Ford Sports Daventry 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2 (AET)

The first of the Northants Hillier Senior Cup Quarter Finals took place on Tuesday evening when Tony Godden took a mixture of youth and senior players for the short trip to Ford Sports Daventry. It was the first ever meeting between the two sides, Diamonds having overcome Cogenhoe United in the first round at Nene Park, while the Motormen had beaten Stewarts & Lloyds, Corby at the Royal Oak.

On a cold October evening, Rushden made hard work of what should have been an easy win with a lack lustre performance. Michael Rankine’s spectacular winner in extra time after a goal-less 90 minutes however, gave those visiting supporters something to remember.

The first half was a pretty dismal affair, with very little in the way of clear cut chances. Ford Sports best chance fell after just 4 minutes, when Paul Currier was given a clear run at Scott Tynan in the Diamonds goal. He failed to take advantage of the opportunity, and pulled his shot wide of the post. Sports seemed to be very physical in the opening exchanges, and an early foul by Jonathan Crockett on Ben Reynolds left the youngster limping with a damaged ankle. After trying to run off the injury, he had to be withdrawn on 18 minutes, with Sean O’Keefe taking his place in the defence.

Although Diamonds had more of the play, they seemed unable to penetrate through the Sports back four. Chillingworth moved forward early on to join Pearson and Rankine up front and it was Chillingworth who headed over the bar on 23 minutes from Daniel Grainger’s free kick after Rigby had been flattened. Diamonds continued to press, but a poor final ball meant the Sports keeper had little to deal with. Rankine was showing good strength in attack, and a good move just before the half hour freed Ugo Udoji down the right wing, but as with so many of the Diamonds attacks, the Sports defence stood firm, and were able to clear the danger. As the game progressed, the Sports challenges were becoming more reckless, and with little protection from the referee, it was starting to rattle several of the Diamonds players.

Half-time: Ford Sports 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half started the same way as the first half had finished, with a succession on fouls. After 52 minutes, Pearson tried to break the Sports defence, but his shot was blocked and went behind for a corner. From the corner, the ball came back to Daniel Grainger, but his shot from a tight angle failed to find the target. Andrew Rigby took several knocks early on in the second period, and had to be replaced by Anthony Weston on 57 minutes after another foul. Grainger’s free kick was aimed at Chillingworth, but he was just unable to get any contact and the ball drifted behind for a goal kick.

Every time Rushden tried to move forward, Sports got everyone behind the ball, and Diamonds seemed to be getting more and more frustrated. Lambley came on after 65 minutes to replace Chillingworth and try to inject some pace and urgency. Sports had another rare opportunity a few minutes later when Currier went up for a cross with the Diamonds keeper, but the Sports player ended up needing treatment after the clash with Tynan.

On 71 minutes, Sean O’Keefe put a good ball through to Greg Pearson, but his shot went straight at the keeper and was easily saved. Diamonds tried to use Lambley’s speed to get behind the Sports defence but they managed to keep their goal intact. During the final 10 minutes, both sides pushed for the winning goal and there was probably more action than there had been in the previous 80. First, Rankine shot just wide and moments later, Udoji put Lambley through on the goal. The keeper managed to scramble to ball away from Lambley’s feet, only for the ball to fall to Greg Pearson who missed the target from some 10yards out. In the final 5 minutes, Sports also had a couple of good chances to win the game. First, Currier beat the offside trap and raced towards Scott Tynan, but the Diamonds keeper managed to get the ball away for a corner. Just before the full time whistle, two Diamonds defenders collided with each other on the edge of the penalty area, with the ball falling to Sports defender Timmy Clack. To Diamonds relief, he fired his shot over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Full-time: Ford Sports 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

With several of the Sports players suffering from cramp, Diamonds started the extra time looking the stronger of the two sides. After 94 minutes, a Grainger free kick went over the top of the Sports defenders, but Callum Reynolds was again unable to get the ball on target. Moments later, Grainger tried his luck, but his shot went over the crossbar. It was Sports who finally broke the deadlock on 98 minutes, when Udoji lost the ball close to the penalty area. Lewis Waldock unselfishly switched the ball across to the unmarked Timmy Clack, who this time made no mistake and fired a shot into the top right hand corner of the net to send the home bench delirious.

However, the lead was short lived as on 101 minutes, Udoji made amends for his mistake and sent a delightful cross from the right into the Sports goalmouth. As Rankine went up to challenge, Chris Trill got to the ball first, and headed past his keeper for an own goal.

As the first half of extra time came to a close, a moment of magic from Michael Rankine gave Diamonds the lead on 105 minutes. Having received the ball on the halfway line, he ran direct towards goal and let off a thunderbolt from 30yards that left Ian Brookes in the Sports goal with no chance.

