Rushden & Diamonds 1 Lincoln City 4

 

Three late goals from Lincoln City condemned Rushden and Diamonds to their 8th home league defeat of the season and heaviest since an identical reverse in early September at home to Southend, in a game which turned on Drewe Broughton’s sending off.

Rushden and Diamonds newly appointed boss Barry Hunter made one enforced change to the Diamonds starting line-up from the side that drew at Kidderminster with Phil Gulliver returning in central defence for Mark Williams who was on international duty with Northern Ireland.Elsewhere Sean Connelly started his 500th league and cup appearance as Diamonds Captain.

Lincoln City named two former Diamonds players in their sixteen with Richard Butcher starting in midfield whilst Richie Hanlon made his way onto the bench.Former Northampton Town man Derek Asamoah led the Imp’s attack.

Lincoln started the brightest and forced Scott Shearer into a brave save as Kevin Sandwith’s corner was headed on by Butcher and flicked on by Asamoah who had the last touch, inside the opening two minutes.

After much hassling from Lincoln early on Diamonds earned themselves a free-kick 10 yards outside the box when Broughton was fouled. Neil McCafferty struck the kick from just left of centre with some power only to see Alan Marriott get across to tip the ball aside to his right at the near post, after 7 minutes.A minute later Billy Sharp headed weakly after Gulliver’s strong head on towards the six yard box.

Simon Yeo struck from 25 yards out after 11 minutes to allow Shearer to make an easy save, but as Diamonds began to get on top in the game they took the lead with 11 minutes gone.Hay supplied Broughton who fed Sharp who moved the ball onto his left foot, beat two men, and struck a sweet shot into Marriott’s left hand post to claim his fifth goal on his eleventh appearance for the club.

Hay fed Sharp again a minute after the goal allowing the youngster to cross dangerously from the right wing towards Stuart Gray who headed narrowly over the crossbar as Diamonds pushed to double their advantage.

After taking the lead the Diamonds were soon forced back though as the Red Imp’s equalised on a great break.McCafferty failed to pick up Gray’s pass in the middle of the park allowing Peter Gain to take hold of the ball before passing left to Yeo who riffled a firm and outstanding shot from just inside the box into the top left corner of Shearer’s net, after 19 minutes.

Diamonds continued to press despite the goal and McCafferty’s curling cross from the right found the flying, darting head of Broughton who was unlucky to see his effort go narrowly wide of the keeper’s left post from six yards, after 25 minutes.

Francis Green found himself incredibly lucky to remain on the pitch after squaring up to Shearer after a Red Imp’s attack and got away with just a yellow card after 41 minutes in the last incident of note in an action packed opening half, with the referee appearing extremely lenient.

Diamonds kicked off the second half attacking towards the Airwair Stand however the early action did little to compare to the first half.

McCafferty was booked for dissent after 58 minutes and a minute later Diamonds came close to scoring when Gulliver’s header had the keeper desperately clawing back to catch the ball.Diamonds then saw Dove’s throw set up Sharp who shot a curling effort just past Marriott’s left hand post after 62 minutes before the Red Imp’s made a change bringing off former Cobbler Asamoah for Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

Yeo earned himself a yellow card for dissent after 71 minutes when Diamonds were given a free-kick.Ahead of the resultant kick scuffles broke out in the box and Broughton was sent off after the assistant referee spotted his stamp on Gareth Mcauley’s foot inside the box amid the many rough challenges taking place.

With ten men Diamonds were soon left to chase the game as Ben Futcher got the last touch to a header on from a Kevin Sandwith free-kick to send the ball past a desperate Shearer inside the top right post, after 74 minutes.

With little in support Sharp had to test Marriott from distance with a low struck shot on 77 minutes but two minutes later the game was as good as over for Diamonds when Taylor-Fletcher squared his ball from the left into Jamie McCombe who struck home impressively from just inside the box, low towards Shearer’s far left post, leaving him helpless.

Diamonds made a change to bring off Dove for Adrian Littlejohn after 82 minutes to supply Diamonds with some extra help going forward but a minute later Taylor-Fletcher’s shotfrom six yards after Green’s pass had ensured Diamonds would fall to their heaviest defeat at home in 2005.

Lincoln made a further change bringing on former Diamond Hanlon for Green straight after the goal before Diamonds replaced Burgess with Marcus Kelly on 85 minutes.Then to ease time McAuley came off for Matthew Bloomer leaving Diamonds with little effort to even grab what would have been a mere consolation.

Diamonds will be obviously disappointed at the defeat although they will only be too aware that their play until the games turning point had certainly merited at least a share of the spoils.A win away from home at Grimsby on Monday could prove the perfect tonic for the Diamonds to put this result to bed which came against a Lincoln side that played nothing more than "ugly" football and claimed a flattering result on the night.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Gier, Hay, Gray, Sharp, Burgess (Kelly 85), Broughton, Dove (Littlejohn 82), McCafferty, Gulliver.Subs not used: Afandiyev, Dempster, Kelly, Taylor.

Lincoln City FC:

Marriott, Sandwith, Futcher, Morgan, Butcher, Yeo, Gain, McAuley (Bloomer 88), Asamoah (Taylor-Fletcher 64), McCombe, Green (Hanlon 84).Subs not used: Carruthers, Blackwood.

Referee: Mr Fred Graham

Goals: Sharp 11, Yeo 19, Futcher 74, McCombe 79, Taylor-Fletcher 83.

Bookings: Green 41, McCafferty 58, Yeo 71

Sending Off: Broughton 72

Attendance: 4213 (1274 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Sharp

By Rich Beeby.

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