Barnet 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Manager Barry Hunter summed up this disappointing result by agreeing that his side had ‘made a major contribution to their own downfall’.

How right he was! Substitute goalkeeper Jamie Young gifted Barnet the opening goal on the stroke of half-time before John Dempster grabbed a deserved equalizer midway through the second half. Ben Strevens firm header won the game for the home side on 74 minutes before Drewe Broughton picked up a second red card of the season for violent conduct. Diamonds also lost the services of ‘keeper Andy Woodman with a serious Achilles heel injury.

Diamonds were looking to extend a three game unbeaten run and Hunter was forced into making two changes to the side that beat Shrewsbury a week earlier. David Bell replaced broken thumb victim Marcus Kelly on the left while Ashley Nicholls filled the gap left in midfield by the suspended Neil McCafferty. Diamonds welcomed back Andy Burgess to the bench following his recovery from a broken leg while new signing Alun Armstrong joined him amongst the substitutes.

After a fine start to the season, Conference champions Barnet had slipped alarmingly down the table and had failed to win any of their previous 11 league games. The home side surprisingly ‘rested’ striker Guiliano Grazioli while goalkeeper Ross Flitney took his place between the posts after his controversial midweek red card against Manchester United was correctly overturned.

Diamonds kicked off down the steep hill and enjoyed most of the early possession. However, the visitors could so nearly have gone behind on 8 minutes. Woodman

misjudged Dean Sinclair’s high cross under the challenge of Liam Hatch leaving the Barnet front man a seemingly easy tap in but miraculously Rob Gier made up the ground to somehow get in a block.

However, it was obvious that Woodman had fallen awkwardly under the challenge and he appeared to be in a lot of pain. After five minutes of treatment, the Diamonds goalkeeping coach was stretchered away from the field and taken to hospital having apparently sustained an Achilles tendon injury.

Young came on as a substitute and there was a nice touch from Broughton who came over to the sidelines to give the youngster some words of encouragement.

There was very little goalmouth action in the opening stages although Gier made another great interception to dispossess Nicky Bailey. On 24 minutes Broughton knocked the ball down intelligently to Chris O’Grady on the left and he beat Flitney from an acute angle but the shot went past the far post.

Two minutes later Hatch flashed a header wide from Ian Hendon’s cross before Diamonds should have taken the lead on 31 minutes. O’Grady’s superb ball found Broughton all alone on the edge of the penalty area but he spent too much time teeing up the shot which went wide of the right hand upright.

Bailey screwed a shot wide after the ball came back to him following a corner while not for the first time O’Grady picked out an unmarked Diamonds player but this time Nicholls’ blazed over with plenty of time to pick his spot.

Rushden went behind in bizarre circumstances on the stroke of the interval. Young collected a harmless cross and dropped the ball onto the floor in readiness to clear his lines. Unfortunately, the substitute ‘keeper lost his concentration having failed to spot Lee standing behind him. The Barnet midfielder pounced, dispossessed Young and coolly rolled the ball into an empty net from an acute angle. One for Question of Sport’s ‘What Happened Next ‘section I fear!

Half – time Barnet 1 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Diamonds came out scowling at the start of the second half and Barnet were finding it hard to cope with the pace and guile of O’Grady. Twice in successive minutes the loanee got round his marker but saw his shot blocked.

Diamonds took off Greg Pearson and replaced him with debutant Armstong up front. O’Grady switched to left of midfield with Bell moving to his favoured right flank.

The home side almost extended their lead on 59 minutes. Ian Hendon’s free – kick hung in the wind and then drifted towards the net. Young misjudged the angle and the ball bounced over the bar.

A slick move between Bell, Armstrong and Nicholls ended with the Cambridge loan man seeing his shot blocked while great play from O’Grady down the left saw his fine shot deflected away fro a corner. From Bell’s resultant corner, Broughton’s challenge caused Flitney to flap at the ball and when Armstrong’s follow up was blocked, John Dempster’s low shot went through a crowd of players and into the net for a deserved equaliser.

Diamonds looked ready for the kill and there was a huge cheer from the Diamonds fans on 67 minutes with the reappearance of Burgess after a long injury break. He slotted into the centre of midfield with Nicholls being substituted.