During the second half of extra time, Diamonds had the chance to make the tie safe after Greg Pearson was brought down following a cross from Lambley on 110 minutes. Pearson got up to take the penalty himself, but fired it wide of the target and into the advertising boards. Sports pressed everyone forward for the final few minutes, and had a strong appeal for a penalty of their own turned down by the referee. Instead, he awarded Diamonds a free-kick much to the disgust of the Sports players. After allowing so many reckless tackles earlier in the game, the referee finally produced a yellow card as Ian Waldock was booked for dissent. As Diamonds played out the final few minutes, Alex Bolt also received a yellow card for kicking the ball away.

After Extra Time: Ford Sports 1 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

So Diamonds go into the draw for the semi-finals, although with the other three quarter finals not due to be played until later in November, we will have to wait to see who we get to play next.

Teams:

Ford Sports Daventry line-up:
1/Ian Brookes, 2/Timmy Clack, 3/Stephen Thompson, 4/Duncan Harris, 5/Alan Haynes (15/Liam Hynes 74), 6/Frank Maher, 7/Paul Currier, 8/Ian Waldock, 9/Paul Eden (14/Lewis Waldock 77), 10/Jonathan Crockett, 11/Richard Crockett (12/Chris Trill 94).

Subs not used: Nil.

Rushden & Diamonds Line-up:
1/Scott Tynan, 2/Ugo Udoji, 3/Ben Reynolds (14/Sean O’Keefe 18), 4/Andrew Rigby (16/Anthony Weston 57), 5/Callum Reynolds, 6/Dominic Langdon, 7/Michael Rankine, 8/Daniel Grainger, 9/Greg Pearson, 10/Dan Chillingworth (12/Lawrence Lambley 65) 11/Alex Bolt.

Subs not used: 15/Jake Beecroft, 17/Martyn Margarson.

Booked: I.Waldock 116′ (dissent), Bolt 120′ (unsporting behaviour).

Referee: S Cheney (Northants)

Attendance: Approx 90

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Rushden & Diamonds 3 Altrincham 0

Diamonds kept the same team that earned a very good point at Weymouth last weekend while Altrincham retained the side that finished the 2 – 1 home victory against Southport.

Diamonds enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges with Marcus Kelly’s ricochet falling just wide.

Joe O’Neill saw a header held by Nicky Eyre on 3 minutes before good play from Lee Tomlin down the right caused Karl Munroe to almost put through his own net with Simeon Jackson lurking behind.

There were loud appeals for a penalty on 17 minutes. Great skill from Tomlin saw him beat two players before he teed up a shot from the edge of the penalty area which Munroe seemed to handle but referee Hopkins saw nothing wrong.

Moments later good work from Jackson set up Tomlin but the youngster blazed over a great chance from 12 yards.

Three minutes later Altrincham came mightily close to taking the lead. Warren Payton won the ball out on the right and when the cross came in Munroe’s header looked to be heading for the bottom left hand corner before Eyre produced a fantastic one handed save to keep Diamonds level.

Jackson fired a 25yards effort go just wide of the left hand post before Tomlin suffered the same fate after latching onto Jackson’s fine pass.

The two Rushden strikers were linking up well and causing real problems to the Alti defence with their pace and guile. However, Diamonds suffered a setback on 29 minutes when Jon Ashton was stretchered off with a leg injury following a tackle which left three players injured. Tom Shaw was the replacement.

Five minutes from the interval Diamonds took a deserved lead when Jackson headed on a long through ball to Tomlin who ran on and scored superbly from a difficult angle.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Altrincham

Diamonds started the second half as they finished the first and it was no real surprise when they extended their lead on 48 minutes. Tyrone Berry latched onto Wayne Hatswell’s head back before racing into the penalty area. The tricky winger picked out Shaw 18 yards out and the substitute struck the ball first time past Richard Acton.

Two minutes later there was a rare opportunity for the visitors when Warren Peyton shot through a crowded defence but Eyre’s positioning was immaculate again and he did well to get down and save.

Hatswell’s then underhit a pass which almost put Eyre in trouble but the Diamonds ‘keeper was able to slice the ball away from danger.

A great turn from Tomlin gave the youngster time to shoot but his shot went inches wide of the left hand upright.

The visitors started to lose their composure and received 5 bookings in 18 minutes.

However, Diamonds made the game safe 14 minutes from time with a well worked goal. A superb 1 – 2 between Kelly and Tomlin allowed Kelly to pick out Jackson 6 yards out and he made no mistake for his 9th goal of the season.

It was all Diamonds now and they could have scored more but the visitors, to their credit, never gave up although they always second best against.

League One side Yeovil will be the first round opponents in November.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 3 – 0 Altrincham

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: –  Nicky Eyre, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton (Tom Shaw 32) Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Marcus Kelly, Simeon Jackson (Michael Rankine 83), Lee Tomlin (Daniel Chillingworth 90), Tyrone Berry

Subs Not Used: Scott Tynan, Andrew Rigby

Altrincham – Richard Acton, Stephen Aspinall, Gary Scott (Colin Potts 51), Robbie Lawton (Capt), Val Owen, Rod Thornley (Colin Little 62), Warren Peyton, Joe O’Neill, Lewis Chalmers, Karl Munroe, Stephen Rose (Edward Hussin 62)

Subs Not Used: Stuart Coburn, Gary Talbot.

