Rushden & Diamonds 1 Macclesfield Town 0

Drewe Broughton threw Diamonds a relegation lifeline with a 78th minute headed goal at Nene Park.

Manager Barry Hunter made three changes from the side that suffered a heavy defeat at Carlisle United last weekend. Phil Gulliver was suspended so Magnus Okuonghae came into central defence. Ashley Nicholls was preferred to Dave Savage in midfield while Tony Stokes replaced Petr Mikolanda in attack. Hunter named himself amongst the substitutes.

Macclesfield kicked off towards the Airwair Stand on a bitterly cold day. The wind was swirling around making conditions difficult.

The visitors enjoyed more of the possession in the early stages but it was Diamonds who had the first shot of the game but unfortunately, Stokes failed to get his shot on target from 20 yards.

Five minutes later Nicholls tried his luck from 25 yards but Tommy Lee made a comfortable save. However, the home side twice came close to scoring in the 14th minute.

First, Tyrone Berry saw his header deflected over the bar from Ronnie Bull’s cross and then from the resultant corner, sent in by Darren Caskey, Drewe Broughton’s clever flick was superbly turned away by Lee and Wayne Hatswell hit the rebound into the side netting.

It was all Diamonds now and they were starting to take advantage of the wind with some neat football as the Macclesfield goal came under increasing pressure. On 19 minutes, Berry found Stokes in the area and his instinctive shot was brilliantly saved by Lee who was already having an inspired game.

Caskey saw a shot deflected away for a corner before Paul Harsley gave Macclesfield a little respite firing over with a 20 yard chip.

Just after the half – hour, Diamonds had a goal disallowed when Wayne Hatswell was penalised for pushing.

The wind was playing havoc with the visitors attacking options and they were also suffering from Diamonds winning a lot of second phase ball.

Great play along the by-line by Berry almost gave Diamonds another chance to score and Okuonghae’s downward header bounced over the bar but as the referee’s half – time whistle blew one couldn’t help think that with the wind squarely in their favour, Diamonds might have wasted a golden chance to move ahead in this game.

Half – time    Rushden & Diamonds    0 – 0      Macclesfield Town

Diamonds thought they’d opened the scoring four minutes into the second – half but Caskey’s clever lob was ruled out because Stokes was offside as he touched the ball over the line.

John Miles was cautioned for diving on 51 minutes after appearing to be caught by Okuonghae while three minutes later Diamonds made a substitution when Lee Tomlin came on for Stokes.

There was very little goalmouth action as the game subsided as a spectacle. Berry tried his luck from 20 yards while Smart’s long range effort failed to trouble Dan Crane.

On 67 minutes, Lee made another excellent block to deny Broughton after the striker had turned well from 12 yards while Tomlin should have done better with a shot from the edge of the area on 71 minutes but his effort flashed wide. Martin Bullock was too high with a long range effort.

On 75 minutes, a poor goal kick from Crane was played back into the path of Miles by Harsley and the Macclesfield striker was only inches wide with a first-time shot.

However, four minutes later, Diamonds threw themselves a relegation lifeline when they took the lead. Good interplay between Kelly and Berry allowed the Diamonds left winger to whip in a cross from the left and Broughton rose superbly to powerfully head into the net.

Macclesfield tried to get back on level terms but failed to trouble Crane. There was even time for manager Barry Hunter to come on for a cameo performance in injury time as he tried to calm his players nerves.

So a vital victory for Diamonds, a third successive home victory and a third consecutive clean sheet. Roll on Grimsby!

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: – Danny Crane, Rob Gier (Captain), Drewe Broughton (Petr Mikolanda 84) Darren Caskey , Wayne Hatswell, Ashley Nicholls, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Magnus Okuonghae, Tony Stokes (Lee Tomlin 54), Tyrone Berry (Barry Hunter 90)

Subs Not Used: Dave Savage, Simeon Jackson.

Macclesfield Town: – Tommy Lee, Kevin Sandwith, David Morley (Captain), Danny Swailes, Martin Bullock (David Beresford 82), Paul Harsley (Kevin Townson 82), John Miles, Danny Whittaker, Kevin McIntyre, Andrew Teague, Andy Smart

Subs Not Used: Tim Deasy, Mark Bailey, Michael Briscoe.