Young comfortably saved Sinclair’s low shot but the Diamonds ‘keeper wasn’t so sure about his positioning when he took two attempts to deal with Lee’s effort after he tried to capitalise on Peter Hawkins mistake.

On 71 minutes, Bell sent a 30-yard free – kick into Flitney’s midriff but Diamonds were undone three minutes later after yet more defensive frailties. Nobody closed down Hendon on the right and he had all the time in the world to get his cross in to Strevens who beat Young with a powerful header.

Worst was to follow on 84 minutes when Broughton was shown the red card for violent conduct after he tangled with Ismail Yakubu. As both players were moving towards the Barnet goal, the Assistant Referee pulled play back and called for referee Lee. After a moments deliberation Broughton was sent off. The visiting striker protested his innocence and indicated to Hunter that his shirt had been tugged but his game was over and a four match ban awaits.

So a disappointing result and performance by Diamonds but they still showed enough to suggests that positive results are just around the corner as they now prepare for Sunday’s trip to Halifax Town in the F.A Cup First Round


Barnet: Ross Fltney, Ian Hendon, Ismail Yakubu, Anthony Charles, Adam Gross, Ben Strevens, Dwane Lee, Dean Sinclair, Nicky Bailey, Liam Hatch (Jason Norville 75)

Subs Not Used: Luke Hickie, Damian Batt, Richard Graham, Louie Soares

Rushden & Diamonds:

Andy Woodman (Jamie Young 12), Rob Gier, Peter Hawkins, Phil Gulliver, John Dempster, Greg Pearson (Alun Armstrong 58), Dave Savage, Ashley Nicholls (Andy Burgess 67), David Bell, Chris O’Grady, Drewe Broughton

Subs Not Used: Magnus Okuonghae, Lee Tomlin

Booked: Lee 54 (Foul). Roache 57 (Dissent), Dmpster 59 (Foul), Hawkins 69 (Foul)

Referee: Mr R Lee

Attendance: 2,564 (Away 447)

Diamonds MOM: Chris O’Grady – easily the best player on the pitch!

Report by Chris Barritt


Rushden & Diamonds 3 Shrewsbury Town 0


A wonderful second half performance from Diamonds produced three important points as they easily overcame Shrewsbury.


Dave Savage scored Diamonds first before David Bell blasted home a stunning second but it was left to man of the match Chris O’Grady to fittingly seal things late on. Shrewsbury were thankful to teenage goalkeeper Joe Hart for keeping the score down!


Barry Hunter made one change from the side that pulled off a shock LDV

Trophy victory over League One side Southend United in midweek. Captain Dave Savage returned in place of Ashley Nicholls while Bell kept his place on the bench after his welcome inclusion against Southend.


Shrewsbury Town made wholesale changes to the team that went down 2 – 0 to Cheltenham in midweek. Former Diamonds favourite Duane Darby received generous applause as he took the field.


Diamonds started in confident mood and they had an early chance on 3 minutes. Greg Pearson found O’Grady on the left and when the cross came in Joe Hart got down well to save Drewe Broughton’s solid header.


Hart comfortably saved a drive from O’Grady before Pearson was too high with a 20 yard shot. Diamonds were enjoying plenty of space in midfield and taking every opportunity to shoot on sight. Neil McCafferty saw another long range effort go wide on 15 minutes before O’Grady was also off target with a sliced shot after he made good ground down the left.


The run of missing the target continued when Savage was well wide from 20 yards while at the other end Colin McMenamin didn’t fare any better from a similar distance.


Broughton failed to get enough pace on his 25th minute header following McCafferty’s neat cross while a minute later Andy Woodman needed to attempts to save Kelvin Longmead’s header.


Longmead should have put the visitors ahead on 28 minutes. Jamie Tolley played the ball into Longmead’s path but despite cutting inside Peter Hawkins, he blasted the ball over the bar.


On 33 minutes Broughton was again able to get to a Marcus Kelly free-kick but the header lacked power while 5 minutes later the home side went closest to scoring following fine work from O’Grady. The on-loan striker produced some great skill down the left only to see his drive pushed away by Hart but only as far as Pearson but the ball came too quick to Tuesday’s goals corer and it cannoned away from danger.


