Southend United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Rushden and Diamonds fell to a majorly disappointing defeat as they failed to make it third time lucky with a trip to Roots Hall. Diamonds put in a below par performance to allow Southend to ease their way towards three points to help boost their promotion bid.

Rushden and Diamonds Manager Ernie Tippett made one enforced change to the starting line-up from the side that drew at Leyton Orient with John Dempster stepping up from the bench, and youngster Scott Wark filling the empty void he left.Dempster slotted into the line-up in a central midfield position with Andy Burgess switching to left back and Peter Hawkins moving sides to right back.Southend United made two changes to the first eleven with Nicky Nicolau and Lawrie Dudfield starting with Freddy Eastwood and Wayne Gray dropped to the bench.Former Diamond Andy Edwards lined up in central defence to face his old club.

Southend started the brighter and almost went in front after three minutes when Nicolau beat off two diamonds players on the left to cross, however his it swept across goal avoiding the well placed Adam Barrett.Minutes later the same player crossed to find Tesfaye Bramble who headed over from a matter of yards.As Southend continued to dominate Nicolau’s corner from the Diamonds right found the head of Mark Bentley, who saw keeper Lee Worgan save superbly, after 15 minutes.

It seemed inevitable that the Diamonds would fall behind and they did after 17 minutes.Lewis Hunt’s cross from the right was cleared by the head of Rob Gier but only as far as the looming Kevin Maher who struck a sweet left footed shot from the edges of the area, into Worgan’s far left corner.

Edwards headed over from a further Nicolau corner after 27 minutes, as Southend continued to strike the biggest threat with Diamonds struggling to make any way in the game.Bramble picked up Carl Pettefer’s ball to fire wide of the keepers left post whilst after 35 minutes goal-scorer Maher burst through to fire wide of Worgan’s right post.

Craig Dove fired straight into the keeper’s hands and then saw his 41st minute snap shot from outside the box deflected away for a corner, as Diamonds failed to find an equaliser before the break.Phil Gulliver was then brought on to replace Stuart Gray who hobbled off injured with a broken toe, after 41 minutes, forcing Diamonds to re-shuffle with Burgess put back up into midfield and Gier moving to right-back to replace Hawkins who moved back to the left.

Moments before the break the Shrimpers threatened to make it two nil as Bramble’s shot was deflected wide with Worgan desperately scrambling to try and make the save, but little was done from the resultant corner.

Hawkins fired straight at the keeper from a slight angle, after 51 minutes, as Diamonds started the second half more positively.Five minutes later Burgess saw his free-kick from two yards outside the box, close to the right hand corner, easily saved by Bart Griemink.

Despite the better start Diamonds soon fell further behind.Maher’s free-kick, following a foul from Hawkins who was duly booked, was met on the volley by Dudfield who saw his effort saved by Worgan only for Edwards to knock home the rebound after 59 minutes.Diamonds instantly made a change and brought off Dempster for Luke Kennedy to make his league debut.

Maher lashed a shot against the bar from ten yards after 62 minutes, with Worgan helpless as Southend looked to grab a third.Six minutes later Worgan had to back-peddle to tip over an Edwards shot, at the far post with Adam Barrett looming.Bramble then fired a cracking shot from the right, 25 yards from goal, just over the bar.

Diamonds provided some hope for the brave travelling fans as David Bell’s run ended in a shot on goal from the edges of the area which Griemink had to parry wide to his right, after 71 minutes.The best opportunity of the game came after 76 minutes.Bell squared a ball to Burgess who curled his shot from outside the area, which looked destined for Griemink’s far right corner of the net, only for the latter to make a superb reflex save to deny the Diamonds.

Graham Allen fired over from 10 yards after Dove’s left wing cross and with Diamonds beginning to look livelier Southend swapped things round in the attack by bringing Wayne Gray on for Dudfield.

Just after the substitution Diamonds saw Bell booked and despite the attempts Diamonds could not force any goal, and instead saw Southend wrap up the three points when Che Wilson’s cross from the left was headed home by Mark Bentley after 90 minutes.Nicolau was then subbed off for James Lawson to ease time.

This was another hugely disappointing result for Diamonds which now leaves them hovering closer than ever to the drop zone.With two games at home in the next week Diamonds will be urgently looking for some luck and better performances to help them turn around their season.

TEAMS:

Southend United:

Griemink, Nicolau (sub Lawson 90), Hunt, Edwards, Barrett, Maher, Bentley, Pettefer, Dudfield (sub Gray 80), Wilson, Bramble.Subs not used: Flahavan, Prior, Eastwood.

Rushden and Diamonds:

Worgan, Hawkins, Allen, Gier, Hay, Gray (sub Gulliver 41), Bell, Burgess, Dempster (sub Kennedy 59), Dove, Taylor.Subs not used: Kelly, Wark, Jackson.

Referee:Mr T Parkes

Goals: Maher 17, Edwards 59, Bentley 90.

Bookings: Hawkins, Bell

Attendance: 5930 (239 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Andy Burgess

Report by Richard Beeby

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