Darlington 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Diamonds were left wondering how they failed to win this game after Darlington salvaged a point thanks to a last gasp penalty from Guylain Ndumbu – Nsungu.

David Bell opened the scoring for the visitors on 9 minutes but substitute Peter Hawkins was adjudged to have fouled Akpo Sodje 3 minutes into injury time to give Darlington Ndumbu – Nsungu his chance to score from the penalty spot.

Barry Hunter was full of confidence going into this game and was hoping for all three points from this trip to the North East. The Diamonds boss made two changes to the side that went down heavily in midweek at Swansea in the LDV Trophy. David Bell and Dave Savage came back into the side in place of Peter Hawkins and Gary Mills.

Darlington were looking to improve upon their recent record of just one win in seven matches. They made changes from the side that went down 1 – 0 at Macclesfield last weekend. Former Diamond Bertrand Bossu replaced Sam Russell in goal while Carlos Logan came in for Brian Close.

Before the game started, there was a minute of applause in memory of Manchester United legend George Best who died yesterday.

Darlington had the first chance of the game on 4 minutes following Rob Gier’s foul on Carlos Logan on the left side of the area. Simon Johnson’s free kick rebounded off the wall and when the same player whipped in another cross Ndumbu Nsungu, looking suspiciously offside, saw a good chance thwarted by Andy Burgess who deflected the ball away for a corner.

However, it was Diamonds who got the all important early goal when they took the lead 5 minutes later with a well worked team goal. Chris O’Grady played a 1 – 2 with Bell before the midfielder fed Alun Armstrong on the right. The ex- Middlesbrough player returned the compliment and Bell slotted home from close range.

Three minutes later the home side missed a golden opportunity to get back on level terms. Ndumbu – Nsungu raced onto a long ball, rounded John Ruddy but just as a goal beckoned Phil Gulliver produced a crucial last ditch tackle to force the ball away for a corner.

Diamonds should have been two up on 19 minutes later but Andy Burgess’ free header was saved at the foot of the post by Bossu. Five minutes later, Ndumbu – Nsungu blazed over.

It was end to end stuff without many real chances being created. Savage broke up play before finding Kelly again on the left and when the cross came in O’Grady turned sharply allowing Armstrong the chance to shoot but his effort was blocked.

That was the last action for Armstrong who limped off with a leg injury. Drewe Broughton returned from a 4 game suspension to join the attack.

The home side also had to make a change when lost the services of David Duke 6 minutes later and he was replaced by Brian Close

On the stroke of half – time Ruddy produced an excellent save to keep Diamonds level. Anthony Peacock picked the ball up 25 yards out before unleashing a fine drive which Ruddy did well to save.

Diamonds created another good move 5 minutes after the break when Savage set up Kelly down the left. Broughton dummied the cross but O’Grady’s shot was blocked.

Darlington had more of the possession in the second half without really creating many clear cut chances.

Ryan Valentine tested John Ruddy from distance while substitute Sodje should have done better with a free header on 75 minutes. Rob Gier almost headed into his own under pressure from Ndumbu – Nsungu.

With a priceless win seemingly in their own hands, Diamonds conceded a penalty deep into injury time. Substitute Peter Hawkins lost control of the ball and was adjudged to bring down Sodje in the penalty area. Ndumbu – Nsungu stepped up to fire the spot kick into the left hand corner of the net.

It was tough luck on Diamonds who deserved to hang on for victory but on this showing they should soon be able to put a good run together.

Teams:

Darlington:
Bertrand Bossu, Ryan Valentine, Matt Clarke, Tresor Kandol, Simon Johnson (Neil Wainwright 70), Shelton Martis, David Duke (Brian Close 38), Anthony Peacock, Tresor Kandol (Akpo Sodje 70), Guylain Ndumbu – Nsungu, Carlos Logan
Subs Not Used: Joe Kendrick, Clark Keltie,

Rushden & Diamonds:
John Ruddy, Phil Gulliver. Rob Gier (Peter Hawkins 75), Dave Savage (Gary Mills 77), David Bell, Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty, Alun Armstrong (Drewe Broughton 32) , Marcus Kelly, Chris O’Grady,
Subs Not Used: Jamie Young, Lee Tomlin

Booked: Clarke (Foul 52)

Referee: Paul Robinson

Attendance: 3,209

Diamonds MOM: John Ruddy

Swansea City 4 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Diamonds crashed out of the LDV Trophy following a heavy defeat at League One high fliers Swansea City.

