Rushden & Diamonds 4 Boston United 2

 

Three goals inside thirty second half minutes from teenage whiz-kid Billy Sharp helped earn Rushden and Diamonds three crucial points after they twice came from behind to win, at Nene Park.

Sharp, playing in his last home game of a three month loan from Sheffield United, was simply sensational as he turned an entertaining tussle on its head with three well taken goals showing maturity well beyond his years.

Rushden and Diamonds Manager Barry Hunter had made no changes to the starting line-up despite the disappointing defeat at Bristol Rovers in the previous week as his side went into the game.The only changes came on the bench where John Dempster and Jason Taylor lost their places in favour of Craig Dove and the retuning Drewe Broughton.

Boston Manager Steve Evans made two changes to his side from last weeks defeat at Chester with former Cobbler Daryl Clare and Danny Thomas starting in place of the suspended skipper Paul Elender and Jermaine Easter who was benched.

Boston made the better start and saw Brad Maylett fire wide from a right hand angle after 6 minutes before winning a dubious penalty.Rob Gier was adjudged to have fouled the lively Maylett going in with a high foot on 12 minutes and earning himself a yellow card in the process.From the spot kick, Clare tucked home with a low right footed kick to the left of Shearer leaving him with no chance.

Chris Holland received a yellow card for a foul on Andy Burgess after 20 minutes before Adrian Littlejohn was replaced by Drewe Broughton immediately after, with Barry Hunter clearly sensing a need for improvement after a poor start by his side.

Diamonds were soon inspired by the change as they grabbed an equaliser moments after Stuart Gray and Billy Sharp had linked up well for the latter to see his shot deflected wide of Abbey’s right hand post.From the resultant corner Bell launched the ball in to the box where Mark Williams hooked the ball back for Gier to head on towards Gray who smashed a hard and low shot, which Abbey only half saved, with Broughton quickest to tap the ball home with his first real touch after 25 minutes.

Three minutes after the goal Sharp turned Jason Lee and hit a scorching effort from the edge of the box which went just inches over Abbey’s crossbar, before Maylett was then booked for a late and tough tackle on Hawkins.

Boston still threatened going forward and Shearer had to pull off a superb left handed save to deny David Noble’s 35 yard dipping shot, after 31 minutes, but three minutes later Shearer was beaten for the second time.Courtney Pitt was able to centre the ball to find the unmarked Maylett who headed home past a desperate Shearer to put Boston back in-front.

Diamonds battled hard to grab a second equaliser before the break and Simon Rusk’s foul on Sharp earned the Diamonds a free-kick from 20 yards, to the left of the D, which McCafferty curled onto Abbey’s crossbar before Williams headed the ball back towards Gray who saw his firm header cleared off the line by Danny Thomas, after 37 minutes.

Boston almost went further in-front at the start of the second half as brilliant link up play between Pitt and Noble ended in the former missing a guilt edged chance when one on one with Shearer as he put his shot wide from eight yards, when it looked easier to score.

Despite Boston’s bright start Diamonds managed to grab themselves a second equaliser.Gier and Gray put together a neat passing move before Gray’s pass into the box found Sharp who turned superbly and buried his shot past Abbey who dived desperately to his right but had no chance to deny the goal, on 54 minutes.

Straight after the goal Boston saw Pitt’s hard shot from the left edge of the box shave Shearer’s left post before Alan White worked his way into the book on 56 minutes.

As the referee’s poor performance continued Bell crossed into the box after getting the better of Thomas, towards Burgess, who was clearly bundled over by Maylett for what should have been a penalty, however the referee incredibly refused to point to the spot sparking angry exchanges between both Abbey and Burgess.

Lee was finally booked after a succession of fouls on 63 minutes as the Pilgrims notched up their fourth booking of the game before Diamonds edged in-front for the first time.

Diamonds launched a long ball forward which Broughton was able to head on towards Sharp who raced forward into the box before tucking the ball wide of Abbey to his right, with a finish way beyond his years, after 64 minutes.

Boston made a quick change after falling behind as Clare was brought off for Lee Thompson on 65 minutes.Diamonds then saw Williams harshly booked on 70 minutes for a ‘foul’ just outside the box on Thomas.

Pitt saw Shearer deny him with his feet after turning Williams, after 75 minutes, before the striker came off to be replaced by Tom Hurst with Hurst allowing Lee to move further forward.

Diamonds then fell down to ten men with Gier receiving his second booking for a tackle from behind on Rusk on 79 minutes, before Sean Connelly was booked for time wasting at a free-kick.

From the free-kick Hawkins found Sharp who turned his defender superbly before firing home towards Abbey’s far post to complete a memorable hat-trick in his last home game of his loan period.

Diamonds made a change to bring on Hay for Bell after 86 minutes before another change saw a standing ovation for Billy Sharp as he was replaced by Phil Gulliver.

As time ticked away Rusk’s volley from six yards hit the topside of the bar but Boston could do little to overturn the deficit after a superb second half performance by the Diamonds, and in particular whiz kid Sharp whose goals have undoubtedly edged the Diamonds to the brink of League Two safety, in a superb loan spell at the club.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Shearer, Connelly, Hawkins, Gier, Gray, Sharp (sub Gulliver 88), Bell (sub Hay 86), Burgess, Littlejohn (sub Broughton 21), McCafferty, Williams.Subs not used: Worgan, Gulliver, Dove.

Boston United:

Abbey, White, Maylett, Noble, Lee, Holland, Rusk, McCann, Thomas, Pitt (sub Hurst 77), Clare (sub Thompson 65).Subs not used: Easter, O’Donnell, West.

Referee: Mr P Taylor

Goals: Clare 12 (pen), Broughton 25, Maylett 34, Sharp 54, Sharp 64, Sharp 82

Bookings: Gier 12, Holland 20, Maylett 28, White 56, Lee 63, Williams 70, Connelly 81.

Sent off: Gier 79 (second bookable offence).

Diamonds Man of the Match: Billy Sharp (sensational hat-trick)

Attendance: 3671 (424 away)

By Rich Beeby.

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