Rushden & Diamonds 3 Oxford United 0

Marcus Kelly scored his first ever league goals to inspire Diamonds to a much needed and well deserved win over Oxford at Nene Park.

Kelly struck either side of Phil Gulliver’s header as Diamonds scored three goals in 8 first half minutes to move off the bottom and leapfrog Stockport.

Manager Barry Hunter sprang a surprise by naming two new signings in the squad. Striker Petr Mikolanda signed on loan from West Ham United was named in attack while midfielder Darren Caskey was on the bench. Central defender Wayne Hatswell made his home debut while Scott Tynan was preferred to Danny Crane in goal.

Oxford boss Brian Talbot made his first return to Nene Park since his departure in March 2004. He brought with him some familiar old faces in Barry Quinn, John Dempster, Andy Burgess, Billy Turley and Leo Roget although the latter two were on the bench.

Diamonds created a chance as early as the third minute but Tony Stokes should have done better than blasting over after latching onto a Marcus Kelly pass.

Three minutes later there were loud appeals for a penalty when Mikolanda appeared to have been brought down in the penalty area by Jon Ashton but referee Tanner waived play on.

Quinn tried his luck from 20 yards, but his shot went wide of the right hand post.

Diamonds took the lead on 14 minutes when a mistake by Burgess allowed Tyrone Berry the chance to cross from the left. The cross evaded the entire Oxford defence only for Kelly to superbly skip round a defender before curling a right foot shot into the top corner of the net.

Five minutes later Diamonds extended their lead. Drewe Broughton was fouled 20 yards out and when Tony Stokes floated the cross in Phil Gulliver rose to head past Chris Tardiff.

Rushden fans were pinching themselves on 22 minutes when a rampant Diamonds side went 3 goals ahead. Berry received the ball on the right and laid an accurate pass into the path of Kelly who slid the ball under the advancing ‘keeper to send the Diamonds fans wild with delight.

Chris Hargreaves saw a long range effort comfortably saved by Tynan as Oxford struggled to make any impression on the game. Indeed manager Talbot made two tactical substitutions on 33 minutes replacing Yemi Odubade and Jamie Brooks with Steve Basham and 16 year old Ben Weedon who was making his league debut.

Three minutes before the interval, Diamonds could have scored a fourth goal but the unmarked Broughton didn’t get enough head on Stokes’ free kick and the ‘keeper saved easily. Diamonds lost the services of skipper Dave Savage moments later with a thigh strain and he was replaced by Ashley Nicholls.

As the half – time whistle blew, Diamonds left the field to resounding cheers and deservedly so.

Half – time    Rushden & Diamonds 3 – 0 Oxford United

Oxford came out with renewed vigour and started to squeeze the midfield. Neville Roach forced Tynan to turn his shot round the post.

But there was very little goalmouth action during the next twenty minutes although Weedon somehow failed to get a head on a Burgess cross with an empty net beckoning while Basham fired over a minute later.

The visitors were enjoying more of the possession in the second half but failed to penetrate the Daimonds defence marshalled superbly by Gulliver and Hatswell. Substitute Basham shot over from long range on 73 minutes but that was the best that Oxford could offer. Ten minutes from time, Kelly did well again to find Broughton in space but only Diamonds leading scorer will know how he failed to find the target with a free header.

In the dying minutes Oxford’s dismal day was complete when former Diamond Dempster was red carded after pushing substitute Caskey who was then booked for the original foul on Burgess.

So three very important points for Diamonds who can now look forward to the big derby at Northampton next week with renewed confidence.

