diamonds 2 Tranmere Rovers 1

Match report by Chris Barritt

Diamonds secured three valuable points as they returned to winning ways at Nene Park thanks to Gary Mills’ first ever league goal.

Diamonds came into the game on the back of three successive defeats while the visitors were trying to protect an 8 match unbeaten run but two second half goals from Onandi Lowe – his 15th of the season – and Mills allowed the home side to complete their second double of the campaign.

Lowe passed a late fitness test on his injured groin and took his place in the Diamonds’ attack but Leo Roget was ruled out with an ankle injury leaving Andy Edwards to make his first start since playing in the 4 – 0 victory against Colchester back in November,

Tranmere came to Nene Park with just one defeat in 18 matches and they made two changes from the side that gained a weekend point at Oldham. Mick Mellon came back into the Rovers midfield following suspension while David Beresford replaced Gary Jones.

On a wet and cold night, Diamonds almost took the lead as early as the 2nd minute. Rodney Jack fed Marcus Bignot down the right and when the defenders cross came in Onandi Lowe’s header flashed just over the bar.

Tranmere created their first opening after 11 minutes when Paul Linwood found himself in space 20 yards out but Jamie Ashdown was equal to the shot diving to his left. Six minutes later, Lowe almost found Stuart Gray at the far post but Ryan Taylor did well to head clear.

From that point, the opening period stuttered along with little goalmouth action to keep the fans entertained. Both goalkeeper’s became virtual spectators as the chances were limited.

The only one chance to fall before the interval vame on 41 minutes when Dadi outpaced Edwards in the Diamonds area but his shot hit the side netting.

Half – time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 0 Tranmere Rovers

Diamonds came out with real purpose after the break and Lowe had a 46th minute header cleared following a corner. At the other end, Ashdown had to be alert when he raced out of his area to kick clear with Eugene Dadi bearing down on him.

However, it was Diamonds who broke the deadlock on 48 minutes with a typical opportunist goal from Lowe. Good work from Stuart Gray and Mills set up the Jamaican international on the edge of the area and Lowe turned to hit a thumping right foot shot which found the net with the help of the left hand upright.

But within five minutes the visitors were back on level terms. Danny Harrison latched on to Taylor’s right wing cross and his fine header gave Ashdown no chance from 12 yards.

That equaliser spurred the visitors into attack and goalscorer Harrison blazed over before a clever piece of play from Dadi allowed the Frenchman to curl a 20 yard shot which brushed the outside of the post.

After withstanding the pressure, Diamonds broke away and scored a second goal on 69 minutes, Lowe was the provider allowing Mills the chance to race into the penalty area and slide the ball under Achterberg and into the net. It was a superb finish for a player who’d just scored his first ever Diamonds goal!

Diamonds had further chances to wrap the game up in the remaining twenty minutes with Jack twice going close. However, it was the visitors who spurned the best chance ten minutes from the end when Iain Hume turned well in the penalty area and beat Ashdown only to see the ball come back off the inside of the left hand post, roll along the goal line and away from danger.

The victory put Diamonds up to 12th place in the table,

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Underwood, Mills (Hanlon 76), Edwards, Hunter, Jack, Gray, Bell (Sambrook 86), Hall, Lowe

Subs not used: Dempster, Duffy, Talbot

Bookings: None

Tranmere Rovers: Achterberg, Roberts, Allen (Nicholson 74), Hume, Mellon, Dadi, Taylor, Harrison, Linwood, Beresford (Jones 76), Goodison

Subs not used: Howarth, Navarro, Hay

Bookings: None

Referee: Mr T Kettle

Attendance: 3,074

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2

By Steven Dove

Two penalties, one in either half, gave Sheffield Wednesday all three points in a poor game at Nene Park.

Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu converted on both occasions but it was a match that failed to inspire any of the 5,685 fans inside Nene Park.

Diamonds could probably have no complaints over the first penalty but a Marcus Bignot handball was also adjudged to have been an offence for the second spot kick when the Diamonds defender really couldn’t have done much to get out of the way of Nsungu’s shot.