In the dying seconds of the half Dave Walton’s bullet header from Mark Jackson’s corner went through Woodman but, fortunately, Pearson was able to clear off the line.    


Diamonds threw on Bell at the start of the second half in place of Pearson and his impact was immediate as Diamonds took the lead on 49 minutes. The tricky midfielder created space down the right and when Broughton chested the cross down Savage gleefully put the ball into the left hand corner of the net.


That goal gave Diamonds the confidence to show their attacking flare and they started to make inroads at will. Bell was enjoying himself immensely on the right and he saw a 56th minute shot deflect off McCafferty when the ball looked likely to cause Hart a problem.


John Dempster glanced a Kelly corner wide before a superb cross from O’Grady almost set up a surprised Broughton. There were loud appeals for a Shrewsbury penalty when Bell seemed to foul Tolley in the area but the referee waived play on.


Diamonds increased their lead on 66 minutes with a virtuoso goal from Bell. The substitute made ground up the centre of the field before sending an unstoppable shot past a helpless Hart into the right hand top corner. A simply brilliant goal.


Diamonds were in top gear now and delighting their supporters with some great football but Shrewsbury reminded them that they wouldn’t give up when Woodman superbly tipped over substitute Ben Smith’s close range header.


Back came Diamonds with O’Grady and Bell now running the show with ease. A cheeky back heel from O’Grady set up Rob Gier but Hart made an excellent block to deny him. McCafferty almost found the net with a curler which Hart turned round the post while the same player flashed a free-kick narrowly wide.


Hart was undoubtedly the Shrewsbury star man and he produced a wonderful one handed save to keep out O’Grady’s fierce left foot shot.


However, Diamonds put the icing on the cake in the 85th minute with a stunning third goal. Bell mesmerised the visiting defence again and then picked out O’Grady with a simple cross that was volleyed home with aplomb.


So a superb all round performance from Diamonds and a welcome three points which sets them up nicely for the trip to Underhill  to face Barnet next weekend.  Manager Barry Hunter will be absolutely delighted with this result and the way that his players responded to their last home performance.






Rushden & Diamonds: Andy Woodman, Phil Gulliver, Peter Hawkins, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (Capt), Greg Pearson (David Bell 46), Drewe Broughton, John Dempster,  Neil McCafferty, Chris O’Grady, Marcus Kelly,


Subs Not Used: Jamie Young, Ashley Nicholls, Magnus Okuonghae, Lee Tomlin


Shrewsbury Town: Joe Hart, Kevin Sharp (Capt), Jamie Tolley, Dave Walton, Neil Sorvel, Colin McMenamin, Kelvin Langmead, Ben Heard, Duane Darby (Ben Smith 64), Richard Hope, Mark Jackson.


Subs Not Used: Glyn Thompson, Stuart Whitehead, Mark Stallard, Neil Ashton


Goals: Savage 49, Bell 66, O’Grady 85


Booked:  McMenamin 82 (Dissent), McCafferty 87 (Dissent)


Referee: Mr G Lewis


Attendance: 2,954 (Away 449)


Diamonds Man of the Match: Chris O’Grady


By Chris Barritt

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Southend United 0



Diamonds dumped last year’s finalists out of the LDV Trophy thanks to Greg Pearson’s 31st minute strike.


Southend ‘keeper Darryl Flahavan made a series of fine saves to keep Diamonds at bay while Andy Woodman kept a second consecutive clean sheet at the other end.


Fresh from their encouraging point at Wycombe at the weekend, Diamonds boss Barry Hunter recalled Ashley Nicholls in place of the rested Dave Savage while David Bell was a welcome addition to the substitute’s bench following his long injury absence.


Chris O’Grady took advantage of a fine 1 – 2 with Drewe Broughton to get to the by-line on 6 minutes. His cross found Nicholls steaming into the penalty area but his shot was superbly palmed away by Darryl Flahavan.


Two minutes later, Wayne Gray ran clear of the Rushden defence after latching onto Jamal Campbell – Ryce fine pass and while he beat Andy Woodman, his shot drifted harmlessly wide of the left hand post.


Greg Pearson was somewhat fortunate not to put the visitors ahead when he deflected Mark Gower’s left wing cross goal wards. Fortunately for Diamonds, Woodman was well positioned to deal with the danger.


