Gravesend & Northfleet 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Rushden & Diamonds dropped a valuable point in a game played in dreadful conditions at Stonebridge Road. After having the better of the first half playing with wind and rain in their faces, the Diamonds players faded in the second half, allowing Fleet to score a winner with one of their rare chances of the afternoon. The disappointment was increased with the news of a number of injuries with the Tamworth game only two days away.

Manager Westley made one change to the team that beat Cambridge, with Curtis Woodhouse returning to the starting line-up in place of Simeon Jackson. The Fleet top scorer Charlie McDonald was a surprise absentee, with Onome Sodje taking his place, and his strike partner Mark DeBolla making a return from injury with a place on the bench.

Diamonds lined up with Glenn Wilson in a defensive midfield role as at Cambridge, in front of a back four of Watson, Hatswell, Hope and Ashton. Marcus Kelly remained in central midfield, with Curtis Woodhouse playing on the left, and Chilli joined Michael Rankine up front.

Diamonds kicked off away from the open terrace their fans were occupying, although their numbers there had been halved to the hardy souls who had not taken refuge from the rain.

Diamonds had the better of the first half, with Gravesend only really having a serious attempt on goal in the last few minutes of the half, despite playing with the strong wind and rain at their backs.

In the second minute a great move with interchange between Rankine, Chilli and Woodhouse resulted in a dangerous cross the Fleet defence failed to deal with, although Glenn Wilson could only blaze over.

A good run by Marcus Kelly and through ball to Chilli won the first Diamonds corner on 5 minutes. The corner, taken by Paul Watson saw Dave Savage make a late run into the box, but his shot was just over the bar.

After the first quarter of an hour was dominated by the Diamonds the match began to turn into a midfield battle, with Woodhouse, Savage and Kelly dominant, but although both Chilli and Rankine were making good runs, the threat remained well outside of the box until the 32nd minute, when another good interchange between Woodhouse and Chillingworth saw a great cross narrowly missed by Michael Rankine, but fell to Glenn Wilson who had made a good run into the area, but his shot went rather tamely to goalkeeper Cronin.

On 38 minutes Fleet had their one threatening attack of the first half, with Coleman setting up Luke Moore, but his shot flashed across goal.

The half ended with a booking for Michael Rankine, following a shoulder charge on a Fleet defender – either for an accumulation of fouls, or for something he said to the referee in frustration.

Half-time: Gravesend & Northfleet 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

After putting up a good performance against the wind in the first half, it was hoped that the Diamonds could take advantage of the elements in the second.

Simeon Jackson was introduced for the second half in place of Jon Ashton, who had sustained an injury – Glenn Wilson reverted to defence, and Chilli dropped back into midfield.

Fleet seemed to have a new energy in the second half, with threats down both wings, as they took advantage of the wind holding the ball up.

On 52 minutes ex-Diamond Peter Hawkins was outstripped by Michael Rankine, and received a yellow card for the trip that halted Rankine’s run.

Simeon Jackson initially failed to make an impression, as he struggled to keep his feet in the slippery conditions, and Michael Rankine was caught offside several times as the Diamonds attacks petered out. A series of Fleet corners came to nothing, as Paul McCarthy picked up their second booking of the afternoon – for dissent.

A good break by Jackson looked threatening, but he chose to shoot rather than trying to pick out the unmarked Rankine, and Cronin saved well.

Further Fleet attacks were still not really resulting in Tynan having to make a save, although a couple of great chances in the area, following quickly taken corners, were wasted by Quinn, who seemed to be getting too much time on the ball in dangerous central positions.

Tyrone Berry replaced Chilli on 65 minutes – with Chilli appearing to have taken a knock, and it was Berry who had the Diamonds best chance of the day shortly afterwards, with a forcing run into the area, but his cross / shot flicked off a defender and into Cronin’s arms.

Shortly afterwards Simeon Jackson was himself substituted by Lee Tomlin, with Lee making a number of interesting flicks and runs, but with the same end product as the others tried in that position.

On 83 minutes Fleet took the lead – a good run down the left by Keeling resulted in a cross which wasn’t well judged by the Diamonds defence, and Onome Sodje was allowed to turn and shoot into the bottom left corner.