Rushden & Diamonds: – Scott Tynan, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (Capt) (Ashley Nicholls 42), Drewe Broughton (Simeon Jackson 88), Petr Mikolanda (Darren Caskey 77), Wayne Hatswell, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Tony Stokes, Tyrone Berry

Subs Not Used: Danny Crane, Magnus Okuonghae,

Oxford United: – Chris Tardiff, Lee Mansell, Barry Quinn, Chris Willmott, Jon Ashton, Yemi Odubade (Steve Basham 33), Chris Hargreaves (Capt), John Dempster, Neville Roache, Andy Burgess, Jamie Brooks (Ben Weedon 33)

Subs Not Used: Billy Turley, Mark E’Beyer, Leo Roget.

Booked:  Mansell 51 (Foul), Bull 59 (Foul), Willmott 76 (Foul), Broughton 88 (Foul)

Sent off:  Dempster 84

Referee: Mr S Tanner

Attendance:  3,283  (Away 774)

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Marcus Kelly – scored first goals for the club

Report by Chris Barritt

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Rushden & Diamonds 2 Peterborough Utd 2 (Diamonds win 3 – 2 on pens)

Rushden & Diamonds 2 – 2 Peterborough United (Diamonds win 3 – 2 on penalties)

Rushden & Diamonds lifted the Maunsell Cup after a dramatic penalty shoot – out at Nene Park.

Following a goalless first half, Darren Caskey gave Diamonds the lead on 64 minutes when he lobbed the ‘keeper from 20 yards.

The visitors equalised 13 minutes later through a  Jamie Day header before the same player hit a sweet left foot volley on 85 minutes to edge The Posh in front.

However, within a minute Barry Hunter’s header from Caskey’s free kick put Diamonds back on level terms to send the tie into a penalty shoot out.

Scott Tynan saved Day’s first spot kick before Caskey and Dean Holden both fired home to make it 1 – 1. Tom Shaw missed with a twice taken penalty leaving Adam Newton to put the visitors 2 – 1 ahead. Greg Pearson saw his kick saved while Tynan kept out Andre Boucode’s shot. Daniel Grainger made it 2 -2 before Tynan produced his third save of the night to deny Calum Willock. Up stepped Simeon Jackson to find the net and hand Diamonds the cup.

Stockport County 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

A last gasp equalizer from substitute Liam Dickinson deprived Diamonds of three vital points that they so richly deserved.

After a goalless first half, new signing Adam Griffin gave The Hatters the lead before Phil Gulliver headed Diamonds back on level terms. Substitute Simeon Jackson headed Rushden in front before Dickinson struck four minutes into injury time.

Diamonds were looking to stop a run of six consecutive defeats and they handed Wayne Hatswell his debut in central defence following his midweek transfer from Kidderminster Harriers. The other new signing Scott Tynan was on the bench while Marcus Kelly was recalled on the left side of midfield and Rob Gier resumed at right back after serving a one match suspension.

Bottom placed Stockport were unchanged and they were looking for their first home win since October when they beat Northampton 4 – 2.

Lee Tomlin had the first real chance of the game when he almost capitalized on Ashley Williams mistake but Michael Raynes got in an excellent block

Hatswell denied Matt Hamshaw’s drive before Gier cleared Raynes header off the line as the home side took the game to their opponents. Danny Boshell saw a volley go off target before the home side came closest to taking the lead. Harpal Singh’s corner was met by Williams but Ronnie Bull was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Dan Crane produced a fine stop to deny Boshell’s curling free-kick while at the other end James Spencer pulled off a super save to thwart Drewe Broughton’s shot. Williams then had to clear off the line from Kelly before Jermaine Easter raced clear of the Diamonds defence before blazing over.

Half-time: Stockport County 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The visitors made a double substitution at the interval with new signing Griffin and Tes Bramble replacing the ineffective Singh and Boshell. Manager Jim Gannon’s gamble paid immediate dividends when they took the lead on 47 minutes as Griffin rose well to nod home Mark Robinson’s accurate left wing cross.

But the lead lasted barely two minutes. County failed to clear a corner and after a scramble in the penalty area Gulliver glanced home a header at the far post for the equalizer.

