Cheltenham Town 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Diamonds 4 game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at Whaddon Road after three first half goals saw off the visitors.

JJ Melligan’s header gave The Robins an early lead before Brian Wilson’s free kick extended the home sides lead. John Finnigan wrapped up the points before Simeon Jackson scored a consolation goal early in the second half.

Manager Barry Hunter made two changes to the side that beat Leyton Orient a week earlier. Magnus Okuonghae replace hamstring victim Phil Gulliver while John Turner was preferred to Tyrone Berry on the right side of midfield.

Cheltenham named the same side that drew with Wrexham in midweek.

Diamonds made the worst possible start when they went behind on seven minutes. Kayode Odejayi found Wilson on the left and when the cross came in Melligan was all alone to place a simple header past Scott Tynan.

After Ronnie Bull had fired over after good work by Drewe Broughton, Cheltenham increased their lead on 13 minutes.  Diamonds gave away a free-kick 25 yards out after Grant McCann was fouled and Wilson stepped up to rifle a shot past Tynan.

Moments later goalkeeper Shane Higgs pulled off a superb save to deny Darren Caskey’s free-kick but there appeared no way back for Diamonds when they conceded a third goal on the half – hour. Wilson played the ball past the Rushden defence and Finnigan turned and fired home with the help of the right hand upright.

It could easily have been four three minutes later when McCann saw his 25 yard free-kick rebound off the crossbar before Higgs made another smart save to deny Jackson. Caskey  was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet when Higgs palmed over a shot.

Half-time Cheltenham Town 3 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Diamonds made two substitutions at the interval bringing on Tony Stokes and Berry for Ashley Nicholls and Broughton. Taylor joined Jackson up front and within eight minutes of the restart Diamonds had pulled a goal back.

After Melligan had seen a lob ruled out for offside, Caskey found Jackson on the left and he breezed past Jerry Gill before beating Higgs with a peach of a shot under his body.

Cheltenham almost regained their three goal lead when Finnigan’s long range shot was glanced over the bar by Gavin Caines. Then Stokes saw his free-kick ricochet off the Cheltenham wall before falling into the path of Turner but the substitute’s effort was blocked by the home defence.

There was more dismay for the visitors when Wayne Hatswell received his tenth booking of the season leaving him suspended for the visit to Bristol Rovers.

Twenty minutes from the end Diamonds missed a great chance to reduce the arrears when Marcus Kelly’s cross from the left resulted in a goalmouth scramble but neither Wayne Hatswell or Turner could turn the ball in.

This was a much better performance from the visitors in the second – half but they just couldn’t turn possession into goals. However, defeat was all the more disappinting with the news that most of Diamonds relegation rivals had picked up victories making next week’s game against Torquay all the more vital.

Teams:

Cheltenham Town: Higgs, Gill, Caines, Townsend, Armstrong, Melligan, Finnigan (Captain), McCann (Bird 58), Wilson (Bell 87), Guinan, Odejayi (Spencer 73),

Subs not used: Duff, Brown

Diamonds: Tynan, Gier (Captain), Okuonghae (Tomlin 88), Hatswell, Bull, Turner, Nicholls (Stokes 46), Caskey, Kelly, Jackson, Broughton (Berry 46).

Subs not used: Savage, Hunter

Attendance: 3,447

Bookings: Caskey, McCann. Wilson, Hatswell, Guinan, Finnigan

Diamonds MOM: Simeon Jackson – just keeps on scoring!

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Rushden & Diamonds 1 Leyton Orient 0

 

 

Drewe Broughton’s seventh minute goal gave Diamonds a vital victory against high fliers Leyton Orient and lifted the home side off the bottom of the table.

 

Victory extended Diamonds unbeaten run to four matches against an Orient side who have still not picked up a point or goal in four league matches at Nene Park.

 

Barrry Hunter made two changes from the side that earned a 2 – 2 draw at Lincoln City last week. Captain Rob Gier had recovered from flu and took his place at right back allowing Ashley Nicholls to move into the centre of midfield. Simeon Jackson was preferred to Tony Stokes in attack.

 

Leyton Orient lost the services of Goalkeeper Glyn Garner through an injury picked up in the morning and John Mackie who’s wife was imminently expecting a baby

 

Diamonds had the better of the opening stages with Nicholls sending in a weak shot on two minutes before Drewe Broughton saw his flick header drift off target.

