Shrewsbury Town 4 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

 

Diamonds relegation fears increased after being comfortably beaten at Gay Meadow.

 

The visitors committed defensive suicide at times and were only briefly in contention when they pulled a goal back shortly after half – time. 

Mark Stallard opened the scoring for Shrewsbury  before Jamie Tolley extended the lead close to the interval. Caskey gave Diamonds hope before Stallard scored a second goal. Sagi Burton headed the home side’s fourth near the end.

 

Manager Barry Hunter made two changes from the team that drew with Rochdale on Saturday. Reverting back to the 4 – 5 – 1 formation which drew fruit at Bristol Rovers, Dave Savage came into midfiled in place of Tyrone Berry while Magnus Okuonghae replaced the injured Phil Gulliver.

 

After the intervention from the fourth official, referee Leake had to calm down both benches as tempers frayed  early on. However, Gary Peters’ blood pressure must have increased somewhat when his side took the lead on six minutes. Wayne Hatswell could only glance Neil Ashton’s free – kick into the path of Stallard and he slotted home from six yards with the help of the left hand post.

 

At the other end, Drewe Broughton capitalised on a mistake in the Shrewsbury defence to set Caskey free but the midfielder’s pace let him down and Joe Hart cleared. Shrewsbury were already looking like the better team as Diamonds defence struggled to come to terms with their opponents three man attack. Another mistake by Hatswell allowed Stallard the chance to double Shrewsbury’s lead but Scott Tynan narrowed the angle superbly and pulled off a smart save.

 

Shrewsbury had Ashton booked for a bad tackle and from the resultant free-kick Caskey took it quickly and short but Simeon Jackson blazed over from close range.On 19 minutes, Diamonds almost got back on level terms. There seemed little danger when Tony Stokes picked the ball up in midfield but he then produced a terrific shot which struck the left hand upright.

 

As the vistors defence became more and more ragged, Rushden had a real let off on 20 minutes. With Stallard bearing down on goal, Ashley Nicholls appeared to handle the ball just outside the area but amazingly the referee and his assistant failed to spot same. As play moved on, Stallard shaped to shoot and Nicholls then seemed to pull the striker back but nothing was given. If seen, Nicholls would surely have taken an early bath.

 

Nine minutes from the interval, Shrewsbury doubled their lead. Ben Herd fed Tolley 40 yards out and with Okuonghae backing off the midfielder tried his luck from 20 yards further forward giving Tynan no chance.

 

There were loud appeals for handball against Hart as Broughton chased a long ball forward but referee Leake missed that incident as well! So much for Barry Hunter to think about at the interval.

 

Half – time: Shrewsbury Town 2 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

 

Diamonds threw themselves a lifeline within 90 seconds of the restart. The visitors won a free – kick on the edge of the penalty area and promptly inserted Okuonghae, Broughton and Savage in front of Joe Hart. As the Three Musketeers ran towards the wall, Caskey looped a tremendous shot into the right hand corner of the net.

 

Rushden’s tails were up now and they should have been level a few minutes later. Stokes produced pace and purpose down the right before whipping in a cross to Broughton at the far post. The striker headed downward but Hart deflected the ball away for a corner. From the resultant flag kick, Caskey picked out Savage but despite having a free header, the skipper could only direct the ball over the bar.

 

How costly those two misses proved as the home side reopened their two goal lead on 56 minutes. Hatswell made another uncharacteristic error when his attempted back header lacked pace allowing Stallard to beat Tynan to the ball and then tap home for his second goal of the game.

 

At that point, the game was over as a contest. Diamonds threw onTyrone Berry for Jackson before John Turner replaced the hard working Broughton. Unfortunately, the changes failed to ignite any spark into the vistors attack and it was the home side that looked the more likely to increase their lead still further.

 

Diamonds never gave up but were looking somewhat ragged in their play. Tynan cleared one attack by thumping the ball over the main stand while he then showed his true colours by producing a fantastic one handed save to deny Glynn Hurst.

 

But Shrewsbury weren’t finished yet and on 81 minutes they scored a fourth goal. Neil Sorvel and Steve Hogg conducted a corner routine and Burton rose above Okuonghae to to thunder home the header.

 

In the dying minutes, Turner made no contact with a pass when clean through and that rather summed Rushden’s night up.

 

So with three games left, Diamonds must somehow summon up all their experience and energy to gain at least 7 points from a possible nine if they are to have any real chance of retaining their Football League status.

 

Teams

 

Shrewsbury Town: – Joe Hart, Jamie Tolley, Neil Sorvel, Kelvin Langmead, Mark Stallard (Marco Adaggio 87), Neil Ashton (Steve Leslie 83), Ben Herd, Steve Hogg, Glynn Hurst, Richard Hope (Captain), Sagi Burton

 

Subs Not Used: Glynn Thompson, Gavin Cowan, Gavin Cadwallader

 

Rushden & Diamonds: – Scott Tynan, Dave Savage (Captain), Drewe Broughton (John Turner 69), Darren Caskey, Wayne Hatswell, Ashley Nicholls, Ronnie Bull, Marcus Kelly, Magnus Okuonghae (Rob Gier 90)Simeon Jackson (Tyrone Berry 63), Tony Stokes.

 

Subs Not Used: Hunter, Crane

 

Booked:  Ashton (Foul) 18, Broughton 61 (Persistent Fouling), Tynan 78 (Dissent)

 

Sent off: 

 

Referee: Mr A R Leake – made two huge errors but they didn’t affect the outcome of the game

 

Attendance:  4,239

 

Diamonds Man of the Match: Tony Stokes – kept on plugging away in midfield and almost scored with a terrific shot that hit the post

 

Report by Chris Barritt 

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