Rushden & Diamonds 0 Bristol Rovers 0

 

Both sides battled hard in this goalless draw at Nene Park.Diamonds and Bristol both defended well with chances few and far between and both managers were forced to be content with just a point.

Ernie Tippett kept an unchanged starting line-up for the third consecutive game despite having seen his side lose 3-1 at Yeovil at the weekend.The only change again came on the bench with Jason Taylor replacing Simeon Jackson.Former Cobblers manager Ian Atkins also kept an unchanged line-up with just Craig Hinton and Lewis Haldane the only changes on the bench.Bristol included three former Cobblers players in the starting eleven with James Hunt, Paul Trollope and Ali Gibb all starting whilst Jamie Forrester and Dave Savage on the bench.

Diamonds made a positive start to the game and won the first free-kick of the game after three minutes when Kevin Braniff’s run was thwarted by a foul by Christian Edwards, who was booked by the referee.From the free-kick Diamonds bizarre routine failed to materialise with anything testing for Kevin Miller in the Rovers goal. Alex Hay’s header down then fell into the path of Braniff who saw his shot from distance drift 2 yards wide of Miller’s far right post.

Bristol caused a few moments of worry in the Diamonds defence when Trollope’s right hand free-kick, level with the Diamonds box, forced a punched clearance from Billy Turley with ten minutes gone.At the other end Hay forced a hurried headed clearance from the goalkeeper before blasting a shot from the right, well wide.

Stuart Campbell’s left hand cross created a good opportunity for the Pirates after 20 minutes, however Junior Agogo’s shot from 10 yards was easily held by Turley.What then followed was a spell of even possession for both sides but with no real forward play of note in what was a largely disappointing first half in terms of chances on goal.The closest either side managed to come to breaking the deadlock was with one minute of the first half remaining when Gary Mills shot from 35 yards was palmed clear for a corner, by Miller at his left hand post.

Sean Connelly’s deep cross met the glancing header of Andy Burgess at the start of the second half, but the midfielder’s effort went wide before Mills fed Hay superbly but the latter’s shot cannoned off Edwards for a corner.From the corner Burgess saw a shot blocked amid a goalmouth scramble, before Rovers eventually cleared.David Bell then earned Diamonds a free-kick from virtually the corner beneath the scoreboard, the ball eventually finding Burgess who let Mills shoot from just outside the box, but the effort lacked any real power.

The Pirates also looked to go forward and neat build up play allowed Trollope to cross from the left; however Agogo’s header at the far post failed to test Turley after 55 minutes.Diamonds began to boss the play and Bell saw his low ball into the box rebound off the post with Braniff unable to strike the rebound, after 15 minutes of the second half.Hay’s run forward then appeared to end with a handball from the goalkeeper from outside the area, but the referee felt it was his chest rather than hands that touched the ball.Moments later Burgess’ header at Millers far left post had to be superbly headed away on the line by Robbie Ryan.

Pirates made two quick changes in a bid to change the course of the game; Campbell was replaced by John Anderson whilst the ineffective Lee Thorpe made way for Forrester.Rovers came close to going in front when Agogo’s ball forward into the path of Forrester saw the former Cobblers player get behind the Diamonds backline but Turley saved superbly and clawed the ball away with eighteen minutes remaining.Ali Gibb’s right cross then found Agogo in the clear but his effort from the penalty spot went over the bar.

Gibb again caused danger as he cut inside and Rob Gier missed a challenge, but Turley again rushed out to the corner of the six yard box and made himself big to save Diamonds once more.Both sides continued to battle hard in a bid to win the game but in the end it was the defences that ultimately came out on top, and after a busy Bank holiday weekend a point will have been most welcome.

Teams:

Rushden: Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills, Gier, Hay, Gray, Bell, Burgess, Braniff, Gulliver.Subs not used: Worgan, Demspster, Sambrook, Dove, Taylor.

Bristol: Miller, Hinton, Ryan, Trollope, Edwards, Elliott, Campbell (sub Anderson 63), Hunt, Agogo, Thorpe (Sub Forrester 67), Gibb.Subs not used: Savage, Walker, Disley.

