Torquay United 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Despite a brave second – half fight back, Diamonds slipped into the bottom two for the first time this season after suffering their third consecutive defeat over the holiday period.

Relegation rivals Torquay overtook Diamonds as they won their first home game at Plainmoor since the end of September.

The visitors made the worst possible start when Jo Kuffour gave the home side an early lead. Phil Gulliver had a goal disallowed before Keith Hill headed home The Gulls second goal. Chris O’Grady gave Diamonds hope but it wasn’t to be.

Barry Hunter made three changes to the side that lost at home to Cheltenham on Wednesday. David Bell and Marcus Kelly were both ruled out through injury so Neil McCafferty and Greg Pearson were drafted in. O’Grady was preferred to Alun Armstrong in attack.

Torquay were looking to extend their unbeaten record to 7 matches and they kept the same sixteen that drew with Wycombe Wanderers on Boxing Day.

Diamonds made a disappointing start conceding a goal after just 100 seconds. Kuffour played a one two with Hill before turning and firing home from 20 yards as Diamonds defence backed off.

Torquay ‘keeper Andy Marriott was in fine form and he made a superb save to deny Dave Savage before Jamie Young pulled off a wonderful point blank stop from Morike Sako’s volley.

On 26 minutes, Diamonds were unlucky to have a goal disallowed. Gulliver’s header from a corner seemed to have given Diamonds a much needed equalizer but referee Taylor had other ideas and he ruled that O’Grady was guilty of pushing despite the loanee being pulled at the same time.

That decision proved to be costly as Torquay extended their lead seven minutes later. Kuffour got round Peter Hawkins on the left and when the cross came in hill scored with a fine diving header.

Diamonds now had a mountain to climb but to their credit they never gave up.

In the second half, Savage struck the bar with a volley before Diamonds gave themselves hope on 64 minutes with a superb goal. O’Grady, playing his last game before returning to Leicester City, chested down McCafferty’s cross before beating Marriott with a brilliant angled volley off the far post.

A minute later, O’Grady tried the same again but only Pearson will know how he failed to get on the end of the cross which went across the face of the goal.

The home side hardly got out of their own half as Diamonds exerted more and more pressure. Lee Tomlin and Alun Armstrong were thrown on as Diamonds reverted to a four man attack but they just couldn’t get that important equalizer.

So it’s three defeats for Diamonds over the holiday period and Barry Hunter will be desperate to get three points on Monday when the visitors to Nene Park will be Bristol Rovers.

Teams:

Torquay United: Marriott, Lawless (Sharp 64), Lockwood, Taylor, Lloyd, Phillips, Sako (Hockley 82), Garner, Kuffour, Bedeau (Robinson 46). Hill

Subs Not Used: Connell, Woods

Rushden & Diamonds: Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Peter Hawkins, Rob Gier Andy Burgess, Greg Pearson (Lee Tomlin 72), Neil McCafferty (Alun Armstrong 85), Dave Savage, Gary Mills, Drewe Broughton, Chris O’Grady.

Subs Not Used: Graham Allen, Magnus Okuonghae, Daniel Grainger

Booked: N/A

Referee: Mr P Taylor

Attendance: 2,668

Diamonds MOM: Chris O’Grady – Great goal to end his loan spell

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