Booked: Miles 51 (Diving)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr C Boyeson

Attendance:  2,479 (Away 135)

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Drewe Broughton – crucial goal and great all round performance. Barnet seems so long ago now!

 

Report by Chris Barritt

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Carlisle United 5 Rushden & Diamonds 0

An impotent Diamonds display saw the travellers return home empty handed for the second consecutive away fixture. Not taking a haul of points from trips to Bury, Wrexham and Carlisle was the expectation, but the forlorn gesture of football delivered today in a 5-0 hiding tested even the most devout followers from Nene Park.

Leaving Brunton Park with the home supporters rally cries of promotion ringing in the ears was a bitter pill to swallow, but the display of attacking football displayed by the opposition team was again the difference between top and bottom of League Two.

For Wrexham’s Matt Derbyshire read Carlisle’s Karl Hawley. Today’s sorcerer of attack put on a master-class of both assisting and finishing. Ending the game with two goals and a sixty second spell of two text book assists, he will consider himself unlucky to be handing the Man of the Match Champagne to Peter Murphy. Diamonds must only be glad they met him on an off-day!

All pre-match tactical decisions were thrown to the northerly wind as Carlisle required just one forward push and a corner for Derek Holmes to head past Danny Crane within the first minute. In fact the tale of woe could have been even worse but for Carlisle players tripping over each other, and an alert Crane, as two further chances of sorts went wasted.

Attempting to restore parity, both Marcus Kelly and Ronnie Bull saw running crosses end up at the feet of nobody ‘red’ as the Diamonds attack failed to keep pace with the wing-play on a pudding stodgy pitch and Tyrone Berry’s by-line run-and-cross was once again the most prevalent option of attack with a 13th minute effort well cleared by Carlisle’s Chris Billy.

The day’s first substitution came on 14 minutes when Livesey replaced Gray for Carlisle, but the attacks rained down unremittingly. Fit again captain Savage was well placed in defence heading clear, and another Carlisle shot whistled over the cross-bar.

A minute later Hatswell ensured his notoriety with the Brunton Park faithful as he elected to full-force boot the ball into the ducking crowd from 20 yards (instead of the more common-place polite kick-out!) when Bull lay prostrate. The boo’s echoing around the stadium for his remaining tenure at every intervention.

Periods of respite for the Rushden defence saw Berry deliver a poor cross with Broughton in space, while the elastic betwixt he and his strike-partner Mikolanda will have to be loosened as pocket-sitting in the same square yard of turf saw a general lack of option for outlet throughout. The harder working of the two, it was Broughton who always looked the most likely to threaten, while Mikolanda, subdued since his wonder-goal against Notts Co. looked more placed for amusement as he failed to even perfect the air-kick, falling prone whilst doing so.

The centre of the field a boggy mulch, it was more down to the conditions than application that long punts upfield found wingers, one fizzing ball from right wing Berry just failing to coincide at a suitable juncture with the racing arrival of his left wing counterpart Kelly.

Without the benefit of foresight, the afternoon was saved from worsening by the assistant referee’s flag when the ball entered Crane’s goal for a second time. Mikolanda the culprit this time having been dispossessed dallying on the ball.

That relief was as short-lived as the expectation time between kick-off and the first goal though. Picking the ball up in the 35th minute Karl Hawley gave portent of doom to come by picking out Crane’s inside far-post from the left hand side of the box.

There was time in the half yet though for Broughton to re-acquaint himself with the inside of the referee’s notebook. Murphy going down clutching his face after a solid, but innocuous, shove in the back.

The half ended with Diamonds on the attack, Berry again using his blistering pace to find space along the penalty box by-line, the resulting block brought a corner from a headed clearance and the shrill tones of the whistle meant no time for more after Gier made a foray forward.

Save for a two goal deficit, there was little between the two teams possession-wise; half chances tallied, only clinical finishing and ‘bodies in the box’ were the difference.

The second half commenced after another Carlisle change with Hackney replacing Billy.