Referee: Mr M Fletcher

Bookings: Edwards, Ryan

Attendance: 3367 (1079 away)

Man of the match: Stuart Gray

By Richard Beeby

Yeovil Town 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Yeovil Town claimed a huge slice of revenge after this triumph at Huish Park.  Just 143 hardy Diamonds fans made it down to Somerset, and unfortunately they would have come home disappointed as three first half strikes killed the game.

Ernie Tippett kept an unchanged starting eleven for the first time this season with the only change coming on the bench where Simeon Jackson replaced Marcus Kelly.Opposing manager Gary Johnson made just one change to his side from the much documented Carling Cup tie against Plymouth, Paul Terry replacing Adrian Caceres who was dropped to the bench.

Both sides made a patient start to this game with some neat moves but nothing too noteworthy going forward.The Glovers saw Bartosz Tarachulski shoot well wide from the left on five minutes before Gary Mills’ foul on Darren Way gave Lee Johnson an opportunity, but his left hand free kick failed to find a Yeovil touch in the box and went straight into the hands of Billy Turley.At the other end Kevin Braniff flashed a shot wide on 11 minutes before David Bell did the same with his header.

Yeovil only had to wait till the 16th minute to take the lead.A cross from the right by Paul Terry was poorly dealt with by Phil Gulliver giving Phil Jevons the chance to head down from six yards, but Turley saved superbly low to his left, however Lee Johnson’s follow up was powered home from close range to give the keeper no chance.From the restart another Terry cross had to be dealt with as Sean Connelly managed to cut out the ball for a corner.

Diamonds battled hard to contain Yeovil and made some good moves forward.Mills’ blast from 25 yards went high over Chris Weale’s crossbar before the same player headed down well from a Gulliver punt forward, but Alex Hay failed to get on the end of it, with 27 minutes gone.

Yeovil continued to look promising going forward, forcing Diamonds to concede a number of corners before they eventually took a further lead.A high ball into the box dropped for Jevons who crossed again from the left to find the towering Tarachulski who headed home at Turley’s far left post with two minutes of normal time remaining.

Worse was soon to follow for Diamonds as the lively Way rushed through the middle of the park before finding Jevons who struck a low shot from the edge of the box, into the bottom right hand corner of the net.The third goal sent the Glovers fans wild but was harsh justice on the Diamonds, who despite not controlling the game, had battled hard.

The Diamonds faced an uphill task going into the second half and a true test of character.The visitors threatened from a couple of corners before a golden opportunity was wasted by Hay.Hawkins cleverly spotted the forward and punted the ball long into his path, but having beaten the offside trap well, Hay’s effort flashed wide, much to the relief of the Glovers static backline, after 58 minutes.As Diamonds got a stronger hold on the game Adrian Caceres replaced goal-scorer Jevons after 61 minutes for the Glovers whilst Craig Dove replaced Andy Burgess two minutes later.

Yeovil appeared to be content in sitting back on their lead and offered little going forward in the second periods opening 25 minutes, however Michael Rose’s long run forward and shot from distance almost threatened a goal as it went just over Turley’s crossbar after 73 minutes.Hay was booked for kicking the ball away a minute later before being replaced by youngster Simeon Jackson as Ernie Tippett looked to blood some promising home grown talent.

As the minutes ticked away a come back became increasingly unlikely but a rare strike from Mills offered some hope.Connelly’s long precision ball forward from the right found Mills who headed home well past Weale, with eight minutes remaining.Yeovil looked to restore their three goal advantage as the impressive Terry shot wide of Turley’s left hand post and the same players low, square cross flashed across goal without a decisive touch late on.

The three first half goals proved to be more than enough to secure a comfortable victory for the Glovers against their old conference rivals.The defeat, only Diamonds second of the season, came against a hotly tipped side that, on this performance would be unlucky not to find themselves in the promotion shake up come May.Another of those hotly tipped sides visits NenePark on Monday as Ian Atkins’ Bristol Rovers come to town on the back of an unbeaten start.Diamonds will have to perform better but fans shouldn’t get too disheartened after this defeat.

