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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