 

However, on seven minutes Diamonds took the lead. After Nicholls had almost capitalised on a Michael Simpson slip, Darren Caskey saw his corner come back out to him and when the ball was crossed in again, Wayne Hatswell saw his far post header turned in by Broughton from close range.

 

That goal seemed to spur the visitors on and they started to come into the game more. Tyrone Berry took some of the sting out of Orient’s resurgence by going on a jinxy run on 13 minutes but he spoiled all his good work with a poor shot from the edge of the area.

 

A minute later, Phil Gulliver’s slip almost let in Paul Connor but Nicholls recovered the situation superbly by making a last ditch tackle.

 

Orient began to look dangerous without really threatening the home goal. There  was a lengthy delay on the half hour while Scott Tynan received treatment after an aerial collision with Jabo Ibehre but the Diamonds ‘keeper recovered to resume his place between the posts.

 

The visitors had their first chance on goal on 35 minutes when Donny Barnard headed wide from Joe Keith’s left wing cross while in first half injury time, Diamonds missed two opportunities to extend their lead. First, Caskey’s inviting cross from the left avoided everybody and grazed the far post. Moments later, Marcus Kelly’s cross was headed back to Ronnie Bull but the defender lifted the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

 

Half – time Rushden & Diamonds     1 – 0    Leyton Orient

 

The visitors changed formation to 4 -3 – 3 at the interval with Gary Alexander and Lee Steele coming on for Ibehre and Keith and Orient thought they had got back on level terms after 54 minutes when Alexander beat Tynan to Craig Easton’s cross but Steele got the final touch from an offside position.

 

Five minutes later, Caskey saw a free-kick go narrowly wide while on 64 minutes Bull’s long ball caused danger in the Orient defence. Goalkeeper Glenn Morris’ headed clearance went only as far as Broughton who cleverly beat a defender before seeing his effort go wide from 30 yards.

 

Diamonds made two substitutions bringing on Lee Tomlin (70) for cramp victim Jackson while John Turner (75)replaced Berry but although Orient were pressing hard for an equaliser they rarely threatened Diamonds rearguard.

 

Indeed. such was the quality of the home defence that it was eight minutes from time before Orient missed there one and only glorious opportunity to level but Connor summed up Orient’s performance when he was forced wide and then blazed over with just Tynan to beat.

 

Unfortunately, Diamonds lost Phil Gulliver late on when he was stretchered off with a serious hamstring injury. Barry Hunter came on to help his team through the last eight minutes as Diamonds won another important victory in their fight against relegation allowing them to leapfrog Chester and off the bottom of the table.

 

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: – Scott Tynan, Phil Gulliver (Barry Hunter 85), Rob Gier (Captain), Drewe Broughton, Darren Caskey , Wayne Hatswell, Ashley Nicholls, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Simeon Jackson (Lee Tomlin 70), Tyrone Berry (John Turner 75)

 

Subs Not Used: Dave Savage, Tony Stokes.

 

Leyton Orient: – Glenn Morris, Donny Barnard, Matthew Lockwood, Michael Simpson (Captain) (Daryl McMahon 77), Adam Tann, Craig Easton, Joe Keith (Lee Steele 46), Gabriel Zakuani, Justin Miller, Paul Connor, Jabo Ibehre (Gary Alexander 46)

 

Subs Not Used: Brian Saah, Jason Demetriou

 

Booked:  Zakuani 26 (Foul), Tann 42 (Foul), Caskey 61 (Dissent), Kelly  90 (Unsportsmanlike Behaviour), McMahon 90 (Foul)

 

Sent off: 

 

Referee: G Salisbury

 

Attendance:  3,679 (1,056 away)

 

Diamonds Man of the Match: Darren Caskey – A close call with Wayne Hatswell but this classy midfielder just gets better and better!

 

Report by Chris Barritt 

Lincoln City 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

 

 

There will not be many Diamonds fans that walked, heads bowed miserably, out of Sincil Bank this bitterly cold afternoon who will find much sympathy with the famous Jimmy Greaves statement that football is a ‘funny old game’. In fact, from around 16:55, the 4th minute of 4 injury time minutes, and the very same second that Lincoln’s Jamie McCombe powered home a rocket header past Scott Tynan, the travelling 377 were firmly of the opinion that it is one of the cruellest, most sadistic pursuits with which to occupy ones Saturday afternoons.