Two goals from Andy Robinson and one apiece from Garry Monk and Paul Conner gave the home side a comfortable victory.
Gary Mills made only his second competitive appearance since recovering from his injury nightmare while Dave Savage was rested to the bench with Rob Gier taking over the captain’s armband.

Diamond’s in there away kit of all blue were under pressure straight from the kick off when Conner’s header whistled over the bar from 8 yards.

Great play from Chris O’Grady gave Diamonds their first corner but while Phil Gulliver headed towards goal the ref pulled up Chris O’Grady for fouling the Swan’s keeper.

Back came Swansea who attacked through the middle allowing Conner to go one-on-one with John Ruddy but the on – loan keeper made a good save. Robinson then had a shot from all of 30 yards but the Diamonds keeper saved comfortably.
With ten minutes gone Swansea were dominating proceedings and showing why they were flying high in League One.
When Marcus Kelly won a ball 25 yards out he let fly with a good shot that went over the bar, without causing Brian Murphy any trouble.

Diamonds missed an excellent chance to take the lead when Alun Armstrong went one on one with the Swansea keeper but he was tackled as he looked to shoot.

Swansea took the lead on 20 minutes. Fantastic work from Marc Goodfellow allowed the midfielder to make space for a cross, which Robinson headed firmly past Ruddy.

Chris O’Grady playing on the wing seemed to be Diamonds best chance of a goal and the striker went on a run that saw his low cross saved.

Swansea continued to press and had a goal disallowed after great work by Robinson on the Swansea right. He played a one-two with Conner and finished off nicely but the Referee Assistant’s flag was raised, much to the disappointment on the home fans.

Rushden kicked off the second half with no changes to either side and just two minutes into the second half Gier needed to treatment. While the captain was off the field Mills gifted Marc Goodfellow a chance to cross but Conner spurned his chance from only 4 yards. Goodfellow then tried his luck from 35 yards, which whistled past Ruddy’s right hand post.
O’Grady had Diamonds best chance when he found space 5 yards in front of Murphy’s goal but his shot was well saved and the rebound was cleared.

Just 30 seconds later Gary Mills saw a fierce shot go past the left-hand post as Diamonds began to press the game and try and find the equalising goal.

On 64 minutes Connor went past Hawkins only to see his cross put behind by Gier. From the resulting corner, Robinson curled a delightful ball past Ruddy to give the Swans a two-goal lead.

Diamonds threw on Lee Tomlin for Armstrong and the youngster started well making ground to the penalty area before he was tackled on the edge of the 18 yard box.

On 72 minutes Jason Taylor replaced Chris O’Grady for Diamonds.

Two minutes later Swansea increased their lead after they won a free kick near the corner flag. Bedfordshire born Monk got to the ball first and headed Swansea into a 3 goal lead.

Tomlin went on another great run beating 3 Swansea players on 81 minutes and when the cross came in from the left Murphy had to be alert to the danger. Then Diamonds had two corners in as many minutes but they resulted in nothing.

Swansea won a free kick 20 yards from goal when Gulliver handled but Roberto Martinez struck his effort high over the bar and buried his head in his hands. Conner then showed great skill to take the ball past 3 Rushden players but his shot was well saved by young Ruddy in the away goal.

Unfortunately for Diamonds, Swansea made it 4 – 0 in the last minute when Conner collected a long ball, rounded Ruddy and hit the ball into an empty net.

Diamonds were out of the LDV Trophy and faced a long trip home from South Wales.

Teams:

 

Swansea City: Murphy, Fisken, Austin, Monk, MacDonald, Martinez, Robinson (Bond 82), O’Leary (Tudur Jones 76), Connor, Forbes, Goodfellow
Subs: Pritchard, Britton, Gueret

Rushden & Diamonds: Ruddy, Gulliver, Hawkins, Mills, Gier, Burgess, Dempster, McCafferty, O’Grady (Taylor 72), Armstrong (Tomlin 67), Kelly
Subs: Young, Savage, Kennedy.