Defensively, it was Hatswell bearing the brunt, tackling clear an early attacking move down the right, and moments later spinning clear a menacing in-ball from Aranalde placed in from the deep right, the bouncer just clearing his own post by a mere 2 feet after Crane elected to leave be.

With just over 5 minutes of the half ran down, the match, the semi-contest it had became, effectively ended. Hawley ran into the right of the box, had time to evade the attentions of both Gulliver and Hatswell, before neatly despatching the ball past the forlorn Crane into the bottom left hand corner.

After the restart the Carlisle ‘keeper had work in hand with a spectacular tip-over from a Broughton/Mikolanda inspired effort. The Czech with the shot. From the corner Mikolanda just failed to meet a Kelly head-on.

Up the other end of the field Rob Gier was on hand to force Hackney into a wide stray effort.

As the hour approached, the first Rushden tactical substitution came, as in previous games, the ‘Little & Large’ show aired, as Tomlin replaced Mikolanda. The attackers could rest easy for a while though as Hackney tested the Diamonds ‘keeper’s reflexes forcing a great tip round the right post after an excellent dribble.

The pressure was mounting further still though, and was not assisted by captain Savage erring a little too long with the ball at his feet, fortunately Hatswell was on hand to mop-up, accompanied with the by now de-rigueur cacophony of boo’s!

The first real chance for Lee Tomlin was to come just after 60 minutes with an impressive run from wide with ball at feet. Unfortunately his pace was ahead of his feet and he was to stumble over the ball when in the centre of the penalty box arc.

The next two minutes shattered the spirit of the Diamonds players as the Hawley show took to the road once more. Twice he entered the penalty box inside-right, twice he was confronted by Gulliver and Hatswell sitting too square on, twice he neatly switched the ball to the opposite side of the box, twice the ball was crashed past a mesmerised Crane, twice by Hackney. Game over, and the lady of certain proportions began her vocal dissertation.

With under half an hour remaining Kelly made way for Nicholls, who immediately tightened up the back, and the Diamonds again attempted to display fortitude, if not resilience, with Broughton heading into the ‘keepers stretched arms from a Gier centre.

The 70th minute was time for Gulliver to be called into action again, twice clearing from crosses from either side.

Referee Mr. Leake waved yellow to Caskey for scything down Rivers late from behind, and the free kick thereof was closely monitored by three Carlisle attackers, neither of whom had just enough pace to beat Crane to the ball as he scooped up from the cut up turf.

A positive cricket score was almost on the cards but for the attentions of the diminutive Tomlin. Marking the near post he twice cleared from his own goal-line before Crane was called to perform an acrobatic tip-over from under the bar.

The game lost, strategies for the next match were already being planned out. A tactical substitution, bringing off Hatswell for Okuonghae ensured he would not pick up the one booking he sits from suspension, and Magnus was soon feeling the pressure the lads were under, covering when Hawley broke through. Offside was called but the danger had already been nullified.

As the sun fell behind the stand to the visiting fans right, squinting was by now no longer required, however most were blessed of the relief that gave. Watching the final throes of the match in perfect clarity was not for the faint of heart.

A further Carlisle adjustment was made with McGill replacing Rivers in the 78th minute.

Lee Tomlin, still to score his first league goal, was trying to get a consolation effort, but having been brought down wide right the Caskey free-kick was yet another wasted opportunity.

There was just time in the game for Tomlin to pick up his now seemingly obligatory booking, fouling Aranalde, and with a last throw of the dice Arnison came incredibly close to making it six of the best, but for yet another athletic tip over the bar by the beleaguered Crane.

Somehow between announcing the attendance the first time, and a correction being issued, the stadium had lost 198 fans. The possibly correct figure of 6,922 included just under 100 of Northants finest. This stadium, and this crowd will very shortly be watching football from a higher perch, whether the Diamonds sit one, or two, rungs beneath them remains a very, very debatable point. Carlisle are onto a better class of football, but it was today the Diamonds will have been wishing they’d dropped their ‘H’s!

