Rushden & Diamonds 0 Mansfield Town 0


Rushden and Diamonds and Mansfield Town played out a goalless draw for the second time this season in League Two although the Diamonds this time faired much the better against their Nottinghamshire counterparts.

Diamonds had many chances to win the tie although a point was probably a fair result with Scott Shearer keeping his second consecutive clean sheet for the club in a week with a string of fine saves in the Diamonds goal.

Rushden and Diamonds kept an unchanged starting eleven for the first time since 2nd October’s home game against Rochdale as they prepared to face Mansfield Town, at Nene Park.The only change came on the bench where Magnus Okuonghae replaced Caretaker Manager Barry Hunter.Mansfield meanwhile made one change as former Diamonds trialist Luke Dimech swapped places with Tom Curtis who was dropped to the bench.

Mansfield started brightly and saw Colin Larkin fire wide after Richie Barker’s neat head down after two minutes.Diamonds battled but failed to test the visiting keeper and it was Mansfield who next threatened in front of goal as Larkin claimed a loose ball before firing his shot, but Scott Shearer saved well with his chest for Diamonds.

Adam Murray shot wide after a poor punch from Shearer following Gareth Jelleyman’s left wing cross, after 16 minutes, before Alex Neil’s right footed volley went wide of Shearer’s left hand post minutes later.

Mansfield had the better command of the game and were unlucky not to take the lead when Barker headed on a long free-kick into the path of Larkin who shot on the volley, only to see his effort go wide of Shearer’s far post with the keeper beaten, with 29 minutes gone.

Shearer had to be on his guard to rush out of his goal to deny the threatening Adam Murray on 38 minutes, two minutes earlier at the other end Andy Burgess headed wide of the keeper’s left post from Sean Connelly’s cross.

Billy Sharp shot from distance after 41 minutes before Diamonds best chance of the first half a minute later.David Bell got in behind the Stags defence to square the ball across towards the far post, however Drewe Broughton miss-kicked and saw his effort go wide, much to the relief of Kevin Pilkington in goal.

Murray’s chip from outside the box was heading for Shearer’s top right corner before the keeper managed to pull off a smart save six minutes into the second half, as the Stags again began brightly.Murray again fancied his chances from distance after 55 minutes after Neil’s first time ball set him up but Shearer sprung to his left well to clear the ball for a corner.

Diamonds upped the anti and Pilkington had to be on his guard to thwart Sharp after good play from Neil McCafferty saw Diamonds reclaim a lost ball and allowed a lay off to the Sheffield United loan player.Later Burgess beat Jake Buxton superbly on the left wing before shooting a curling shot into the hands of the keeper after 61 minutes.

Larkin who looked bright in the Stags attack was subbed off for New Zealand International Shane Smeltz after 62 minutes moments before more good chances from the hosts.Pilkington had to block from eight yards from Broughton after Dempster had supplied the target man on 62 minutes before Dempster himself saw an effort from a corner go wide of the left post after his swinging shot.

Fraser Mclachlan should have done better from Neil’s left wing corner with Shearer off his line after 67 minutes, however the midfielder fired wide for Mansfield.

Bell shot from the right and saw Pilkington save with his legs after good defensive play from Mansfield had seemed to have thwarted any chance of a shot following Hawkins ball into the box, after 73 minutes.Two minutes later Bell crossed and McCafferty flicked on to allow Sharp the chance to shoot, but he put the chance wide of the keeper’s left post.

Burgess switched play from the left to the right with his ball out to Bell after 79 minutes, with Bell fancying the shot from just inside the box only to see Pilkington save well before spilling it behind for a corner.

As time ticked away Bell’s cross almost gifted Broughton a goal but he failed to get a touch at the far post after 85 minutes before a late change saw Billy Sharp come off for Adrian Littlejohn with three minutes of normal time remaining, however the former Port Vale man could do little in the dying minutes.

