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


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