Rushden & Diamonds 0 Aldershot Town 1

John Grant’s late volley gave Aldershot a narrow victory at Nene Park as Diamonds slipped further into the relegation mire.

Under new ownership, Diamonds caretaker manager Tony Godden made three changes to the side that went down 3 – 2 at St Albans last weekend. Former Grimsby Town midfielder Curtis Woodhouse came straight into central midfield after cutting short his brief boxing career; Glenn Wilson returned at right back while Simeon Jackson was preferred to Michael Rankine up-front.

Aldershot  manager Terry Brown made one change from the F A Cup side that overcame Chelmsford in midweek.  Ben Harding got the nod over Marcus Gayle in attack.

The visitors made a bright start and John Grant’s fierce shot on 4 minutes was comfortably saved by Scott Tynan.  Ryan Williams maybe could have done better with a volley after Louis Soares found him at the far post but Tynan did well to turn the ball away for a corner.

Diamonds first chance came shortly afterwards when defender Paul Watson’s cross found skipper Chris Hope whose strong header went just wide. Tyrone Berry put Jackson through but Aldershot ‘keeper Nikki Bull produced a fine double save after the ball rebounded back to the home side’s top scorer.

Ricky Newman’s strong run through the heart of the defence was wasted by John Grant’s lack of control in front of goal as both sides struggled in front of goal.

Indeed, both sides seemed t lack confidence as the game became somewhat scrappy with no real clear cut chances.

On 35 minutes a fine move from Aldershot ended with Tynan cutting out Mark Molesey’s dangerous cross. On the stroke of half-time, the same player shot over  from 20 yards as the visitors increased the tempo.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds  0 – 0 Aldershot Town

A cross from Ryan Williams gave Mark Molesey a chance early in the second half but his header lacked pace allowing Tynan to save easily. Moments later a toe poke from Harding flew over the bar from the edge of the penalty area as Aldershot started where they finished off in the opening period.

On 59 minutes Marcus Kelly did well to clear off the line from Darren Barnard’s long range strike while five minutes later Molesey jinxed inside from the left only to see his rising shot go inches over the bar.

Minutes later indecision in the Aldershot defence allowed Jackson to run on towards goal and with just the goalkeeper to beat his fierce shot was only a whisker away from the left hand upright. Then substitute Michael Rankine found enough room in centre midfield before unleashing a powerful drive which went just over the bar.

On 70 minutes, Berry missed a glorious opportunity to give the home side the lead when his blistering pace down the right gave the winger a clear sight of goal but his attempt went woefully wide.

At the other end Molesey found himself with just Tynan to beat but under pressure from Glenn Wilson, the impressive midfielder’s shot flew over the bar.

Ten minutes from time Diamonds came close to taking the lead when Berry’ whipped in a cross from the right and Ricky Newman almost headed past his own ‘keeper but the ball hit the side netting. Berry tried his luck from 20 yards but the shot failed to find the target.

However, four minutes from time Aldershot took the points. Joel Grant’s cross from the right beat everybody apart from Williams but as Diamonds defence stood still Williams whipped in the ball from the left to the totally unmarked John Grant who volleyed gleefully into the roof of the net. Diamonds players appealed in vain for offside.

Diamonds threw everything at the visitors in the dying seconds but it was too little too late. They did have loud appeals for a penalty when Jackson seemed to be fouled in the area but referee Langford waived play on.

Teams:

Rushden and Diamonds: Scott Tynan, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Chris Hope, Dave Savage, Marcus Kelly, Simeon Jackson, Lee Tomlin (Michael Rankine 58), Tyrone Berry, Chris Plummer, Curtis Woodhouse (Tom Shaw 80)

Subs Not Used: Nicky Eyre, Wayne Hatswell, Ben Sedgemore

Aldershot: Nikki Bull, Dean Smith, Darren Barnard (Capt) (Curtis Osano 73), Ricky Newman, Rhys Day, Mark Molesey, David Lee (Ryan Scott 78), John Grant, Ryan Williams, Louis Soares (Joel grant 56), Ben Harding

Subs Not Used: Louis Wells, Marcus Gayle

Referee:  Mr O Langford

Attendance: 2,178 (Away 353)

Diamonds MOM: Dave Savage – who else!