Teams:

Carlisle: K Westwood, P Arnison, K Gray (12 D Livesey) , P Murphy, Z Aranalde, A Murray, C Lumsdon, M Rivers (78 B McGill) , C Billy (45 S Hackney) , K Hawley, D Holmes
Subs: A Williams, D Livesey, B McGill, G Murray, S Hackney

R&DFC: D Crane, R Gier, W Hatswell (75 Okuonghae), P Gulliver, R Bull, T Berry, D Caskey, D Savage, M Kelly (67 Nicholls), D Broughton, P Mikolanda (56 Tomlin)
Subs: S Tynan, A Nicholls, M Okuonghae, L Tomlin, T Stokes

Travel Club RDFC MoM: Tyrone Berry

Ref: Mr A Leake

Att: 6,922

Report by Charlie Brown

Wrexham 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Two opportunist goals from debutant Matt Derbyshire gave play – off hopefuls Wrexham a relatively comfortable victory over Diamonds at a rain swept Racecourse Ground.

The on – loan striker from Blackburn Rovers struck in the 22nd and 35th minutes to leave Rushden bottom of the league once again as other results failed to go their way.

Manager Barry Hunter retained the same sixteen that carved out a vital home victory against Notts County at the weekend while Wrexham, fresh from their victory over Wycombe ten days earlier, included two teenagers up front.

Before the game started, a minutes silence was held in memory of former player Stuart Mason.

The home side created the first chance of the game when defender Dennis Lawrence headed wide from Matt Crowell’s free – kick before Drewe Broughton, who was already making his presence known, caused confusion in the peanlty area after he’d won a corner.

Derbyshire was looking extremely lively but he was wide of the mark following good approach play from Crowell. However, on 15 minutes, Diamonds missed a fine opportunity to take the lead. Petr Mikolanda latched onto Tony Stokes defence splitting pass but with just the ‘keeper to beat, the Czech striker lacked conviction with his shot and failed to trouble Mike Ingham.

Three minutes later, Derbyshire got free at the other end but from a narrower angle on the right he forced Tynan to make his only real save of the night. The Blackburn loanee was seemingly in the thick of everything and after Andy Holt had headed Danny Williams free – kick back across goal, Derbyshire got a header in which Tynan dealt with comfortably.

The visitors were not afraid to get at the Red Dragons and Marcus Kelly’s quick break on 21 minutes allowed Berry the chance to shoot. Ingham could only parry the shot but Stokes follow – up was deflected away.

Moments later there were loud appeals for a penalty when Danny Williams appeared to handle the ball but referee Mason was unmoved.

That decision proved costly as the home side took the lead a minute later. Crowell’s free – kick was flicked on by Dennis Lawrence leaving the unmarked Derbyshire to squeeze the ball past Tynan.

Worse was to follow on 35 minutes. Lawrence was allowed to flick on a throw – in on the right and when Derbyshire skipped past Bull’s lunge he then  produced a superb finish by firing past Tynan and into the top left hand corner of the net.

The writing appeared to be on the wall for Diamonds but they never gave up. Drewe Broughton’s 20 yard shot lacked power with Berry unmarked to his right while Derbyshire went in search of his hattrick but couldn’t keep his header down following another Crowell set piece.

Half – time      Wrexham 2 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Diamonds threw on Lee Tomlin at the start of the second half and he was promptly book for petulance with 30 seconds of taking the field. The visitors were enjoying much more of the possession now but they failed to create any clear cut chances although Tomlin did see two headers drift wide.

Hunter made another tactical change sending on Dave Savage for Stokes on 54 minutes.

Darren Caskey was coming more into his own as the playmaker and from one of his passes, Broughton set up Berry who looked like he was brought down by Danny Williams. Referee Mason said no again although there were only limited appeals from the Diamonds players.

On 66 minutes, Rob Gier’s cross was headed goalward by Broughton but Ingham did well to save at the foot of the post while four minutes later makeshift striker Phil Gulliver’s header lacked pace as Diamonds started to up the tempo.

For all their possession and territorial advantage, the visitors just could not create that one opportunity that might open the game up for them. a goalmouth scramble in the 72nd minute summed their night up when both Tomlin and Savage produced miskicks in front of goal and failed to make the target.

