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

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