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

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