Booked:  Owen 56, Lawton 68, Aspinall 70, Munroe 71, Jackson 72, Chalmers 74, Tomlin 90

Sent off:

Referee: Mr J Hopkins

Attendance:  1,509(168 Away fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Lee Tomlin

By Chris Barritt

Weymouth 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

After eight games without a win, Diamonds headed to the south coast for their first ever encounter with Weymouth. After an eventful week which saw the departure of Paul Hart and his managerial team, caretaker manager Tony Godden took charge of his first ever game as manager. Last year’s Conference South champions had had an excellent start to the season and were lying in third position before today’s game. On a windy afternoon, Diamonds could feel well satisfied with their performance. Lee Tomlin finally got on the score sheet to give Diamonds the lead after 21 minutes, only for Weymouth’s Ben Smith to equalise before the half time break.

Tony Godden brought in Tomlin to the starting line-up after some impressive displays for the youth team, while Marcus Kelly returned from illness. Dan Chillingworth and Tom Shaw dropped down to the bench. Weymouth boss Gary Hill was looking to continue Weymouth’s impressive home form which had seen them win seven games out of eight, with only Conference leaders Oxford United being able to force a draw at the Wessex Stadium so far this season. He also made two changes with Chukki Eribenne replacing Raphael Nade in attack, and Dean Howell replacing midfielder Shaun Wilkinson.

 

Diamonds started off the brighter of the two sides, with visiting supporters getting their wish with a 4-4-2 formation – led by Tomlin and Jackson. Within half a minute of the start, Tomlin had got round the back of the defence and sent a dangerous cross into the centre, but it was cleared well by the Weymouth defence. Diamonds continued to try for an early goal, and Tomlin shot wide on 5 minutes, while a minute later, Wayne Hatswell tried his luck following a cross from Simeon Jackson, but his dipping volley cleared the crossbar. Weymouth had their first chance on 8 minutes after the ball held up in the strong wind catching the Diamonds defence out. Eribenne was flagged offside and the danger evaporated.

 

After a slow start, Weymouth started to assert some pressure in midfield with Lee Elam causing problems for the Diamonds defenders. The gusting wind was also making it difficult to judge the flight of the ball, especially on crosses into the penalty area. However, with Kelly on the left flank and Berry on the right, Diamonds were looking more dangerous than they have done for the past five weeks. On 21 minutes, Tyrone Berry attacked down the right wing leaving his marker standing, and put in a precision cross over the keeper to Tomlin at the far post. With the keeper trying to recover, Tomlin fired Diamonds ahead with a shot from a tight angle for his first ever senior goal.

 

After taking the lead, Diamonds continued to press forward for a second, and could have doubled the lead on 29 minutes when Jon Ashton nearly scrambled the ball over the line from a Kelly corner. Moments later, Tomlin sent a 25 yard shot straight at the keeper, who made the save look easy in the difficult conditions. Weymouth’s Chukki Eribenne was replaced by Raphael Nade shortly after the half hour, and this seemed to give them more urgency in their play. After 36 minutes, Lee Elam’s cross was put out for a corner by Hatswell. The corner kick was only cleared to the edge of the area, where Ben Smith volleyed the ball past a number of players and the unsighted Nicky Eyre for the Weymouth equaliser.

 

Diamonds could feel somewhat disheartened to have conceded against the run of play, but they continued to press forward and a nice interchange between Kelly and Watson just before the interval resulted in Watson’s shot being blocked.

 

Half-time Weymouth 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

 

Diamonds continued to take the game to Weymouth at the start of the second half. Within two minutes of the restart, Tomlin was again causing problems for Arron Lee-Barrett in the Weymouth goal, but the keeper managed to clear the ball away. Ashton went up for the clearance with a Weymouth defender but received yellow card for his troubles, presumably for something he said after the challenge. The wind was causing the Weymouth keeper a lot of problems, and an early cross from Jackson to Tomlin again put the keeper under pressure. A short time later, Jackson turned his marker superbly and sent in a goal-bound shot which was tipped past the post for a corner. At the other end, the dangerous Elam was trying to ignite some fire into the Weymouth side. His shot from the edge of the area went wide, while a short time later, he sent in a high ball into the area from a corner. The ball fell to Ben Smith whose powerful shot just drifted past the upright.

 

After 57 minutes, Diamonds had a good chance to retake the lead after Berry put in a cross from the right, but with both Ashton and Jackson clear of the defenders, they got in each others way allowing Ashley Vickers to get the ball away for a corner. The wind continued to cause problems for both teams, although both defences were just about able to cope with the swirling ball. Lee Tomlin went off on 66 minutes to a standing ovation from the visiting supporters, to be replaced by Dan Chillingworth.

