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

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