Diamonds were visibly tiring in the conditions, and possibly carrying other knocks, and didn’t really threaten an equaliser, so the game ended in a Fleet victory.

Diamonds will be disappointed to lose to a late goal, but the overall performance was encouraging, and hopefully this will be carried forward to Monday’s game against Tamworth.

It would be especially disappointing for the band of travelling fans following the long journey, with the delays enroute, and after braving the appalling weather.

Full-time: Gravesend & Northfleet 1 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Teams:

Gravesend and Northfleet: Lance Cronin, Ross Smith, Paul McCarthy, Peter Hawkins, Sacha Opinel (Sub Keeling 67, Purcell 86), Liam Coleman (Sub DeBolla 67), Stacy Long, Robert Quinn, Danny Slatter, Onome Sodje, Luke Moore

Subs Not Used Sam Mott (GK), James Smith

Rushden & Diamonds: Scott Tynan, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton (Sub Jackson 45, Tomlin 81), Chris Hope, Wayne Hatswell, Glenn Wilson, Dave Savage, Curtis Woodhouse, Marcus Kelly, Daniel Chillingworth (Sub Berry 65), Michael Rankine

Subs not used: Martin Margarson (GK), Ben Sedgemore

Subs not used:

Booked: Rankine (43 dissent), Hawkins (52 Foul), McCarthy (67 Dissent), Long (72 Dissent)

Sent Off:

Referee: Mr S Cook

Attendance: 1,110 (Away approx 200).

Reporters Man of the Match : Curtis Woodhouse

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Cambridge United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Graham Westley got his Diamonds managerial debut off to the perfect start with Diamonds recording their first ever victory at the Abbey Stadium thanks to a Marcus Kelly first half goal.

Diamonds new manager announced three changes to the side that narrowly beat Scarborough some ten days ago. Scott Tynan replaced Nicky Eyre in goal after the former No.1 was released just before Christmas. In came Glenn Wilson and Simeon Jackson to replace Tyrone Berry and Curtis Woodhouse, who were both named on the bench.

Cambridge boss Jimmy Quinn made six changes to the side that lost 5-0 at Histon in the FA Carlsberg Trophy. Defender Danny Brown was suspended, while out through injury were David Bridges (ankle), Tommy Jaszczun (toe) and former Diamond Ritchie Hanlon (knee). Captain Andy Duncan returned to the side, with Paul Crichton resuming in goal after serving a suspension for the Histon game. Left back Jordan Collins was given his first team debut for the U’s, while former Diamonds favourites Rob Gier and Jon Brady were also in the starting line-up. Michael Gash joined Robbie Simpson in attack.

During the opening exchanges, Cambridge were clearly trying to erase the memory of their previous game, and were pushing forward at every occasion. Diamonds defence looked fairly resolute and despite the U’s possession, appeared to be dealing confidently with any threat on goal. Neither side was troubling the opposing keeper however and the first effort on goal eventually came from Michael Rankine on 10 minutes, but his shot went wide of the right hand post.

Cambridge continued to push forward but without any real penetration. Paul Watson received a yellow card on 19 minutes after a foul on Robbie Simpson. The resultant free kick found Collins able to put in a dangerous cross for Michael Gash, but his header was safely gathered in by Tynan. Both Courtney Pitt and Jon Brady were managing to get in a number of crosses. On 22 minutes, Pitt’s cross was put out for a corner. Captain Andy Duncan got his head onto the corner kick, but was unable to get any direction, heading over the bar.

Cambridge had a strong appeal for a penalty on 26 minutes when Wayne Hatswell and Robbie Simpson went up for the same ball, but the referee waved play on as the ball was cleared. As Cambridge continued to press forward, a Brady free kick found Morrison with a free header, but Tynan had the ball covered at the near post. On 28 minutes, Cambridge had the ball in the net. Courney Pitt floated in a cross for Michael Gash, who slotted the ball into the net, but the linesman flagged for offside and the goal disallowed. Despite all the Cambridge pressure, the number of clear-cut chances was very limited with Tynan punching clear whenever the defence were unable to deal with the danger. During a Diamonds break, Jackson was fouled and the free kick from Watson headed over by Chillingworth.