A point shared and a fair result which takes Diamonds points total to 5 points from three games and an unbeaten run of three games for the first time this season.Frustratingly a late winner for Cambridge and a draw for Kidderminster means that the gap between the bottom few remains tight.


Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Hawkins, Gier, Gray, Sharp (Littlejohn 87), Bell, Burgess, Broughton, Dempster, McCafferty.Subs not used: Worgan, Hay, Dove, Okuonghae.

Mansfield Town:

Pilkington, Rundle, Neil, Murray, Larkin (Smeltz 62), John-Baptise, Buxton, Dimech, McLachlan, Barker, Jelleyman.Subs not used: White, Curtis, McIntosh, Lloyd.

Referee: Mr P Melin


Attendance: 3096 (477 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Scott Shearer

By Rich Beeby


Rushden & Diamonds 3 Bury 0

On a cold and frosty evening, Billy Sharp started the stroll with a typical striker’s goal on 29 minutes. Rob Gier turned in David Bell’s corner 13 minutes later before Bell produced a moment of magic on the stroke of half – time.

Diamonds made one change from the side that gained an important point at Notts County. Graham Allen’s back injury allowed John Dempster the chance to continue his central defensive partnership with Gier while caretaker manager Barry Hunter made a welcome reappearance on the bench alongside a fit again Adrian Littlejohn.

Right from the start, Rushden took the game against their struggling opponents and after only three minutes, Andy Burgess tested Andy Marriott with a long range effort. Two minutes later, Sharp came within a whisker of giving Diamonds the lead. The teenager tried his luck from 20 yards but the shot cannoned off the foot of the right hand post.

Bury created very little in the opening period allowing the home side plenty of space down the flanks. However, despite the greater share of possession, Rushden were limited to long range efforts such as the one that Neil McCafferty saw go well wide on 14 minutes.

On 28 minutes, Burgess set up Peter Hawkins on the left and the full back’s shot was superbly pushed away by Marriot diving to his right. However, from the resulting corner, Rushden went ahead. Drewe Broughton headed down Bell’s flag kick; Gier saw his shot blocked and then Marriott produced a brilliant point blank save to deny Dempster. Fortunately, Sharp was on hand to stab the loose ball home.

Three minutes before the interval, Diamonds scored again from another set piece. This time, Gier skilfully flicked in Bell’s left wing corner at the near post.

On the stroke of half-time, 2 became three when Bell turned from provider to goal scorer. The midfielder was in fine form throughout the match and his goal was a real peach which surely will be a contender for goal of the season. Bell picked up the ball 35 yards out and seeing Marriott slightly off his line, he moved forward before unleashing an unstoppable bullet into the roof of the net.

Even after that, Gier could have scored another but this time he headed over from yet another Bell corner.

Having failed to create anything of note in the opening 45 minutes, the visitors did try and make more of a fist of it in the second period. However, it was the home side that was always the more likely to increase their precious lead and on 48 minutes, Marriott, under pressure from Stuart Gray, dropped Sharp’s fine cross but Dave Challinor cleared off his own line.

9 minutes later, Bury had their first shot at goal although Challinor was a long way off. On the hour they got a bit closer when substitute Simon Whaley saw his cross – cum – shot graze the top of the crossbar.

Six minutes later Sharp had a goal disallowed for offside before a McCafferty free kick picked almost gave the young striker another goal from a close range flick.

McCafferty seems to be improving with every game and he latched onto a Broughton knock down and tried his luck from 20 yards but was well wide.

Fourteen minutes from time, Shaun Connolly’s defence splitting pass picked out the galloping Sharp in the clear but while he was able to lob Marriott, the ball ballooned over the bar.

This was a confident victory for Diamonds built on the back of a fine team performance and three well taken goals. If they are able to maintain this type of performance then surely there are more much needed victories just around the corner.


Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer; Connelly, Hawkins, Dempster, Gier, Gray ( Hay 80), Sharp, Bell, Burgess, Broughton (Littlejohn 78), McCafferty.Subs not used: Worgan, Hunter, Dove,


Marriott; Unsworth, Kennedy, Fitzgerald, Challinor, Flitcroft, Savage, Barry – Murphy, Cartledge, Harkins (Whaley 46), Newby. Subs not used:Garner, Moore, Kazim – Richards, Barrow

Referee: Mr Mark Warren

Goals: Sharp 29, Gier 42, Bell 44

Bookings: Challinor 43

Attendance: 1803

Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Sharp

By Chris Barritt

Notts County 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Rushden and Diamonds claimed their first point on the road since late December’s draw at Leyton Orient to end a run of three successive league defeats at a bitterly cold Meadow Lane.

Diamonds led early on in the second half but could lonely hold the lead for a matter of minutes as Billy Sharp’s headed goal was cancelled out by a Julien Baudet penalty.

Both sides made two changes from their previous game.Notts County were without the injured Mark Stallard whilst Shane McFaul was dropped to the bench making way for Julien Baudet and Gavin Gordon to join the starting line-up.Rushden caretaker boss Barry Hunter left Lee Worgan on the bench due to the new arrival – loan goalkeeper Scott Shearer.Rob Gier started after recovering from injury, replacing the injured Phil Gulliver (twisted knee).

Rushden had triumphed 5v1 against the Magpies in the reverse fixture in October but since then had only won once in the league, at home to Leyton Orient.Diamonds travelled to Meadow Lane with the worst away record in the league having last won on their travels in early October at Shrewsbury.

Notts County made the better start of the two sides and saw Glynn Hurst’s ball across the edge of the box allow David Pipe the chance to shoot, however his effort went over Shearer’s bar, after six minutes.At the other end Drewe Broughton headed softly after Andy Burgess’ neat left hand cross.

The hosts had a penalty claim turned down by the referee as Rob Gier seemed to have brought down Gavin Gordon in the box with nine minutes gone.Shearer then saved comfortably from a Matthew Gill free-kick from 20 yards after Allen had brought down Hurst, after 18 minutes.Breaking away from the save Diamonds forced a corner with David Bell’s kick finding the head of Gier who placed his effort wide of Saul Deeney’s far left post.

Broughton received a booking for an accumulation of fouls after 21 minutes and seconds later came the best chance of the match at that stage when Paul Bolland crossed from the left to find the diving head of Hurst, luckily for the Diamonds the effort went narrowly wide.

Deeney had to reach to his left to save Neil McCafferty’s 25 yard snap shot, after 25 minutes before the Magpies saw Gavin Gordon stretchered off with an injury, he was replaced by Shaun Harrad.

Diamonds made a lucky escape as substitute Harrad headed across goal, allowing Hurst to pounce and seemingly score, however the referee judged the ball had not crossed the line, with 31 minutes on the clock.Allen then had to clear away rapidly two minutes later after Shearer spilled what seemed an unlikely problem from a County throw.

Gray smashed an effort into the keeper’s hands from the left edges of the box, after 35 minutes as Diamonds searched for the lead ahead of the break, but moments later they looked to have gone behind.With five minutes remaining before the break Stefan Oakes’ corner from the hosts right was headed in by Mike Whitlow but the referee ruled out the effort for a push in the box. That ended the chances in an otherwise drab first period, spoilt by numerous stoppages.

John Dempster was brought on at the start of the second half in place of Graham Allen.

Diamonds made a bright start to the second half and were rewarded six minutes in.Peter Hawkins won a free-kick on the Diamonds left, 5 yards from the corner of the box which Bell curled in for Billy Sharp to head home past a helpless Deeney.

The lead lasted just two minutes as from the Notts attack after the centre Hawkins was deemed to have brought Harrad down in the box to concede a penalty.From the spot-kick Julien Baudet made no mistake, placing the penalty to the left of Shearer after he had dived low to his right.Baudet then received a booking for a foul at the other end which saw Diamonds fire wide from the free-kick by McCafferty.