 

Until substitute John Turner restored parity in the 81st minute with what looked like one of the weakest shots of the game, most Rushden supporters would gladly have settled for a share of the spoils, indeed that remained the scenario up to the point when fellow sub Simeon Jackson’s volley over Alan Marriott two minutes later sent Diamonds fans wild with joy and abandon. It was just a teaser though, and, as on far too many occasions this season, it was a case of having ones hopes exorbitantly raised only to have them come crashing down round ones feet within moments of the referee thinking about bringing an end to the day’s proceedings. If you have to be cruel to be kind, we must be the most well looked-after supporters in the land!

 

When you arrive at Lincoln’s bit-and-bob assortment of stands that constitutes a ‘stadium’ you realise that the towering heights of the home supporters touchline stand is merely to ensure the supporters get a level eyed view of the play. Unfortunately, as has became the norm, the Rushden players also succumbed to this long ball kick-and-run game for far too lengthy periods of the game. However with Broughton as the sole man of height outside of the defence, the teams general ‘low centre of gravity’ does not readily lend itself to this style of play. An ugly, generally scrappy first half ensued.

 

Lincoln’s Francis Green was first out of the blocks after 2 minutes with a free header (or a left footed volley, if you get your football information from certain other British Corporations national news websites!) that zipped wide by Tynan’s right post. Embarrassed by the wasted effort, he had the temerity to lay down for a minute or so before limping away sheepishly. It was a taste of things to come though as the Lincoln height advantage placed its emphasis on the play.

 

The first real Diamonds attack of note in the 5th minute resulted in a Caskey outswinging corner that was met by Drew Broughton mid-goal to not much avail. A repeat operation was this time left to Wayne Hatswell to attack but Imp Birch headed the ball clear neatly.

 

A clear indication as to why Rushden languish at the foot of the Football League this evening came when Darren Caskey layed the ball out to Stokes on the right, after rounding his man the final delivery into the box was poor, lacking any real zest or definition. Bizarrely at this point, the yellow beflagged referee’s assistant played Simon Says with ref Graham Laws, first indicating a goal-kick, then after a misinterpretation of signals a corner, before finally settling on a free-kick for offside.

 

More comedy entertainment almost followed a Yeo cross deep into the Rushden penalty area. With Ronnie Bull on top of him, Tynan elected to spice things up a little with a cheeky two handed juggle of the ball before deciding that catching it was the better of the options available to him. Simon Yeo did have the ball in the net seconds later, but his deft lob came just after an offside decision had been judged against him.

 

Ten minutes in, and Tyrone Berry drew a neat, acrobatic, one-for-the-cameras tip-over from Marriott from the wide right. The following corner was headed goalwards by Broughton before being blocked, and the returned shot was blazed over.

 

Lee Beevers replaced McAuley for the Imps and his foul on Savage was his first taste of action of the day.

 

The resistant Diamonds defensive unit was finally breached in the 21st minute, but the nature of the goal will please nobody, least of all the otherwise immense Ashley Nicholls. With the ball rolling into the penalty box, and Tynan facing play, Nicholls felt it safe to watch at close range his goalkeepers easy collect, it didn’t quite transpire that way though. Finally realising the onrushing Lincoln player Green was just a little too close for comfort Tynan delivered a powder-puff clearance straight into the path of grateful Yeo who deftly lobbed the ball into the top right hand corner to put the home side one-up.

 

More indecisiveness was to follow with Gulliver having to head clear with Tynan hesitant.

 

Back in the right-back role, Nicholls confirmed his worth to the team effort with an epic display, this time with an extremely timely tackle with Lincoln making strides into the left hand side of the ‘box. Minutes later he popped up on the opposite side to make yet another good stop on Green, and the half ended with Imps ‘keeper Marriott pole-axing his own defender Cryan in the box.

 

On the balance of play, and by the football methodology of counting the number of times the ball legally ends up in the opposition net, the half went to Lincoln. The Rushden failing, well admitted by manager Hunter, is in attack. Fine until the last 20 yards, crosses were either delivered in very poorly, or delivered in well but with nobody to meet them.

