Rushden & Diamonds 0 Hartlepool United 2

 

Match report by Chris Barritt

Diamonds turned in an encouraging display but went down to two goals from Eifion Williams and Adam Boyd as the visitors moved closer to the play-offs, 

It was all change at Nene Park with the introduction of Ernie Tippett as the new Diamonds manager in midweek. His first team selection saw Diamonds made one change from the team that controversially lost at Grimsby with Marcus Kelly coming into the side in place of the injured David Bell. Paul Kitson had recovered from injury to take his place on the bench. Diamonds played with a 4 – 4 – 2 with Rodney Jack partnering Robert Duffy up front. 

Hartlepool kept the same side that beat Notts County 4 – 0 last week and they were keen to extend a four game winning run in their push for a play-off place. 

Andy Burgess had the first chance of the game shooting low from distance but it was the visitors who made the most of the opening few minutes. Darrell Clark set up Williams on two minutes but his shot curled just wide while seven minutes later Richie Humphreys made space for himself his shot was deflected over the bar.

Diamonds thought they’d taken the lead after 24 minutes when Rodney Jack got round Chris Westwood and slotted home. However, Assistant Referee Keane thought otherwise and ruled the goal out for shirt pulling.

On the half – hour, Kelly and Jack combined to put Richie Hanlon in sight of goal and his 20 yard shot whistled just wide of the right hand post.

Three minutes later Adam Boyd went on a mazy run but shot weakly at the Peter De Banke Terrace end.

Two minutes into the second half, excellent play by Kelly allowed the youngster to get into the penalty area but his shot was held comfortably by Jim Provett. On 52 minutes, Diamonds earned their first corner of the game when Stuart Gray’s shot was deflected.

Two minutes later Jack got away from his marker and appeared to be hauled back by his marker but his eventual shot went away for a corner. From the resultant flag kick, Barry Hunter headed narrowly wide.

Slightly against the run of play, the visitors took the lead on 56 minutes. Humphreys got to the by – line on the left and then picked out Williams racing into the area and he picked his spot from 12 yards.

Diamonds came back strongly and there were loud appeals for handball in the penalty area but referee Marriner waived play on.

Hartlepool killed the game on 79 minutes thanks to a dreadful error from Billy Turley. The ‘keeper had all the time in the world to clear after Stuart Gray played a simple back pass but Turley chose to  dribble his way out of the penalty area and was tackled by Adam Boyd. The Hartlepool striker couldn’t believe his luck and gleefully walked the ball into the Diamonds net.

Kelly and Kitson both tried long range shots to no avail while Humpreys almost got on the end of a great pass from Boyd.

On 87 minutes Leo Roget summed up Diamonds day when he headed against the crossbar.  

Diamonds: Turley, Edwards, Hunter, Hanlon Story 60), Jack, Burgess, Gray, Sambrook, Duffy (Kitson 59), Kelly, Roget

Subs unused: Dempster, Gahan, Okuonghae

Bookings: Roget 61

Hartlepool United: Provett, Tinkler, Westwood, Clarke (Porter 51), Humphreys, Williams, Danns, Boyd, Robertson, Sweeney, Craddock (Nelson 74)

Subs unused: Istead, Strachan, Konstantopoulos,

Bookings: Tinkler 66

Diamonds MOM: Marcus Kelly

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Grimsby Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Match report by Chris Barritt

Another dubious penalty decision gave fellow strugglers Grimsby three vital points as Diamonds slipped nearer to the relegation zone at Blundell Park.

Manager Barry Hunter and his players were incensed ten minutes from time when referee Pugh adjudged that Rodney Jack had impeded Stuart Campbell in the penalty area and Phil Jevons struck home the penalty. Diamonds’ misery was complete when Robert Duffy was shown the red card in the dying seconds.

Diamonds made two changes from the team that earned a priceless point at Brighton on Easter Monday. Andy Edwards replaced the suspended John Dempster at right back while David Bell came into the side in place of Marcus Kelly. Hunter continued with his 4 – 5 – 1 formation with Duffy the lone striker. 

 

Grimsby were hoping to stop a two game losing run and they made 4 changes from the side that lost 2 – 0 at home to Blackpool earlier in the week. Isiah Rankin and Darren Mansaram came into the attack while Darren Barnard and Stuart Campbell were also called up. 

The Mariners started like an express train. Inside the first minute, Campbell miskicked in front of goal after Rankin had got round Hunter while two minutes later Iain Anderson’s shot was deflected off Hunter for a corner.