 

Teams:

Yeovil: Weale, Lockwood (sub O’Brien 16), Rose, Skiverton, Way, Terry, Johnson, Gall, Jevons (sub Caceres 61), Tarachulski (sub Ibe 68), Fontaine.Subs not used: Collis, Ibe.

Rushden: Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills, Gier, Hay (sub Jackson 75), Gray, Bell, Burgess (sub Dove 63), Braniff, Gulliver.Subs not used: Dempster, Sambrook, Worgan.

Referee: Mr F Graham

Bookings: Hay,

Goals: Johnson 16, Tarachulski 43, Jevons 44, Mills 82.

Attendance: 5088 (143 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Gary Mills

(Battled hard and scored a rare goal.)

Report by Richard Beeby

Rushden and Diamonds 0 Swindon Town 1

 

Rushden and Diamonds were unlucky to be on the end of a one nil defeat against Swindon at Nene Park in the Carling Cup.The League One outfit netted late on leaving Diamonds with little chance of taking the game into extra time.

 

Ernie Tippett made just one change to the starting line up, resisting the temptation to rest players ahead of the clash at Yeovil on Saturday with Phil Gulliver replacing Graham Allen at the back.Andy King made eight changes to his side following their 2-1 triumph at local rivals Bristol City on Saturday.Regular starters Sam Parkin, Rhys Evans, Sammy Igoe and Sean O’Hanlon were all placed on the bench for the Robins.

Both sides made a bright start to the game but it was Swindon who came closest to scoring early on.Inside the first three minutes Alan Reeves long looping ball caused panic in the Diamonds defence but Billy Turley was able to smother the ball away from the on rushing Jerel Ifil.In response Diamonds saw Stuart Gray shoot high and wide with his left foot from inside the area, following a David Bell corner.

Sean Connelly then placed a long punt forward into the path of Kevin Braniff but the ball had too much power on it and instead ex-Cheltenham town man Steve Book was able to save the ball.Minutes later Peter Hawkins played a wonderful pass through to Alex Hay who broke into the box before shooting well on the turn, Book though pulled off a fine one handed save low to his right to deny the ex-Tranmere man.Braniff later placed his shot on the volley straight into the hands of the keeper following Bell’s across field pass from the right, on 22 minutes, then the same player blasted a shot from in excess of 30 yards which deflected out for a corner.

Hay, Braniff and Burgess combined for the best chance of the game at that point, after 27 minutes.Following a Swindon corner, Diamonds turned defence into attack as Hay got to the ball up-field ahead of a trailing Swindon defender, Hay then raced forward on the Diamonds left before placing a neat pass across to Braniff who unselfishly played the ball on to Burgess, before the midfielder shot narrowly wide of Book’s left hand post from just inside the area with the Swindon defence all at sea.

Swindon rarely tested Turley in the opening half, but did look bright going forward.Late on Brian Howard saw his curling shot from outside the box go over the bar on 39 minutes, three minutes later Grant Smith’s angled drive from the edge of the penalty area was shot with pace but went well wide of Turley’s right-hand post.

The second half again started brightly.Diamonds saw Gray shoot well wide from the centre of the park inside the first minute, whist Howard’s shot went just past Turley’s far right post after he had been able to run a long way for the visitors.Luke Garrard was then booked after upending Hay on the break, from the resultant free-kick Bell’s effort went wide.

Swindon boss Andy King made a triple substitution on 60 minutes, bringing on Igoe, Parkin and O’Hanlon in an attempt to win the tie.The changes looked to have some effect as Igoe’s corner found the head of Fallon, but his header went over the bar from six yards with 69 minutes gone.Igoe found Parkin for Swindon’s next chance, however despite beating Phil Gulliver at the back his shot went over the bar with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.Adrian Nicholas’ left hand cross then found the head of Fallon, who again saw his effort go over as Swindon looked for a late lead.