Hurst saw Shearer pull off a superb close range stop with his legs after 65 minutes as the hosts pressed for a second goal, at the other end Bell’s long range shot went well wide of Deeney’s left hand post whilst Burgess cut inside from the left before shooting directly into the hands of the keeper in-between another goal-line clearance from Bell, after Hurst’s shot.

Paul Bolland was replaced by Tony Scully on 70 minutes as the Magpies made their final change of the afternoon; Shane McFaul had earlier replaced Mike Whitlow.

McCafferty’s right hand free-kick swept across goal on 80 minutes, evading Burgess at the far post who had looked to add the final touch for Diamonds with the keeper stranded.Bell then broke free on the counter-attack, running over half the length of the pitch before shooting; however his effort was saved well by Deeney.

Oakes’ lefthand corner had to be punched clear by Shearer and Harrard’s over-head kick saved as the minutes ticked away, meanwhile the Diamonds could force little late on in attack as the game petered out to end all square.

A point on the road would have been most welcome at the start of the day bearing in mind Diamonds abysmal away form and in the context of the game it was just about a fair result.


Notts County:

Deeney, Pipe, Whitlow (Mcfaul 55), Oakes, Gill, Baudet, Gordon (Harrad 29), Hurst, Bolland (Scully 70), Wullathorne, Wilson.Subs not used: Elliott, Williams.

Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Hawkins, Allen (Dempster 46), Gier, Gray, Sharp, Bell, Burgess, Broughton, McCafferty.Subs not used: Worgan, Hay, Dempster, Dove, Taylor.

Referee: Mr Eddie Evans

Goals: Sharp 51, Baudet 53

Bookings: Broughton 21, Baudet 55

Attendance: 4556

Diamonds Man of the Match: Stuart Gray

By Rich Beeby

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Wycombe Wanderers 2


Rushden and Diamonds fell to an undeserved defeat as Wycombe struck late on in injury time to steal all three points at a wind and rain swept Nene Park.

Graham Allen had been the second defender to score in successive home games as Diamonds took an early second half lead before a wonder strike from Matt Bloomfield and then leading scorer Nathan Tyson’s goal sealed all three points and Wanderers comeback.

Caretaker-Manager Barry Hunter made two changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Chester in the previous game.Adrian Littlejohn’s niggling injury allowed Drewe Broughton to start and make his debut as a fully fledged Diamonds player whilst Craig Dove was dropped in favour of returning Captain Stuart Gray.Andy Burgess started on the left whilst David Bell moved to the right flank.Wycombe’s line-up included former Leicester City players Steve Claridge and Steve Guppy.

Diamonds started positively and saw Neil McCafferty’s shot deflected wide for a corner by Stuart Nethercott inside the first two minutes, from the resultant corner Bell swung in the kick from the Diamonds left to find Broughton who headed just over the bar, at the far post.

Little attacking presence was seen as the rain began to lash down, adding to the conditions of the swirling wind, until the 15th minute.Gus Uhlenbeek’s attempted clearance was sloppy and allowed Burgess to take control before he found Broughton who drove his shot over the bar from 25 yards, moments later Billy Sharp’s flash shot went wide of Talia’s left post.

Sharp ran free to shoot from the centre, 20 yards out, only to see his effort flash wide once more after 21 minutes, before shooting wide with a curling shot to the right of the keeper following sustained attacking play from the Diamonds.

Sharp, who was in good form, forced Talia to beat down his effort from the right of the box with a well struck shot after Bell and then Broughton had set up the final effort, after 34 minutes.Diamonds then had to change personnel at the back as Phil Gulliver was forced to hobble off injured after 37 minutes to be replaced by John Dempster who played in the central defensive role for the first time this season, having previously been preferred in a midfield role under Ernie Tippett.

Attacking into the wind little was seen from Wycombe as they struggled to get forward and the closest they came was with three minutes to go before the break as Lee Worgan’s missed kick clearance fell to Claridge who was challenged by Graham Allen before getting the opportunity to shoot.

Jonny Dixon replaced Steve Guppy at half time for Wycombe asthey looked to make headway in the game for the first time, however Diamonds made a storming start.