Diamonds got another breakaway on 40 minutes when Brady gave the ball away to Simeon Jackson in the centre circle. Brady tried to retrieve the situation, but brought down Jackson receiving a yellow card for his troubles. The free kick by Watson was aimed at Wayne Hatswell, but Crichton in the Cambridge goal managed to punch the ball away to safety.

Scott Tynan was looking quite confident in goal having replaced Nicky Eyre as No.1 keeper. He was called into action again on 43 minutes when he had to punch away another cross, this time from Collins, but the clearance gave Diamonds the chance to start another attack down the right flank. Wilson put in a long throw, which was cleared out for a Diamonds corner. Marcus Kelly took the inswinging corner and the keeper was totally distracted as Rankine and Chillingworth both tried to get on the end of it. The ball bypassed everyone and went in at the far post without another touch to give Kelly his fourth goal of the season. For all the U’s pressure, it was Diamonds who took the chance when it came their way, and although the home side were disappointed to go into the break a goal behind, they had paid the price for poor finishing.

Half-time Cambridge United 0 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Cambridge went immediately on the attack again at the start of the second half. Brady had a shot blocked and Collins had a shot saved by Tynan on the line in the opening minutes. Wayne Hatswell received a yellow card after protesting too severely over an alleged foul that the referee failed to award. Stephen Smith came on to replace Rob Wolleaston in the Cambridge midfield and had an effort on goal that went well wide. Cambridge continued to squander chances with Robbie Simpson  unable to direct a header on target. Diamonds continued to defend well, and were satisfied to attack the U’s on the break. Kelly put in a good cross on the hour mark, but the Cambridge defence cleared before Jackson could get a shot away. Moments later, it was Diamonds who had a goal disallowed when Rankine challenged Crichton in the Cambridge goal forcing him to drop the ball, but a free kick was given for a foul on the keeper. In addition, Rankine received a yellow card.

Robbie Simpson headed wide, on 64 minutes, and Tynan continued to punch away any danger rather than attempt to catch the ball, which was proving most effective. Diamonds had another break midway through the second half, but as Jackson and Kelly ran at the U’s defence, both were brought down. This time, it was Stephen Smith who received a yellow card. In fact Jackson had to go off following the challange, with Curtis Woodhouse coming on as an extra midfielder.

Kelly made a good run on 69 minutes, which resulted in another corner. This time, Kelly played it short and received the ball back. His shot was saved at the second attempt. At the other end, Gash had another header straight at Tynan, and the keeper saved well from Brady as the second half entered its final phase. Diamonds had overcome everything Cambridge had to offer and started to mount more and more attacks in the final ten minutes. A Chillingworth shot went wide, while another effort went out for a corner. Apart from an attempt by Stephen Smith, Diamonds looked quite secure and even the five minutes of extra time failed to affect their resolve. In extra time, a Woodhouse free kick was put out for a corner. Both Wilson and Watson supported to keep the ball in the Cambridge half.

Only in the final seconds was their the slightest moment of panic when Ashton and Tynan couldn’t decide who should clear the ball and it ended with a Cambridge corner. It was all too late and Diamonds had secured their first away victory since September 12th!

Graham Westley had spent his first week at Nene Park trying to instil a “will to win” attitude, and it seemed to work a treat. Although the game was a poor spectacle for those present, Diamonds third victory in three games is something that hadn’t been achieved for over three and a half years since the Division 3 championship winning season. It certainly gave the five hundred visiting supporters an extra Christmas present and the mutual applause at the end of the game was much appreciated.

Full-time: Cambridge United 0 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Teams:

Cambridge United – Paul Crichton, Andy Duncan (c), Jordan Collins, Jon Brady, Rob Gier, Courtney Pitt, Michael Gash (Danny Carey-Bertram 88), Joshua Simpson, Rob Wolleaston (Stephen Smith 51), Michael Morrison, Robbie Simpson (Liam Marum 71).

Subs not used: Mark Peters, Shane Herbert(GK).