 

The second half was to start sans Tony Stokes, having been replaced by Simeon Jackson at the interval. It was to be proved a fine decision by Hunter as Jackson’s pace threatened the home team for almost the entirety of the remaining 45+ minutes.

 

Beevers was to trouble the defence with deft crosses but it was Nicholls yet again stoical against the enemy, again denying Yeo the opportunity to continue forays goalbound.

 

The following 10 minutes or so were to follow a well-worn path of balls pumped long, balls returned, and balls kicked aimlessly around the middle of the park with little or no threat in either direction.

 

A Nicholls delivery from deep in his own half found Berry, the cross was blocked, falling to Savage but the captain’s shot was narrowly missed on the right. Following on, as Diamonds crept into the ascendancy, Marcus Kelly foraged but could only place his shot at a Lincoln defender. The diminutive Jackson then made a decent run on goal, but on the way over-ran the ball leaving Berry to shoot over. Berry was to leave the field, seemingly at the referees adjudication for treatment, but once the shirt was off it was not to be worn again and John Turner took his place among the Rushden attack for the remaining 25 minutes of play.

 

From the 75th minute onwards, the massed ranks of Rushden & Diamonds found another previously unseen gear. Simi Jackson, who must surely be in with a chance of a starting position within the team very shortly, had the ball in the opposition net, unfortunately though this followed a shrill offside whistle. Three minutes later Turner was to repeat the feat, but again the Lincoln offside trap had done it’s job of work.

 

Undeterred by this, Turner stunned the home fans into silence seconds later. Collecting the ball some 20 yards out, he twice over turned his marker before almost casually rolling the ball into the bottom right hand corner of Marriott’s net from that self-same distance as if time had stood still! The Diamonds were back in it, and it has to be admitted, deservedly so at that point.

 

Almost the very next piece of action witnessed the culmination of the fight-back. Simeon Jackson will again see his name amongst the Football League scorers in the Sunday ‘papers after a brilliant right footed volley from the right of goal found the top corner of the net.

 

It was then backs to the wall from that moment onwards as Lincoln threw forwards everything in an attempt to salvage a point. Yeo fired wide when well placed, Okuonghae came on for Broughton, Cryan brought a clearance from Hatswell, Gulliver almost cleared the pitch with a hoof out, Bull did similar from a McCombe effort? nails were chewed to the quick in the away section and, don’t tell anybody, but some people were even standing up!

 

The time for keep-ball had arrived and any clearance henceforth was lumped to the far corners for much ankle-kicking and time-wasting.

 

Away in the distance of the benches the fourth official had found four extra minutes from somewhere and the agony was to be prolonged, prolonged just 5 seconds too long for Diamonds as McCombe’s unmarked bullet header bulged the net behind a despairing, distraught Tynan.

 

Out of sympathy for the convention of the game, the match restarted with two blasts of the referee’s whistle, the first for commencement, the second for finality.

 

Diamonds are left rock bottom by a point after a Torquay victory over Peterborough.

 

The manner of the fight-back will assuage some of the concerns, but the serial repetition of the inability to hold on to the lead in the final seconds of a match bites a lot, lot deeper. Most travellers would have been pleased with a point pre-match, but to have two snatched away from you in such a dramatic scene is amongst the bitterest pills a fan has to swallow.

 

Teams:

 

Lincoln: Marriott, Cryan, McAuley (Beevers 21), McCombe, Mayo, Brown, Steve Robinson, Kerr, Green (Frecklington 51), Birch (Gritton 75), Yeo.

 

Goals: Yeo 22, McCombe 90

 

Rushden & Diamonds: Tynan, Nicholls, Gulliver, Hatswell, Bull, Berry (Turner 68), Savage, Caskey, Kelly, Broughton (Okuonghae 86), Stokes (Jackson 45). Subs Not Used: Hunter, Crane.

 

Goals: Turner 82, Jackson 84.

 

Attendance: 4,383

 

Reporters Man Of The Match: Ashley Nicholls

 

Report by Charlie Brown.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Grimsby Town 1

 

 

Simeon Jackson capped a fine week by coming off the bench to score a vital equaliser for Diamonds.

 

Ben Futcher headed Grimsby in front early in the second half before Jackson scored his first ever league goal at Nene Park on 72 minutes. Earlier this week, Jackson was selected for the Canadian U20 squad to play in the Porto Tournament in April.