 

Jackson was fouled on the edge of the area by Ben Smith on 73 minutes, and Watson fired in a free kick which beat the wall, but was comfortably saved by Lee-Barrett. With fifteen minutes of play left, Weymouth started to up the pace in search of three points. They had a number of corners, but none really caused too much concern for Eyre in the Diamonds goal. With Marcus Kelly tiring, Tom Shaw came on with five minutes remaining to try even things up in the midfield.

 

Both teams had a chance to win in the closing minutes. Weymouth’s best chance of the game came with just one minute on the clock remaining, when Nade’s looping header appeared to be tipped onto the crossbar by Eyre. Much to the consternation of the home fans, the referee awarded a goal kick. Moments later, the ball found Jackson on the left side of the area. His snap shot taking a big deflection over the keeper, but also just over the goal for yet another corner. Diamond’s held out for three nervous minutes of extra time for the well deserved draw.

 

On another day, Diamonds would probably have felt they should have come away with all three points. The attitude and application after a difficult week off the pitch certainly deserved it but most of the 83 Diamonds fans felt more than happy with the draw. It was quite evident that the players enjoyed the game and good to see them come over and talk to the fans after the game. On a rather unhappy note, Weymouth manager Gary Hill appeared to suffer heart problems towards the end of the game and was taken by ambulance to Dorchester Hospital, where he was being kept in overnight. We wish him a speedy recovery.

 

Full-time Weymouth 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

 

Teams:

 

Weymouth – Arran Lee-Barrett, Steve Tully, Roy O’Brien, Ben Smith, Richard Logan (Wayne Purser 75), Chukki Eribenne (Raphael Nade 32), Ashley Vickers, Lee Elam, Dean Howell (Shaun Wilkinson 80), Simon Weatherstone, Abdou El Kholti.

 

Subs not used: Jason Matthews(GK), Jason Tindall.

 

Rushden & Diamonds – Nicky Eyre, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Marcus Kelly (Tom Shaw 85), Simeon Jackson, Lee Tomlin (Dan Chillingworth 66), Tyrone Berry.

 

Subs not used: Andrew Rigby, Scott Tynan(GK), Callum Reynolds.

 

Booked:         Ashton 47′ (dissent)

 

Sent off:          –

 

Referee:         G.Ward (Kent)

 

Attendance:   2148

 

Reporters Man of the Match: Dave Savage

 

 

By Dave Mason

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Cogenhoe United 1

Diamonds advanced to the Quarter-Finals of the Hillier Senior Cup, thanks to a 2-1 victory against United Counties League side Cogenhoe United. Credit must go to Cogenhoe, who made a good account of themselves and played their part in an exciting game.

Diamonds started the brighter of the two sides, and almost took the lead form their first corner in the fourth minute, when Greg Pearson’s header, which looked goal-bound was blocked. A minute later Diamonds created another golden opportunity when Rigby picked up the ball in his own half, dribbling the ball 40 yards, before shooting just wide of the far post.

Lee Tomlin again shot wide from distance after 12 minutes, as Diamonds looked to put pressure on the visitors. Michael Rankine had a shot from distance on the 15-minute mark and he was a becoming a real handful for the Cogenhoe defence.

Cogenhoe created their first real chance of the game after 17 minutes, and after good work down the left flank, Scott Tynan had to be alert to punch a deep cross clear. The next cross from this side a minute later, evaded all those in the box.

Although Cogenhoe were coming into the game more, they had to be alert of Diamonds pace on the break, as Rankine again had a shot blocked ofter a speedy break involving Lee Tomlin. From the resulting corner, the ball was knocked back into the box, only for Pearson to clear the crossbar from an offside position.

After some good pressure by Cogenhoe, Tomlin again broke with speed down the left side, and fed Pearson, whose shot was blocked for yet another corner. Although Diamonds looked the more likely to score the game was still end to end, and Tynan had to rush off his line to collect the ball before Steve Diggin of Cogenhoe.

Rankine again made his pace count in the 28th minute, and after good ball control, he shot across the face of goal, and just wide of the far post. Pearson had a shot easily saved by James Alger in the Cogenhoe goal, before Tomlin saw his shot blocked for a corner.

Diamonds right-back Ugo Udoji tricked his was round three, although the end product was an easy save. Seven minutes before half time Greg Pearson went down in the box after making contact with the keeper after he had looked to have knocked the ball past him, although the referee decided – no penalty.

Cogenhoe created their best chance of the first-half a minute later, as their number 9 Steve Diggin broke the Diamonds off-side trap, although Scott Tynan pulled pulled-off a great one-on-one save to keep the scores level.

Pearson was needlessly booked for dissent before the first-half was over, and at the interval the score remained goalless.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 0 Cogenhoe United

Diamonds were quick out of the blocks for the second half, and within minutes of the re-start both Pearson and Rankine saw their shots blocked.