Tomlin almost put Diamonds in front when Spencer conjured up a splendid save but Diamonds did go in front on 68 minutes and it is a goal that teenager Jackson will remember for a very long time. Just seven minutes after coming on as a substitute for Tomlin, Jackson scored his first ever senior goal when he found himself in the right place to stoop and head home Broughton’s excellent cross.

Kelly and Hatswell both had shots cleared off the line as Diamonds went in search of a killer third goal while Griffin missed a golden chance for the home side when he fired over the bar.

With time running out, Diamonds fans couldn’t believe it when the fourth official indicated a minimum of five minutes added time and with just seconds remaining, Dickinson found the bottom corner of the net with a deflected shot from the edge of the area to snatch an undeserved point.

This was an encouraging performance from Diamonds and one that should bode well for the future, however, the burning question that Diamonds fans need answering is where did the five minutes added time come from?

Teams:

Stockport County: Spencer, Clare, Raynes, A Williams, Robinson, Briggs (Dickinson 75), Allen, Boshell (Bramble 46), Singh (Griffin 46), Hamshaw, Easter

Subs Not Used: Howarth, Wolski

Rushden & Diamonds: Dan Crane, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier, Dave Savage, Drewe Broughton, Wayne Hatswell, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Lee Tomlin (Simeon Jackson 61), Tony Stokes (Gary Mills 65), Tyrone Berry

Subs Not Used: Scott Tynan, Greg Pearson, Peter Castle

Booked: Boshell 34 (Unsporting Behaviour), Stokes 50 (Dissent), Tomlin 52 (Unsporting Behaviour), Berry 81 (Unsporting Behaviour)

Referee: Mr J Robinson

Attendance: 4,574

Diamonds MOM: Wayne Hatswell – impressive no nonsense debut.

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Wrexham 2

Diamonds created an unwanted club record this afternoon when they lost for the sixth consecutive league game.

Wrexham strolled to only their second away win of the season thanks to a brace from top scorer Mark Jones who took his total to 13 goals this season.

After a week of comings and goings, Diamonds were looking to stop that unwanted record today. Danny Crane and Tony Stokes made their home debuts while Ronnie Bull and Peter Castle made their full debuts. Rob Gier was suspended while Gary Mills and Peter Hawkins were still out injured.

Wrexham made four changes from the side that drew at home against Lincoln last weekend. Jim Whitley and Shaun Pejic together with brothers Marc and Mike Williams came into the side as the visitors were looking for their first away points in four games.

Diamonds had an early chance when Lee Tomlin cut in from the right and blasted over while on five minutes debutant Bull hit a screamer form 20 yards which whistled over the bar.

On 12 minutes Drewe Broughton did well to shake a defender off before squaring the ball across the face of the goal to Tomlin who just failed to get a toe to the ball with an empty net beckoning.

The game was end to end and Neil McCafferty cleared up a goalmouth scramble to take the pressure off Diamonds. Broughton then found himself in space but screwed his shot over the bar.

Diamonds suffered the misfortune of losing Graham Allen with a groin strain on 22 minutes. Magnus Okuonghae came on to replace him.

Pejic almost gifted Diamonds a 29th minute goal when the Wrexham defender’s attempted back pass got nowhere near Michael Ingham but the visiting ‘keeper redeemed the situation by blocking Tomlin’s instinctive strike.

On 35 minutes, Wrexham went ahead with a goal out of the blue. Neil McCafferty failed to get his tackle in allowing leading scorer Jones space to score his 12th goal of the season from 25 yards.

That goal seemed to galvanise Wrexham and Lee Crane did well to block Jon Walters shot with his legs.

A minute from the interval Diamonds were lucky not to be further behind when Jim Whitley ran on to Walters flick and his drive beat Crane but rebounded back into the goalkeeper’s arms off the right hand post.

Moments later, Walters ran clear on the left but while Crane got the merest touches it was just enough to divert the ball past the far post.

