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.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

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

Bury:

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

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