St Albans 3 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Clarence Park – Saturday 18th November 2006

Yet again Rushden & Diamonds were blown away by a team scoring three in the first half. It was shades of Woking and Northwich as the Diamonds defence looked to have adopted the Christmas spirit several weeks early. The difference in this game was that at least the team made a fight of it in the second half, but although the woodwork denied an equaliser there are serious defensive issues need urgent resolution.

The Diamonds were making their first league visit to the Clarence Park to take on a St Albans City side hoping to repay their fans who suffered a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Grays in the previous home game. New Diamonds loan signing Chris Plummer played for Grays in that game and he was the only change to the starting line up from the victory over Yeovil. Ex-Diamond Magnus Okuonghae was only on the bench for the Saints.

On a crisp November afternoon, Diamonds took to the field in their Red Strip, with Tony Godden having to bring in Chris Plummer to replace the injured Glenn Wilson. Simeon Jackson was joined on the bench by Ben Sedgemore, Daniel Chillingworth, Greg Pearson and Nicky Eyre, with Diamonds continuing to play the 4-4-2 formation reintroduced following the departure of Paul Hart.

St Albans kicked off towards the end occupied by the Diamonds fans, and within seven seconds were ahead. The ball went forward to Paul Watson, and the left back miscued his attempted pass to Tynan, with the ball running square across the area for Elliot Benyon to pounce and knock a simple goal past Tynan.

Any thought this might have been a freak, and the game would then settle were quickly dispelled as firstly Lee Tomlin had a great chance blocked at the other end, and then Damian Batt, who was to torment Paul Watson for the entire half put in a cross that the entire Diamonds defence watched, and allowed Lee Clarke an other simple finish. Diamonds were thus two down with only three minutes on the clock.

Two more great chances then fell to Lee Tomlin – the first well saved by Bastock, and the second stopped by what looked a clear foul, but the referee turned down the calls for a penalty. A third chance then fell to Tommo after a quick free kick, but again Paul Bastock pulled off a decent save, a feat he repeated from the same player a few minutes later after Tyrone Berry’s pace proved too much for the Saints defence.

The Diamonds defence was still looking shaky as the end-to-end stuff continued, and Scott Tynan was lucky that his charged down clearance squirmed out for a Goal Kick. Worse was to come in the 12th minute, as the central defenders got in each others way in clearing a routine high ball, and it was quickly laid off to Benyon who neatly scored in the right hand corner of the net.

So, after 15 minutes the Diamonds were three-nil down, and yet had probably matched the Saints in terms of possession and chances.

After 22 minutes Lee Tomlin jumped into the back of a defender, conceding a free kick. Manager Godden had clearly previously told Tomlin to steer clear of making such fouls, and raged at the teenager, issuing instructions to Simeon Jackson to get ready to come on. Although a bluff, a few St Albans fans encouraged him to carry out this threat, as clearly Tommo represented a major goal threat.

Tyrone Berry continued to threaten down the right, and Bastock had to make further decent saves, notably one from a Paul Watson shot as he tried to redeem himself for his earlier errors. Michael Rankine confused even his own team mates with a couple of headers, but he continued to worry the St Albans defence in the air and on the deck, as it looked more and more likely that at least one goal would be clawed back before half time.

Chris Plummer was having a quiet debut at right back, with most of the problems occurring down the St Albans right, led by Matt Hann.

With only one minute of added time, the score remained 3-0 until half-time, and the 479 travelling fans wondered whether the half-time team talk might result in a different performance in the second half, especially at the back.