Two minutes into the second half a good ball forward by Burgess caused problems for the Wycombe defence as Frank Talia looked to handle out of the box and was duly booked by the referee although he was incredibly lucky not to be sent off and suffer the same fate as on his previous visit to Nene Park last season.From the resultant free-kick Bell struck firmly but saw the lucky Talia save well.

Diamonds weren’t to be thwarted though as finally they got the goal their play deserved as Graham Allen headed home under the bar from Bell’s cross to give the Diamonds a vital lead after 50 minutes.Allen’s goal was only the second by a defender this season, and his first for the club since signing over the summer.

Wycombe responded to the goal as Nathan Tyson got past Allen on the left hand side before delivering a great ball into the box towards the looming Claridge who saw his effort deflected over the bar, after 56 minutes.Two minutes later Uhlenbeek was substituted for Matt Bloomfield for Wycombe, before their final change saw former Plymouth man Ian Stonebridge replace Dave Perpetuini, after 64 minutes, as Wanderers put another man forward and switched to three at the back.

Bell’s corner from the Diamonds right got a flick on before Gray’s effort was diverted to Burgess who flashed his shot from the left of the box, wide of Talia’s left post, after 69 minutes.Two minutes later the points should have been wrapped up as a long ball forward by Bell caused Nethercott to head clear, only for Broughton to pick up the loose ball and cross, which was flicked across to Burgess by Sharp who missed a sitter from close range with the keeper Talia drawn to his near post.

Two minutes later the miss was punished as substitute Matt Bloomfield struck home from fully 25 yards with a stunning strike after veteran Claridge had laid the ball back to the former Ipswich youngster.

As Diamonds looked to re-establish the lead Bell and Burgess combined for the latter to strike just wide from 35 yards, with ten minutes remaining, and then McCafferty was brought off to be replaced by Hay after 83 minutes.

Stonebridge saw his effort beaten down well by Worgan as he drove his shot with two minutes remaining and as it looked like Diamonds would clinch a point Wycombe stole all.The bitter blow came as Sedna’s free-kick was flicked on by Johnson to find Tyson who stole behind the Diamonds defence to score deep into injury time.

This was a bitterly disappointing and undeserved defeat but could make the Diamonds even more determined to triumph as they travel to Notts County next Saturday. The defeat will ultimately overshadow good performances from Man of the Match Sharp and Broughton in particular, along with many more strong performers.


Rushden and Diamonds:

Worgan, Connelly, Hawkins, Allen, Gray, Sharp, Bell, Burgess, Broughton, Gulliver (Dempster 37), McCafferty (Hay 83).Subs not used: Chalmers-Stevens, Kelly, Taylor.

Wycombe Wanderers:

Talia, Uhlenbeek (Bloomfield 58), Perpetuini (Stonebridge 64), Ryan, Johnson, Senda, Tyson, Easton, Nethercott, Claridge, Guppy (Dixon 46). Subs not used: Silk, Willaimson.

Goals: Allen 50, Bloomfield 73, Tyson 90+2.

Bookings: Talia 48.

Referee: Mr G Hegley.

Attendance: 3490 (510 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Sharp (lively and unlucky not to get his second goal for the club)

Report by Rich Beeby

Chester City 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Rushden suffered a disappointing defeat at The Saunders Honda Stadium as Chester won a crucial six pointer.

Taiwa Atieno put the home side in front on 15 minutes before Sean Hessey’s bullet free -kick doubled the lead seven minutes before the interval. Joe O’Neill made the game safe late on before Billy Sharp scored his first Diamond goal four minutes from time.

Diamonds were hoping to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Rochdale but caretaker manager Barry Hunter received a blow on Friday when Southampton recalled on-loan goalkeeper Alan Blayney. Lee Worgan was recalled in goal with youth team goalkeeper Scott Chalmers – Stevens making his first appearance on the bench.