The interval couldn’t come soon enough for Diamonds and Barry Hunter would need to keep his team focused if they were going to turn things round in the second half.

Half – time    Rushden & Diamonds 0 -1 Wrexham

Barry Hunter made a change at the interval bringing on new loan signing Berry in place of Ashley Nicholls.

Two minutes into the second half, Wrexham should have gone 2 up. Walters clever pass put 17 year old debutant Marc Williams into space but with just the goalkeeper to beat he somehow struck the bar from 12 yards.

Walters then missed with a free header following Simon Spender’s cross before Diamonds had their first chance of the second period but Whitley manage to head Broughton’s header off the line following Stokes’ corner.

Diamonds started to turn the heat up on Wrexham and McCafferty’s clever chip was headed off the line by Whitley again.

However, Wrexham wrapped up the points on 67 minutes with a well taken goal. Walters proved too strong for Okuonghae and when he looked up he fed Jones in acres of room

Jones could have completed his hat-trick six minutes later when he easily beat Castle in the area before seeing his attempted chip go just over the bar.

So another defeat and Diamonds have just 19 games left to turn things round if they are not to return to the Conference.

Rushden & Diamonds: – Dan Crane, Phil Gulliver, Graham Allen (Magnus Okuonghae 22), Dave Savage (Capt), Drewe Broughton, Ashley Nicholls Tyrone Berry 46), Neil McCafferty (Marcus Kelly 69), Ronnie Bull, Lee Tomlin, Tony Stokes, Peter Castle

Subs Not Used: Greg Pearson, John Turner.

Wrexham: – Michael Ingham, Jim Whitley, Andy Holt,,Danny Williams, Jon Walters, Darren Ferguson (Capt), Mark Jones, Shaun Pejic, Simon Spender, Marc Williams (Dean Bennett 83), Mike Williams

Subs Not Used: Michael Jones, Alex Smith, David Bayliss, Robbie Foy.

Booked:  Whitley 15 (Foul)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr T Parkes

Attendance:  2,617 (309)

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Ronnie Bull – bound to be a fans favourite.

Peterborough United 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Diamonds lost for the fifth time in a row but showed some real determination on the way at London Road.

Dean Holden headed The Posh in front while James Quinn converted a penalty.

After an eventful week at Nene Park, Diamonds were looking to halt a run of four consecutive defeats. Barry Hunter made five changes from the team that went down 3 – 2 at home against Bristol Rovers on Monday.

The manager’s cause wasn’t helped by the news that Andy Burgess had inexplicably refused to take his place in the Diamonds line-up.

Gary Mills was out with a tweaked knee while Alun Armstrong and Drewe Broughton were both suspended. Four players made their full debuts. Goalkeeper Danny Crane, signed from Burton Albion, was preferred to Jamie Young while highly rated midfielder Tony Stokes joined on loan from West Ham United. Lee Tomlin and Ricardo Joseph made their full league debuts.while there was a welcome return for central defender Graham Allen following his achilles tendon injury. John Turner, signed on-loan from Cambridge United, was amongst the substitutes.

Diamonds kicked off using a 3 – 5 – 2 formation on a pitch that had cut up badly in the warm up.

The visitors had a chance to take an early lead but Stokes’ wayward snapshot was ruled offside. Chris Plummer headed over following a free-kick before Peterborough missed a glorious opportunity on six minutes.

Peter Gain’s clever pass put Calum Willock clear and while Crane saved the first shot, the ball rebounded to the Posh striker who then mishit his follow up wide of an empty net.

However, the home side took a 17th minute lead. Jamie Day skipped round Stokes on the left before picking out Dean Holden at the far post and his header gave Crane no chance.

Stokes, celebrating his 19th birthday, made good ground in the 19th minute before forcing Mark Tyler into a diving save.

Three minutes later Holden tried his luck from 20 yards and Phil Gulliver had to hack the ball away from danger after Crane could only parry the ball away.

