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.

Teams:

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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