Diamonds finally broke the deadlock in the 56th minute, when Dominic Langdon knocked the ball over the line in a mad scramble after himself and Greg Pearson both had shots saved – 1-0 to the Diamonds

Within 60 seconds of the re-start Scott Tynan was down injured, after colliding with Langdon, who looked to have been pushed by the Cogenhoe’s Malcolm Ndweke. However, he was soon up to his feet and play resumed.

Cogenhoe made their first substitution of the night in the 61st minute when Ndweke was replaced by Ashley Bradshaw. Neither Bradshaw or his team-mates could do anything about the next Diamonds attack, as a deep cross found Alex Bolt unmarked at the far post; he unselfishly squared the ball for Pearson, who failed to connect from 6-yards out.

Rob Goldring came on for Tom McGowan ad Cogenhoe looked to push forwards and catch Diamonds out. The game was end to end at this point with Diamonds looking to add a second, while Cogenhoe looking for an equaliser.

The referee blew for a foul on the keeper by Rankine, as they both climbed for the same ball, and Alex Bolt was cautioned for a late challenge before both teams made substitutions. Justin McKenzie replacing Steve Diggin for Cogenhoe, and Lawrence Lambley coming on for the impressive Michael Rankine.

Within two minutes of coming on Lawrence Lambley had caused panic in the Cogenhoe defence with his pace, and Diamonds won a corner. In the next attack Lambley again broke through the backline with pace, this time slotting the ball low into the far corner of the net to make the score 2-0 (78 minutes).

Lambley was again in the thick of the action, and the James Alger had to be quick off his line making yet another great save. Jake Beecroft came on to replace the hardworking Andrew Rigby in the 81st minute.

Pearson had yet another shot blocked, before Lambley again had the ball in the back of the net in the 84th minute, although this was ruled out for offside.

Lee Tomlin saw a free-kick blocked by the wall, and Scott Tynan saved easily before in the 89th minute Cogenhoe got the consolation goal that their performance deserved. Justin McKenzie getting his head on the end of a cross whipped in from the left flank, making the score 2-1.

Although Diamonds now progress to the Quarter-Finals of the Hillier Senior Cup, praise must go the Cogenhoe of the United Counties League, who gave a great account of themselves in an exciting match,which was full of chances.

Full-time Rushden & Diamonds 2 – 1 Cogenhoe United

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds:
Scott Tynan, Ugo Udoji, Anthony Weston, Andrew Rigby (Jake Beecroft, 81), Callum Reynolds, Dominic Langdon, Sean O’Keefe, Alex Bolt, Greg Pearson, Lee Tomlin, Michael Rankine (Lawrence Lambley, 75)

Subs Not Used: Martyn Margarson

Cogenhoe United:
James Alger, Brian Page (c), Jason Lee, James Thatcher, Ollie Wilkinson, Neil Champelovier, Tom McGowan (Rob Goldring 66), Scott Goodacre, Steve Diggin (Justin McKenzie 73), Malcolm Ndweke (Ashley Bradshaw, 61), Ian Pearce

Subs Not Used: Lee Gotch

Booked: Pearson (44), Bolt (71)

Referee: Ian Rathbone

Attendance: 133

Diamonds Man of the Match: Dominic Langdon

Diamonds will now face a trip to Ford Sports Daventry in the Quarter-Final of the Hillier Senior Cup. Fixture details will be posted on the Official Website and in the programme as soon as they are confirmed.

The full Quarter Final draw is as follows;

Brackley Town v Kettering Town
Ford Sports Daventry v Rushden & Diamonds
*Northampton Spencer or Rothwell Town v Long Buckby
Wellingborough Town 2004 v Woodford United

* Fixture scheduled for Tuesday 24th October 2006

Report by Simon Hitchcox

Photos by Mal Swinden

Northwich Victoria 4 Rushden and Diamonds 1

Rushden and Diamonds made their first visit to the new Victoria Stadium at Northwich, and were soundly beaten by a team that gave them a lesson in sound defending and good finishing.

On a mild October afternoon, Diamonds took to the field in their Blue Strip, with Simeon Jackson restored to the starting line up in place of Greg Pearson, Dave Savage replacing Marcus Kelly who was absent due to illness, and Glenn Wilson being restored at right back. Making his first appearance on the bench was 16-year old Callum Reynolds.

After both sides preceded the game with an 11-man huddle, Diamonds kicked off towards the Factory end, continuing to play the 4-3-3 formation favoured by Paul Hart, with Chilli pushed further forward than in recent games. The first few minutes were dominated by Diamonds with Tyrone Berry having several dangerous runs down the right, with Dave Savage also threatening down the right. But there appeared little threat in the area, with the big Vics defenders being able to clear any danger. Despite this, the two wide forwards swapped over, with Jacko moving to the right, and the Vics started to get into the game.