Diamonds rallied and looked for an opener themselves as the minutes ticked away.Ifil’s miss-kick gave Hay a shooting opportunity but his effort was well blocked for a corner.Craig Dove and Marcus Kelly were introduced as the game looked likely to go into extra time, replacing Bell and the hard working Hay respectively, with five minutes remaining.Swindon thought they had won the tie with just two minutes to go as Parkin played a neat ball through to Fallon from the left who netted at Turley’s far post only for his effort to be ruled offside.

The Robins didn’t need to wait long though for the winner as following a goalmouth scramble, which saw Mills block on the line from Fallon’s header down, Matt Hewlett riffled home past Turley from distance.The winner was harsh justice on Diamonds who had battled hard throughout but the introduction of three first team regulars was enough to win it for Swindon who move into round two.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds: Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills, Gier, Hay (sub Kelly 85), Gray, Bell (sub Dove 85), Burgess, Braniff, Gulliver.Subs: Worgan, Dempster, Sambrook.

Swindon Town: Book, Smith (sub Igoe 60), Hewlett, Fallon, Ifil, Opara (sub Parkin 60), Nicholas, Robinson, Howard, Reeves, Garrard (sub O’Hanlon 60).Subs not used: Evans, Pook.

Referee: Mr A Dewfield

Goals: Hewlett 88 mins

Bookings: Garrard

Man of the match: Kevin Braniff

Attendance: 1672 (395 away)

Report by: Richard Beeby

Rushden & Diamonds1 Grimsby Town 0

 

Rushden and Diamonds claimed their first win at home since March after seeing off the tough challenge of Grimsby Town at Nene Park.Diamonds were second best for the majority of the game but managed to defend superbly before stealing a goal through Kevin Braniff.

Ernie Tippett made two changes to the starting line-up that beat Lincoln 3-1 last Saturday with both Rob Gier and David Bell returning from injury.Opposing manager Russell Slade made just one change after his side’s 5-1 triumph over Bury with Michael Reddy replacing Darren Mansaram who was dropped to the bench.

Grimsby started brightly and put the Diamonds defence under pressure. An early Thomas Pinault free-kick from the Diamonds left near to the home side’s box was played short to John McDermott who failed to test Billy Turley as his effort rebounded back off Alex Hay.From another set piece situation Dean Gorden shot inches over Turley’s crossbar from just outside the box.On 10 minutes a through ball found Michael Reddy who broke free but Turley saved comfortably in between a period of sustained Diamonds pressure.

The Mariner’s continued to probe and a sliced clearance from McDermott’s low right cross by Gier allowed Jason Crowe to shoot from 22 yards, but his effort glanced just wide of Turley’s left hand post.Grimsby always looked the livelier with Reddy particularly a threat for the Diamonds defence but despite the possession they failed to convert it into chances.

Diamonds gave Anthony Williams a comfortable half in the visitor’s goal although a brief moment of pressure did occur for his defence on 32 minutes.Andy Burgess drifted in a free-kick from the right which was hurriedly cleared away before any true threat could occur whilst Gray’s corner from the left would have found Grham Allen but for the referee to whistle for a foul just seven minutes later.

As both sides played out a disappointing first half, Grimsby again finished the stronger.Pinault took his chance and elected to chip the ball from outside the box, but his effort went over the bar, then the same player found Reddy inside the area from a corner with the formers powerless header easily saved by Turley right on half time.

Mariner’s started the second half well and looked bright again on the attack.Sestanovich found Reddy and Pinault in two separate breaks, but on both occasions the promising forward play failed to materialise with anything testing for Turley.Diamonds looked for a response in attack and brought on Craig Dove for David Bell within ten minutes of the second half but it was Grimsby who still threatened most with Andy Parkinson doing well to get into the Diamonds box from the left before putting a shot wide. Sestanovich then placed the ball into Turley’s hands with a curling shot from 25 yards.

Diamonds battled hard and almost found some way through when Gray’s effort from far out was blocked on 65 minutes, before Reddy broke and shot again in reply for Grimsby.On a rare Diamonds attack on 70 minutes they took the lead.Gray’s corner from the Diamonds left found Burgess who’s effort was blocked before the ball fell to Braniff in the box and he hit a right footed strike past Williams, through a crowded box, from 10 yards to delight the Diamonds faithful.The goal was Braniff’s second goal in as many games and the first goal at Nene Park since Barnsley’s visit last April.