Ref: A.Marriner
Diamonds MOM: Marcus Kelly – never stopped running
Attendance: 5321

 

Report by: Dave Cook

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Halifax Town 0 (Diamonds win 5 – 4 on pens)

 

Diamonds scraped through to the second round of the F A Cup after coming from behind to win a dramatic penalty shoot out.

Andy Burgess, Dave Savage and Rob Gier had scored with well taken penalties while Craig Midgley, Chris Senior and Danny Forrest replied for the visitors. Gary Mills then struck the fourth penalty wide before Martin Foster coolly put the visitors in front. Alun Armstrong had to score for Diamonds and duly obliged by squeezing his spot kick home leaving Jamie Young to gleefully save Denny Ingram’s kick to take the game into sudden death. Phil Gulliver made no mistake with his kick before Tyrone Thompson blasted over to send Diamonds through.

Diamonds manager Barry Hunter sprang a surprise by naming Lee Tomlin in the starting line-up. The 16-year old replaced the unavailable Chris O’Grady and became the youngest player to start a first team game for Diamonds at Nene Park. New loan signing John Ruddy was also unavailable so Young came back into the side in goal.

Halifax manager Chris Wilder left out John Grant and Senior from The Shaymen’s attack. In came Darren Mansaram and Lewis Killeen who scored all 3 goals in the home win against Dagenham & Redbridge at the weekend.

Home debutant Tomlin almost made a name for himself as early as the second minute but Adam Quinn cut out David Bell’s inviting cross from the right.

Five minutes later the visitors missed a golden opportunity to go ahead after Mansaram’s initial shot was blocked. The ball fell nicely to strike partner Killeen but with just Young to beat he shot tamely.

Savage struck wide from 25-yards before almost putting the home side ahead on 21 minutes. Marcus Kelly’s left wing cross reached Bell on the opposite flank and when the ball was laid back the Diamonds captain struck the underside of the bar from the edge of the area.

The visitors were closing Diamonds down well, stroking the ball around with ease and enjoying far more of the possession. Thompson tried his luck from afar but didn’t trouble Young while just after the half-hour there was a mad goalmouth scramble in the Diamonds area which was eventually cleared.

Diamonds passing game was letting them down and both Tomlin and Armstrong were being starved of any real service as central midfield struggled to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Two minutes from the interval, Bell’s left wing corner picked out Burgess but the ball came too quick and the defender headed over.

Half – Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 0 Halifax Town

Diamonds started the second half on the attack and Bell tried a cross shot which went wide of the left – hand post. On 57 minutes a good run from the same player ended with a deflected shot which gave Rushden a corner.

On 62 minutes Diamonds threw on Peter Hawkins for Neil McCafferty. Hawkins slotted into his usual left – back spot allowing Burgess to go into central midfield.

Within seconds of coming onto the field, substitute Grant had a chance to get on the score sheet but he shot weakly at Young with just the goalkeeper to beat.

On 74 minutes Armstrong got in a brave header after Savage had won a header but the effort was weak. Moments later, Tomlin got in a cross from the left which found its way out to the unmarked Bell but he had too much time and struck his shot woefully wide.

As the headed for extra – time, both teams were finding it difficult to create any clear chances. Tomlin shot just wide after 84 minutes before he was bundled off the ball by Steve Haslam resulting in Bell’s wasted free-kick.

In injury time, Bell’s corner fell nicely to John Dempster but Jake Wright produced a magnificent block to deny him.

The game moved into extra – time. Tomlin was replaced by Greg Pearson before Armstrong’s snapshot produced a diving save from Lee Butler.

Two minutes from the interval, Pearson failed to get a proper head on the ball from Gier’s cross while seconds from the interval, Gier produced a superb goal line clearance to deny Halifax after Young had been beaten by Grant.

Three minutes after the interval the visitors were reduced to ten men when Haslam was shown the red card for a second bookable offence after clattering into Pearson.