Vics won their first corner on 10 minutes, and although in the early stages they did not have as much possession, they looked far more likely to take advantage of what possession they had, with an Eyre save and a narrow miss when a Dodds cross eluded Eyre on the bounce forcing Hope make a great clearance on 18 minutes.

From the resultant corner from the left, Hatswell missed a simple header, allowing the ball to cross the area, and be knocked back across for the lanky Griffiths to head the Vics ahead.

Although this goal might have been slightly against the run of play, the Vics then started to dominate the game, although the Diamonds continued to play some decent passing football in the middle third, there remained no serious goal threat, other than a good run by Simeon Jackson from the centre circle after a hint of handball. Wayne Hatswell continued to struggle, suggesting he was still feeling his injury from the Halifax game, allowing Dodds to get in a decent shot from just wide of goal which was narrowly wide, and conceding a needless throw which resulted in a shot from Richard Battersby well saved by Nicky Eyre.

On 37 minutes the inevitable happened, and the Vics went 2 up, with a dreadful defensive header following a set piece from Jon Ashton, back towards his own goal, falling straight to Paul Grayson who rifled home.

Worse was to come just three minutes later, as the Vics won a free kick just outside the right corner of the box, and it appeared the kick by Tony Gallimore eluded everybody and went straight into the net, although the stadium announcer thought Gareth Griffiths got a touch.

The Vics now looked like they could score at will, with one instance where two players were unmarked and clear in the area – but luckily the linesman’s flag saved further embarrassment.

Half-Time Northwich Victoria 3 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Diamonds brought on Michael Rankine for the second half in place of Tom Shaw, and for two minutes it looked like Diamonds might make a game of it, with a good cross from the right from Tyrone Berry to Chilli, whose attempt on goal was blocked, but it fell to Simeon Jackson, who slotted home to make it 3-1.

Just as the 80 Diamonds fans thought there might be a glimmer of hope though, when a Vics high ball wasn’t dealt with by Hatswell, and it fell to Dodds on the corner of the box who hit a looping show over the despairing Eyre.

The rest of the second half was fairly uneventful, although a serious looking injury to the Vics defender Carr caused concern for the home side, the news from the dressing room was that the injury wasn’t as bad as first feared. Vics had a number of breaks which might have resulted in a fifth goal, but a combination of poor finishing and a couple of Eyre saves prevented the embarrassment being even greater. Diamonds did continue to have a few chances, but again there looked little prospect of any of them being converted.

Lee Tomlin replaced Chillingworth on 72 minutes, and tried to make a difference on the left, but more bad news for the Diamonds was that Chris Hope suffered what looked like a groin injury, near the end, and was replaced by Daniel Grainger.

Apart from a protest from disgruntled Diamonds fans there was little further incident, and manager Hart and his assistant Bowyer were the first down the tunnel on the final whistle.

Full Time Northwich Victoria 4 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Teams
Northwich Victoria

1 Phil Senior
2 Richard Battersby
15 Ryan Browne
12 Steve Payne
4 Gareth Griffiths
5 Stuart Elliott (capt)
8 Michael Carr – sub Mccarthy 67 mins
3 Tony Gallimore
22 Louis Dodds – sub Barwick 79 mins
9 Jonathon Allan – sub Townson 83
10 Paul Brayson

Subs

20 Ben Connett
18 Kevin Townson
16 Jon McCarthy
14 Michael Byrne
24 Terry Barwick

Rushden & Diamonds

1 Nicky Eyre
3 Paul Watson
5 Chris Hope – sub Grainger 88
6 Wayne Hatswell
2 Glenn Wilson
4 Jon Ashton
7 Dave Savage
18 Tom Shaw – sub Rankine 45
10 Daniel Chillingworth – sub Tomlin 72
12 Simeon Jackson
15 Tyrone Berry

Subs

20 Scott Tynan
14 Lee Tomlin
8 Michael Rankine
22 Callum Reynolds
19 Daniel Grainger

Referee : Ian Scarr (Birmingham)

Attendance : 853 – (approx 80 away fans)

Match Action Pictures Courtesy of Mal Swinden

Jon Ashton takes on Northwich's Jonathon Allan Paul Watson clears down the line whilst under pressure Daniel Chillingworth holds off Northwich's Steve Payne Diamond's keeper Nicky Eyre saves this effort from Paul Brayson Dave Savage brings the ball under control Simeon Jackson turns away from this challenge Dave Savage looks for inspiration as Northwich celebrate their goal Diamond's fans applaud as Northwich's Michael Carr is stretchered off Simeon Jackson gets caught following this tackle Jon Ashton fouls Northwich's Jonathon Allen Paul Hart

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Halifax Town 1

Steve Torpey’s early strike extended Diamonds run to seven games without a win at Nene Park after a the home side produced a sorry first half performance.

Diamonds boss Paul Hart was hoping to end a run of six games without a win and decided to keep the same team that drew 2 – 2 with Stevenage on Friday night.