Rodney Jack pulled a goal back late on after a mistake from Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Ola Tidman but this was never going to be Diamonds’ day.

Bignot and Paul Underwood returned to the starting line-up to tighten up a Diamonds defence that had conceded 13 goals in their previous six games.

Stuart Gray moved into his more traditional left-sided midfield position after playing at full-back during last week’s defeat by Chesterfield.

Sheffield Wednesday, under the guidance of ex-Hartlepool boss Chris Turner, gave a debut to midfielder Adam Chambers who signed from West Bromwich Albion during the week.

The first opening arrived after nine minutes when Alan Quinn scuffed an effort from inside the six-yard penalty area.

However, the visitors didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock when a needless challenge from Leo Roget on Kim Olsen was adjudged a penalty by the match referee. The spot kick was neatly tucked away, sending Jamie Ashdown the wrong way, by Nsungu.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Diamonds hadn’t threatened the visitor’s goal until the 22nd minute when Onandi Lowe’s ambitious volley failed to test Ola Tidman in the Sheffield Wednesday goal.

Diamonds began to get into their stride and some neat football from the home side on 24 minutes should have warranted an equaliser but Jack’s effort flew over the crossbar.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

A tame Gary Mills effort on 35 minutes was one of few opportunities that were being created in a disappointing display from both teams.

Neither side were playing attractive football as the half drew to a close as the Sheffield Wednesday band produced more entertainment than what was being displayed by both sides on the field.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1

Nothing was going Diamonds’ way and even a trademark Lowe free-kick on 51 minutes was closer to going out the stadium than finding its intended target.

Diamonds must have felt hard done by when Wednesday grabbed their second goal from the penalty spot. Bignot was adjudged to have handled inside the area after Nsungu shot hit the Diamonds defender.

The decision left Diamonds players fuming, resulting in Underwood’s booking. On this occasion, Ashdown guessed the right way but Nsungu’s shot was too good.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Lowe tried his luck from 25-yards on 63 minutes and was unfortunate not to find the target as his curling effort went inches wide.

Ashdown was called upon to make a vital save from Jon Shaw on 67 minutes as Sheffield Wednesday continued to look the more likely team to find the net.

Diamonds struggled to find any openings and the likes of Jack, Lowe and Paul Hall all failed to get on the ball for long periods of the game.

Shaw went close with a curling shot on 73 minutes but the Sheffield Wednesday midfielder saw his effort curl the wrong side of a post.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Diamonds failed to show any threat towards the Sheffield Wednesday defence as the visitors continued to look the stronger side.

Lowe and Gray failed to test Tidman as the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper continued to enjoy a quiet afternoon.

Nsungu had a late effort but Jack did manage to pull one goal back for Diamonds late on after Tidman made a hash of a back pass.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 1 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2

Diamonds: Ashdown, Bignot, Underwood, Mills, Hunter, Jack, Gray, Bell (Hanlon 72), Hall, Lowe, Roget.

Subs not used: Edwards, Dempster, Duffy, Talbot

Bookings: Underwood (54)

Sheffield Wednesday: Tidman, Geary, Murphy, Smith, Bromby, Quinn, Olsen, Haslam, Chambers, Shaw, Nsungu.

Subs not used: Wood, Wilson, Needham, Poulter, McMahon

Bookings: Nsungu (55)

Referee: Mr B Knight

Attendance: 5,685 (2,306 from Sheffield)

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills

Chesterfield 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

By Steven Dove

A goal in each half condemned Rushden & Diamonds to their fourth away defeat on the spin over inform Chesterfield.

Diamonds slipped behind as early as the third minute when Glynn Hurst pounced from close range to score his sixth goal of the season.

And things never improved for Diamonds throughout the 90 minutes as a second-half penalty from David Reeves wrapped up all three points for the home side.

Diamonds welcomed Stuart Gray back into the starting line-up after three months on the sidelines through a groin injury. He slotted in at left-back whilst Ritchie Hanlon returned to the bench.

Chesterfield were without on-loan Leeds star James McMaster who failed a late fitness test on an injury picked up in the win over Peterborough United.

