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

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