Halifax manager Chris Wilder made four changes for the second consecutive game and gave a debut to on – loan Hull defender Tom Matthews as they looked to stop a run of five consecutive away defeats. Matthews was spending a second separate month at The Shay.

Diamonds made the worst possible start when they went behind after just 76 seconds. Lewis Killeen collected the ball just inside Diamonds half and delivered a superb cross field pass to Steve Torpey on the left. The midfielder cut inside Daniel Grainger before coolly sliding the ball under Nicky Eyre.

There was more danger for the home side 4 minutes later when Wayne Hatswell’s attempted clearance took Eyre by surprise and the ‘keeper carried the ball over the by-line for a corner.

Halifax continued to make all the running and Martin Foster was just too high with a 25 yard shot on 8 minutes. Torpey then got the better again of Grainger on the left and whipped in a cross which was bravely cut out by the diving Eyre as Shane Smeltz bore down on him.

Rushden had a goal disallowed on 12 minutes. A mistake by Matt Doughty allowed Daniel Chillingworth to run clear but while the unmarked Greg Pearson tapped the pass home the referee correctly ruled out the goal for offside.

Diamonds suffered another blow two minutes later when Hatswell had to leave the field with a left leg injury. Jon Ashton reverted to central defence with club captain coming into midfield.

The visitors still poured forward and Danny Forrest got the better of Paul Watson before knocking the ball wide of Eyre’s left hand post.

The home side enjoyed their first attempt at goal on 31 minutes when Ashton rose to head narrowly wide after Watson’s corner. Back came the visitors and a slick move involving Smeltz and Tyrone Thompson allowed Torpey the space to cross although Savage had to clear quickly after Eyre lost the ball under challenge from Danny Forrest.

The rest of the half was mediocre to say the least with both teams finding it hard to produce accurate passing. Diamonds went into the interval knowing they would have to improve dramatically if another defeat was to be avoided.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 0 Halifax Town 1

Rushden made two substitutions at the interval bringing on Simeon Jackson and Glenn Wilson in place of Grainger and the totally ineffective Pearson.

Paul Hart’s interval chat almost had an immediate effect when Chillingworth flashed a header wide Berry’s cross. Seconds later a teasing run from Tom Shaw brought the young midfielder into the area only to see his right footed curler go just wide.

On 54 minutes Halifax missed a golden opportunity to extend their lead. Danny Forrest beat the offside trap after running onto Mark Roberts through pass but Eyre was equal to the challenge and saved bravely at the midfielders feet.

Marcus Kelly caused panic in the Halifax defence with a cross – cum – shot from the left but none of the Rushden forwards could get on the end of the ball and the effort went narrowly wide.

Forrest produced an excellent pass to set up Killeen but the goal provider was denied by a wonderful finger tip save from Eyre who repeated the feat two minutes later when he skilfully pushed Matthews’ 18 yard shot over the bar.

Smeltz then had a goal disallowed for offside for Halifax before substitute Jackson cut inside from the left and was only inches wide after he shot across the face of the goal.

Chillingworth had appeals for handball turned down as Diamonds turned the screw and only Berry will know how he missed with a free header on 86 minutes.

Two minutes from time Forrest should have sealed the points for the visitors but fluffed his shot while Chillingworth spurned another opportunity in the dying moments when his header was clawed away by Craig Mawson

A succession of corners followed but they couldn’t stop Diamonds from extending an unwanted run to seven games without a win.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: – Nicky Eyre, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (Capt), Wayne Hatswell (Dave Savage 14), Daniel Chillingworth, Marcus Kelly, Tyrone Berry, Greg Pearson (Simeon Jackson 46), Tom Shaw, Daniel Grainger (Glenn Wilson 46)

Subs Not Used: Scott Tynan, Michael Rankine

Halifax Town:  – Craig Mawson, Matt Doughty, Greg Young (Mark Roberts 25), Adam Quinn, Danny Forrest, Martin Foster (Capt), Shane Smeltz (Ryan Sugden 79), Lewis Killeen, Tyrone Thompson, Steve Torpey (Nicky Gray 71), Tom Matthews

Subs Not Used: Chris Senior, Wayne Jacobs,

Booked:  Foster 57 (Foul), Killeen 76 (Foul)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr  N Kinseley

Attendance:  1,839(109 Away fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Nicky Eyre

Match Action Pictures Courtesy of Mal Swinden

Eddie Gray & Paul Hart enjoy a chat prior to kick-off Daniel Chillingworth challenges with Halifax's Adam Quinn Rushden's Paul Watson lunges for the ball Dave Savage loses a boot in this tackle Tom Shaw gets away from Halifax's Tyrone Thompson Rushden's Marcus Kelly climbs with Tyrone Thompson Jon Ashton challenges Halifax's Lewis Killeen Dave Savage brings the ball under control Diamond's captain Chris Hope slides in on Halifax's Nicky Gray Chillingworth claims handball Daniel Chillingworth's disappointment at the final whistle

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stevenage Borough 2

Wayne Hatswell scored at both ends as Diamonds had to settle for a point in an absorbing game at Nene Park.

