York City 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

After a bright start, Rushden & Diamonds were comprehensively outplayed by a well-organised York City side. The travelling R&DFC fans suffered a dose of déjà vu with respect to the Grays game, as a Diamonds side playing an unconventional formation once again capitulated and conceded three goals in quick order. Fortunately, York were content with easing off after the third goal, rather than taking the chance to significantly improve their goal difference.

Manager Garry Hill played a similar formation to that used in the game at Grays, effectively 3-5-2. He made five changes from Saturday, following three games unchanged, although it wasn’t just in response to the poor performance against Southport, but because of injuries to Marcus Kelly and Danny Williams, and the unavailability of Curtis Woodhouse, as well as Paul Watson being dropped to the bench. Tom Shaw started after his good performance as substitute on Saturday, and Mark Wright was given his Diamonds debut with a role on the left, with Dave Savage also restored to the starting line up – so the five man midfield was Ashton, Savage, Mills, Shaw and Wright, with Jason Goodliffe getting a start as the back three idea from late in the game on Saturday was given a further airing. A further change, which appeared tactical, was to give Matt Baker his debut in the R&DFC goal. Youngster Lawrence Lambley was one of the attacking players on the bench, with Chris Beardsley joining Lee Tomlin and Paul Watson.

York City manager Billy McEwan kept the same line-up that had beaten Burton Albion at the weekend, and the York fans gave a warm reception to Jason Goodliffe, who had appeared on loan for them earlier in the season.

After a change of ends, York City kicked off towards their own fans, and after a shaky start by Matt Baker as he dropped an early free kick, it was the York City defence that was caught napping. A hopeful ball forwards by Jason Goodliffe appeared to have caught Michael Rankine offside, but as he kept well away from challenging for the ball, the York defence let the ball bounce, and on a firm pitch it looped over their heads for Simeon Jackson to run onto. As has been proved this season, Jackson does not often waste such chances, and his right foot shot went in-off the left hand post for the opening goal.

This seemed to unsettle the York defence for a while, and although the City attack was starting to look threatening, the best chance in the next quarter fell to Michael Rankine as he was played through by a header on by Jackson, and although a clear chance that most thought he would hit across goalkeeper Evans, he went for the near post, but could only find the side netting.

York then dominated the remainder of the half, with the Diamonds 3-5-2 formation constantly exposed by the York wide-men, notably down the York right when Ben Purkiss was able to push forwards along with Neal Bishop. Manny Panther and Steve Bowey made light of the numerical superiority that Diamonds had in midfield, using their power to dominate play, with outlets always available left and right – with Martyn Woolford also impressing on the left.

Matt Baker was called into action many times, using the full repertoire of catches, punches and tipping the ball out for a large number of corners, His defenders did not seem to know which way to turn, and previously solid performers such as Goodliffe, Hope and Albrighton were being turned inside out by the wide men. One save in particular high to his left from the danger man Clayton Donaldson helped to preserve the lead, as did ones from Steve Bowey and Craig Farrell.

Diamonds did create a further chance in the half, with Dave Savage setting up Mark Wright, but his snapshot was well over the bar. Apart from that, the Diamonds goal was largely under siege as it had been for the first half at Grays, with the ball rarely finding its way upfield for the visitors. The York fans had a loud appeal for a penalty after a Dave Savage challenge on Purkiss, but the claim was waved away.

Just as it was beginning to look like the lead might be preserved until half-time, the inevitable happened on 41 minutes, although it was in the left channel where Craig James and Manny Panther combined, and James’ cross was met with a firm header from Clayton Donaldson from 15 yards out.

After awarding the goal, referee Matadar made a hasty exit from the game, with Assistant Referee Madley living up to his billing, as an appeal went out from a replacement fourth official. Within a minute Mr Madley made his mark, booking Mark Albrighton for a foul on Woolford.

After some confusion about how many extra minutes were to be played in the half, during which York had several further dangerous attacks, Mr Madley brought the half to a close.

