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

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