Broughton saw a bullet header from Caskey’s corner  go inches over the bar as Diamonds played the last 15 minutes with three men at the back leaving Gulliver to lead a three prong attack. Rushden’s last chance four minutes from time saw Gulliver volley high over the bar as the rain continued to come down.

This is the kind of performance that must totally frustrate Barry Hunter. Guilty of two defensive lapses, Diamonds then compound basic errors by failing to turn second half territorial advantage to their favour. Broughton was again a real handful up front but he failed to find any spark from either Mikolanda or Tomlin. With results not going their way, it is now vital that Diamonds pick up something from their long trip to Carlisle on Saturday.

Teams

Wrexham: – Mike Ingham, Jim Whitley, Dennis Lawrence, Andy Holt, Danny Williams, Matt Derbyshire, Matt Crowell (Levi Machin 89), Mark Jones, Shaun Pejic, Simon Spender, Sam Williams.

Subs Not Used: Michael Jones, Marc Williams, Matty Done, Mike Williams

Diamons: Scott Tynan, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier, Drewe Broughton, Petr Mikolanda (Lee Tomlin 46), Darren Caskey, Wayne Hatswell, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Tony Stokes (Dave Savage 54), Tyrone Berry

Subs Not Used: Gary Mills, Ashley Nicholls, Danny Crane

Bookings: Bull 39 (Foul), Tomlin 46 (Unsporting Behaviour), Gulliver 84 (Foul)

Attendance: 3,195 (95 Away)

Referee: Mr L Mason

Diamonds MOM: Drewe Broughton – another old fashioned striker performance

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Notts County 0

Petr Mikolanda’s spectacular goal gave Diamonds a deserved and much needed victory over Notts County at Nene Park.

Mikolanda struck in the 33rd minute to score his first ever league goal in this country.

Manager Barry Hunter kept the same team that drew 1 – 1 at Bury on Tuesday night. Club captain Dave Savage had recovered from his hamstring injury to take his place on the bench.

Notts County made three changes from the team that lost 1 – 0 at home to Grimsby last weekend. In came Steve Scoffham, Brian O’Callaghan and Jake Sheridan.

There was an early chance for Diamonds new free-kick expert to try his luck from 35 yards but Wayne Hatswell’s effort was easily blocked by the visitors wall.

There was some good early pressure from the home side against a big strong County side. Petr Mikolanda miskicked on the edge of the penalty area with Drewe Broughton waiting in space.

Broughton laid off a fine pass to Marcus Kelly on 11 minutes but his shot was deflected away for a corner. Moments later, Mikolanda failed to control a volley which disappeared over the bar.

Diamonds were looking the more dangerous going forward without ever seriously penetrating the County back – line and Broughton twice showed his frustration when jumping for the same ball as Mikolanda.

The visitors won a free-kick on 32 minutes and Scott Tynan had to be alert before saving Julien Baudet’s 25 yard shot which swerved viciously. However, straight from the clearance Diamonds took the lead. There seemed little danger when Mikolanda picked up a flick-on 30 yards out but he turned and spotting Pilkington off his line then hit a superb half – volley over the veteran ‘keeper for a truly superb goal.

Notts County did have one more attempt on goal six minutes from the interval when Mike Edwards saw his free-kick deflected away for a corner.

Half – time    Rushden & Diamonds      1 – 0 Notts County

Diamonds enjoyed the first chance of the second half when Darren Caskey’s clever flick header from Tony Stokes’ corner almost deceived Pilkington but the ex-Manchester United ‘keeper did well under pressure.

On 57 minutes, Diamonds introduced Lee Tomlin instead of Mikolanda and the youngster immediately tried his luck from 20 yards but Pilkington was equal to the challenge. Tomlin had an even better chance three minutes when the ball broke to him in the penalty area but he perhaps had too much time and his shot was deflected away for a corner.

Diamonds were starting to fancy their chances of scoring a second and only Tyrone Berry will know how he missed a golden opportunity to put the game beyond doubt on 68 minutes. Marcus Kelly made good ground down the left and when he moved along the by-line he picked out Berry at the far post but the winger somehow lifted the ball over the bar from 4 yards.

Diamonds were looking the better side but were obviously still wary of Notts County’s recent form and while Tomlin was wide with a 73rd shot, it was real backs to the wall job in the closing minutes.