Half Time: York City 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half started after a short delay, after Jon Ashton came out with the wrong shirt, and there were almost two Dave Savage’s on the field.

Any hope that the York City tide might be turned as the teams changed ends were quickly dashed within five minutes of the restart, as a break down the right saw a low cross eluded Baker on his right hand post, and Clayton Donaldson was able to squeeze between two defenders to force the ball home.

The travelling Diamonds fans were looking for the team to try to slow the game down for a while to avoid a repeat of the three goals in short order they had seen at Grays when playing this formation, but those hopes were quickly dashed as a City attack saw a cross from Purkiss being punched out by Baker under pressure from Farrell, but the ball fell straight to Steve Bowey on the edge on the box, and his looping strike dropped in under the bar on the right hand side of the goal. This made the scoreline 3-1 in under 55 minutes, and it was the third York goal in less than 15 minutes.

Further danger came for the Diamonds as Mark Wright went forward to take a free kick on the right, and as his kick went straight into Evans arms, the resulting York break saw their forwards with acres of space where Wright would have been, but again a desperate challenge to concede a corner saved the day.

Manager Hill then responded to cries from the fans to change things, although his first move on the hour mark was to restore Paul Watson in place of Mark Wright, starting the transition towards the conventional 4-4-2 formation.

City really should have had their fourth goal, when a break through the middle by Woolford saw Donaldson and Farrell free in space on either side of him, with a simple looking run-in on goal facing either of them, but he selfishly chose to shoot straight at Baker.

Lee Tomlin was then introduced, but rather than attempting to try three up front to salvage something from the game, he replaced Michael Rankine on 73 minutes.

Craig Farrell was looking more threatening in this half, and with a couple of stepovers that bamboozled the defence, he might have increased the lead.

Diamonds did have one threatening attack in the half, with a ball from the left finding Jon Ashton running in on the right to challenge Evans for the loose ball, and it broke to the Diamonds man but he could not find the empty net from a shallow angle.

York relaxed considerably as the game entered its final 10 minutes, and were content to make a triple substitution on 87 minutes, along with Diamonds giving a first team league debut to Lawrence Lambley, and suddenly Diamonds had an attacking threat down both flanks, albeit with the York defence looking able to ensure that nothing reached a Rushden player in the area.

There was still time for a couple more York chances, including one to substitute Brodie, which was well saved by the overworked Baker.

So, after initial promise, the Diamonds fell to a comprehensive defeat. Some explanation might be the enforced absence of certain players, but the tactics were no more effective in Yorkshire than they had been in Essex.

Diamonds now have to pick themselves up for Kidderminster’s visit to Nene Park on Saturday, especially given Conference safety is still not 100% certain, but also to convince the fans that the current blip in form, performance and results is only temporary.

Full-time: York City 3 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Teams:

York City (Red / White): Tom Evans, Ben Purkiss, Danny Parslow, David McGurk, Craig James, Martyn Woolford, Emmanuel Panther, Neal Bishop (Ross Greenwood 87), Steve Bowey (Mark Convery 87), Craig Farrell (Richard Brodie 87), Clayton Donaldson

Subs not used: Anthony Lloyd, Paddy Gamble

Rushden & Diamonds (Blue):, Matt Baker, Chris Hope, Mark Albrighton, Jason Goodliffe, Jon Ashton (Lawrence Lambley 87), Danny Williams, Curtis Woodhouse, Mark Wright (Paul Watson 60), Michael Rankine (Lee Tomlin 73), Simeon Jackson

Subs Not Used Scott Tynan,  Chris Beardsley

Goals: Simeon Jackson (3), Clayton Donaldson (41, 50), Steve Bowey (54)

Yellow Cards: Albrighton (Foul 44)

Referee: Mo Matadar (replaced on 43 minutes by Mr A J Madley)

Assistants: A J Madley, M Bristow (M Trigg)

Attendance: 2955 (Away 116).

Reporters Man of the Match: Matt Baker (some excellent saves – although might have done better on a couple of the goals – but no other contenders)

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