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


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