Rob Gier failed a pre-match fitness test so Graham Allen came into central defence. Meanwhile, Stuart Gray had recovered from his long standing toe injury and subsequent illness and he took his place on the bench.

Chester were looking to end a run of 6 games without a win and manager Ian Rush made wholesale changes to the side that lost 3 – 0 at home to Cheltenham in midweek. Wayne Brown was recalled in goal in place of Chris MacKenzie while right back Darren Edmonson had recovered from injury to resume in place of Stephen Vaughan. David Bayliss was suspended while George Elokobi was relegated to the substitute’s bench. In came Paul Carden and Hessey.

Diamonds kicked off against the end housing the home fans but it was Chester who made the early progress. Michael Branch scuffed an early shot in the penalty area Graham Allen twice produced important blocks to break down attacks. In the 10th minute, Stuart Drummond rose to meet Edmonson’s fine cross but the header was weak.

However, that miss was forgotten 5 minutes later when the home side took the lead. David Bell gave the ball away adjacent to the right hand side of the penalty area and when the cross came in from Branch, Worgan dropped the ball under pressure from Taiwa Atieno and the on-loan striker picked himself up to slide the loose ball home. Diamonds fans were incensed with the decision but the goal stood.

Diamonds just could not get into the game and another chance went begging for Chester on 20 minutes when Ben Davies failed to keep his long range effort down while three minutes later the same player missed an even better opportunity from the edge of the penalty area but again the midfielder was unable to trouble Worgan.

The home side continued to dominate the game with Diamonds midfield ineffectual.Just before the half hour, Richard Hope saw his header from Branch’s left wing corner deflected for another flag kick

Seven minutes before half time, Chester scored a second goal following a free-kick awarded against Allen straight in front of goal 20 yards out. Hessey stepped up and gave Worgan no chance with a fiercely struck shot into the right hand roof of the net.

It took Diamonds 43 minutes to register their first shot of the game but Craig Dove was high and wide with his speculative shot. That was Dove’s last involvement in a disappointing first half for Diamonds. Manager Hunter replaced the left sided midfielder with Gray allowing Burgess to move to the left.

Diamonds made another change at the start of the second half when Alex Hay replaced Adrian Littlejohn up front. It was almost an inspired substitution as the former Tranmere man found himself unmarked in the penalty area 5 yards out only to shoot narrowly wide. Three minutes later, Bell latched onto Burgess’ fine cross but the midfielder should have done better with his close range header

Diamonds had obviously heeded the manager’s interval team talk and you could feel the air of expectancy amongst the travelling fans.

Burgess almost squeezed a shot home following excellent approach play from Billy Sharp while on the hour Hay shot wide again.

The introduction of Gray had given Diamonds midfield plenty of impetus and it wasn’t until the 62nd minute that Chester had their first shot of the second period. Atieno’s shot failed to trouble Worgan.

After a period of inactivity, Chester almost scored a third goal on 74 minutes when a fine run from Branch ended with a superb pass which Joe O’Neill failed to put away. However, moments later, the home side made the game safe. Paul Carden’s rasping shot from outside the area was only parried by Worgan and O’Neill following up touched the ball home.

So a disappointing result and much for Barry Hunter to think about before next weeks home game against Wycombe Wanderers.

Chester City: Brown, Carden, Bolland, Drummond, Branch, Davies, Hessey, Hope, Edmonson (Hillier 83), O’Neill

Subs unused: Vaughan, Elokobi, Harris, MacKenzie

Diamonds: Worgan, Connelly, Hawkins, Allen, Sharp, Bell, Burgess, Littlejohn (Hay 46), Gulliver, Dove (Gray 43), McCafferty

Subs unused: Dempster, Kelly, Chalmers -Stevens

Referee: Clive Oliver

Goals: Atieno 15, Hessey 38, O’Neill 75, Sharp 86

Bookings: Connelly 19, Edmonson 73, Atieno 90

Attendance: 2,340

Diamonds MOM: Phil Gulliver

Match report by Chris Barritt

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