Rushden & Diamonds 0 Chester City 1

 

Rushden and Diamonds fell to only their second home league defeat of the season as Ian Rush’s Chester City side sneaked a late victory.Stewart Drummond’s 77th minute header proved the difference between the two sides, after a draw had seemed the only likely result.

Rushden and Diamonds boss Ernie Tippett made three changes to the starting line-up from the side which triumphed at Shrewsbury in the previous game.Peter Hawkins missed out due to injury, forcing Andy Burgess into a left back position with John Dempster starting in midfield.Upfront, new loan signing Drewe Broughton was preferred to Jason Taylor.Diamonds other new loan signing, Gary Mulligan, started on the bench.Ian Rush was forced to make a late change in goal with Chris Mackenzie starting after Wayne Brown was injured in the pre-match warm up.

In a bright start Diamonds saw David Bell shoot only a yard over the bar after a strong run from the half way line after 3 minutes, following a Chester City attack which saw Billy Turley come out on top.Gradually Chester City looked the sharper side early on and saw a fierce shot from the corner of the penalty area from Kevin Ellison saved superbly by Turley in the Diamonds goal, after 11 minutes.

A foul on Broughton by Stewart Drummond presented Diamonds with a good opportunity after 17 minutes.David Bell took the resultant free-kick from towards the left, just outside the penalty area, but his curling effort was deflected wide for a corner.Chester continued to threaten and Diamonds were again thankful to Turley as he managed to smother Michael Branch’s shot following Ellison’s left hand ball into the box.

Chester escaped as they almost went behind after 36 minutes.Bell’s cross into the area from the right was poorly judged by Mackenzie in the City goal, allowing Broughton to head the ball, however his effort went across the face of the goal and wide when he really should have scored.In fairness a Diamonds goal before the break would have been harsh on Chester who battled well in the opening half with Ellison particularly looking a threat.

Diamonds made a change at the start of the second half replacing Graham Allen with Robert Gier due to an injury to the latter.Diamonds again began brightly with Bell’s long run up-field and chipped ball into the area headed wide of Mackenzie’s right hand post early in the second half by Alex Hay, whilst at the other end, Cortez Belle headed straight into the hands of Turley.Bell fed Sean Connelly well who then supplied a first time cross to Hay, who this time connected much better with the header only to see Mackenzie tip his effort over the bar, after 53 minutes.

Turley lost his bearings and almost paid the price after 54 minutes, but Branch’s curling shot hit the far post, with only Connelly as cover on the line.Turley then redeemed himself as in the next City attack Branch supplied Ellison, only for the Diamonds keeper to make himself big and thwart his effort for a corner.Turley again saved bravely when Branch sneaked in ahead of Connelly as Diamonds began to come under real pressure.

In an attempt to reverse the trend in the second half, Ernie Tippett brought on new loan striker Gary Mulligan after 61 minutes in place of Craig Dove.The change saw Hay move onto the left of midfield in a supporting role for the attack.

Within minutes of the change Andy Burgess came mightily close to breaking the deadlock as his magnificent left footed shot on the volley was saved equally well by Mackenzie, who flew low to his right to deny what would otherwise have been a certain goal, after 63 minutes.

Mulligan’s presence brightened up the Diamonds attacks, with the player showing some neat touches, but Chester again threatened.A mistake from Phil Gulliver and Turley allowed substitute Kevin Rapley a perfect opportunity to score, within his first few minutes on the field, however Rapley shot across the face of goal rather than into it, with no one available to cover.

Chester only had to wait a further 3 minutes to take the lead.The impressive Ellison drifted in a corner from Chester’s right, which was met well by the head of Drummond who headed home from 6 yards after 77 minutes.

The lead was almost doubled only 2 minutes later as Ellison broke free but put his shot wide when well placed, whilst a clearance from Diamonds only fell to Paul Carden who cracked a shot from 30 yards, which Turley had to push over the bar for a corner.

Mulligan shot low and hard late on, but to no avail and Diamonds were left to comprehend defeat, when they perhaps deserved a share of the spoils. Again, good promise was shown at times by the hosts and surely with time their luck will turn. Ernie Tippett must take heart from the performance shown by his players and in particular the pleasing debuts of the two new loan strikers, despite the defeat.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds: Turley, Connelly, Allen (sub Gier ht), Hay, Gray, Bell, Burgess, Broughton, Dempster, Gulliver, Dove (sub Mulligan 61).Subs not used: Worgan, Sambrook, Braniff.

Chester City: Mackenzie, Carden, Bolland, Drummond, Branch (sub Rapley 72), Ellison, Davies, Hessey, Hope, Belle, Edmondson.Subs not used: McIntyre, Vaughan, Clare, Harris.

Referee: Mr P Melin

Goal: Drummond 77
Attendance: 2735 (361 away)

Booking: Carden (deliberate foul)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Turley

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