There was little goalmouth action to mention in the remaining minutes of the half apart from a 38th minute chance which fell to diamonds. Stokes fed Tomlin just outside the area and when the nippy striker was dispossessed the ball ran to Stokes who was foiled by Tyler’s legs.

Half – Time   Peterborough United       1 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Two minutes after the interval Jamie Day shot narrowly wide following a coirner while moments later Holden hit the top of the crossbar with a wicked shot from 25 yards.

On 56 minutes, Diamonds sent on new signing Turner in place of Greg Pearson  while 8 minutes later the visitors reverted to 4 – 4 – 2 when Daniel Grainger replaced Neil Mccafferty.

Nine minutes later Crane had to be alert to catch James Quinn’s curler from 20 yards

James Quin flashed a header wide after good work from Willock and Adam Newton but the Northern Ireland international did get on the score sheet on 75 minutes. Willock broke clear of the Diamonds defence and when he went down from the merest of touches from Crane referee Hegley awarded the penalty. Quinn stepped up and while Crane guessed the right way, the ball squeezed under Crane’s body and crawled over the line.

On 77 minutes Diamonds should have been awarded a penalty when Sean St Leger appeared to bring down Tomlin but despite furious protests from the Diamonds players referee Hegley only awarded a corner.

From the resultant corner Allen was bundled over in the area but again the referee didn’t see anything amiss.

Four minutes from time Turner appeared to be barged over following a corner and rather worryingly he lay prone for a time before he was stretchered off the field. In injury time, Stokes tried his luck with a long range free-kick but Tyler got down superbly and gathered the shot.

So another disappointing result for Diamonds but they showed real spirit and

Hopefully it won’t be too long before they climb the table.

Teams:

Peterborough United – Mark Tyler, Dean Holden (Capt), Paul Carden, Mark Arber, Peter Gain, Calum Willock, Sean St. Ledger (Sagi Burton 82), Chris Plummer, James Quinn, Ryan Semple (Adam Newton 36), Jamie Day (David Farrell 51)

Subs Not Used – Trevor Benjamin, Shane Huke

Rushden & Diamonds: – Danny Crane, Phil Gulliver, Graham Allen, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (Captain), Greg Pearson (John Turner 56), Ashley Nicholls, Neil McCafferty (Daniel Grainger 640 Ricardo Joseph, Lee Tomlin (Magnus Okuonghae 84), Tony Stokes

Subs Not Used: Ashlee Jones, John Dempster

Booked:

Sent off:

Referee:  Mr G Hegley

Attendance: 4,613 (Away 662)

Diamonds Men of the Match: Tony Stokes

By Chris Barritt

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Bristol Rovers 3

A last minute header from Jamie Forrester broke Diamonds hearts as Diamonds tasted defeat for the fourth consecutive game.

Stuart Campbell scored Rovers first direct from a free kick before Drewe Broughton headed home the equaliser. A Jamie Young mistake gifted the visitors a second before Broughton scored his second just six minutes from time. The Pirates had James Hunt sent off for a dreadful challenge on Alun Armstrong who was also shown the red card for retaliation.

Diamonds were playing West Country opposition for the third consecutive game and they were desperate to take their first points of the holiday period following defeats against Leyton Orient, Cheltenham and Torquay. Peter Hawkins had failed to shrug off a neck and shoulder problem so Ashley Nicholls made his reappearance at right back. Armstrong came into attack for Chris O’Grady who had returned to Leicester City.

Bristol Rovers were unbeaten away from home in four matches but they were forced into making their first changes in 9 matches. Lewis Haldane and Forrester made their first starts of the season in place of Ali Gibb and Junior Agogo who’d failed to recover from a hamstring injury.

The visitors had the first shot of the game on 2 minutes when Forrester tried his luck from 20 yards but Young superbly tipped the ball over the bar.

