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

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