The visitors were enjoying more of the possession but Diamonds were knocking the ball about ease with Marcus Kelly and O’Grady, in particular, looking very comfortable on the ball.


O’Grady chased down another seemingly lost cause on 27 minutes and then beat Spencer Prior on the by-line before checking back and seeing his attempted chip deflected for a corner.


Two minutes later, Pearson cut inside from the right and hit a ferocious strike which Flahavan did well to turn away for another corner. It was from the resultant flag kick that Flahavan produced a brilliant double save to deny the home side an opening goal. Kelly whipped in a corner from the left and Flahavan superbly knocked up John Dempster’s header before tipping over Broughton’s instinctive overhead kick.


But Flahavan could do nothing about Pearson’s 31st minute shot which put the home side in front. O’Grady found Peter Hawkins on the left and when the short cross came in Pearson’s shot from the edge of the area took a deflection and ended up in the right hand corner of the net.


Five minutes later and Flahavan pulled off another fine save this time to deny O’Grady. Intelligent play from the teenage striker allowed him to hold the ball up on the right but with help in short supply, O’Grady decided to take the ball on himself before unleashing a terrific left foot shot which Flahavan did very well to turn round the post.


Half – time                Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Southend United.


Diamonds continued where they left off in the first half and Rob Gier linked up with the attack before shooting wide.


Gray missed a good chance to put his side level on 50 minutes when he his header failed to find the target from Gower’s cross. Broughton seemed to have a good claim for a penalty two minutes later when he looked to be baulked in the penalty area but referee Melin wasn’t interested.


The visitors were trying desperately to get back on level terms but they were up against a dogged Diamonds defence. Neil MCafferty gave away a free-kick just outside the penalty area just after the hour and Woodman had to make a fine diving save to deny Kevin Maher’s free-kick. Gray had another header saved by Woodman while Maher warmed Woodman’s hands with a long range effort.


Woodman dropped a Jamal Campbell – Rice cross but Dempster cleaned up while the Diamonds ‘keeper was grateful to Gulliver when he could only parry substitute Lawson’s shot on 76 minutes. Seconds later a fine cross from Spencer Prior gave Gray the chance to get in a header which flew over the bar.


Freddie Eastwood flashed a header wide in the dying seconds while Lawson almost sneaked in a late equaliser at the death.


So a battling victory by Diamonds against higher division opponents and a second consecutive clean sheet for Barry Hunter’s men who now look forward to the visit of Shrewsbury on Saturday with confidence growing.




Rushden & Diamonds – Andy Woodman, Phil Gulliver, Pete Hawkins, Rob Gier (Capt), Greg Pearson (David Bell 63), Drewe Broughton (Lee Tomlin 80), John Dempster, Ashley Nicholls, Neil McCafferty, Chris O’Grady (Magnus Okuonghae 90), Marcus Kelly.


Subs Not Used: Jamie Young, Daniel Grainger,


Southend United – Darryl Flahavan, Duncan Jupp, Che Wilson, Spencer Prior, Adam Barrett, Mark Gower (James Lawson 71), Kevin Maher (Capt),  Wayne Gray, Jay Smith ( Mark Bentley 81),Jamal Campbell – Rice, Freddy Eastwood.


Subs Not Used: Lewis Hunt, Carl Pettefer, Luke Gutteridge,



Goals: Pearson 31


Booked: Campbell – Ryce 83 (Dissent), McCafferty 84 (Persistent Fouling), Gier 85 (Foul)


Referee: Mr P.Melin


Attendance: 1,300 (Away 350)


Diamonds MOM: Chris O’Grady


Report by Chris Barritt

Wycombe Wanderers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0


Diamonds weathered an early storm to earn a deserved point at high flying Wycombe.

Diamonds manager Barry Hunter made two changes to the side that performed so disappointingly against Bury. Andy Woodman replaced Jamie Young in goal while John Dempster came into the center of defence for Magnus Okuonghae. Sixteen year old Lee Tomlin won a place on the bench.

Second placed Wycombe welcomed back leading scorer Nathan Tyson into their attack after he missed the away victory at Grimsby last weekend. Tyson replaced Sergio Torres who was relegated to the bench. With 20 goals between them, the unbeaten Chairboys boasted the league’s most potent strike-force in Tyson and Tommy Mooney.