The goal livened up the Diamonds and only a magnificent save by Williams prevented the hosts going further ahead, six minutes after the first goal.Dove’s corner from in front of the score board was played long to Burgess who supplied Braniff; the latter had his shot from six yards saved well for a corner.Gray’s resultant corner then found Burgess who blasted a shot from distance which Williams managed to hold onto.Moments later Burgess’ cross found the diving head of Dove, but his shot went wide.

In response Justin Whittle’s header from a free-kick was easily saved by Turley before Grimsby’s most promising chance arrived.Substitute Ronnie Bull worked his way down the Diamonds right before finding Parkinson who crossed to Pinault, Turley saved superbly as the former Northampton trialist headed from six yards to preserve Diamonds slender lead.At the other end Mills and Connelly both shot from distance but failed to test Williams too greatly.

Diamonds managed to hold out as Grimsby battled hard for at least a share of the spoils that their play merited.Despite the hosts failing to impress too greatly in the final third before taking the lead, they were again defensively sound.Three points were again secured and Tippett’s men would have settled for that, regardless of the overall performance and now look forward to their next game, at home to Swindon, on Tuesday.

TEAMS:

DIAMONDS: Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills, Allen, Gier, Hay, Gray, Bell (sub Bell 55), Burgess, Braniff.Subs: Worgan, Sambrook, Gulliver, Kelly.

GRIMSBY: Williams, McDernott (sub Bull 79), Ramsden, Whittle, Sestanovich (sub Mansaram 71), Crowe, Reddy, Parkinson, Fleming, Pinault (sub Coldicott 88), Gordon.Subs not used: Young, Marcelle.

Referee: Mr J Singh

Bookings:Allen, Dove

Goals: Braniff 70,

Man of the Match: Rob Gier

Attendance: 2924 (651 away)

Report by: Richard Beeby

Lincoln City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 3

Diamonds recorded a fine victory at a warm Sincil bank to record their first league win this season.All three goals came from the Diamonds summer signings as Kevin Braniff, Alex Hay and Craig Dove all found the back off the net.

Ernie Tippett kept faith in the same starting line-up that played in the 1-0 defeat at Northampton Town on Tuesday whilst home boss Keith Alexander made one change with Marcus Richardson replacing Simon Yeo who was left on the bench along with Adrian Littlejohn, a midweek signing for the Imps.

Both sides started brightly but it was Diamonds who forced the first corner of the half inside the first three minutes.Craig Dove’s kick was launched into the six-yard-box before falling to Stuart Gray who blasted his effort over Alan Marriott’s crossbar.The Imps then saw former Diamond and Poppies midfielder Richard Butcher shoot from 25 yards, but just like Gray’s effort four minutes earlier, it flew over Billy Turley’s goal.

Despite plenty of midfield play neither side could find a way through in the final third in the opening quarter of the first half but gradually both sides managed to create some opportunities with Diamonds creating perhaps the brightest opening.Dove’s through pass found Kevin Braniff who was able to run free into the home side’s box where Paul Morgan managed to make a timely intervention.A minute later Gareth Taylor-Fletcher found space as Diamonds defence was stretched but his cross eluded the home frontline.Gary Mills then placed a shot from distance just over the bar with Marriott off his line.

With 29 minutes gone Michael Blackwood’s corner from the Diamonds left found Richardson but his header from the centre of the box went over the bar.Three minutes later Dove, who impressed on the right of midfield, placed a long diagonal pass across the field to Gray who got in ahead of Butcher, however Marriott rushed out in time to prevent a chance for the Diamonds skipper.Dove later took his corner short to Mills who found Braniff in the centre who pulled off his defender and connected well but his shot went just over the bar.