Two minutes from time, man of the match Rob Gier saved his side with a desperate goal line clearance after Mark DeBola had sent Lewis McMahon’s long throw goalwards.

However, with three minutes added time indicated by the assistant referee, substitute Gary Mills threaded a superb pass through to Tomlin but with just Pilkington to beat, the youngster struck his shot against the veteran ‘keepers legs and you could feel the disappointment all around the ground.

So a fighting performance and three vital points. Diamonds now move onto Wrexham on Tuesday.

Rushden & Diamonds: – Scott Tynan, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier (Captain), Drewe Broughton, Petr Mikolanda (Lee Tomlin 57), Darren Caskey (Gary Mills 87), Wayne Hatswell, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Tony Stokes, Tyrone Berry (Ashley Nicholls 82)

Subs Not Used: Danny Crane, Dave Savage.

Notts County: – Kevin Pilkington, David Pipe, Mike Edwards, Brian O’Callaghan, Julien Baudet (Captain), Eugene Dadi, Lee Crooks (Lewis McMahon 80), Steve Scoffham (Liam Needham 63), Kelvin Wilson, Daniel Martin (Mark DeBolla 72), Jake Sheridan.

Subs Not Used: Shaun Marshall, Noe Sissoko.

Booked:  Scoffham 36 (Foul), Crooks 53 (Dissent), DeBolla 75 (Foul)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr A Hall

Attendance:  3.113 (Away 715)

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Rob Gier

Report by Chris Barritt

Bury 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

About 90 Rushden fans made the 7 hour round trip to Gigg Lane, on a cold, wet and windy evening, for this re-arranged fixture, cancelled previously due to a frozen pitch. This match can’t have been far off being called off again, this time due to a waterlogged pitch, with the groundsman struggling to remove large puddles from the pitch right up to kick off.

The game opened with the rain still pouring down, and Diamonds starting line up, unchanged from Saturday, kicking toward the Bury end.

Bury attacked from the kick off, and an early corner was cleared by Caskey at the near post. Shortly afterwards  an accidental handball by Bull led to a Bury free kick which was cleared easily by Kelly. The ball was sticking in the Midfield area, and both teams were trying to get it wider where there was at least some chance to play some football.

On 8 minutes Gulliver cut out a dangerous cross to concede a corner. This was taken short to David Flitcroft, and whipped in low, which after a scramble in the box was deflected off Bull’s knees and caught by Tynan. Shortly after a good chance fell to Bury’s #22 Tipton, but he fortunately put the ball into the side of the net.

Diamonds now pushed up, and with the ball played out to the right hand side, where it was less sticky. Berry had a nice run, and shot from outside the box, that was saved comfortably by the Bury keeper, Dootson.

After 20 minutes, Drewe Broughton picked up the ball on the edge of the box. He was driven slightly wide as he rounded the keeper, the ball seemed to get slightly stuck under his feet, and his resultant shot was blocked for a cooner, under a last ditch challenge from the Bury defence.

Bury then pushed on through the midfield, and Tyrone Berry used his pace and covered back excellently to cut out a dangerous through ball, which Gier then mopped up.

With 23 minutes gone, a relieved looking Gulliver stretched to make a clearance which went just over the Rushden crossbar. Bury then had a couple of corners. but the Diamonds defence remained solid, supplemented with Broughton covering back.

On 27 minutes a Gulliver handball, and clearance straight at the Linesman who didn’t even flinch, brought a cheer from the away fans.

The next 10 minutes or so was pretty even, lots of throw ins, and the odd shot from either side but nothing too dangeorus. On 40 minutes Rushden pushed forward with Caskey and Stokes, but a through ball for Mikolanda went wide and the opportunity was wasted.

Another similar chance created down the left with Kelly, and Broughton, also resulted in another overhit cross which eluded Mikolanda at the far post once more.

At Half Time Diamonds had shown some good attacking movements, and honours were pretty even. The consensus amongst the away fans was that it looked as if one goal was going to secure the points. In the conditions  both sides were playing some decent football, and some sensible refereeing had kept the game flowing as far as possible.