Rushden & Diamonds – Scott Tynan, Glenn Wilson, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine, Daniel Chillingworth (Tyrone Berry 87), Marcus Kelly, Simeon Jackson (Curtis Woodhouse 67).

Subs not used: Martyn Margarson(GK), Lee Tomlin, Ben Sedgemore.

Booked: Paul Watson (19 – foul), Jon Brady (40 – foul), Wayne Hatswell (52 – dissent), Michael Rankine (61 – foul), Stephen Smith (66 – foul).

Referee:         Mr N.Kinseley (Essex)

Attendance:   3,000 (498 visiting supporters)

Reporters Man of the Match: Scott Tynan.

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Scarborough 2

 

FA Carlsberg Trophy

Rushden and Diamonds were very fortunate to move to the second round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy with a 3-2 win over Scarborough courtesy of a winning goal scored by Curtis Woodhouse in the third minute of injury time.

Rushden reverted to a 4-4-2 formation after the 4-5-1 of last Saturday, with Daniel Chillingworth earning a rare start in place of the absent Tom Shaw. Jon Ashton remained at right back, with Glenn Wilson only returning to the bench.

Scarborough fielded the side that completed their game against Redditch in midweek.

Yet another bright winter day greeted the two sides, with Denny Ingram the Scarborough captain asking Rushden to kick off facing the last of the afternoon sun.

The first half started brightly, with Scarborough winning a corner straight from the kick off, and a late flag depriving Dan Chillingworth of a run through on goal.

After 5 minutes a great hook forwards by Dave Savage found the overlapping Jon Ashton. His well hit shot seemed to be covered by goalkeeper Wilberforce, but the linesman on the North Stand side flagged that the ball had crossed the line, and a goal was awarded. The Scarborough protests resulted in Wilberforce earning the first yellow card of the game, but the goal stood.

The 4-4-2 formation appeared to be working well, with a number of chances being created early on, notably by Marcus Kelly, whose good work earned the Diamonds first corner on 15 minutes.

This corner was taken by Paul Watson, and via a near post flick on the ball reached Daniel Chillingworth who headed it home to give Diamonds a 2-0 lead.

However, any thought that the game was about to become one-way traffic were quickly dispelled, as Scarborough launched a series of quick breaks with their wide men looking especially dangerous. On 22 minutes a fairly innocuous long ball that Wayne Hatswell appeared to have plenty of time to deal with, suddenly became dangerous as he dwelt on the ball, in the vain hope it might roll out for a goal kick, allowing Tony Hackworth to challenge and win the ball, and then fire a powerful shot that beat Nicky Eyre on his near post.

Worse was to come on 28 minutes, when an attempted clearance by Wayne Hatswell skewed straight into the air, and then an attempted punch by Eyre also went straight up and down, and fell to 16-years old Ged Dalton to rifle home.

So, with only 30 minutes gone, four goals had been scored and yet the quality of play was more akin to what might be seen in Nationwide North.

On 31 minutes Mark Hotte became the second player to see yellow following a foul on Tyrone Berry.

The match then began to calm down, but there was still time before half-time for Michael Rankine to hit a good shot, well saved by Wilberforce, and a great run by Dave Savage, beating three men, until stopped by the fourth defender.

Scarborough remained a threat, with Jon Ashton having to show how well he had fitted in to the right back role to stop good runs from left winger Darren Thornton. In fact, they could easily have taken the lead, as Jamie Vermiglio ran through a static defence to hit a shot that beat Eyre, but hit the far post, then rolled just in front of the goalline towards the near post until cleared.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 – 2 Scarborough

The second half started brightly with Wilberforce making a great save from Rankine, but on the whole the half failed to provide the action seen in the first half. Although the Diamonds had more of possession, their final shots lacked conviction. Scarborough, on the other hand, pulled out a number of good saves from Nicky Eyre as he attempted to atone for his part in the Scarborough goals.

At the other end Wayne Hatswell also had a couple of goal-scoring chances from set pieces to make amends, but each only resulted in an easy save for Wilberforce.

