Rushden & Diamonds 2 Notts County 1

A first career brace from defender Andy Edwards gave Diamonds a welcome three points at Nene Park.

Edwards struck twice in the first half following set pieces while substitute Tony Scully pulled one back for the visitors midway through the second half.

There was a surprise omission in the Diamonds line-up with Barry Hunter staying on the sidelines to oversee his home debut as acting player manager. The home crowd gave him a warm welcome as he came out onto the pitch.

Diamonds reverted to 4-4-2 with Paul Hall coming back into the side for Hunter and Onandi Lowe replacing Paul Kitson up front. Reading recalled ‘keeper Jamie Ashdown from his loan spell leaving Bill Turley to make his re-appearance after injuring his knee in the victory at Blackpool almost five months ago. Paul Underwood made his 300th competitive appearance for the club.

Notts County came to Nene Park on the back of a 5 game unbeaten run and they made one change from the team that drew at Wycombe at the weekend. Steve Scoffham switched places with Tony Scully to partner leading scorer Paul Heffernan up front.

On a perfect night for football, Lowe immediately gave notice of his intent with a trademark 30-yard free kick which was only just inches over the bar. On 9 minutes. Rodney Jack cut menacingly into the penalty box from the left only to see Pegguy Arphexad pull off a superb one handed save diving to his left.

A minute later and Diamonds were deservedly in front. David Bell’s corner was only half-cleared as far as Gary Mills and his attempted shot fell nicely to Andy Edwards who cleverly found the net from close range.

The visitors looked quick and keen on the break and began asking the Diamonds defence some questions without actually looking too dangerous in front of goal.

Rushden, meanwhile, were knocking the ball around with pace and confidence and after a period of midfield stalemate they scored a second goal with Edwards again the scorer. Bell’s corner from the right was headed down by Leo Roget and Edwards flicked the ball over Arphexad for his third goal of the season.

Seven minutes from the interval it was the turn of Edwards the defender when he made a timely interception to deny Heffernan after Turley had spilled Simon Baldry’s long range effort. 

The visitors made two substitutions at the start of the second half with Ian Baraclough and Scully replacing Darren Caskey and Baldry.

The Magpies pressed continuously for a way back into the game and started to take a grip of midfield. Heffernan and Paul Bolland both had shots go wide before the visitors reduced the arrears on 62 minutes.

Substitute Scully was allowed too much room in the middle of the Diamonds half and then he unleashed an accurate left foot shot from 20 yards which beat Turley diving to his right.

Scully almost scored a carbon copy goal on 81 minutes when he drew Mills but Turley was equal to the challenge.

County had two good chances to equalise in the dying minutes but the grounded Roget produced a superb tackle to deny Scoffham and then Richie Hanlon cleared off the line to thwart Nicky Fenton.

Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Underwood, Mills, Edwards, Jack, Gray, Bell, Hall, Lowe, Roget

Subs unused: Burgess, Dempster, Duffy, Kitson

Bookings: Mills 80,

Notts County: Arphexad, Fenton, Oakes, Barras, Richardson, Pipe, Caskey (Baraclough 46), Heffernan, Bolland, Baldry (Scully 46)

Subs unused:  Deeney, Harrad, McHugh

Bookings: Barras 17, Scoffham 38, Baraclough 67

report by Chris Barritt

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