Chesterfield, having picked up back-to-back wins over QPR and Peterborough, started in a positive manner and broke the deadlock immediately.

Steve Blatherwick’s cross was met by the head of Reeves who guided an unstoppable shot past Jamie Ashdown and into the corner of the net.

Diamonds nearly responded in a matter of seconds but David Bell’s header struck the woodwork.

That would be Diamonds’ best chance of a lack lustre performance from Brian Talbot’s team. Chances were few and far between as Chesterfield stayed in complete control of proceedings.

Reeves and Hurst were threats from start to finish and Diamonds were unable to retain possession for long spells.

Chris Brandon squandered a chance to extend Chesterfield’s lead on 15 minutes and Mark Hudson also went close with an effort which flew straight into Ashdown’s arms.

Chesterfield thought they should have had a penalty just after the half-hour mark when Reeves when tumbling down inside the area from a Barry Hunter challenge.

Diamonds struggled to break through the Chesterfield defence and a Onandi Lowe free-kick, which failed to test Carl Muggleton, was one of few chances for the visitors.

The second-half never improved for Diamonds as Chesterfield continued to bombard the visitors goal.

Reeves was denied by a flying save from Ashdown on 50 minutes whilst Brandon also went close with a shot which flew inches wide.

In a bid to turn things around, Paul Kitson and Ritchie Hanlon were thrown into action and although Andy Burgess and Rodney Jack both had chances, this was always going to be Chesterfield’s day.

Chesterfield extended their lead in controversial style when Reeves blasted home from the penalty spot. However, Diamonds would have felt hard done by after Brandon seemingly handled prior to the decision in rewarding a spot kick.

Diamonds continued to push forward but never looked like troubling Muggleton who had enjoyed a quiet afternoon.

Diamonds must now regroup and get back to winning ways ready for their forthcoming home games against Sheffield Wednesday and Tranmere Rovers.

Chesterfield: Muggleton, Uhlenbeek, O’Hare, Blatherwick, Allott, Hurst, Hudson (Innes), Davies, Brandon, Reeves (Robinson 85), Evatt.

Subs not used: Dawson, Payne, Richmond, Robinson, Innes.

Booked: Brandon (29)

Diamonds: Ashdown, Mills, Hunter, Jack, Burgess, Gray (Hanlon 68), Sambrook (Dempster 78), Bell (Kitson, 60), Hall, Lowe, Roget.

Subs not used: Talbot, Story

Booked:

Referee: Mr M Thorpe

Attendance: 4,361

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills

Swindon Town 4 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven Dove

Rushden & Diamonds came so close to snatching a precious point over Swindon Town on Saturday afternoon.

However, the damage was done in the first-half in this five goal thriller as Swindon raced into a two goal half-time lead through goals from Tommy Mooney and a penalty converted by Andy Gurney.

An Alan Reeves own goal brought some hope for Diamonds straight after the restart but David Duke restored Swindon’s two goal cushion midway in the second-half.

Rodney Jack brought some hope that Diamonds would snatch a point but Rory Fallon, who was sent-off when the two teams met on Boxing Day grabbed a late goal.

David Bell was drafted into action at the expense of Ritchie Hanlon in the only change from last weeks 4-1 win over Oldham.

Leo Roget continued to partner Barry Hunter in the heart of Diamonds’ defence whilst Owen Story was named as a substitute.

Swindon, unbeaten in their last six, were without Steve Robinson who sustained a fractured leg in their recent 2-2 draw with Blackpool.

The home-side began brightly and only some good fortune from Diamonds denied Sammy Igoe an early shot at the visitors’ goal.

It wasn’t long before Diamonds got into their stride and a Paul Hall cross was nearly put away by the on-rushing Andy Burgess.

However, a defensive error saw Swindon take the lead on eight minutes. After Roget had taken one touch too many, Mooney was allowed to race through and scoop the ball over the onrushing Jamie Ashdown.

Sam Parkin should have extended Swindon’s advantage moments later when he fired over the crossbar from close range.

