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

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