Tippett’s men were much more impressive going forward than in recent games and managed to take the lead with seven minutes of the first half remaining.Sean Connelly’s scissor kick from just inside the Diamonds own half found Andy Burgess on the left who controlled well before finding Braniff who placed a long low shot in the back of Marriott’s net at the keeper’s far right post.It was the first competitive goal for Braniff in a Diamonds shirt and the first goal Diamonds had managed to score in over 650 minutes of league football.

The visitors threatened further before the break with Dove finding his shot blocked by Morgan before Braniff’s ball across goal fell too far ahead of Hay giving Marriott the chance to smother the ball.

In an attempt to get back into the game the Imps replaced Francis Green with Simon Yeo at the start of the second half.The home side made a positive start as a cross into the area wasn’t cleared by the Diamonds defence and allowed Butcher the chance to head wide of Turley’s goal.Moments later Taylor-Fletcher’s cross from the right left Turley helpless but Richardson’s shot from 6 yards deflected off the post.Diamonds battled hard to prevent being overrun and Braniff’s header from a Dove corner offered some hope.

Tippett’s men were unable to thwart the early threat of the Imps though as Taylor-Fletcher found his way through to score on 54 minutes.Imps placed a long ball upfield which the goal scorer managed to get onto and beat the offside trap before slotting home a wonderful strike past the helpless Turley from just inside the left of the Diamonds area.It was Taylor-Fletcher’s third goal of the season as he maintained his impressive goal scoring record.Taylor-Fletcher then had another bright opening as he raced through the Diamonds defence again but this time he failed to test Turley with 62 minutes gone.

Lincoln looked increasingly impressive as the second half progressed but Diamonds still threatened on the break.Burgess’ through ball on 68 minutes found the on-rushing Hay in the area who managed to make a smart finish with his right foot past Marriott to restore Diamonds lead.Two minutes later Hay’s pressure created another opening but Marriott made a desperate save as he dashed out of his goal to dampen out any threat as Tippett’s men looked to further their lead.

The Imps struggled to re-establish themselves following the goal although Yeo’s cross almost found substitute Gareth McAuley as it swept across goal with 12 minutes to go.The home side’s cause was further weakened when, having used all three substitutes, Paul Morgan had to leave the field on a stretcher meaning that the Diamonds played against ten men for the closing stages of the game.

Diamonds saw an effort from Dove forced just wide after Braniff’s right wing cross with five minutes to go as they looked to take advantage of their extra man.The advantage told with just a minute or normal time to go as Braniff found Dove who cut inside and stuck a shot with his left foot which deflected and found its way into the Imps goal to give the Diamonds a comfortable cushion and cue a mad dash towards the exits by the home fans.

Dove’s strike proved to be enough to seal the victory for Diamonds.After struggling to find the net in the league since April before this game, Tippett’s men found no such problem at Sincil Bank to record a very welcome and morale boosting victory, the first this season and the first under the management of Ernie Tippett.

TEAMS:

Lincoln City:Marriott, Weaver, Morgan, Futcher, West (Sub McAuley 75), Butcher, Gain, Blackwood, Taylor-Fletcher, Richardson (Sub Littlejohn 60), Green (Sub Yeo 46).Subs not used: Toner, Peat.

Rushden & Diamonds: Turley, Connelly, Allen, Gulliver, Hawkins, Mills, Gray, Burgess, Dove, Braniff, Hay.Subs: Worgan, Dempster, Sambrook, Kelly, Jackson.

Goals: Braniff (38), Taylor-Fletcher (54), Hay (68), Dove (89)

Man of the Match: Kevin Braniff

Attendance: 4017 (257 away)

Referee: Mr C W Oliver

Northampton Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Rushden and Diamonds boss Ernie Tippett was forced to make two changes to the starting line-up from the side that played Kidderminster Harriers at the weekend with Rob Gier (groin) and David Bell (knee) both missing.Phil Gulliver made his first league start since signing from Middlesbrough whilst Craig Dove started in a right midfield role.The Cobblers made just one change with the influential playmaker Martin Smith replaced by Eric Sabin.

A near capacity Sixfields crowd created an electrifying atmosphere for this historic, first ever league meeting between the two county rivals.