Right at the death Gier had a chance to snatch victory but he headed Bell’s free-kick straight at Butler.

The game went into penalties and Diamonds won the day to move into round Two but they will consider themselves very fortunate to do so against plucky opponents.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), David Bell (Gary Mills 115), Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty (Peter Hawkins 62), Alun Armstrong, Marcus Kelly, Lee Tomlin (Greg Pearson 91)

Subs: Ashlee Jones, Magnus Okuonghae

Halifax Town: Lee Butler, Steve Haslam, Adam Quinn, Denny Ingram (c), Martin Foster, Lewis Killeen (Chris Senior 106), Tyrone Thompson, Darren Mansaram (John Grant 68), Justin Bowler (Craig Midgley 46), Jake Wright, Danny Forrest

Subs Not Used: Brenton Leister, Greg Young

Booked: Haslam 83 (Foul), Wright 95 (Foul)

Sent off: Haslam 108 (Second Bookable)

Referee: Mr B Desmond

Attendance: 2,133 (Away 299)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Phil Gulliver

By Chris Barritt

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Boston United 0

 

 

A dramatic late winner from Phil Gulliver gave Diamonds three vital points at Nene Park.

 

Gulliver sent the home fans wild when he stole in just seconds from the end to head home David Bell’s cross. It was just reward for the big central defender who’d gone close on more than one occasion.

 

Diamonds manager Barry Hunter made 2 changes from the side that earned a replay at Conference side Halifax last weekend. New loan signing John Ruddy replaced Jamie Young in goal while there was a recall for Chris O’Grady in attack. He replaced Greg Pearson.

 

Boston were looking to extend an unbeaten run of 12 games going back to their defeat against Northampton Town at the end of August. They made just one change from the side that also earned a cup replay last week at Swindon Town. On-loan midfielder Ian Ross came back into midfield in place of Chris Holland.

 

After a well observed period of silence for Remembrance Day, Boston kicked off towards the Peter De Banke Terrace on a cold but still night.

 

The first chance of the evening came on 5 minutes when Bell hit a beauty from 30 yards out but although Nathan Abbey saw it late, he did well to turn the ball round the post. From the resultant corner, Gulliver rose well but couldn’t keep his header down.

 

A minute later Julian Joachim found Brad Maylett on the right but he took his time to get the ball on his favoured right foot and Ruddy made a comfortable save.

 

There was very little goalmouth action during the next 15 minutes although Andy Burgess’ long ball almost set up O’Grady but, unfortunately, he couldn’t control the pass.

 

On 27 minutes, a great turn and run by Lawrie Dudfield ended with a cross to the far post where Dave Savage had to be alert to clear the danger. Ian Ross then saw a long-range shot go over the bar, A clever pass from Joachim found Dudfield on the right but having skipped round Gulliver he wasted the opportunity by shooting into the side netting.

 

Just after the half-hour O’Grady turned a defender and drilled a shot straight at Abbey while five minutes later Bell cut in from the right before unleashing a left foot shot which stung Abbey’s hands.

 

Rob Gier was cautioned for bringing down Dudfield three minutes from the interval but the free-kick on the edge of the area came to nothing.

 

Half – Time     Rushden & Diamonds    0 – 0 Boston United

 

Neil McCafferty wasted a good opportunity to test Abbey six minutes into the second half but he screwed his shot wide then Savage was inches away from getting on the end of a Marcus Kelly flick as the Diamonds skipper ghosted into the attack.

 

After good work from Bell, Gulliver saw a weak header comfortably saved by Abbey while O’Grady saw a header go wide following Burgess’ chipped cross.

 

Both sides were playing neat football without that vital cutting edge and decent approach work often came to nothing. There was little goalmouth action for the three thousand or so fans to get too excited about.

 

Simon Rusk enjoyed a rare shot at goal on 76 minutes which was deflected away for a corner which resulted in Gier somehow blocking Jason Lee’s downward header on the line. At the other end Gulliver stayed up in attack following a corner but couldn’t control a header from Armstrong’s cross.