Tony Godden then started to change things to try and force a result, with Simeon Jackson coming on for Tyrone Berry, initially playing out wide right, then Greg Pearson came on for Rankine, but perhaps it was the final substitution was the most telling, as Ben Sedgemore came on for Chilli, with Simeon moving to the middle and Curtis Woodhouse pushing forwards.

The three minutes of the signalled added minutes were up, with the referee checking his watch for what appeared to be the final time, as a cross from the right was met at the far post by Curtis Woodhouse, whose well directed shot nestled into the far corner.

The referee allowed play to restart, and another Eyre save prevented a dramatic equaliser before the final whistle sounded.

Diamonds players, officials and fans can breathe a sigh of relief that they do not have to make the long trip North on Tuesday night. Although they shaded the midfield battle, it was the Scarborough attack that caused the most trouble for the opposition goalkeeper.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 3 – 2 Scarborough

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Nicky Eyre, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope, Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine (Greg Pearson 78), Marcus Kelly, Tyrone Berry (Simeon Jackson 62), Daniel Chillingworth (Ben Sedgemore 87), Curtis Woodhouse.

Subs not used: Scott Tynan, Glenn Wilson

Scarborough: Mark Wilberforce, Ashley Lyth, Mark Hotte, Lee Cartwright, Jimmy Beadle, Denny Ingram, Ged Dalton (Ryan Blott 80), Jamie Vermiglio, Tony Hackworth, Chris Thompson, Darren Thornton.

Subs not used: Dominic Amos, Sean Davies

Goals: Wilberforce (O.G) (5 mins), Chillingworth (15 mins), Hackworth (22 mins), Dalton (28 mins), Woodhouse (90+3 mins)

Booked: Wilberforce (5 – dissent), Hotte (31 – foul).

Sent Off:

Referee: Mr M Naylor (Sheffield)

Attendance: 1,152 (Away 114).

Diamonds Man of the Match: Curtis Woodhouse

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Oxford United 0

 

Title favourites Oxford United succumbed to only their second defeat of the season, with Diamonds finally ending their run of twelve games without a win. A Curtis Woodhouse header after 7 minutes was enough to take three points for the first time in six weeks.

Tony Godden’s team selection meant that Michael Rankine was on his own in attack, with Woodhouse and Shaw given the job to support as often as possible. Glenn Wilson was unavailable due to personal reasons, while Jon Ashton returned to the starting line up to face his former club. Nicky Eyre was preferred in goal, with Scott Tynan dropping to the bench.

Oxford manager Jim Smith was without Chris Willmott due to a knee ligament injury, with former Diamond John Dempster taking his place, while Steve Basham was preferred to Matthew Day in attack. Billy Turley kept his place in goal despite suffering slight concussion last weekend.

Diamonds started confidently despite being at opposite ends of the League table, It was Michael Rankine who had the first chance on 3 minutes when he received a through ball from Tom Shaw. Rankine fired a shot at goal, which Turley just managed to tip onto the post and away for a corner. Oxford’s first opportunity came shortly after, when Hatswell mis-timed a header, but former Diamond Robert Duffy was unable to take advantage.

On 7 minutes, the long suffering Diamonds supporters finally had something to cheer about. A long through ball from Chris Hope found Tyrone Berry on the right. After taking on the defender and getting to the by-line, he managed to despatch a cross to Curtis Woodhouse, who made a full length dive to head home his first goal for Diamonds.

The goal gave the team a lot of confidence, and although Oxford were dangerous pressing forward with Andy Burgess controlling midfield, Diamonds were able to extinguish any danger from the Oxford strikers.

Oxford tried to regain the initiative and had a number of free kicks over the next 15 minutes, but all were dealt with quite comfortably at the back. On 22 minutes, the ever dangerous Burgess crossed in from the right, but Duffy put his header wide of Nicky Eyre’s goal.

Shortly after, Curtis Woodhouse robbed Dempster in the centre circle, but just couldn’t keep his feet. Although the ball was played back to Turley, Rankine was very close to blocking the clearance.

