Chester City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

 

 

Diamonds boss Barry Hunter dedicated this vital victory to club secretary David Joyce who sadly died on Friday after a short illness.

 

And it was a victory that Diamonds fully deserved after turning in a spirited and gutsy performance against one of League Two’s high fliers.

 

Drewe Broughton opened the scoring for Rushden after they were awarded their first penalty of the season while Ben Davies equalized from the spot before half-time. However, a bizarre own goal from Phil Bolland gave Diamonds their first away victory since August.

 

Hunter made three changes to the side that went down to Mansfield last weekend. Andy Burgess and Neil McCafferty were relegated to the bench while Alun Armstrong failed to make the squad. Peter Hawkins recovered from flu and returned to left back; Marcus Kelly started at left midfield while Broughton returned to the attack.

 

Chester had all kinds of injury and suspension problems prior to the game and they created a surprise in goal with the emergency seven day loan of John Ruddy who was recalled by Everton last week following a brief stint at Nene Park. Former Diamond Craig Dove started in midfield.

 

Before the game a minutes silence was respectfully reserved in memory of Dave Joyce who had been the Rushden & Diamonds club secretary since the clubs inception.

 

After a period of early Rushden pressure, the home side came close to scoring with their first real attack of the game on 7 minutes. Dove latched onto a Davies pass and then saw a 20-yards curler palmed away by Jamie Young but only into the path of Davies who forced the Diamonds ‘keeper to turn the midfielders shot onto the post.

 

Marcus Richardson shot woefully wide before the visitors were awarded a penalty on 10 minutes. Gary Mills played the ball into the penalty area and Bolland was correctly adjudged to have grabbed Broughton from behind. Broughton picked himself up and sent Ruddy the wrong way from the spot.

 

Almost immediately, the impressive Davies put Richardson clean through but he was stopped in his tracks by a brilliant saving tackle by Rob Gier. David Bell then saw his free-kick comfortably gathered by Ruddy.

 

Diamonds were forced into making a substitution on 24 minutes when Gier was unable to continue after being clattered into by Davies off the field. Burgess came on into the left-back position with Hawkins switching to the other flank.

 

Unfortunately for Diamonds they lost their lead 8 minutes later through a questionable penalty decision. Phil Gulliver was adjudged to have pushed Richardson in the area and Davies sent Young the wrong way.

 

The home side upped the tempo and started to put the Diamonds defence under increasing pressure. However, the final ball often lacked conviction and sometimes actually set up a Rushden counter attack.

 

The only other action of the first-half came on 39 minutes when Davies tried his luck from long range but failed to trouble Young.

 

Half – Time      Chester City                 1 -1      Rushden & Diamonds

 

The second half began with Diamonds on the attack and Mills threaded a fine pass through to Chris O’Grady but rather than shoot on sight, he chose to switch from right to left foot and the danger was cleared.

 

However, the Diamonds increasing supremacy was rewarded with a second goal on 55 minutes. Broughton collected yet another outfield pass and skillfully set up O’Grady in space. As goalkeeper Ruddy slipped, the young striker was muscled off the ball by Bolland who then inexplicably lobbed Ruddy and into his own net. You could hear a pin drop when the ball hit the net and it seemed as though several seconds passed before the players and fans realised that Diamonds were back in front.

 

Richardson was proving to be a constant threat to the visitors and he forced a fantastic save from Young although his effort didn’t count due to a foul. Davies then got past Dempster on the left before trying to pick out Richardson at the far post. However, Gulliver timed his interception superbly to head the ball away for a corner.

 

Chester kept coming forward in search of a second equalizer but they were leaving huge gaps at the back for O’Grady and Broughton to expose. They were already linking up well and giving Bolland and Luke Dimech a torrid time. On 72 minutes Broughton possibly should have sealed the game when he displayed great skill to lose his marker before blazing his shot over the bar.

 

Young had to get down sharpish to make a diving save to thwart Davies’ free kick before dealing easily with substitute Tom Curle’s attempted lob.

 

 

It was all Chester in the final few minutes but the Diamonds defence stood firm throughout to secure not only a much needed victory but also to provide a fitting end to what has been a very sad time at the club.

 

Teams:

 

Chester City: John Ruddy, Marcus Richardson, Craig Dove (Tom Curle 68), Ben Davies, Stewart Drummond, Phil Bolland, Abdul El – Kholti, Paul Rutherford, Stephen Vaughan, Luke Dimech, Tom Curtis ( Captain)

 

Subs Not Used: Justin Walker, Ryan Brookfield, Michael Branch, Gregg Blundell

 

Rushden & Diamonds: Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Peter Hawkins, Gary Mills, Rob Gier (Andy Burgess 24), Dave Savage, Drewe Broughton (Neil McCafferty 90), David Bell (Greg Pearson 83), John Dempster, Chris O’Grady, Marcus Kelly

 

Subs Not Used: Magnus Okuonghae, Lee Tomlin

 

Booked: Dempster 45 (Dissent), Dimech 59 (Foul), Curtis 80 (Foul)

 

Referee: Mr A Penn

 

Attendance: 2,265

 

Diamonds joint MOM:

Drewe Broughton – easily his best game of the season and too difficult for the Chester defenders to handle

 

John Dempster – dominant at the back and won every header going!

 

Report by Chris Barritt            

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