Rushden & Diamonds 1 Mansfield Town 2

 

 

Diamonds suffered a third consecutive defeat in a week as two defensive errors handed Mansfield a crucial victory at Nene Park.

 

Simon Brown headed Mansfield in front before Giles Coke extended the lead with a super strike. John Dempster gave Diamonds hope but it wasn’t to be.

 

Diamonds boss Barry Hunter promised all out attack from the start as his side tried to get back to winning ways following two successive defeats. Diamonds made two changes from the side that lost 4 – 0 at home to Carlisle United in midweek.

 

Fit again Rob Gier replaced flu victim Peter Hawkins at right back while Jamie Young came into goal for John Ruddy after his recall by Everton.

 

Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff made two changes from the team that went down 4 – 1 at Wrexham in midweek. Stephen Dawson and Adam Birchall were relegated to the bench giving way to Adam Rundle and Simon Brown.

 

Within the first minute Diamonds put together their first attack when Alun Armstrong hooked Andy Burgess’ cross over the bar. Gus Uhlenbeek then tried his luck from 25 yards for the visitors but the shot curled just wide of Young’s left hand post.

 

A well worked Diamonds move on 9 minutes ended with David Bell’s cross coming back to Gary Mills but the midfielder’s first time effort was blocked by Chris O’Grady who was tracking back from an offside position.

 

Two minutes later Alex Baptiste almost conceded a own goal when he tried to intercept O’Grady’s shot but fortunately for him the ball went just over the bar. Mills then tried his luck from 30 yards before showing his frustration when his effort went high over the bar.

 

But on 18 minutes Mansfield took the lead with a simple goal that Diamonds defence would be disappointed to concede. Jake Buxton was given room down the right and when the cross came in Simon Brown was left totally unmarked to head home from 12 yards.

 

Rundle hit a first time shot which Young saved at the second attempt before the visitors missed a glorious chance to extend their lead on 33 minutes. Uhlenbeek found space down the right and looked up before sending an inch perfect cross to the unmarked Jonathan D’Laryea. However, the midfielder took his eye off the ball with the goal at his mercy and it ran to Rundle who blasted over the bar from an acute angle.

 

With Diamonds losing the midfield battle, they made a tactical change on 39 minutes bringing on fit again Marcus Kelly for Mills before reverting back to a 4 – 4 -2 formation. On the stroke of half – time, the visitors were forced into making a change of their own when Brown appeared to break down and had to be replaced by Allan Russell.

 

Diamonds went into half – time knowing that they not only had to improve in midfield but also needed to create far more chances.

 

Half – Time Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 1 Mansfield Town

 

Poor defending again almost cost Diamonds another goal on 47 minutes when Russell out muscled John Dempster in the penalty area and Rundle missed the target with a clear header.

 

That miss did not prove to be crucial when Mansfield went 2 up on 50 minutes. D’Laryea slipped the ball forward to Giles Coke on the edge of the penalty area and he cleverly turned Gier before tucking the ball past Young into the right hand side of the net for a fine opportunist goal.

 

Diamonds reverted to 3 – 5 – 2 to try and get back into the game and they almost immediately threw themselves a lifeline when they reduced the arrears on 56 minutes. Bell’s right wing corner picked out John Dempster who headed through a crowd of players for his third goal of the season.

 

Diamonds immediately made a double substitution throwing on Drewe Broughton and young Lee Tomlin.

 

From then on the action came fast and furious with both sides going all out for goals. Buxton flashed a header wide from Rundle’s corner while Bell almost capitalised on Tomlin’s excellent turn but Kevin Pressman saved well at his near post.

 

On 76 minutes David Savage set up Tomlin in the penalty area and his shot was superbly stopped by Pressman before Kelly smashed the rebound over the bar.

 

Five minutes later Russell, looking suspiciously offside, ran clear of the Diamonds defence before finding Barker in the middle but Young bravely saved at the feet of Mansfield’s leading scorer.

 

But time ran out for the home side and they now  face a real battle if they are not to get embroiled in another relegation battle.

  

Teams:

 

Rushden & Diamonds: -  Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Gary Mills (Marcus Kelly 38), Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), David Bell, Andy Burgess, John Dempster, Neil McCafferty, Chris O’Grady (Drewe Broughton 57), Alun Armstrong (Lee Tomlin 57)

 

Subs Not Used: Ashlee Jones, Magnus Okuonghae, 

 

Mansfield Town: – Kevin Pressman, Gareth Jelleyman, Rhys Day, Alex Baptiste, Gus Uhlenbeek (Stephen Dawson 79), Richard Barker (c), Jake Buxton, Giles Coke, Adam Rundle, Simon Brown (Allan Russell 44), Jonathan D’Laryea

 

Subs Not Used:  Jason White, Gavin Peers, Adam Birchall,

 

Booked: Mills 30 (Foul) Bell 63 (Unsporting Behaviour)

 

Sent off:

 

Referee:  Mr K Wright

 

Attendance: 2,477 (362)

 

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Lee Tomlin

 

By Chris Barritt 

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