Diamonds first attack saw Tony Crane slice Andy Burgess’ cross over his own crossbar while at the other end, Rankin, who was a real livewire in the opening few minutes, shot wide after a corner was knocked out to him.

On 13 minutes, Billy Turley had to react quickly when his clearance rebounded off Mansaram. Opposite number Alan Fettis was nearly caught out

on the quarter hour when Burgess unleashed a 30 yarder which swerved at the last moment. Hunter then cleared a Mansaram shot off the line.

Duffy was causing all kinds of problems in the air and on 19 minutes his flick on allowed Stuart Gray the chance to volley but the shot was comfortably saved by Fettis.

There was very little goalmouth action in the middle of the half although Anderson shot wide for the home side after a good build up. On 36 minutes, Jack almost capitalised on indecision in the Grimsby defence but the ball went away from him. Richie Hanlon followed up but his shot was blocked.

At the other end, there were loud appeals for a penalty when Rankin went down in the area following a challenge from Andy Sambrook and Hunter. The referee looked to have made the correct decision as he waived play on.

In the dying seconds of the half the woodwork came to the Diamonds rescue when Crane latched onto Barnard’s corner only to see his thumping header canon back off the crossbar.

The second half followed the way of the opening period although Diamonds tried to come out and play a more open game. Mansaram shot over early on while a great tackle from Sambrook in the penalty area denied another shooting opportunity.

Anderson headed over from Campbell’s cross and then provider turned striker but his effort from 2 yards hurried over the bar.

Again there was a period of inactivity in either attack but just as the away fans were sensing another hard earned away point, the referee changed the course of the game after 79  minutes. Campbell’s powerful run ended when he ran into Jack just inside the area. Despite limited appeals from the Grimsby players, referee Pugh pointed to the spot. Jevons sent Turley the wrong way to give the home side the lead.

Diamonds sent players forward and they almost immediately got back on level terms. Hanlon flicked on Burgess’ free kick and Fettis had to be at full stretch to deny Hunter’s half volley.

Worse was to follow for Diamonds two minutes from time when Duffy, who had worked tirelessly up front, was adjudged to have used an elbow on Crane and was immediately shown the red card.

As time was running out, Grimsby spurned two more chances to put the game beyond Diamonds reach but Turley made a great save to deny Rankin and then blocked Crowe’s forward run.

As the final whistle blew, Diamonds found themselves in 19th place just one point off the relegation zone and with a real fight on their hands to stay in Division Two.

Diamonds: Turley, Edwards, Hunter, Hanlon, Jack, Burgess, Gray, Sambrook, Duffy, Bell (Kelly 81) Roget

Subs unused: Mills, Gahan, Story, O’Kuonghae

Bookings: Hunter 81, Roget 90

Sent Off: Duffy 88

Grimsby, Fettis, Barnard (Ford 85), Crowe, Crane, Edwards, Anderson, Campbell, Coldicott, Jevons, Rankin, Mansaram (Soames 73) 

Subs unused: Rowan, Hockless, Warhurst

Bookings: Anderson 86

Diamonds MOM: Robert Duffy

Blundell Park

Attendance: 3,890

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

In their quest to beat the drop into Division Three, Rushden & Diamonds claimed what could turn out to be a precious point over play-off contender’s Brighton on Easter Monday

The game was far from a classic but that would not have concerned Acting Manager Barry Hunter who was solid at the heat of the Diamonds defence.

Brighton, who had only conceded two home league goals since the turn of the year, were not a patch of the side that demolished Diamonds 3-1 at Nene Park back in September as they failed to display their promotion material.

But you couldn’t take away anything from a hard working Diamonds side who went into this match on the back of four straight defeats.

Brighton had a goal ruled out midway through the first-half and although Diamonds could only muster one shot on target all afternoon, it was their defence display that warranted this vital point.

Marcus Kelly was handed his first senior start in the Diamonds side whilst Leo Roget returned to the heart of the Diamonds defence at the expense of Andrew Edwards who dropped onto the bench.

Brighton started in a bright manner but it wasn’t until the 22nd minute when Chris Iwelumo headed home Lee Cable’s cross, which was ruled out for a foul on Barry Hunter, that the home side began to look dangerous.

Many would have expected the floodgates to open at the heart of the Diamonds defence after that disallowed goal but Brighton struggled to make an impact on the game as Billy Turley enjoyed a relatively comfortable afternoon.