 

The visitors almost snatched the points a minute from time when Ruddy needed two attempts to deny Joachim’s pile – driver while there were loud appeals at the other end when Burgess’ shot appeared to strike the hand of Ben Futcher but referee Messias waived play on much to the disgust of the Diamonds players.

 

However that didn’t seem to matter when, with three minutes added time nearing its end, Diamonds won a corner on the left and when Bell’s flag kick was headed back to him, he superbly picked out the unmarked Gulliver who headed powerfully home from close range.

 

It was a crucial goal and three vital points for the home side as they prepare for the forthcoming FA Cup Replay against Halifax on Tuesday night.

 

Teams:

 

Rushden & Diamonds: – John Ruddy, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), David Bell, Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty, Chris O’Grady, Alun Armstrong, Marcus Kelly.

 

Subs: Jamie Young, Peter Hawkins, Gary Mills, Greg Pearson, Lee Tomlin

 

Boston United: Nathan Abbey, Lee Canoville, Ben Futcher, Alan White, Brad Maylett (Danny Thomas 84), Simon Rusk, Mark Greaves, Stewart Talbot, Julian Joachim, Ian Ross, Lawrie Dudfield (Jason Lee 67).

 

Subs Not Used: Austin McCann, Paul Ellender, Chris Holland

 

Booked: Gier 42 (Foul), Burgess 71 (Foul), Maylett 72 (foul), Greaves 83 (Foul), Gulliver 90 (over celebrating)

 

Referee: Mr M Messias

 

Attendance: 3,205 (Away 712)

 

Diamonds Man of the Match: Phil Gulliver

 

By Chris Barritt 

Rothwell Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Diamonds progressed to the final of the Maunsell Cup following a hard fought victory over Rothwell Town.

In appalling weather conditions, both teams contributed to an entertaining game. Jason Taylor scored Diamonds first goal with a neat finish while Ashley Nicholls signed off for the time being at least – with the winner. Corneil Houghton scored a deserved consolation goal for The Bones at the end.

The rain started moments after Simeon Jackson struck a 25 yard shot over the bar and never let off! At the other end Stephen Towers was well wide with a long range effort before Taylor went close following good work from Lee Tomlin.

Liam Morris and Luke Dawkins linked up well to create an opening for Mark Hackett but Ashley Jones pulled of a smart save.

As the rain became torrential, Diamonds took the lead on the half-hour. Tomlin hustled the ball away and Taylor calmly stroked the ball past Smith from the edge of the area.

Smith then saved from Tomlin before Defender Tom Shaw had a go from distance. Shortly before half-time Morris broke clear but failed to test Jones from close range.

Diamonds second goal came on 53 minutes. Taylor made ground on the left and then found Ashley Nicholls in space 20 yards out. The midfielder struck an accurate left foot shot past Smith to give Diamonds breathing space.

To there credit, Rothwell never gave up and put the Diamonds defence under a lot of pressure. Stuart Spencer wasn’t too far away with a 30-yard shot while Dawkins got round Barry Hunter but couldn’t find away past Jones.

Substitute Houghton curled an 86th minute shot narrowly round the right hand post but was more accurate 2 minutes later when he held off two challenges before hitting the roof of the net after his first effort had been blocked.

Rothwell could have snatched a late equalizer but Joseph Cossey went just wide.

Teams:

Rothwell Town:

Tom Smith, Darren Capps (Corneil Houghton79), Kevin Brookes, Michael Boyle-chong (Joseph Cossey 69), Stuart Spencer, Martin Flanagan, Mark Hackett (Robert Richie – Smith 57), Stephen Towers, Luke Dawkins, Liam Morris, Michael tolton.

Subs Not Used: Shaun Allen, Tom Judge

Rushden & Diamonds:

Ashlee Jones, Tom Shaw, Scott Wark, Gary Mills, Barry Hunter, Magnus Okuonghae, Ashley Nicholls, Luke Kennedy, Lee Tomlin (Lawrence Lambley 69), Jason Taylor, Simeon Jackson (Jon Stead 69).

Subs Not Used: Martin Margarson, Ugo Udoji, Dominic Langdon.

