Rushden & Diamonds1 Southend United 4

 

Rushden and Diamonds had a nightmare as they went down comfortably at home to Southend United.The Shrimpers, without an away win since March, eased past their League Two opponents who weren’t helped with injuries and a sending off.

Ernie Tippett made one change to the starting line-up with Gary Mills being replaced by Marcus Kelly due to a sore thigh, whilst Graham Allen returned on the bench.Steve Tilson meanwhile made no changes to his entire squad of 16.

Southend made a bright start with ex- Northampton man Lawrie Dudfield testing Billy Turley from close range inside the first minute, before Tesfaye Bramble and Mark Gower both wasted promising openings.Kelly’s failure to connect with a ball in the centre of the park almost cost Diamonds dear on 14 minutes as Kevin Maher was able to run free before passing through to Gower who was fouled by Sean Connelly.From the free-kick on the left corner of the box, Gower saw his shot saved smartly by Turley, low to his left.

Diamonds came under increasing pressure and it was no surprise when they fell behind on 18 minutes.Gower’s corner was headed down well at Turley’s far left post by Adam Barrett, leaving Dudfield to knock the ball home from six yards.

Diamonds were in desperate need of a breakthrough and Kelly was soon replaced by Craig Dove on 21 minutes, with Dove slotting in behind the Diamonds front men.The first opening for the hosts came 2 minutes after the change as Gulliver’s header from Gray’s corner went over the bar.Andy Sambrook then replaced Connelly, with the latter looking injured as he left the field.

The Shrimpers looked unlucky not to have been given a penalty when Peter Hawkins appeared to push Bramble over in the area.Minutes later Carl Pettefer ran well before seeing his hard low shot, from the edge of the box go wide after 31 minutes.Two minutes later Braniff’s ball through almost broke for Alex Hay but the keeper managed to get out in time, and despite the danger being averted the collision with Hay left Bart Griemink unable to continue as he was stretchered off and Daryl Flahavan took to the goal.

Diamonds struggled to get into the game but did see the occasional bright opening.Andy Burgess played a neat ball to Hay on the Diamonds left who found Hawkins; he then switched the ball onto his right foot before shooting from the edges of the box straight at Flahavan.Then just a minute before the break Bell’s left foot shot from the right flew far wide of the goal to sum up a disappointing first half performance by the hosts.

Diamonds began the second half much more brightly with Gulliver’s long ball forward causing Flahavan to punch with Hay pressuring, before they equalised on 49 minutes.Spencer Prior lost the ball on Southend’s right allowing Burgess to connect, before running forward and striking the ball home from 12 yards past the keeper.

Gower’s long ball forward fell for Dudfield after 53 minutes who was upended in the box by Rob Gier to concede a penalty.The referee sent Gier off for the challenge, which saw Dudfield appear to fall rather too easily, before the resultant spot kick was put home by the former Cobbler, despite Turley diving the right way down to his left.

Diamonds faced an uphill task with ten men, and being a goal behind, but Hay’s lay off did allow a chance as Braniff shot hard and low after 56 minutes, but the effort went wide.At the other end Dudfield broke well on the right before attempting to lob the ball past Turley, but thankfully for Diamonds the shot strayed wide.

The referee failed to notice a blatant foul on Burgess as Adrian Jupp then found Gower who tested Turley from long range, after 63 minutes.Two minutes later Che Wilson’s two footed tackle on Bell caused a scuffle, with the former lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

The Diamonds afternoon went from bad to worse as they went a further goal behind with 21 minutes left.Kevin Maher’s corner was drifted in well to find Bramble who placed his header from the centre of the six yard box, past a helpless Turley.The cause was further harmed when Burgess had to limp off with an injury, leaving Diamonds with just nine players, having used all the three available substitutes.

Braniff’s shot from the centre was easily saved by Flahavan, from 25 yards before a neat block by Turley at the other end prevented a further goal for the Shrimpers after 82 minutes.Late on Braniff failed to test Flahavan as another long shot went a yard over the bar, but Diamonds could do little to turn around the game and it was Southend who always looked the likelier of the sides to claim another goal.That goal was claimed with just a minute remaining as Barrett claimed a free header from Maher’s free kick to complete the thrashing.

Ernie Tippett will have been majorly disappointed by this loss, which was the first home league loss of the season.Diamonds never looked at the races and injuries and sendings off did little to help the cause as the Diamonds faithful went home disappointed.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds: Turley, Connelly (sub Sambrook 24), Hawkins, Gier, Hay, Gray (for Allen 62), Bell, Burgess, Braniff, Gulliver, Kelly (for Dove 21).Subs not used: Dempster, Taylor.

Southend United:Griemink (for Flahavan 33), Jupp, Barrett, Gower (for Corbett 77), Maher, Bentley, Pettefer, Dudfield, Prior, Wilson, Bramble (for Broughton 77).Subs not used: Hunt, Edwards.

Referee: Mr L Probert

Goals: Dudfield 18 mins, Burgess 49, Dudfield 53 pen, Bramble 69, Barrett 89.

Booking: Hawkins, Wilson

Sending off: Gier (last man)

Attendance: 2804 (579 away)

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