Hatswell put through his own net before equalising midway through the first half. Skipper Chris Hope headed the home side in front before Jon Nurse gave Stevenage a share of the points.

With five games without a win, manager Paul Hart made five changes from the team that went down 1 – 0 at Morecambe on Tuesday. Daniel Chillingworth, Tyrone Berry, Greg Pearson, Tom Shaw and Daniel Grainger came into the side as manager Hart changed his formation to 4 – 3 – 3. Glenn Wilson, Dave Savage and Simeon Jackson were benched while Michael Rankin and Andrew Rigby failed to make the squad.

Stevenage were looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games and manager Mark Stimson made just one change from the side that secured a last minute winner at home to Woking in midweek. Jon Nurse replaced Steve Guppy on the left hand side.

The home side started well and almost went ahead on 2 minutes when Alan Julian fumbled Marcus Kelly’s volley but Greg Pearson couldn’t capitalise.

Six minutes later the visitors produced a well worked free-kick routine after Steve Morison had been fouled on the edge of the area but Craig Dobson hooked his shot wide.

Julian wasn’t having the best of starts and he was at fault again when he spilled Hope’s header. Pearson picked up the scraps before finding Kelly but while the cross was inviting it came to nothing.

Back came the visitors with Ex – Barnet man Dwane Lee threading a superb pass to the pacy Craig Dobson on the right but Grainger got across quickly to get in a last ditch tackle.

Berry produced a great run down the right on 14 minutes easily bypassing John Nutter. The winger found Pearson in space but his cheeky backheel was a yard wide.

Stevenage went ahead on 19 minutes slightly against the run of play and not without a huge piece of luck. Dobson found Barry Fuller overlapping on the right and when the cross came in Hatswell gave Nicky Eyre no chance by slicing the ball into the net.

Five minutes later Diamonds fans had their hearts in their mouths again when Nurse fired home but the strike was ruled out for offside. The left sided midfielder was becoming a real thorn in the Diamonds side and from another cross Dobson flashed a header over the bar.

On 36 minutes the home side scored a deserved equaliser. Berry’s short corner was whipped in by Paul Watson and Hatswell headed down into the net at the far post.

The Diamonds fans were fully behind their team now and cries of “Hatswell’s on a hattrick” echoed around the ground!

Shaw volleyed wide from the edge of the area before Diamonds took the lead on the stroke of half – time following a simple set piece. Watson’s corner on the left picked out Hope on the penalty spot and he rose above the Stevenage defence to head past Julian with the aid of a post.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stevenage Borough 1

Kelly opened proceedings to the second – half by latching onto Berry’s cross and producing another fine volley which was deflected away for a corner.

But the visitors levelled on 49 minutes thanks to the bravery of Nurse. Fuller got in a telling cross from midway through the Diamonds half and Nurse beat Grainger to the ball before thundering a shot into the left hand side of the net. The goalscorer received lengthy treatment following the goal but was able to carry on.

Understandably, the goal seemed to galvanise the visitors and they looked the more likely to score again as Diamonds struggled in the last third of the field.

Jon Ashton saw a long range effort comfortably saved by Julian before a brilliant flick by Berry almost put in Chillingworth but the striker was outmuscled as he tore into the penalty area.

Eyre was relieved on 70 minutes when he stumbled as Dobson shot through a crowd of of players. Fortunately for the home goalkeeper he was in the right place to hang on to the shot.

Stevenage were in the ascendancy now and they quickly forced four corners in as many minutes.

Manager Paul Hart made a double substitution nine minutes from the end replacing Grainger and Pearson with Wilson and Jackson.

The move almost paid off in the last minute when Jackson found time and space 20 yards out to drive the ball against the base of the left hand post although Julian may have got a hand to the shot.

So an entertaining draw, a fair result and Diamonds were able to break a three game losing streak.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: – Nicky Eyre, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Daniel Chillingworth, Marcus Kelly, Tyrone Berry, Greg Pearson (Simeon Jackson 81), Tom Shaw, Daniel Grainger (Glenn Wilson 81)

Subs Not Used: Danny Crane, Dave Savage, Lee Tomlin

Stevenage Borough:  – Alan Julian, Barry Fuller, John Nutter, Santos Gaia, Jon Nurse, George Boyd, Dwane Lee, Steve Morison, Craig Dobson, Ronnie Henry, Mark Beard

Subs Not Used: Danny Potter, Luke Oliver, Chris Sullivan, Darryn Stamp, Hasim Deen

Booked:  Ashton 6 (Foul), Gaia 43 (Foul), Fuller 53 (Foul), Pearson 55 (Foul)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr  D Cann

Attendance: 2,309 (588 Away fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Chris Hope

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