Some nervy defending from Diamonds nearly brought about an embarrassing own goal on 13 minutes but Hunter’s was sparred any embarrassment by a goal line clearance from Gary Mills.

AFTER 15 MINS: SWINDON 1 DIAMONDS 0

Swindon didn’t take long to double their advantage with a 16th minute penalty, converted by Gurney after Burgess was deemed to have handled in the area from Duke’s cross.

Igoe was Diamonds’ biggest problem as the Swindon midfielder showed nifty footwork on 24 minutes to drive a shot inches wide of Ashdown’s post.

A timely tackle from Bell denied an almost certain Swindon goal as Mooney raced onto Igoe’s cross from the right flank.

AFTER 30 MINS: SWINDON 2 DIAMONDS 0

Diamonds, struggling to find any pattern to their play, couldn’t break through a stern Swindon defence as the wind played havoc to their long ball game.

Onandi Lowe, who had been having a quiet game by his standards, had a header deflected for a corner on 39 minutes in a rare effort for the visitors.

Diamonds were enjoying their best spell of the game without causing many problems for Rhys Evans in the Swindon goal.

Bell’s deflected free-kick on 42 minutes kindly fell into the path of Gary Mills but the Diamonds midfielder was denied by the onrushing Evans, who predicted the danger to perfection.

A Duke shot deep into first-half stoppage time was somehow kept out by Ashdown’s feet with Swindon tearing the Diamonds defence apart with some well-worked football that warranted a third goal.

AT HALF TIME: SWINDON 2 DIAMONDS 0

As expected, Diamonds came out in a positive frame of mind in the second-half and a Lowe free-kick on 49 minutes flew over the crossbar when maybe the Jamaican should have done better.

Diamonds had a huge slice of luck on 53 minutes when Jack’s right-wing cross was diverted into his own net by Reeves.

Jack displayed great determination to collect a loose ball and whipped a cross into a dangerous area and despite no immediate threat; Reeves sliced a shot into his own net.

Jack could have found the net himself shortly after with a low drive but Evans made a comfortable save.

AFTER 60 MINS: SWINDON 2 DIAMONDS 1

Diamonds, displaying a more solid performance to the second-half, continued to bombard the Swindon goal and a trademark Lowe free-kick had Evans scrambling across his goal.

In a pulsating second-half, Diamonds continued to enjoy more of the possession and a Lowe header on 66 minutes was comfortably smothered by Evans.

Swindon had few chances in the second-half and a deflected Mooney free-kick was the only opportunity the home-side had created.

AFTER 75 MINS: SWINDON 2 DIAMONDS 1

Despite their second-half domination, Diamonds were dealt a blow on 75 minutes as Duke’s turn-and-shot crept into the corner of Ashdown’s net.

However in a typical ‘never say die’ response, Diamonds hit back. Burgess’ right-wing cross wasn’t dealt with by the Swindon defence and it enabled Jack to head home at the far post.    

Mills had a long range effort which drifted wide of the target as Diamonds pushed extra bodies forward.

Evans came to rescue for Swindon making a vital save from Lowe on 86 minutes in a spell of nervy moments for home fans.

When it looked as if Diamonds may snatch an equaliser, Fallon stole in to head into an empty net after Roget had theatrically headed a ball onto his own crossbar.

AT FULL TIME: SWINDON 4 DIAMONDS 2

Swindon Town: Evans, O’Hanlon, Hewlett, Igoe (Miglioranzi 80), Mooney (Fallon 78), Parkin, Nicholas, Heywood, Reeves, Duke, Gurney.

Subs not used: Griemink, Viveash, Howard.

Bookings: Igoe (41), O’Hanlon (50)

Diamonds: Ashdown, Hunter, Mills, Jack, Quinn, Burgess, Sambrook, Bell (Kitson 73), Hall, Lowe, Roget.

Subs not used: Duffy, Dempster, Talbot, Story.

Bookings: Burgess (16)

Referee: Mr T Parkes

Attendance: 7,023

Diamonds’ MOTM: Gary Mills

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