On a glorious afternoon, Wycombe kicked off and they had the first shot on seven minutes when Clint Easton made good ground down the left but his long range effort failed to find the target.

The home side won a corner three minutes later and Danny Senda’s deep cross picked our Steffan Oakes. The midfielder’s sweet volley was deflected inches wide of Woodman’s left hand post.

Wycombe were already in the ascendancy and Mooney missed a wonderful chance to put the home side ahead on 13 minutes. Kevin Betsy plated a neat ball into the path of the veteran striker who shot straight at Woodman from close range.

Tyson then linked up well with Mooney before nipping in ahead of the advancing Woodman. However, the Wycombe top scorer’s first touch eluded him and the danger was cleared.

On 23 minutes, Easton’s long pass found Mooney in space on the right but his instinctive volley went high over the bar. Four minutes later, Mooney picked out Betsy on the right and the tricky winger made ground inside before beating Woodman and fortunately the far post. It was all Wycombe at this point with Diamonds defending desperately at times and looking for their first real shot at goal.

They didn’t have to wait long though and Marcus Kelly almost scored the goal of the season in the process. The fast improving winger picked the ball up on the left on 33 minutes before beating three defenders as he cut inside. He moved on along the face of the goal before forcing Andy Lonergan into a fine stop.

Diamonds started to grow in confidence and Kelly struck a speculative shot from 30 yards which went high and wide.

Diamonds started as they left off at the end of the first half with Broughton heading over Kelly’s 49th minute corner while at the other end Mooney also headed over Oakes free-kick four minutes later.

Unlike the first half, the home side was finding it more difficult to create clear cut chances despite having more of the play. Captain Dave Savage was having more of an impact in midfield and on 58 minutes he found O’Grady on the edge of the penalty area. The on-loan striker cleverly turned his man before hitting his shot narrowly wide.

Wycombe continued to pour forward and put Diamonds under increasing pressure. The battle between Rob Gier and Tyson was fascinating and intense but the Diamonds defender showed exactly why he was named D2 player of the month for September with some superb tackles and defensive awareness.

Slowly but surely, Rushden started to get on top as Wycombe were restricted to half chances. Mooney and Betsy both volleyed over the bar before Kelly again showed why he is so highly though of by the back room staff. The midfielder picked up the ball inside his own half and ran unchallenged into the Wycombe penalty area before unleashing a left foot drive which went narrowly wide.

Not for the first time Mooney failed to find the target with a rising shot much to the delight of the travelling band of supporters who equally not for the first time let the former Watford and Oxford striker know what they though about his effort!

Sixteen year old Lee Tomlin was sent on for his league debut on 74 minutes and he seemed to galvanise the attack immediately. A Gier free-kick fell nicely to Kelly and his half-volley forced a diving save from Lonergan before Tomlin and substitute Grainger linked up well to set up Kelly again but his shot went wide.

Diamonds were now well on top and looked more likely to get the winner. Tomlin almost became an instant hero on 83 minutes when he was found by a clever O’Grady chip. The teenager jinxed inside one challenge, cut inside and then back before seeing the goalkeeper produce a fine save to deny him. Tomlin responded by shaking his arm in frustration. A minute later and an even better chance went begging. Lanergan flapped at Kelly’s corner and O’Grady somehow scooped Dempster’s pass over the bar from two yards.

So a gritty determined display by Rushden who rode their luck at times but completely deserved a crucial point which went a long way to erase the Bury performance from the supporters mind. Roll on Southend!


Wycombe Wanderers: Andy Lonergen, Danny Senda, Roger Johnson, Mike Williamson, Clint Easton, Matt Bloomfield( Sergio Torres 46), Joe Burnell (Rob Lee 88), Steffan Oakes (Jonny Dixon 73), Kevin Betsy, Tommy Mooney, Nathan Tyson.