Turley’s opposite number Ben Roberts was also enjoying a relaxing afternoon in the Brighton sunshine as half-efforts from Rodney Jack and the hard-working Robert Duffy was all that Diamonds could muster.

Brighton’s effort were few and far between as Guy Butters saw a looping header drop wide of the Diamonds goal and Charlie Oatway also going close with a long range effort.

Brighton fans must have been hoping that a strong half-time team-talk would bring the home-side firing on all cylinders but they were to be disappointed as the second-half ended in a similar pattern to the opening 45 minutes.

Stuart Gray, another who enjoyed a solid game in the Diamonds midfield, carved open Diamonds only real effort on goal – a half-hearted effort which flew straight into the arms of Roberts.

In a bid to liven up a dull game, Brighton boss Mark McGhee threw on three substitutions but even the introduction of their new signing Paul Reid failed to inspire Brighton.

Chris McPhee headed straight into the arms of Turley whilst at the other end Jack may have felt he should have done better with a long-range shot.

Despite some nervy moment, Diamond soaked up the pressure in the final stage to warrant a priceless point much to the delight of the fantastic travelling army from Northamptonshire.

Diamonds Team: Turley, Dempster, Burgess, Sambrook, Roget, Hunter, Hanlon, Gray, Duffy, Jack, Kelly. Subs: Story

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Barnsley 3

Diamonds went down to their 4th consecutive defeat against Barnsley despite a spirited second half fightback.David Murphy gave Barnsley the lead before Stuart Gray’s free kick levelled things. Kevin Betsy put the visitors ahead again before Alex Neil increased the lead on the stroke of half time. Barry Hunter gave Diamonds hope but to no avail.

Diamonds made one change from the team controversially beaten at Stockport. Robert Duffy came into the attack to partner Paul Kitson with John Dempster stepping down to the substitute bench. Andy Burgess started at left back with Rodney Jack on the left side of midfield as the home side reverted to their home formation of 4 – 4 – 2. 

Barnsley came into the game on the back of a four game unbeaten run and kept the side that beat Plymouth last weekend.

Barnsley started brightly and Chris Shuker’s first minute effort from 25 yards whistled over the bar.  But seven minutes later, the visitors took the lead. After David Bell appeared to have been fouled in his own half, Barnsley won a free kick just outside the Diamonds’ penalty area. Murphy stepped up and gave Barnsley the lead with the aid of the right hand post.

Betsy created space but struck an 18th minute shot over the bar before three minutes later the same player bore down on goal but Billy Turley came quickly off his line to clear the danger.

Diamonds came more and more into the game and got a deserved equaliser on 26 minutes thanks to a well worked set piece. As Richie Hanlon shaped to hit the free kick, Burgess slipped the ball to Gray and the captain beat Marlon Beresford with the help of the right hand upright.

Three minutes later, Turley was in the right place to save a point blank header from Gary Birch before Hanlon’s 25-yard blast went just wide of the right hand post.

Diamonds then had a great chance to take the lead after good work from Burgess, Hanlon and Kitson but Duffy couldn’t get enough power in his shot and Beresford saved comfortably.

After Neil Austin had missed the target with a 20 yard volley, Barnsley regained the lead on 40 minutes and not without a hint of controversy. Steve Hayward and Duffy clashed in the visitors half and with the Diamonds’ striker remaining on the floor with a head injury, Barnsley cleared the ball up field to Betsy who coolly drew Turley before slotting the ball home.

Barnsley went further ahead on the stroke of half time. Shuker laid the ball out to Birch on the left and his cross-cum-shot fell nicely into the path of Alex Neill for an easy tap in.

At the start of the second half, Manager Hunter sent on Dempster and Marcus Kelly in place of Kitson and Andy Sambrook as Rushden looked to get back into the game.

However, the visitors kept on coming forward and on 49 minutes, Turley produced a great one handed save to deny Murphy’s long range effort.  

Barnsley missed a golden opportunity to increase their lead on 57 minutes when Birch beat Hanlon on the left but with Betsy all alone his right, the striker chose to go for goal without success.

Seven minutes later, Betsy again raced clear of the home defence again but this time Turley crowded him out but could only find the side netting.

Duffy saw a 66th minute header easily dealt with by Beresford before the woodwork cruelly denied the home side seven minutes later. Bell did well down the right and when the cross came in Gray thundered his header against the underside of the crossbar.

Diamonds threw themselves a lifeline 9 minutes from time with a goal from Hunter. Substitute Kelly produced a mazy run before being tripped by Hayward on the edge of the area. Hanlon’s free kick was parried by Beresford but Hunter followed up to hit the net at the second attempt. 

