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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