 

Diamonds were looking to extend their winning home sequence to four matches and they made one change from the side that beat Macclesfield 1 – 0 last week. Phil Gulliver returned to central defence to replace Magnus Okuonghae after serving a one match suspension

 

The visitors should have gone ahead in the first minute when Dan Crane made a hash of a punched clearance but Wayne Hatswell produced a tremendous block to deny Ben Futcher.

 

Eight minutes later, a raking cross from Darren Caskey picked out Tyrone Berry on the right but after cutting inside, the youngster’s shot failed to worry Steve Mildenhall as he came under pressure.

 

Good play from Drewe Broughton allowed Marcus Kelly the chance to create danger with a whipped cross from the left but Robert Jones stretched to clear the danger.

 

On 25 minutes, Gary Jones was very lucky not to be shown the red card when he showed dissent by throwing the ball in the referee’s direction after being penalised for a foul. Referee Sutton decided that the card colour should be yellow but also gave the Grimsby midfielder a stern lecture. 

 

The game deteriorated as a spectacle after that and while Grimsby enjoyed more of the possession, there was very little cutting edge to their game. Diamonds were struggling to get out of their blocks and created very little in terms of attack. Broughton and Stokes were continually falling foul of Grimsby’s offside trap.

 

As half – time approached, Ronnie Bull was cautioned for a heavy tackle on John McDermott which saw the Grimsby captain leave the field to be replaced by Gary Croft.

 

As the referee’s whistle blew for half – time, it was hoped that the remaining 45 minutes would throw up far better fare than the opening period.

 

Half – time    Rushden & Diamonds      0 – 0 Grimsby Town

 

Diamonds missed a chance to go in front within 60 seconds of the restart when Stokes blazed over a header from Caskey’s set piece.

 

Tom Newey was inches away from the target with a 25 yards free – kick after Hatswell had been penalised for a foul.

 

On 54 minutes, Stokes’s through ball put Broughton in space but while the striker controlled the ball beautifully, he couldn’t get enough direction on the ball to trouble Mildenhall.

 

However, the visitors took the lead on 59 minutes when Futcher rose highest to head home Curtis Woodhouse’s left wing free – kick.

 

The game stagnated for a while with neither side taking control but Diamonds drew level with a goal out of nothing on 72 minutes. Hatswell’s free – kick was headed on by Broughton and as the the Grimsby defence stood still, Kelly scuffed his shot before Simeon Jackson placed the ball in the net for his first senior home goal.

 

Jackson was proving a real handful up front and he almost stole the points on 75 minutes when he ran onto a through ball only to see Mildenhall turn away his shot.

 

The youngster tried his luck again moments later but failed to get any power on his shot. In typical fashion, Diamonds threw the kitchen sink at their opponents in the dying minutes but were unable to score a winner. 

 

After the final whistle, the Grimsby players surrounded the referee still protesting about the Diamonds equaliser and Robert Jones was red carded for comments made to one of the Assistant Referees.

 

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: – Danny Crane, Phil Gulliver, Rob Gier (Captain), Drewe Broughton, Darren Caskey , Wayne Hatswell, Ashley Nicholls, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Tony Stokes (Simeon Jackson 61), Tyrone Berry (Barry Hunter 90)

 

Subs Not Used: Dave Savage, Petr Mikolanda, Magnus Okuonghae,

 

Grimsby Town: – Steve Mildenhall, John McDermott (Captain) (Gary Croft 45) Tom Newey, Ben Futcher, Paul Bolland, Michael Reddy, Robert Jones, Gary Cohen (Andy Parkinson 84), Ciaran Toner (Marc Goodfellow 58) Gary Jones, Curtis Woodhouse

 

Subs Not Used: .Jean – Paul Kalala,, Junior Mendes

 

Booked:  Gary Jones 25 (Dissent), Ronnie Bull 45 (Foul), Drewe Broughton 74 (Dissent)

 

Sent off:  Rob Jones (after the whistle)

 

Referee: Mr G Sutton

 

Attendance:  3,366 (Away 715)

 

Diamonds Man of the Match:  Wayne Hatswell – Mr consistency and a full blooded competitor.

 

Report by Chris Barritt 

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