Cambridge United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Rushden and Diamonds recorded their third consecutive away defeat at The Abbey Stadium on a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon.Teenage hot shot John Turner did the damage as he recorded a hat-trick of goals to damage the Diamonds hopes of continuing their recent good away form.

Ernie Tippett made two changes to the starting line-up from the side that triumphed at Bradford City the previous weekend.Loan stars Gary Mulligan and Drewe Broughton returned to lead the attack in place of youngster Jason Taylor and the FA Cup goal scoring hero Marvin Robinson who were placed on the bench alongside the fit again David Bell.

The troubled U’s saw boss Herve Renard make four changes to his side with Ipswich Town loan keeper Lewis Price, Darren Quinton, Richard Hodgson and recent absentee Luke Guttridge in the starting line-up.The U’s were looking to record only their third home win of the campaign and first point in the league since the mid October tip to Macclesfield Town.

Cambridge made a lively start to the game and were soon in front.Drewe Broughton was booked inside three minutes for unsporting behaviour before The U’s took the lead.Peter Hawkins was beaten by John Turner on the left before the home striker strode forward to shoot home with Billy Turley well off his line.

The torrid start continued as with their second note-worthy attack the hosts doubled their lead.Again a poor defensive mistake cost Diamonds dear as Graham Allen failed to make what looked like an easy clearance and was disposed by Turner.Turner again raced away, with Allen and Sean Connelly desperate to chase back however the player managed to slot home calmly from 15 yards, with just nine minutes gone.

After the hosts storming start Turley had to dive low to his left to save Richard Hodgson’s header from six yards following Shane Tudor’s cross from the right touchline, whilst Diamonds threatened at the other end through Mulligan and then Burgess’ first time snap shot, but the effort went well wide of Price’s goal.

Diamonds gradually battled back as Phil Gulliver looked to make amends on behalf of the defence as his header flashed across goal from Stuart Gray’s diagonal ball after 23 minutes, with the central defender still up-field following a previous corner.Three minutes later Alex Hay joined Broughton in the book, after receiving a yellow card from referee Mr Danson.

Hawkins pass to Craig Dove allowed the former Middlesbrough player to cross his shot from the left after 34 minutes; however the effort failed to test Price who gathered easily.Diamonds preserved though, and three minutes later Mulligan fed Gray for a shot from the left of centre, just outside the box, but again it was straight at the keeper.

Diamonds gave themselves a glimmer of hope five minutes before half-time.Following a period of Cambridge pressure Diamonds launched a neat attack where Burgess was able to feed Broughton who got in behind Andy Duncan in the hosts backline, before calmly slotting home from 15 yards at a slight angle past Price’s right hand post.

Before the break Diamonds were unlucky not to draw themselves level as Dove supplied three successive corners.From the second Broughton’s downward header at the keeper’s far left post was scrambled off the line by Guttridge whilst from the third, this time from the Diamonds right, Gulliver flashed his header wide of the left post.

Adam Tann was replaced by Daniel Gleeson at the start of the second half for the U’s due to a thigh injury.Diamonds made a better start after the break and Mulligan’s good work early on created a glorious opportunity for Dove to level, but the Cambridge keeper made himself big to block the effort from 10 yards.

Out of the blue Cambridge restored their two goal advantage.Hodgson’s low cross from the left touchline allowed Turner to slip inside and score at the near post to record his hat-trick after 51 minutes, just as Diamonds looked set to equalise.

As Diamonds desperately chased the game Hay was replaced by David Bell on the Diamonds right, after 56 minutes.Bell’s impact was little however as the game went in to a lull period, much to the delight of the hosts who were happy to play out time to record the vital a win.Hat-trick hero Turner was replaced by Kingsley M’bome after pulling up with cramp, after 69 minutes, whilst Diamonds switched to a three pronged attack after replacing Dove with Robinson.United completed their substitutions bringing off Guttridge for Ashley Fuller after 73 minutes.

Diamonds were constantly thwarted in their attempts to surge forward and could only record several late chances as the game drew to a close.Bell’s corner from the Diamonds right was headed wide by Gulliver after 85 minutes whilst Mulligan shot straight at the keeper from the right hand by-line, but it was United who had the best late chance.

Hawkins looked to have covered himself from the threat of Tudor, however the midfielder skinned the left back, on the touchline, before moving into the box and unleashing a shot which only missed the goal due to a rebound off his own team mate Danny Webb.

Overall this was a mightily disappointing result, and one which maybe flattered the hosts slightly as Diamonds were made to pay for their own defence lapses.



Cambridge United:

Price, Duncan, Tann (sub Gleeson 46), Goodhind, Tudor, Webb, Gutteridge (sub Fuller 73), Turner (sub M’borne 69), Quinton, Bimson, Hodgson.Subs not used: Marshall, Easter.

Rushden and Diamonds:

Turley, Connelly, Hawkins, Allen, Hay (sub Bell 56), Gray, Burgess, Broughton, Gulliver, Dove (sub Robinson 69), Mulligan.Subs not used: Dempster, Worgan,Taylor.

Referee: Mr P Danson

Bookings: Broughton, Hay

Goals: Turner 4 min, Turner 9 min, Broughton 40 min, Turner 51 min,

Attendance: 3466 (640 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Gary Mulligan

By Richard Beeby


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