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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