A great turn from Andy Burgess allowed Broughton to stoop and get in a header which was easily held by Scott Shearer. Broughton then had a free shot from 12 yards which was screwed horribly wide.

Haldane worked an opening on the left but Young dived full length to make the save before Diamonds put together a super move which so nearly brought them a goal. Broughton found Neil McCafferty on the right and Armstrong drilled the pass goalwards only to see Shearer pull off a great save and divert the ball away for a corner.

Broughton struck a long range effort narrowly wide before Young denied the lively Haldane with a smart save which flicked the ball over the bar.

On 25 minutes Shearer produced a point blank save to thwart Armstrong who got in a bullet header following Burgess’ great cross. Unfortunately, Broughton couldn’t get on the end of the rebound.

Greg Pearson saw a drive whistle past the post before superb play from Gary Mills almost earned the home side a dramatic opener. The diminutive little midfielder ghosted past two defenders before testing Shearer but the former Diamonds loanee saved above his head.

The game exploded into life on 37 minutes. Hunt and Armstrong were both shown the red card following a dreadful two footed tackle by the ex-Northampton man on Armstrong. Unfortunately, Armstrong reacted to the challenge by getting up and pushing the Rovers midfielder with both hands leaving referee Bates with little option other than to send both men off.

With both teams down to ten men, Rovers took the lead on 41 minutes. Nicholls fouled Campbell out on the Diamonds right and the midfielder picked himself up before sending in a cross-cum-shot which beat everyone before ending up in the right hand corner of the net.

But a minute before the interval Diamonds equalised. Andy Burgess swung in a free kick from the right and when the ball broke back to him, Burgess found Broughton all alone and the striker made no mistake with a well placed header.

Half – Time   Rushden & Diamonds    1 – 1 Bristol Rovers

Diamonds went behind again three minutes after the interval following a mistake from Jamie Young. Campbell swung in the corner from the left and young failed to make the catch allowing Steve Elliott to hook the ball home.

Rushden sent on Lee Tomlin in place of Pearson on 54 minutes as Diamonds changed their attacking options.

Gary Mills wasn’t too far away with a 30 – yard shot while Phil Gulliver produced a great block to deny Haldane after he’d skipped past Burgess.

Diamonds scored a deserved equaliser six minutes from time thanks to the industry of Tomlin. The youngster got to the byline and crossed to the waiting Broughton who turned superbly before firing home.

Rather than sit back and take protect the point, Rovers went on the attack and after Forrester had somehow lifted the ball over the bar, the visitors snatched a dramatic victory deep in injury time.

Richard Walker won the ball on the right and his cross picked out the unmarked Forrester who beat the scrambling Young with a perfectly placed header.

It was tough luck on Diamonds who had done more than enough to take a point but yet again luck was very much against them.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: – Jamie Young, Phil Gulliver, Gary Mills, Rob Gier, Dave Savage (c), Greg Pearson (Lee Tomlin 54), Drewe Broughton, Andy Burgess, Ashley Nicholls, Neil McCafferty (Daniel Grainger 73), Alun Armstrong

Subs Not Used: Graham Allen, Magnus Okuonghae, Ricardo Joseph.

Bristol Rovers: – Scott Shearer, Craig Hinton, Steve Elliott, Stuart Campbell, James Hunt (C), Richard Walker, Chris Carruthers, Jamie Forrester, Craig Disley, Lewis Haldane (Ali Gibb 75), Aaaron Lescott.

Subs Not Used: Steve Book, Christian Edwards, John Anderson, Chris Lines.

Booked:  Nicholls 15 (Foul), Gier 38 (Dissent), Lescott 48 (Foul), Savage 51 (Foul)

Sent off: Hunt 37 (Serious Foul Play) Armstrong 37 (Retaliation),

Referee: Mr T Bates

Attendance: 2,720 (Away 592)

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Gary Mills

By Chris Barritt

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