Rushden & Diamonds 2 Yeovil Town 0

Rushden and Diamonds grabbed two late goals in a dramatic finish to secure a well deserved victory, at Nene Park.

Diamonds, desperate for points in their bid to avoid relegation more than matched the League Two highfliers as they put one over on their former Conference foes with goals courtesy of Stuart Gray and loan star Billy Sharp whilst keeping a second consecutive clean sheet.

Rushden and Diamonds Manager Barry Hunter made two changes with a reversal to a more favoured 4-4-2 style having switched to 4-5-1 at Grimsby.Mark Williams replaced Phil Gulliver who started on the bench after his return from International duty with Northern Ireland whilst Adrian Littlejohn started alongside Sharp upfront.

Yeovil Town boss Gary Johnson made four changes to his starting line-up following the shock 3-1 defeat at home to Notts County.Goalkeeper Chris Weale, Kevin Gall, Bartozs Tarachulski and Andrejs Stolcers were all dropped to the bench.In the place of the dropped four came Marcus Richardson, Steve Collis, Arron Davies and Efe Sodje, who made his Glovers debut in central defence.

Yeovil started on the attack and saw long serving midfielder Darren Way fire his fierce volley inches over the bar from just outside the box, inside the first two minutes.Three minutes later Phil Jevons fired across the box and saw his effort go wide.

Diamonds struggled to make any purge on the Yeovil goal of note before the 13th minute when McCafferty ran through the centre of the pitch before laying the ball off left to Littlejohn who hit a drive at a slight angle from 12 yards; however his effort hit Collis’ left post.

Lee Johnson’s right wing corner fell to Adam Lockwood only for Way to head totally off target from six yards, after 20 minutes.Then followed a passage of play with little in the way of chances until Sodje’s free header from an Arron Davies left wing corner went narrowly over the crossbar from 6 yards, after 36 minutes.

Poor defending let in Lockwood for a close range volley to the right of the box, which went just wide of Shearer’s left post after 41 minutes, to complete the chances in a fairly drab first half.

Yeovil made an early change in the second half to bring on Bartozs Tarachulski in place of Marcus Richardson and again started brightly.

Hawkins did well to defend a Yeovil attack before losing out to Davies who struck a great shot from the right hand edges of the box only to see Shearer tip away superbly, after 55 minutes.From the resultant Johnson corner Shearer again had to save well, this time with his feet, to deny Sodje’s header.

At the other end Diamonds broke quickly courtesy of Hawkins, allowing Littlejohn to make a good run downfield, however his cross failed to find the in-rushing Hawkins who had kept up with the play and instead it flew wide of the far post.

In search of a breakthrough, The Glovers made another change to bring on Andrejs Stolcers for Phil Jevons on 59 minutes, sensing a need to change the course of the game.

Williams rather harshly received a yellow card for a foul on Johnson after 68 minutes, before Diamonds began to get firmly on top for the first time in the game.Two minutes after the booking Sharp did well to get past Skiverton and square the ball across from the right to Littlejohn who should have scored but instead put his stabbed effort narrowly wide of the keeper’s left hand post.

Diamonds battled hard and should have taken the lead with thirteen minutes remaining.McCafferty did brilliantly to find Burgess from the left-hand edges of the box, allowing Burgess to strike firmly with his favoured left foot only for Collis to get across, low to his right, to push the ball wide of his right hand post.

Tarachulski was booked for a series of fouls on 80 minutes before he was strangely brought off for Kevin Gall two minutes later, in between Diamonds grabbed a breakthrough that their play deserved.

Bell fed Sean Connelly who crossed from the right, into the box, where Sodje made a hash of his defensive duties, allowing the ball to fall for Gray who struck home a strong shot which went in off the post to send Nene Park into wild raptures, after 81 minutes.

Both Hawkins and then Sodje were booked after the goal whilst Jason Taylor replaced Littlejohn before Diamonds grabbed a second to make the game safe.Bell turned on his skills to cross from the right, towards the by-line; his cross evaded Taylor at the near post but was struck home on the volley at the far post by Sharp to leave the keeper absolutely helpless, after 87 minutes.

Alex Hay then came on for Bell to ease time after 89 minutes of normal time and despite three further minutes of time at the end of the 90, Yeovil could offer scarce little as they fell to a second defeat inside a week.

With massive defeats for both Cambridge United and Kidderminster Harriers these three points for the Diamonds become even more precious; more precious still would be a further maximum haul away at Bristol Rovers next weekend as Diamonds look to break their away day duck with their first win on the road since October, in League Two.With two encouraging displays and two consecutive clean sheets, they will certainly travel to Bristol in a confident mood.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Hawkins, Gier, Gray, Sharp, Bell (Hay 89), Burgess, Littlejohn (Taylor 84), McCafferty, Williams.Subs not used: Worgan, Gulliver, Dove.

Yeovil Town:

Collis, Lockwood, Skiverton, Way, Terry, Johnson, Richardson (Tarachulski 51) (Gall 80), Jevons (Stoclcers 59), Sodje, Lindegaard, Davies.Subs not used: Weale, Rose.

Referee: Mr T Bates

Goals: Gray 81, Sharp 87

Bookings: Williams 68, Tarachulski 80, Hawkins 82, Sodje 86.

Attendance: 3726 (1053 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Andy Burgess

By Rich Beeby.

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