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.

 

Teams:

 

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

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