Half-time: St Albans 3 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half started exactly as Diamonds fans had hoped. Within two minutes of the restart Lee Tomlin netted from the edge of the box following a good run and cross by Marcus Kelly.

That was the prelude to a complete period of domination for the Diamonds, as they created chance after chance, with it looking only a matter of time before further goals came.

After a number of skied attempts by Rankine and Tomlin, and some "how did they keep that out" moments as the St Albans defence adopted a siege mentality, the second goal came from a scramble following a cross in from the right. The goal was initially awarded to Michael Rankine, but others put it down to Marcus Kelly, and this seems to be the final verdict – Chris Plummer also played a part in the goal.

Hope and Hatswell were looking a threat at set pieces, as further efforts went wide, and Paul Bastock cut out a series of low crosses from Tyrone Berry.

There was still hope that the equaliser would come, and manager Godden kept the same side which was so threatening until the 75th minute when Jackson replaced Rankine.

Shortly afterwards, Diamonds looked to have finally made the chance that would earn a draw, as Tom Shaw broke from midfield, and was alone with only the keeper to beat – this he did, but his shot hit the post and rebounded to safety.

The game then lost momentum, as the Saints did the professional job of slowing the game down, including three substitutions of their own, and many injury breaks, although only 4 minutes were added on at the end.

However, St Albans held on to win what had been an immensely entertaining game – but one which puts R&DFC into the relegation spots, with only Southport having a worse record. With Tamworth sealing a good win, any thoughts of an easy ride in the FA Cup must be firmly dismissed after the defensive display seen at Clarence Park today.

Full-time: St Albans 3 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

Reporters MoM: Lee Tomlin (responded well to Tony Godden’s threat to take him off in the first half)

Teams

St Albans City:

1. Paul Bastock
2. Chris Seeby
5. Gary Elphick
17. David Theobald
23. Damien Batt
7. Matt Hann
4. Tom Davis (sub Cracknell 69)
8. Ranbir Marwa
6. Ben Walshe (sub Flynne 80)
10. Lee Clarke (sub Okuonghae 90+1)
21. Elliot Benyon

Subs
12. Dean Cracknell
14. Simon Martin
15 Lee Flynn
22 Magnus Okuonghae
13 Ricky Perks

Rushden and Diamonds

20 Scott Tynan
3 Paul Watson (Sub Chillingworth 90)
5 Chris Hope
6 Wayne Hatswell
25 Chris Plummer
15 Tyrone Berry
7 Dave Savage
18 Tom Shaw
11 Marcus Kelly
8 Michael Rankine (Sub Jackson 75)
14 Lee Tomlin

Subs
1 Nicky Eyre
10 Daniel Chillingworth
12 Simeon Jackson
16 Greg Pearson
24 Ben Sedgemore

Referee: Keith Yeo (Aveley)

Attendance: 1236 – (479 away fans)

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Yeovil Town 1

Diamonds produced a major shock after a magnificent display knocked Yeovil out of the F A Cup at Nene Park.

The home side opened the scoring through captain Chris Hope before Michae Rankine doubled the lead early in the second half. Chris Cohen pulled one back for the visitors before Rankine sent the Diamonds fans wild with a clynical strike.

Caretaker manager Tony Godden made three changes to the side that narrowly lost at home to Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend. Scott Tynan was preferred to Nicky Eyre in goal; Michael Rankine replaced Simeon Jackson in attack while Tom Shaw got the nod over Ben Sedgemore.

Yeovil were without four of their regular players including both central defenders – Terry Skiverton was injured while Scott Guyett was suspended – while both loanees Marcus Stewart and Martin Britton were unavailable.

Yeovil started like a train forcing early corners but it was Diamonds who created the first shot on goal after three minutes when Steve Mildenhall produced a wonderful save to deny Paul Watson’s fine volley. From the resultant corner Lee Tomlin just couldn’t direct his short range effort past the Yeovil ‘keeper after receiving Shaw’s overhead kick.

