Southport 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Diamonds got the Bank Holiday weekend off to a flying start with a deserved 2-1 win at a windy Haig Avenue this afternoon. Luckily for the away supporters in the uncovered terrace, the rain which had fallen during the morning stayed away.


Southport had gone full-time during the summer months and new manager Paul Cook brought in several new signings although with only one goal and two points from three games so far this season, the team had yet to make an impact. Centre half Paul Martin was missing from the side which lost to Stafford Rangers last weekend (serving a one match suspension) while on-loan keeper Ryan Robinson was recalled by Morecambe leaving Paul Harrison to keep his place in goal. Stephen Rowlands had recovered from injury and was named amongst the substitutes.


Diamonds boss Paul Hart kept the same side which beat Forest Green Rovers last Saturday with striker Simeon Jackson being preferred to Leo Fortune West again.


Diamonds kicked off towards the John Carr Stand and controlled much of the early play with some neat passing and possession though they failed to trouble the Southport defence until the 8th minute when Ashton and Chillingworth combined to allow Dave Savage to shoot from the edge of the area – his shot going straight at the Southport keeper.


A couple of minutes later, Michael Rankine also had a chance for an early lead, but this time headed wide. Southport then had a chance against the run of play on 13 minutes, with Mark Boyd hitting a fierce 20yard drive against the outside of the post, with Nicky Eyre beaten.  Moments later, Liam Blakeman also fired a long range shot wide of the post, while on 18 minutes a Mark Boyd 25 yard free kick went whistling over the bar.


Rushden were passing well, but just seemed to fail on the final ball and were not helped by the strong headwind. After 24 minutes, Michael Rankine sent a long ball from the left to Simeon Jackson, who had a great chance to score. The keeper stood up well, and managed to force the ball behind for a corner. A succession of corners followed and at the third attempt, Kelly’s shot from a short corner was tipped just over the bar.


The Diamonds were threatening more and more approaching the half hour mark, with a Rankine shot being saved, with Jackson just failing to follow up the loose ball. The goal finally came on 29 minutes however after Jackson passed the ball inside to Chillingworth. His deflected shot found the back of the net with the keeper wrong footed.


It wasn’t long before a second was added. Following a clash between Chillingworth and Lee, the referee awarded a free kick. After their keeper had been distracted by the retreating Rushden forwards, Paul Watson  fired the free kick into the top left hand corner of the net.


The half ended with some more long range shots from Southport, although Simeon Jackson’s run into the box in injury time nearly added a third.


Half-time: Southport 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2


Paul Hart made one change at half-time, with Tom Shaw replacing Paul Watson. This resulted in some shuffling of positions, with Wayne Hatswell taking the right back position, and Dave Savage dropping back to the centre half role with Chris Hope. The change seemed to disrupt the flow of play and Southport looked to have more urgency in their play during the opening fifteen minutes of the second half.


Although Southport were coming into the game more and more, the Diamonds were happy just to soak up the pressure. The only danger seemed to be from the increasing number of free kicks conceded although the defence were coping adequately, with Diamonds making the occasional break. Marcus Kelly was yellow carded on 74 minutes for kicking the ball away after Southport were awarded a throw in.


Just after half an hour of the second half, Jackson had a great chance to increase the lead when he broke away from the into the Southport penalty area, but was challenged just before he could get his shot away.


With five minutes remaining, the referee awarded Southport a rather soft penalty. Carl Baker tried to force his way through Wayne Hatswell who was adjudged to have brought him down. Baker took the penalty himself sending Eyre the wrong way.


With only a few minutes remaining, the 100 or so away supporters had visions of last season flashing through their minds, but this time, the Diamonds held on for a deserved victory. 


Full-time: Southport 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2


So Diamonds finally got a win playing in the blue away strip – at the thirteenth attempt – and the win moves them up to the top half of the Conference table.




Southport – Paul Harrison, Chris Lane, Michael Powell, Lee Hoolickin (Sean Clancy 88), Kevin Lee, Robbie Booth, Liam Blakeman (David Owens 70), Mark Boyd (c), James Olsen, Carl Baker, Mark Jackson (Francis Barry 55).

Subs not used: John Bagnall, Stephen Rowlands.


Rushden & Diamonds – Nicky Eyre, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson (Tom Shaw HT), Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine, Simeon Jackson, Dan Chillingworth, Marcus Kelly.

Subs not used: Danny Crane, Leo Fortune West, Lee Tomlin, Tyrone Berry.


Goals:             Dan Chillingworth 29, Paul Watson 35 (Rushden)

                        Carl Baker 85(pen) (Southport)


Booked:        Marcus Kelly (74 – time-wasting). Simeon Jackson (90 Unsportsman                like behaviour)


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