Shortly after kick off (the rain still falling – though it eased off at times), Flitcroft was at the centre of a number of good Bury attacks, and a nice shot just went wide of the post. Flitcroft and Tipton were starting to look dangerous for Bury.

On 56 Minutes Tomlin came on for Mikolanda who had worked hard, but not created too many chances. and hasn’t yet clicked with Drewe up front. Shortly after Nicholls came on for Stokes, to add some more bite into the midfield.

After 61 minutes an excellent ball from Caskey out to the right wing, brought in Berry, who drive inside, and pulled  a great ball back for Tomlin, who arrived 10 yards out, and struck the ball well, to bring out a great save from Dootson. Another good ball from Berry gave Tomlin another chance, this time scuffed wide of the post.

Bury then had a good period of pressure with Diamonds defending deep, and conceding a number of corners. Gulliver gave away  a  free kick on the edge of the box, that had the home fans shouting for a penalty. Hard to tell from where we were.

The resultant free kicked went safely over the bar. Caskey then had a free kick at the other end, which was hit tamely into the wall.

On 82 minutes, the referee pulled back play for a challenge on Nicholls (He had played an almost rugby like advantage) to give Rushden a free kick about 30 yards out. Hatswell stepped up, and hit a great free kick straight into the top left corner, to send the away fans wild with excitement, and the possibility of a crucial 3 points. After the excitement died down a few of the wise heads wondered if we’d scored a bit early though.

Unfortunately they were to be proved correct on 87 minutes, when a ball into the box was not cleared, and nodded down to Tipton who calmly slotted the ball into the net.

On 88 minutes Millsy came on in place of Berry, and delivered a crunching tackle within 30 seconds.

In the dying moments Broughton had a good chance to win the game, when he got free and wide, but with heavy legs, his weak shot was saved by Dootson.

The players gave their all on what was a very sticky pitch. In the end a draw was probably fair, even though extremely frustrating having led with about 10 minutes to go.

The referee had a good match and matched the conditions with common sense refereeing which was good to see.

Looks like we’ll have to wait until nearer the end of the Season to see if this was 2 points lost, or 1 point gained. And we’ll have to keep the Headline “Bury Buried by Berry” for another day…

Northampton Town 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

A scrappy derby match saw the Diamonds’ recent resurgence in confidence brought back down to earth with a solid bump. Goals from Northampton’s David Hunt and Scott McGleish sent the visitors the short trip back home looking towards a statistically much more important game at Bury on the coming Tuesday evening.

A crowd of 7,036 (and a dozen on the newly re-named "Hunter’s Hill"!) was muted for the large part as neither team managed to grasp the initiative and play anything resembling a fluid footballing spectacle. Rushden started with the same team from the exceptional Oxford result bar Caskey making a start in place of the injured Savage.

A confident first 10 minutes saw the team attempt to replicate the stunning first period of the preceding game, and in the feisty spirit of local derbies both Mikolanda and Caskey got stuck-in on their counterparts, earning the Cobblers free-kicks. A Stokes second minute corner was cleared by Dyches while an attacking cross by Rob Gier was comfortably gathered by ‘keeper Harper. In rearguard action, Phil Gulliver was stoically on hand to cover for the advancing right-back Gier and made timely blocks to foil the Cobbler’s attacks.

On 12 minutes, in what could feasibly be termed as against the run of play, David Hunt put the home side one-ahead. Throwing himself in front of two close-range attempts, Gier could feel his efforts were in vain as the ball ended up at the feet of Hunt who put the ball into the left hand corner from 20 yards.

Two minutes later it was Northampton on the charge again as a Hunt corner was cleared by the combined efforts of Wayne Hatswell and Tyrone Berry. Berry was again in action when the lack of a shout led to him ducking a ball leaving Bojic to head just wide from the centre of the penalty area.

Prolonged periods of head-tennis ensued as no side appeared capable of getting the ball down, and a generally bit-and-bob match resulted for long spells. Fortunately for Diamonds, when the home side attacked, the indomitable Gulliver was on hand to mop up and marshall the ball away and his defensive partner Hatswell also put on a decent showing heading all and sundry clear, including a decent McGleish chance which he contrived to scuff from the centre of the penalty area.