On 9 minutes there were loud appeals for a penalty after Rankine went sprawling in the area but referee Mr Singh rightly had none of it.

After a period of Diamonds dominance, the visitors came back into the game a little more with two efforts from Lee Morris comfortably dealt with by Tynan although the recalled ‘keeper did have his hands stung in the 17th minute following a rasping shot from Wayne Gray.

But it was Diamonds who looked the better side and they certainly weren’t daunted by their League One opponents. Yeovil’s patched up defence looked somewhat disorganised and moments later Mildenhall flapped at Watson’s corner before Shaw wasn’t too far away with a long range effort that went narrowly wide.

The breakthrough came after 28 minutes. Glenn Wilson’s throw-in picked out Dave Savage and the club captain’s first time cross allowed Hope to rise majestically above the Yeovil defence and glance the ball home.

It was no more than Diamonds deserved but could they continue their dominance? They certainly didn’t rest on their laurels and Tomlin – with his back towards goal – was unlucky when his flick went over the bar. Rankine’s header was too high before Shaw saw an attempted curler miss the target.

The home side went into the interval to a standing ovation and rightly so!

Half – time Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Yeovil Town

Diamonds opened the second period with an excellent run from Tomlin down the right as he continued to tease his opponents at will. Mildenhall played it safe shortly after by tipping a cross over the bar as Diamonds forced three corners in as many minutes.

The home side’s domination produced a second goal on 54 minutes thanks to a fine piece of opportunism from Rankine. Marcus Kelly headed on a long kick up field and Rankine hit a first time shot past Mildenhall from 25 yards. The celebrations said it all. Diamonds had one foot in the second round.

The visitors, who had been disappointing throughout – not surprisingly started to create one or two chances but it was Diamonds who came back looking for more. Another great run from Tomlin down the right came to nothing but on 56 minutes Nathan Jones had to clear Wayne Hatswell’s header off the line following Kelly’s corner.

Tynan did well to hold Mark Lynch’s shot before The Glovers threw themselves a lifeline on 61 minutes. Anthony  Barry threaded a pass through to Cohen on the right and the midfielder’s superb left foot curler gave Tynan no chance as it hit the roof of the net.

Now how would Diamonds react? They almost found themselves back on level terms within seconds of Yeovil’s goal when Morris’ 20 yard shot whistled inches past Tynan’s right hand post. Diamonds fans breathed a sigh of relief.

Yeovil were enjoying their best spell of the game but the Diamonds faithful needn’t have worried. On 75 minutes Kelly’s corner on the right beat everyone apart from the alert Rankine and the youngster superbly flung out a left boot to volley past the surprised Mildenhall.

The celebrations started again and while Cohen hit the post shortly after it was really game, set and match to the Conference side who made their opponents look second best. 63 places separated these old rivals but today you wouldn’t have known it! Diamonds go through to the second round and how they deserved their moment of glory!

Teams:

Diamonds: Scott Tynan, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Chris Hope (Capt), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine (Daniel Chillingworth 86), Marcus Kelly, Lee Tomlin (Simeon Jackson 82), Tyrone Berry, Tom Shaw (Ben Sedgemore 90)

Suns not used: Nicky Eyre, Daniel Grainger

Yeovil Town: Steve Mildenhall (Capt), Anthony Tonkin (Bradley Thomas 56), Nathan Jones, Terrell Forbes, Anthony Barry, Arron Davies, Wayne Gray (Daniel Webb 85), Chris Cohen, Mark Lynch, Lee Morris (Ishmael Welsh 77)

Referee: Mr J Singh

Booked: Shaw

Attendance: 2,530 (Away 599)

Diamonds MOM: Who else but the entire team -  but special mention to Tony Godden for getting his tactics spot on !

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 3

Diamonds put up a spirited fight against high fliers Dagenham but succumbed to a first half injury time goal at Nene Park.

