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

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