Rushden & Diamonds 1 Scunthorpe United 3

 

Rushden and Diamonds fell to their fourth consecutive home defeat as league leaders Scunthorpe United grabbed a hard worked win.Diamonds, without a win in five league games were always likely to find life tough against a visiting side that had gone eight league games without defeat.

Diamonds made two changes to the starting line-up from the side that claimed a goalless draw at Mansfield last week.Drewe Broughton’s departure following his loan period allowed Alex Hay to move back into a striking role alongside Gary Mulligan whilst Sean Connelly’s injury gave Andy Sambrook a chance at right-back.Scunthorpe Manager Brian Laws named the same starting line-up for the eighth consecutive game.

Diamonds started brightly and saw Rob Gier set up Phil Gulliver for a shot on goal after one minute; however his shot from 25 yards went wide of Paul Musselwhite’s right-hand post.Two minutes later Diamonds took the lead.Andy Sambrook chipped the ball forward for Alex Hay to run onto before he turned Andy Butler on the by-line to sweep the ball across the six yard box, allowing Gary Mulligan to smash home, after a poor clearance from the visiting defence.

Scunthorpe looked shell shocked and failed to materialise anything going forward until the 12th minute when Peter Beagrie made room down the left wing before shooting narrowly wide from the corner of the box.Peter Hawkins picked up a booking after 17 minutes after pulling back Matthew Sparrow outside the box; however the visitors did little from the resultant free-kick.

The Iron increasingly came back into the game although it was still against the run of play when they got the equaliser after 31 minutes.Beagrie struck a right footed corner from the Scunthorpe left which was in-swinging and was headed on at the near post towards Butler who headed home past Billy Turley, from six yards.

Diamonds had a near escape after 38 minutes as Turley saved bravely from Richard Kell’s close range effort, but the Diamonds keeper came off worse from making the save and needed treatment from the Diamonds Physio.At the other end Hay ran through before unleashing a decent strike from the right angle after 41 minutes which Musselwhite was unable to save on the first attempt, however Hay failed to pick up on the rebound after slipping in the box.

Ian Baraclough was lucky to escape with only a talking to from the referee after 43 minutes after a foul from behind on Andy Burgess as Diamonds ended the half positively.The home side were mightily unlucky not to go into the break in the lead.Bell, who was in inspired form in the first half, chipped the ball over the Scunthorpe defence on the edge of the box to find Gray who struck a strong shot with his left foot, only to see it cannon off the keeper’s left hand post.Moments later Andy Burgess’ shot from 25 yards went inches wide of the same post.

Scunthorpe made a substitute at the start of the second half bringing off Cliff Byrne for Nathan Stanton in a bid to tighten up defensively.

Scunthorpe forced their way in-front just minutes into the second half, again from a corner.Beagrie played the corner in, right footed, which swept across the area to find Butler at Turley’s far post who headed home strongly for his second goal of the afternoon.Five minutes after the goal Paul Hayes threatened to score a third after breaking free but his shot went wide of Turley’s left hand post.

Diamonds battled hard without any merit but could rarely test Musselwhite in the visitor’s goal and it was always the Iron who looked most likely to grab a third goal.Beagrie, who performed strongly down the left wing, supplied a clever cross to the far post towards Steve Torpey but the striker couldn’t test Turley with the free header from 6 yards, after 78 minutes.

Bell shot weakly straight into the keeper’s hands after 79 minutes before Gulliver came the closest to getting an equaliser with his shot from just inside the area which went just wide of the left post, with five minutes remaining.

Kell shot left footed from distance only to see his shot go wide, after 88 minutes but a minute later the defeat was confirmed.Torpey struck a marvellous effort from the centre, just outside the box, which curled in the left hand of Turley’s goal to seal the eighth win on the trot for the visitors.With the goal came a change as Kell was replaced by Cleveland Taylor as Brian Laws looked to ease time.

Despite this latest setback the Diamonds must take heart from their performance, particularly in the first half where they dominated the game.Frustratingly defensive mistakes from the set pieces were ultimately the deciding factor in an otherwise tight and fairly contested game.Similar performances to that of the Diamonds in the first half ovher the full ninety minutes would surely see results start to turn for Ernie Tippett’s battling side.

TEAMS:

 

Rushden and Diamonds:

Turley, Hawkins, Gier, Hay, Gray, Bell, Burgess, Sambrook. Gulliver, Dove, Mulligan.Subs not used: Worgan, Allen, Dempster, Kelly, Taylor.

Scunthorpe United:

Musselwhite, Crosby, Byrne (sub Stanton 46), Sparrow, Hayes, Torpey, Baraclough, Ridley, Beagrie, Butler, Kell (sub Taylor 89).Subs not used:Evans, Jackson, Rankine.

Referee: Mr M Russell

Goals: Mulligan 3, Butler 31, Butler 47, Torpey 89

Booking: Hawkins 17

Attendance: 3198 (559 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Andy Sambrook (impressive in defence, looked composed.)

Report by Richard Beeby.

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