After half an hour, Dempster tried a long shot, but again failed to trouble Eyre. Moments later, Burgess took a quick free-kick to Duffy but his diving header went wide of the goal. One could see Diamonds growing in confidence as the game progressed with some slick passing. Towards the end of the half, Oxford’s best chance came after Eyre punched the ball away. The ball went high into the air and a header back towards goal was cleared on the line by Ashton before a goalmouth scramble ended in a Diamonds free-kick.

Just before half time, Michael Rankine nearly got a second for Diamonds when he took the ball down the left and tried to curl the ball over Turley. Although the shot went over Turley, it also went over the bar.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Oxford United

Oxford made one substitution at half time, with Matthew Day replacing Chris Hargreaves. As the second half progressed, Watson made a good run down the left pushing the ball forward to Kelly, but his cross just drifted over the bar. Rankine was winning most balls up front and his lone effort of holding the ball up was working quite well.

Yemi Odubade came on for Hargreaves on 56 minutes and appeared to improve Oxford’s attacking option, with the U’s having more possession. Diamonds were still dangerous on the break and on 59 minutes, Rankine nearly extended the lead after dispossessing an Oxford defender. His shot was blocked by Turley as he narrowed the angle.

Although Oxford played some nice football, they were unable to penetrate Diamonds with the tall defenders being able to clear virtually all of the danger. Paul Watson, playing his best game for some time, took a powerful free kick on 68 minutes but his shot was cleared by Day. Although Oxford were the more attacking of the two sides, the number of chances were fairly even. Oxford were dealt another blow on 71 minutes when Matthew Day appeared to twist on his right ankle and had to be stretchered down the tunnel.

On 80 minutes, Diamonds had another great chance, when Tom Shaw met Berry’s cross from the right. He beat Turley at the near post, but the ball went inches wide of the post and into the side netting.

Andy Burgess was continually dangerous with his free kicks and dangerous crosses but all were safely dealt with and there were little in the way of clear cut chances. As the 90 minutes ended, the determination was evident and this time, there was no danger of a goal in the four minutes of added time.

Tony Godden was delighted with the grit and determination shown by his side which proved to be the deciding factor in getting the result. It was difficult to single out a man of the match, but Curtis Woodhouse is improving with match fitness and the tireless Michael Rankine worked his socks off yet again. While the choice of playing a solitary striker may have raised some eyebrows, the tactics were spot on and gave the caretaker manager a boost after last week’s FA Cup defeat.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Oxford United

 

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Nicky Eyre, Paul Watson, Jon Ashton, Chris Hope, Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine (Daniel Chillingworth 77), Marcus Kelly, Tyr

one Berry (Simeon Jackson 87), Tom Shaw, Curtis Woodhouse.

Subs not used: Scott Tynan, Daniel Grainger, Ben Sedgemore.

Oxford United: Billy Turley, Eddie Anaclet, Gavin Johnson, Barry Quinn (Matthew Day HT, Jamie Slabber 71), Phil Gilchrist (c), Carl Pettefer, Steve Basham, Christian Hargreaves (Yemi Odubade 56), Andy Burgess, Robert Duffy, John Dempster.

Subs not used: Chris Tardif, Josh Kennet.

Booked: Paul Watson (58 – foul), John Dempster (67 – foul).

Sent Off:

Referee: Mr R.Fletcher

Attendance: 3,270 (Away 1,386).

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Towergate: Curtis Woodhouse

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Tamworth 2

Tamworth shattered Diamonds cup dreams at Nene Park after an inept performance by the home side.

Steve Burton opened the scoring for the visitors before John McGrath extended Tamworth’s lead. Substiute Tom Shaw scored a consolation goal late on but by then it was too late for a Diamonds side that seemed to have little fight for the job.

Diamonds caretaker manager Tony Godden was looking for a repeat performance of the last time these two sides met back in September when Rushden ran out comfortable 4 – 1 winners. Godden made two changes from the side that lost to Aldershot last weekend. Peterborough refused permission for defender Chris Plummer to play in the F A Cup so Wayne Hatswell was recalled to central defence. Michael Rankine was preferred to Simeon Jackson up front.

Tamworth included player manager and former Diamonds midfielder Mark Cooper on the bench.