Despite reports to the contrary, Diamonds caretaker boss Tony Godden was able to name striker Lee Tomlin in his starting line-up while new signing Ben Sedgemore came straight into the side to replace injured midfielder Jon Ashton. Tom Shaw and Daniel Grainger passed late fitness tests to take their place on the bench.

Dagenham made one change from the side that lost at home to Oxford United in the FA Cup. Sam Sloma came into midfield in place of the injured Jake Leberl.

Diamonds made the perfect start when they took the lead in the very first minute. Glenn Wilson’s long throw was only half cleared by David Rainford and Marcus Kelly’s deflected header found the left hand corner of the net with the help of Tony Roberts despairing hand.

The visitor’s response was swift and decisive. Craig Mackail – Smith raced onto Sam Saunders flick and although Nicky Eyre superbly saved the first shot, Mackail – Smith was on hand to hit the ball home.

Five minutes later and Dagenham were in front. This time it was Mackail – Smith the provider and leading scorer Paul Benson beautifully skipped round Wayne Hatswell before sliding the ball past Eyre.

The game settled after that but Dagenham always looked the more likely to add to their lead while Diamonds were restricted to a weak Lee Tomlin effort and a speculative shot from Dave Savage

But six minutes from the interval Rushden scored an equaliser. Tyrone Berry’s cross from the right was adjudged to have been handled by Benson in the area, referee Horwood had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and defender Paul Watson stepped up to rifle the ball into the roof of the net.

In the dying seconds of the half Dagenham regained their lead when Diamonds failed to clear a Sam Sloma corner from the right and Mackail – Smith stole in to head the loose ball home.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds  2 – 3 Dagenham & Redbridge

Dagenham almost extended their lead within a minute of the restart when Glen Southam skipped past Wilson but Eyre made a fine diving save to turn the ball round the post.

Hatswell tried his luck from 30 yards but his free – kick was woeful before a mistake from Kelly almost let in Benson but despite drawing Eyre he could only find the side netting.

On 52 minutes a fine run from Tyrone Berry allowed Simeon Jackson a chance from 12 yards but Roberts produced a wonderful one handed save to deny the Canadian U 20 international.

Tomlin then saw his shot tipped over the bar by the impressive Roberts before Jackson saw another effort deflected over the bar.

Benson continued to look dangerous going forward for the visitors and he sent a rising drive just over the bar before Dagenham came close to making the game safe on 74 minutes. Sloma whipped a free – kick in from the right and Mackail – Smith rose to head the ball goalwards only to see Eyre pull off a fantastic save to divert the ball over the bar.

Never say die Diamonds kept on plugging away and eleven minutes from time Tomlin put Jackson through but the youngster failed to find the target. The same combination was responsible again in the dying seconds but Jackson disappointingly didn’t trouble Roberts from 8 yards.

So another disappointing result but Diamonds can take a great deal of credit from the way they matched their opponents and the only real difference between the sides was the calibre of the finishing.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: – Nicky Eyre, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Marcus Kelly, Simeon Jackson, Lee Tomlin (Daniel Chillingworth 84), Tyrone Berry, Ben Sedgemore (Tom Shaw 80)

Subs Not Used: Scott Tynan, Leo Fortune – West, Daniel Grainger

Dagenham & Redbridge –  Tony Roberts, Sam Sloma, Shane Beckett, Sam Saunders (Cliff Akurang 87), Glen Southam, Craig Mackail -Smith, David Rainford, Scott Griffiths, Paul Benson, Anwar Uddin (Capt), Danny Foster

Subs Not Used: David Hogan, Tim Cole, Bai Mas Lettjallow, Paul Bruce

Booked:  Sedgemoor 27 (Foul), Kelly 58 (Foul), Southam 74 (Foul)

Sent off:

Referee: Mr Graham Horwood

Attendance: 2,039 (Away 241)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Dave Savage

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