Diamonds began on the back-foot as the Cobblers forced the pace in the opening exchanges with Josh Low a potent force down the Cobblers right hand side.Low twice managed to hook over deep crosses into the Diamonds area but found his efforts snuffed out on both occasions by ex-Tranmere man Sean Connelly.

The visitors rarely threatened as an attacking force and Billy Turley, who received a barrel of abuse from the Cobblers faithful all night, failed to find the head of the hard working Alex Hay from his free-kick midway inside the Diamonds half on 11 minutes.Moments later a quick throw from the Cobblers saw Graham Allen slip and set Eric Sabin free on the attack for Colin Calderwood’s men.The Frenchman was able to cut inside the Diamonds defence before Peter Hawkins made a timely challenge with Marc Richards free in the area for the Cobblers.

Tempers rarely frayed too greatly but did threaten to ignite when Connelly’s challenge on Richards was met with an off the ball scuffle between midfielders Gary Mills and Betrand Cozic, both escaped punishment from the referee.

Diamonds were desperate to relieve the heavy pressure off their backline but Hay’s cross on 22 minutes was far too heavy and evaded the visiting front line in the Cobblers area.The visitors then forced the first corner of the night but Stuart Gray’s out-swinging kick evaded all Diamonds heads and Cobblers raced away upfield where Sabin and Low combined well bur yet again Connelly was around to clear the danger inside his own area.

Cobblers wasted the best chance of the first half when a mix up in the visiting defence left Richard’s with the goal at his mercy, however he couldn’t lob the ball over Turley from a matter of yards with home fans claiming Turley was holding the striker back.A minute before the break Chris Willmott’s long ball allowed Sabin to chase but Turley was first to the ball.

Cobblers made an equally impressive start to the second period as they did the first but once more failed to test Turley with Low’s free-kick towards the left hand touch line going high over the head of Richards and wide inside the first two minutes.Again the hosts dominated as the Diamonds clung on with visiting fans and home fans wondering just how long Tippett’s men could hold out at the back.

Diamonds almost succumbed to the Cobblers with 65 minutes gone as McGleish flew in a low cross that ripped open the visiting defence only for Richard’s to fail to make a connection when even the slightest touch would have beaten the stranded Turley.Hay’s attempt at the other end in response would have had Diamonds fans blushing as his strike from Gray’s corner came closer to finding the corner flag than Lee Harper’s goal.Gray then tried his luck from distance but his shot from 25 yards was too soft to test Harper between the posts.

Cobblers posed a far greater threat when Richard’s found McGleish but Turley saved well, then moments later, as gaps appeared in the Diamonds defence, Turley answered his Sixfields critics with a brave save at the feet of Sabin when it looked as though the deadlock would finally be broken.Sabin then found Richards who cut inside but failed to pose any threat.

Sabin was rewarded though just moments later when his strike from outside the area curled into the right hand post past the helpless Turley to give the Cobblers a deserved lead with 15 minutes to go and sent the Sixfields faithful wild in appreciation.Tippett’s side desperately looked for a breakthrough and brought on Simeon Jackson to replace Dove on 78 minutes but Cobblers broke quickly again.Star man Sabin raced through but was thwarted by Turley’s save with a second goal always more likely than an equaliser.

Hay snuffed a shot from 25 yards straight into the hands of Harper with 10 minutes remaining, Braniff’s ball then tried to find Jackson in the area but the Cobblers cleared their lines well.At the other end McGleish’s header from Low’s free-kick went narrowly over Turley’s crossbar as the hosts looked to make the game safe and Richards diving header from McGleish’s cross flashed wide deep into stoppage time whilst Low blasted well over,after a neat break.

The hosts didn’t need a second goal though as the strike from Sabin condemned Diamonds to a defeat despite their brave battle. Tippett’s men showed they can defend well when needed but in the last third too often attacks broke down and a much more decisive cutting edge looks to be essential.

Teams:

Northampton Town: Harper, Chambers, Willmott, Murray, Richards, Low, McGleish, Rowson, Cozic (sub Bojic), Sabin (sub Youngs), Galbraith (sub Jaszczun.Subs not used: Bunn, Morison.