Subs Not Used: Frank Talia and Ian Stonebridge

Rushden & Diamonds:

Andy Woodman, Rob Gier, Peter Hawkins, Phil Gulliver, John Dempster, Greg Pearson (Daniel Grainger 65), Neil McCafferty, Dave Savage, Marcus Kelly, Chris O’Grady, Drewe Broughton (Lee Tomlin 74)

Subs Not Used: Jamie Young, Ashley Nicholls, Magnus Okuonghae

Booked: McCafferty 41 (Foul)

Referee: Mr R Olivier

Attendance 5231 (Away 245)

Diamonds MOM: Marcus Kelly

Report by Chris Barritt

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Bury 2



Diamonds slumped to a disappointing defeat against fellow strugglers Bury.


A mistake from Jamie Young allowed Dwayne Mattis to open the scoring before Simon Whaley smacked in a free-kick to clinch the points.


Diamonds manager Barry Hunter made one change from the side which went down narrowly at Rochdale. Greg Pearson was preferred to Ashley Nicholls on the right side of midfield.


Bury also made one change to their starting line-up with Jon Newby coming off the bench to join the attack in place of John Hardiker.


Diamonds enjoyed the first attack and won an early free-kick on the right. The ball eventually came back to Dave Savage on the edge of the penalty area and the midfielder struck a sweet volley which went inches wide.


Jamie Young had to be careful on 9 minutes when he got down to smother David Flitcroft’s tapped free-kick.


The game then stagnated with neither side taking the initiative. Despite plenty of pace being on show, too often the end product was disappointing.


During a rare scoring opportunity, Drewe Broughton shot wide from long range while on 26 minutes, Young then failed to catch Tom Kennedy’s deep cross but fortunately Peter Hawkins was on hand to clear the danger.


Errors were creeping into the game as the opening period became more and more disjointed. 


Young did well to divert Paul Scott’s downward header following a corner on 32 minutes while Flitcroft tried a long range shot which flew wide.


Two minutes from the interval, Hawkins tried his luck only to see David Challinor head the ball away for a corner while Chris O’Grady was wide with a curler.


Half-time         R & D  0 – 0 Bury


The second half started with a Magnus Okuonghae header which tested Neil Edwards but it was the visitors who then missed two good chances in the space of four minutes. On 49 minutes, Kennedy’s cross was headed back across goal by Mattis but Newby somehow scuffed his shot in front of a gaping goal. Then Allan Smart raced onto a through ball but shot weakly at the advancing Young.


Good work at the other end from Rob Gier set up Pearson in space but he shot straight at Edwards.


The visitors went ahead after 57 minutes following a mistake by Young. Whaley’s right wing cross looked harmless enough but Young failed to hang on to the ball allowing Mattis to fire home.


Diamonds made a double substitution a minute later with Daniel Grainger and Jason Taylor replacing Pearson and Broughton. Bury then lost the services of veteran striker Smart who was stretchered off after a late challenge.


On 68 minutes, Bury went further ahead. Hawkins looked to have fouled Newby inside the penalty area but referee Dorr gave the decision outside the box. Up stepped Whaley to rifle the free-kick into the roof of the net.


Diamonds tried to salvage something from the game. O’Grady shot straight at Edwards while Gier flashed an 81st minute header wide from Marcus Kelly’s corner.


So much to think about fro manager Barry Hunter before the trip to promotion favourites Wycombe in 8 days time.




Rushden & Diamonds: Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Peter Hawkins, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), Greg Pearson (Daniel Grainger 58), Drewe Broughton (Jason Taylor 58), Neil McCafferty, Chris O’Grady, Marcus Kelly, Magnus Okuonghae (John Dempster 84).

Subs Not Used: Andy Woodman, Ashley Nicholls.


Bury: Neil Edwards, Tom Kennedy, David Challinor (c), Colin Woodthorpe, David Flitcroft, Dwayne Mattis, Allan Smart (Matthew Tipton 63), Paul Scott, Simon Whalley, David Buchanan, Jon Newby ( Brian Barry-Murphy 84).

Subs Not Used: Craig Dootson, John Hardiker, Nicky Adams,


Referee: Mr S Dorr


Goals: Mattis 57, Whaley 68


Bookings: Woodthorpe 33 (Foul) Hawkins 66 (Foul) Mattis 80 (Foul)


Attendance: 2,639 (Away 138)


Report by Chris Barritt

Rochdale 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds went down 2-1 at Spotland but will feel aggrieved with the result after matching the home side for the majority of the game.

