Bristol Rovers 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Diamonds went down to a disappointing defeat at The Memorial Stadium.

Goals from Richard Walker, Craig Disley and a Scott Shearer own goal gave Rovers their first ever league victory against Diamonds who never really got into the game.

Rushden were looking to end a run of 14 games on the road without a win and not surprisingly, manager Barry Hunter kept the same team that impressively beat high-flying Yeovil last week. Rushden went into the game 5 points clear of their nearest relegation rivals Kidderminster Harriers who were at home to rejuvenated Bury.Hunter made one change on the bench recalling John Dempster in place of Craig Dove.

Rovers needed just a point to ensure Division Two football next season. Despite having only lost one game at home all season, The Pirate’s had drawn 12 games at The Memorial Stadium including the last four. Manager Ian Atkins made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at leaders Southend last Friday. Craig Hinton and James Hunt were both injured allowing Christian Edwards and Ryan Williams to come into the side.

Diamonds kicked off on a well worn pitch in blustery conditions and they had the first shot of the game on 3 minutes when Billy Sharp latched onto Sean Connolly’s lob but the on-loan youngster’s shot went over the bar.

The home side were unlucky not to take the lead in the 10th minute. Williams corner on the left was headed against the upright by John Anderson who then struck the crossbar with the rebound.

Rovers were using the swirling wind to their advantage with some slick passing. On 19 minutes, Shearer made a vital save with his legs after Walker got the better of Rob Gier.

However, two minutes later The Pirates went in front. With Diamonds defenders appealing in vain for offside, Walker ran onto a long clearance before beating Shearer with the aid of the right hand post.

Junior Agogo then tested Shearer after cutting inside but the Diamonds ‘keeper did well to deal with an indifferent bounce. On 27 minutes, referee Drysdale waived away strong appeals for a Bristol Rovers penalty after Williams tangled with Connolly in the penalty area.

The home side continued to press forward and Agogo linked well with the impressive Williams before shooting wide. At the other end, Diamonds enjoyed a rare attack when Andy Burgess was wide with a long range effort after good work from Peter Hawkins.

Eight minutes from half-time, Agogo was again the Rovers villain when he should have done better with a header after Williams found him with a fine cross.

Diamonds started the second half with the wind in their favour but it was Rovers who had the first chance. Walker put Agogo in space again but Shearer produced another high quality save to deny the busy striker.

Agogo then threaded the ball through to Disley but with the midfielder in acres of space his first-time shot went wide.

Diamonds went further behind on 59 minutes. Williams’ corner was headed on by Steve Elliott to Disley who hit the bar with his first attempt before hooking the reboundl into the roof of the net.

Adrian Littlejohn saw a 61st minute shot deflected before the home side created another clear cut scoring chance. Agogo dispossessed Connolly near the half-way line and picked out Williams on the left but the little winger shot wide with just Shearer to beat.

Agogo then tried an audacious 35 yard shot which fell just wide while on 65 minutes the same player struck the bar with another long range shot.

Rovers continued to slice open the Diamonds defence. Elliott moved up from defence to play a 1-2 with Agogo before setting Walker free but the striker’s shot was well wide.

Seven minutes from time, Rushden conceded another goal in bizarre circumstances. There appeared to be no danger when Shearer collected Williams’ right wing corner but the goalkeeper inexplicably dropped the ball over his own goal -line to gift Rovers a third goal.

Near the end Shearer blocked another Agogo rocket before Burgess tested Ryan Clarke with a shot from outside the area.

This was a disappointing result for diamonds but with Bury scoring a late equalizer at Kidderminster the gap is still 4 points.

N.B. After the game the referee announced he had awarded the third goal to Richard Walker, the Press Association will be notified of this on Monday.

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TEAMS:

Bristol Rovers: Clarke, Lescott, Edwards, Anderson, Elliott, Ryan, Disley, Savage, Williams (Sinclair 88), Agogo, Walker. Subs not used: Trollope, Forrester, Lines, Carruthers.

Rushden and Diamonds: Shearer, Connelly, Gier, Williams, Hawkins, Bell, Gray, McCafferty, Burgess, Littlejohn (Taylor 63), Sharp (Hay 78).Subs not used: Worgan, Gulliver, Dempster,

Referee: Mr D Drysdale

Goals: Walker 21, Disley 59, (Shearer o.g 83) third goal awarded after the match to Richard Walker.

Bookings: 0

Attendance: 5740 (287 Away)

 

Diamonds Man of the Match: Scott Shearer

By Chris Barritt

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