Diamonds: Turley, Edwards, Hunter, Hanlon, Jack, Burgess, Gray, Sambrook (Dempster 46), Duffy (Roget 78), Bell, Kitson (Kelly 46)

Subs unused: Gahan, Story, Roget,

Barnsley, Beresford, Austin, Hayward, Burns, Betsy, Birch, Kay, Neil, Shuker. Ireland, Murphy

Bookings: Hayward 80

Subs unused: Handyside, Lumsdon, Alcock, Nardielo, Tonge

Diamonds MOM: Andy Burgess

Match report by Chris Barritt

Stockport 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Match report by Chris Barritt

A hotly contested penalty decision gave Stockport a controversial win at Edgeley Park.

John Dempster was sent off midway through the first half before Rickie Lambert gave the home side the lead on 68 minutes with a long range shot that deceived Billy Turley. Manger Barry Hunter struck an instant reply before Lambert hit home a last minute penalty awarded for hand ball against Stuart Gray.

Diamonds reverted to a 3 – 5 -2 formation as they looked to end a run of 7 away games without a win and they made just one change from the side that lost at home to Bournemouth last weekend. John Dempster came into the Diamonds side in place of the injured Leo RogetĀ  with David Bell Junior stepping up to the substitutes bench.

Stockport came into the game on the back of a five game unbeaten run and they made two changes from the side that drew at Blackpool last week.

The home side share their ground with Sale Sharks and the game was played on a heavily sanded pitch.

Rodney Jack had the first chance of the game on 4 minutes when he saw the Stockport keeper off his line but his attempted lob failed to gain the necessary height. A minute later, Jack tried his luck again from just outside the penalty area but the shot dipped just over the bar.

The rain started to drive across Edgeley Park and the home side stepped up the pressure. Rickie Lambert blasted a 30-yarder inches wide of Billy Turley’s left hand post before Andy Burgess almost capitalised on a defensive blunder only to see his shot diverted for a corner.

Danny Adams and Richie Hanlon swapped long range efforts which failed to hit the target before Diamonds lost the services of Dempster in controversial circumstances. Lee Cartwright played the ball into the path of Aaron Wilbraham who was clipped by the young defender as the Stockport striker ran across him. Despite continued protests, Referee Salisbury brandished the red card.

Down to ten men, Diamonds switched to a 4 – 4 – 1 formation with Burgess playing at left back and Andy Sambrook dropping back on the right.

The home side stepped up the pace and Wilbraham almost flicked home from close range while Turley dropped the resulting corner before redeeming the situation. On 39 minutes, the home side squandered the best chance of the half when Cartwright again sent Wilbraham through but while Turley was beaten by the shot, the Stockport striker could only watch as the ball crawled past the left hand upright.

Diamonds had to resort to some desperate defending towards the end of the first half with Barry Hunter and Andy Edwards controlling the rearguard action superbly. In the dying seconds of the half, Wilbraham again missed a clear opportunity when he headed over from Welch’s corner.

Five minutes in to the second period, Jon Daly forced a fine double save from Turley before the impressive Welch was just wide with a snapshot after good work from Lambert.

But after a period of inactivity, the game sprang to life again with two goals in two minutes.

In the 68th minute, a 20 yard shot from Lambert bounced awkwardly in front of Turley and rose into the roof of the net. A couple of minutes later, Paul Kitson flicked on Turley’s free kick and Hunter prodded the ball home for the equaliser.

Jon Daly and substitute Chris Williams both went close for the home side before referee Salisbury incensed the visitors with a controversial penalty award against Gray.

The Rushden captain was unsighted as Robert Clare played the ball into the penalty area but when the ball reared up and onto his arm, the referee adjudged that Gray had handled and despite furious protests a penalty was awarded. Lambert struck home the penalty to break Diamonds hearts.

Diamonds: Turley, Edwards, Hunter, Hanlon, Jack, Burgess, Gray, Dempster, Sambrook, Bell (Kelly 90), Kitson (Duffy 75),

Subs unused: Story, Bell Jnr, Okounghae,

Bookings: Burgess,15, Hunter 90

Stockport County, Anthony Williams, Clare, Hardiker, Welch (Chris Williams, Lambert, Ashley Williams, Adams, Wilbraham (Barlow 68), Daly, Cartwright, Goodwin

Subs unused: Jackman, Chris Williams, Spencer, McLachlan

Diamonds MOM: Barry Hunter

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