On 30 minutes Rushden hopes were raised when Broughton appeared through on 20 yards, but tumbling under an innocuous looking shoulder charge saw the ball spill comfortably wide on the left. Further chances of sorts followed closely with a headed clearance by Gier setting up a break, the final delivery to Berry was not firm enough though and the pacey wingman looked to be having ‘one of those games’. With a general paucity of balls to his feet he was always going to find it difficult imposing his immense speed on such a game that was begging for some of the dynamic play he is capable of.

The fluidity of the game was hindered by some picky refereeing which saw throw-in after throw-in waved back only to be taken from the self-same position, one of which led to a tame header falling into Tynan’s hands when Eoin Jess really should have done better.

The half-time whistle brought some respite as the traveling 850 queued up for tea, Hunter’s Hill was down to 4 occupants, and the tannoy blasted out "You ‘Aint Seen Nothing Yet"& The amassed coffee drinkers agreed!

The second half commenced with an unchanged Diamonds line-up, while for the Cobblers, Dyche was replaced by Gavin Johnson.

Martin Smith looked to be a threat for the majority of the game and 7 minutes after the restart had a shot which went wide on the left from the edge of the box. Tony Stokes repaid the miss with a similar of his own after a jinky run and shot which sailed over from outside the area.

In only his second start for Rushden, and against one of his old loan clubs, striker Petr Mikolanda still looked to be settling in. With seemingly everything resembling a threat being channeled through Drewe Broughton, it was a shame to see Petr the Czech almost sitting in his pocket for the most time, when it would be hoped for a more symbiotic relationship to flourish. That said it was hearts-in-the-mouth stuff with the second half just over 12 minutes old as Marcus Kelly thundered a shot 1966 style of the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the area, the followed-up header by Mikolanda rendered him ‘offside-live’ and amidst wild celebrations it slowly dawned that the linesman’s flag away on the left was at full-mast.

Two minutes later Martin Smith found his way into the referee’s book for a foul on Gier. The resultant free-kick led to heading about and scrappiness abound yet again. Barry Hunter, sensing a change of sorts was required, and with Mikolanda short on matches, Simeon Jackson was introduced to the fray to inject some pace.

Continuing with the wayward finishing, McGleish blazed over after benefiting from a sliced Diamonds clearance, and a free-kick from Caskey, after a Stokes run-over, sailed harmlessly into the arms of a welcoming Harper. Two minutes later Eoin Jess began a death-march slow wander from the field of play after being replaced by Ryan Gilligan. The final 15 minutes also saw no further action on the part of Martin Smith as David Rowson came on.

Young Simi Jackson almost entered himself into folklore as a sailed over ball into the 6 yard box left his head and missed the ‘keepers right-hand post by the merest of margins.

Tactical adjustments saw Bull taken off in place of John Turner, who had not played since being bulldozed versus Peterborough.

The final ten minutes sparked an awakening of sorts from the muted Northampton crowd who will clearly have seen their side play better, but it was Diamonds who were beginning to play with a little more virility, as a Gier long throw-in was met by Tyrone Berry on the volley, but the target was missed by a foot on the left.

Agitating as it was, Northampton saved their piece de resistance for a period of play when Rushden finally appeared to be making more of a fist of it. Berry skinned two defenders down the right flank, but the cross ball was placed just behind an on-rushing Stokes. That done, a very well made goal for the Cobblers wrapped up proceedings as Bojic set off on a mazy run and crossed for McGleish who took great pleasure in slamming the ball into Tynan’s lower left corner from the right hand side of the penalty area.

There was time for about 9 more throw-ins and another waved-away Broughton tumble before referee Crossley blew for full time. Hunter’s Hill had been reduced to three, but by the general standard of the match they were quite possibly just waiting for the bus at the adjacent stop.

Diamonds came up against a physically large Northampton team today (without Josh Low and Andy Kirk), but failed to impose a passing style, which better seems to suit the players. For large periods of the game it was extremely scrappy, and not pleasing on the eyes. Few supporters realistically banked on points from this game, but the manner in which no points were gained was the hardest thing to swallow against local foes.

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