Rushden & Diamonds: Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills, Allen, Hay, Gray, Burgess, Braniff, Gulliver, Dove(sub Jackson).Subs: Dempster, Sambrook, Worgan, Kelly.

Bookings: Mills, Turley, Burgess, Low.

Diamonds man of the match: Sean Connelly

Attendance: 7107 (1250 away)

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kidderminster Harriers 0

Ernie Tippett’s side kicked off the football league season in sweltering heat at Nene Park.Three changes were made to the starting line-up from the side which lost 2-1 to Portsmouth in the final friendly on Tuesday night with Sean Connelly, Graham Allen and Alex Hay all featured in the team.

Diamonds, playing in their new home strip for the first time in a league clash, made a bright start.With three minutes gone David Bell used his pace well down the right wing before crossing the ball into Hay who saw his shot, from a matter of yards saved well by John Danby in the Kidderminster goal at the foot of his right hand post.Minutes later Danby was alert to find the ball before Andy Burgess following Connelly’s long diagonal pass.

Harriers took until the 17th minute to truly pressure the host’s backline when, following a Steve Burton corner the same player unleashed a fierce shot which Billy Turley was able to smother.Nine minutes later Advice-Desruisseaux was grounded by Rob Gier’s tough challenge on the edge of the box but Simon Brown’s free-kick was unable to test Turley in front of the Peter De Banke Terrace as it flew over the bar.The Harriers continued to press and Burton’s corner found the glancing head of Micky Mellon as the Diamonds began to lose their dominance on the game.

Diamonds managed to carve the best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute when the impressive Peter Hawkins long punt up-field missed Hay but on-loan striker Kevin Braniff was able to pick up the pieces.With the Harriers defence wide open Danby was left stranded but Braniff was unable to punish as his shot went just wide of the right hand post.In response Brown’s shot from distance failed to test Turley with just minutes to go till half-time.

In a reversal to the first half it was Jan Molby’s side who bossed the early exchanges of the second half.Kidderminster forced the first save of the second half when Youssou Diop tested Turley with a shot on the turn, however it was Diamonds who created the better opportunity when Captain Stuart Gray saw his shot from distance superbly saved by Danby for a corner just moments later after a neat passage of play.

Gray was the key man in the Diamonds next assault on the visitor’s goal when he fed Braniff well with the latter seeing his strike deflected onto the post as Diamonds upped the tempo.In response Harriers Diop held Hawkins off before supplying a cross to Jesper Christiansen who forced a corner.

As the heat continued to sap the energy from the Diamonds players Harriers finished the stronger of the two teams.In a desperate goal mouth scramble the Diamonds just managed to stand firm in the 72nd minute when from a free-kick Adrian Viveash’s strong header forced Turley to make a point blank stop.Former Tranmere right-back Connelly then blocked on the line bravely before Turley recovered to save a Wayne Hatswell attempt well with his goal somehow still intact.

Diamonds made a couple of changes brining on Marcus Kelly and Craig Dove for Gary Mills and Alex Hay respectively in an attempt to grab a late goal.The only hope came late on as Kelly made a mazy run through the Harriers defence before seeming to be upended, however the referee disagreed and instead booked Hawkins for dissent for his protests.

The visitors ended the stronger of the two sides but the Diamonds did enough to claim a deserved and well earned point which in fairness was probably just about the right result.The point was the first earned under Tippett and the positive attitude shown by the players will have pleased the home fans. The Diamonds now face an even sterner test against title favourites Northampton Town on Tuesday night.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Mills (Kelly 70), Allen, Gier, Hay (Dove 80), Gray, Bell, Burgess, Braniff.Subs not used: Worgan, Sambrook, Gulliver.

Kidderminster Harriers:

Danby, Jenkins, Burton, Advice (Russell 77), Brown, Mellon (Keates 76), Diop (Rickards 70), Jesper, McHale, Viveash, Hatswell. Subs not used: Lewis, Gleeson,.

Bookings: Hawkins, Jenkins.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Sean Connelly

Attendance: 2699 (571 Kidderminster)

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