The Diamonds made one change from the side that went down to the cobblers on Tuesday evening. In came Ashley Nicholls on the right side of midfield at the expense of Daniel Grainger.

As for Rochdale, Warren Goodhind and Alan Goodhall came into the side to replace the suspended topscorer Grant Holt, along with Rory McArdle.

With both teams looking to avenge disappointing midweek defeats, it was the Diamonds who had the first meaningful chance of the game after 3 minutes. Kelly floated in a corner from the left hand side which was met by a firm header from Savage which flew just over the bar.

Rochdale themselves threatened from a corner after 5 minutes, with Young deciding to punch but was unable to get a firm connection on the ball and created a scramble in the box which was eventually cleared by the Diamonds.

Another set piece gave the Diamonds cause for concern after 10 minutes. A dangerous free kick was sent into the box but was comfortably taken by the on-coming Young.

Chris O’Grady produced a piece of individual magic after 20 minutes. Picking the ball up near the halfway line and going on a surging run towards the opposition box. As Rochdale’s defenders backed off he unleashed a low 25 yard drive which produced a brilliant save from Dale’s Matthew Gilks.

Rochdale started to stamp more authority on the game after 27 minutes. After a series of free kicks and corners, a cross was whipped into the box only for a firm header to go over the bar.

A petulant foul by Okuonghae gave Rochdale a free kick 30 yards out after 35 minutes. With Lambert pacing forward he struck a rasping free kick which travelled inches wide of Young’s left hand post.

Young was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after 40 minutes. The keeper came racing off his line to try and usher the ball out from the by-line as a forward advancing Rochdale player got into a decent position. Though nothing was made from the set piece.

Rochdale eventually made their dominance count towards the latter stages of the first half as they took the lead right on the stroke of half time. As the ball was played into the box it fell nicely to Blair Sturrock, who struck the ball firmly only for it to hit the Diamonds Phil Gulliver and deceive the wrong footed Jamie Young and end up in the back of the net.

Diamonds started the second half the better of the two teams and were rewarded with the equaliser after 49 minutes. A powerful free kick from McCafferty was too hot to handle for Rochdale’s Gilks, as Magnus Okuonghae was on hand to coolly place the ball into the back of the net from four yards.

Rochdale began to pose more of a threat in the game after the equaliser but were unable to produce any real threatening chances.

An excellent opportunity for Diamonds to go into the lead for the first time in the match was presented to sub Daniel Grainger after 64 minutes. After a superb cross into the box from Marcus Kelly, the ball fell to the feet of Grainger who somehow put the ball over the bar from around three yards.

Rochdale’s Ricky Lambert produced a terrific header after a good cross down the right flank after 76 minutes, fortunately for Diamonds it flew just wide.

Chris O’Grady used his blistering pace to good effect after 81 minutes. Surging down the left flank he produced an inviting low cross into the box which Grainger was only inches away from connecting to.

All of Diamonds good work was undone though after 89 minutes when Rochdale regained the lead. As the home side were pressurising the Diamonds backline a deep cross was sent into the box which was met by a bullet header from sub John Boardman.

Diamonds will feel hard done by with this result. They showed enough quality and fighting spirit to match the home side, but a lack of concentration proved decisive.


Rochdale – Matthew Gilks, Warren Goodhind (Gary Brown) Alan Goodall, Gareth Griffiths (John Boardman), Tony Gallimore, Jamie Clarke, Gary Jones, Ricky Lambert, Scott Warner, Tommy Jaszczun, Blair Sturrock (Paul Tait) Subs: Danny Woodhall, Gary Brown, Rory McArdle.

Rushden & Diamonds – Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Pete Hawkins, Rob Gier, Dave Savage, Drewe Broughton (Greg Pearson), Ashley Nicholls (Daniel Grainger), Neil McCafferty, Chris O’Grady, Marcus Kelly, Magnus Okuonghae. Subs: John Dempster, Andy Woodman, Jason Taylor.

Booked: Drewe Broughton (persistent foul play), Jamie Young (foul play)

Referee: Mr R.L. Lewis

Attendance: 2606

Diamonds Man of the Match: Phil Gulliver

By Tom George

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