Booked: N/A

Referee: Mr R Beeby

Attendance: 269

MOM: Ashley Nicholls

Photos by Paul Redding

Report by Chris Barritt

Halifax Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

A draw seemed the right result after Diamonds earned themselves an F A Cup Replay at non-league Halifax Town.

Alun Armstrong put Diamonds ahead within 90 seconds while Chris Senior grabbed the equalizer on the stroke of half-time to take the tie back to Nene Park on Tuesday 15 November.

Diamonds were looking for a good cup run to boost their coffers but they were forced into changes due to suspension, injury and unavailability. Drewe Broughton and Peter Hawkins were both suspended, Leicester City didn’t want Chris O’Grady cup-tied while Andy Woodman was recovering from an Achilles tendon injury which threatens to curtail his season.

Goalkeeper Jamie Young came into the side instead of Woodman while Andy Burgess replaced Hawkins at left back. Marcus Kelly had sufficiently recovered from his broken thumb to play on the left of midfield allowing David Bell to switch back to the right hand side. Neil McCafferty returned to the center of midfield following his one match suspension while Greg Pearson moved into the attack to partner Armstrong who was making his first start for the club.

Manager Barry Hunter promoted youth team ‘keeper Ashley Jones on the bench while there was a surprise but welcomed recall for Gary Mills after a 14 months injury absence. The manager named himself as cover for central defence.

Halifax must have fancied their chances of an upset going into the game having started the Conference season in fine form. Halifax had conceded just 2 goals at The Shay this season and were unbeaten at home in seven games. They made two changes from the team that drew 2-2 at Woking with Justin Bowler and Senior coming back into the side.

The Halifax groundsman deserved praise for ensuring that the game went ahead following incessant overnight rain.

Diamonds made the best possible start when they took the lead after just 90 seconds. Bell’s free-kick from the left picked out Armstrong in the six-yard box and the ex-Middlesbrough striker’s shot went through Lee Butler to give Diamonds an early tonic.

Halifax should have cancelled that lead out almost immediately when John Grant’s dummy put Senior in the clear but the Shaymen’s leading scorer drove wide with just Young to beat.

On 16 minutes, Diamonds should have extended their lead. A mix – up between Steve Haslam and Butler allowed Bell’s cross to reach Pearson but Denny Ingram saved Halifax’s blushes.

The home side were enjoying more of the possession without really hurting Diamonds although Senior went close with a 40th minute overhead kick. Justin Bowler’s cross was flicked on by Grant and Senior’s effort went inches over the bar.

However, senior made it three times lucky on the stroke of half-time. Danny Forrest’s long -range effort was pushed onto the post by Young but the ball came back to Senior who scored his seventh goal of the season by slotting home into the left hand corner of the net.

Half – Time Halifax Town 1 -1 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half saw few clear- cut chances with the visitors continuing to enjoy the greater share of possession.

Butler had to be alert on 72 minutes when he pulled off a fine save to deny captain Dave Savage after the ball broke to him following Pearson’s run.

Diamonds made their one and only substitution three minutes later when Lee Tomlin came on for Pearson and he almost immediately won an early corner which, unfortunately, came to nothing.

Late on, Craig Midgley failed to take advantage of two good chances which came to nothing leaving Diamonds with a draw and some thinking to do before the two sides meet in 9 days time.

Teams:

Halifax Town:
Lee Butler, Adrian Quinn, Steven Haslam, Denny Ingram, Martin Foster, Tyrone Thompson, Jake Wright, Justin Bowler (Lewis Killeen 59), Danny Forrest, John Grant, Chris Senior (Craig Midgley 85)

Subs Not Used: Greg Young, Brenton Leister, Darren Mansaram

Rushden & Diamonds:
Jamie Young, Rob Gier, John Dempster, Phil Gulliver, Andy Burgess, David Bell, Dave Savage, Neil McCafferty, Marcus Kelly, Alun Armstrong, Greg Pearson (75 Lee Tomlin)

Subs Not Used: Ashley Jones, Barry Hunter, Gary Mills, Ashley Nicholls

Booked: Gulliver 80 (Unsporting Behaviour)

Referee: Mr C Oliver

Attendance: 2,303 (Away 213)

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