Rushden & Diamonds 0 Coventry City 3

 

Diamonds entertained Coventry City in the Carling Cup 1st Round hoping for a better result from the one they endured the last time the two sides met in this competition three seasons ago.

After the draw against Chester on Saturday Barry Hunter made two changes to his starting line up.Graham Allen and Daniel Chillingworth were unable to play and were replaced by John Dempster and Chris O’Grady.Coventry made five changes to their starting eleven from their 3 nil Victory over Q.P.R,with Ince,Whing,Williams,Morrell and John all getting the nod.

In the first minute good play down the left saw Peter Hawkins driving forward and hit a powerful shot just wide of the far post, as Diamonds tried to start positively. However Coventry soon went ahead when Dempster missed a tackle in the centre of defence allowing John to release Hall down the left whose first time low cross was tapped home by McSheffrey in the 7th minute.

Seven minutes later Pearson chased a ball into the box for Diamonds and gave a little nudge to Williams and as the ball bounced free was allowed to play on but blasted high over the bar.Pearson again went close when he turned just inside the box but could not quite stretch far enough to get a good shot on target.

Coventry were buoyed by the early goal and their superior passing was causing Diamonds trouble. However Diamonds responded midway through the half with O’Grady firing a fierce low drive across the box, with Bell recovering the ball and curling it back in for Savage to head and win a corner.

Diamonds were certainly not overawed and O’Grady and Bell were showing up well. Another centre by Bell found Gier in the area but his stooping header glanced just wide. This was his last contribution as he limped off soon after to be replaced by Ashley Nicholls who slotted in at right back.

Just past the half hour mark Pearson again had the ball in the penalty area but his pull back couldn’t find one of his colleagues. In the 38th minute Savage drove through the midfield, played a neat one two with Pearson but shot wide of the target.Following that chance Coventry went straight upfield and won a free kick. It was half cleared to the edge of the area where Doyle’s shot luckily fell at the feet of Heath who obligingly tucked it away for a two goal lead.

As half time approached O’Grady tried his luck from long range but didn’t trouble Ince in the Coventry goal. However Diamonds could be pleased with their first half performance despite being two goals down. They had created chances and acquitted themselves well troubling the Coventry defence with O’Grady prominent

Half Time: Rushden and Diamonds 0Coventry City2.

At the start of the second half Hunter decided to replace Dempster with Okuonghae in the centre of the defence.

Diamonds started where they left offwith Bell firing high from their first attack and continuing to try and impose themselves in their search for a goal. They had the ball in the net in the 53rd minute when Bell raced down the centre and drilled in a powerful low shot, Ince saved it but Pearson was adjudged to be offside before he slotted home. A minute later Bell was again instrumental in the build up that released Nicholls who’s driven cross was just too far ahead of the onrushing O’Grady.

Coventry were stung into actionand could have done better with two chances they blasted wide, and nearly increased their lead when Diamonds keeper Young missed a through ball but recovered to fall on it in his area under pressure from John.

Diamonds responded just after the hour mark with Pearson shooting straight at Ince as they continued to give their fans hope of a comeback. But Coventry were holding firm just managing to keep Diamonds at bay.

With thirteen minutes to go Coventry earned a corner from which Morrell’s header was superbly saved by Young.O’Grady replied for Diamonds with a shot which fell just too high. But with ten minutes to go Doyle threaded an incisive ball into the area for Morrell to poke home for the third goal of the night, and effectively finish any chances of a comeback.

Diamonds weren’t finished though and kept pressing right to the end. Their endeavour was very nearly rewarded in injury time when Nicholls fed O’Grady ten yards out. The impressive striker held the ball up, turned and curled a shot narrowly wide of the far post that would have given his side a deserved goal on the night. It wasn’t to be but the home faithful can be proud of their team’s play on the night. They showed plenty of character against a team two leagues above them and performed with skill and resilience.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Young,Gulliver,Hawkins,Gier (Nicholls 32), Savage,Pearson (Taylor 74),Bell,Dempster (Okuonghae 46),McCafferty,O’Grady,Kelly.Subs not used: Woodman, Grainger.

Coventry City:

Ince,Whing,Hall,Williams,Doyle,McSheffrey (Adebola 77),Osbourne,Morrell,John,Jorgensen (Wood 67), Heath.Subs not used:

Tuffy,Page, Wood.

Referee: L.Probert.

Goals: McSheffrey 7, Heath 40, Morrell 81.

Bookings: Osbourne, Savage, Hawkins, John, Gulliver, Pearson, Heath, Hall.

Attendance: 3240 (1254 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Chris O’Grady

Match Report by Phil Harris-Ward

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