Diamonds kicked off towards the Peter De Banke Terrace and it was fully five minutes before either side had a shot on goal. Steve Burton was far too high with a speculative long range shot while Glenn Wilson couldn’t keep his shot down after a patient Diamonds move.

Daryl Taylor’s blistering pace surprised Paul Watson down the right but Chris Hope got back well to clear the danger.

On 11 minutes Taiwo Atieno found space and time to try his luck from 25 yards but Tynan got his body fully behind the shot.

Five minutes later Wilson picked out Rankine in the penalty area and his backward header was drilled only narrowly wide by Marcus Kelly through a crowd of players.

After a period of inactivity Diamonds came close to taking the lead on 27 minutes. A long throw from Wilson caused chaos in the Tamworth defence and there were loud appeals for handball before both Hope and Kelly had shots blocked. From the resultant corner, Lee Tomlin almost got a touch on Hope’s downward header but Taylor saw the ball out for a corner.

Eight minutes later Kelly hit a ferocious drive which whistled past the right hand upright as Diamonds increased the tempo and started to dominate the game. Tomlin had another appeal for a penalty denied before Tyrone Berry was sandwiched just outside the area but yet again referee Graham incensed the home crowd by unbelievably waiving play on!

However, against the run of play Tamworth took the lead four minutes from the interval and again the referee was at the centre of another controversial decision when he adjudged Wilson to have fouled Taylor just inside the Diamonds half. John McGrath whipped in the free kick and although Tynan did well to push away Simon Heslop’s header he could do nothing to stop Burton’s follow-up volley.

In the dying seconds of the half Rankine missed a glorious chance to get Diamonds back on level terms. Curtis Woodhouse fired Berry’s cross goalwards and when the ball came out it only went as far as Rankine who completely missed the target from 8 yards.

Half-time Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 1 Tamworth

Rankine was given a ticking off for a bad tackle on Simon Weaver early in the second half. But far from increasing the tempo as they searched for an equaliser, Diamonds were disappointingly flat and very rarely threatened to turn good possession into positive attacks.

Indeed the opening stages of the half were non-descript to say the least as neither side looked anything but ordinary.

On 65 minutes an excellent move from Diamonds almost produced a deserved equaliser. Rankine superbly headed down Kelly’s cross to Dave Savage who’s first time shot was superbly turned away by the impressive Jose Veiga.

Seven minutes later McGrath sent a long range effort high and wide but the same player made no mistake on 76 minutes when he made the game safe for the West Midlanders. There appeared little danger when the midfielder picked the ball up 25 yards out but McGrath curled a wonderful shot past the despairing Tynan to put the game out of Diamonds reach.

Rankine saw a disappointing header go wide before Shaw gave the home side renewed hope five minutes from time. Woodhouse took the ball on the overlap and when his cross from the left was deflected back to Shaw, the teenage substitute steered the ball home.

The equaliser almost came in the dying seconds when Daniel Chillingworth got in a header but Veiga was again equal to the challenge to send Tamworth into the Third Round for the second consecutive year.

So a thoroughly disappointing performance from Diamonds and worryingly it was the lack of passion and fight which will upset many of their loyal fans who will now wonder if this team has the bottle for the long relegation fight ahead.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: –  Scott Tynan, Glenn Wilson (Daniel Chillingworth 82), Paul Watson, Chris Hope (c), Wayne Hatswell, Dave Savage, Michael Rankine, Marcus Kelly (Tom Shaw 67), Lee Tomlin, Tyrone Berry, Curtis Woodhouse

Subs Not Used: Nicky Eyre, Simeon Jackson, Ben Sedgemore

Tamworth – Jose Veiga, Adie Smith (c), Steve Burton, Jon Stevenson, Graeme Law, Daryl Taylor, Simon Weaver, John McGrath (Kyle Storer 89), Ryan Laight, Taiwo Atieno, Simon Heslop

Subs Not Used: Dale Belford, Matty Williams, Mark Cooper, Lee Moore

Booked:  Simon Weaver 54 (Foul)

Referee: Mr F Graham

Attendance:  2,815 (Away 731)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Curtis Woodhouse

By Chris Barritt

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