Rushden & Diamonds 1 Northwich Victoria 0

Diamonds took the three points in this mid-table clash thanks a Curtis Woodhouse 62nd minute strike, but they made hard work of what should have been a relatively easy victory.

In the final home game of the season, Garry Hill made three changes to the side which beat Woking on Saturday. Tom Shaw suffered two fractured bones in his right foot during that game, while Simeon Jackson and Wayne Hatswell were dropped to the bench. In came Lawrence Lambley for his first League start, while Lee Tomlin and Mark Albrighton also started. Youth team midfielder Jake Beecroft was on the bench, replacing Chris Beardsley.

Northwich manager Steve Burr only had fifteen fit players to chose from, but made one change from the side that lost at home to Burton Albion at the weekend. Terry Barwick was preferred to Matt Shaw, who dropped to the bench. Danny Mayman, Stuart Elliot and Michael Carr were all still out with knee injuries, while Gareth Griffiths remained sidelined with a shoulder problem.

Diamonds started strongly with a Woodhouse effort being deflected off target, and shots from Tomlin and Williams were saved by keeper Phil Senior in the Northwich goal. This was their eighth game in sixteen days due to their FA Trophy run and they looked tired. They had to wait until the 14th minute before their first shot when Carlos Roca attempt was easily held by Matt Baker.

Curtis Woodhouse got into trouble with the referee early on when a late challenge earned him a yellow card, while keeper Matt Baker had to be alert on 17 minutes, but was down quickly to smother a low shot from Kevin Townson. Diamonds continued to enjoy much of the possession as the half progressed and the much improved passing movements which has been evident over the past few games continued to allow them to dominate the game. Lee Tomlin caused problems for the Northwich defence and had a number of shots deflected or off target.

Danny Williams headed over from a Lawrence Lambley cross, while Tomlin’s 30 yard shot after some good movement by Woodhouse saw the ball just zip past the upright. Byrne and Roca went into the referee’s notebook on 36 minutes after Williams was fouled. With the number of chances, it seemed only a matter of time before Diamonds scored, and it was nearly Dave Savage who got on the score-sheet after a great one-two with Tomlin. After a 25 yard run, his shot just went wide of the post. Rankine also had an effort from the edge of the area just turned round the post by the impressive Phil Senior in injury time.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds  0 – 0 Northwich Victoria

 

Mark Wright replaced Dave Savage after the break, taking up the left back position with Glenn Wilson moving into midfield. Diamonds continued to press for a goal and resumed where they had left off. Two free-kicks from Curtis Woodhouse in the opening ten minutes led to chances for Wilson and Chris Hope, while Kevin Townson had a rare chance for Northwich following a Roca cross, but headed just wide.

Northwich had a lucky escape on 57 minutes, when Tomlin’s deflected shot looped over the keeper, but landed on the roof of the net. There defence seemed to be under more pressure, and it finally cracked on 62 minutes after some fine play by Lawrence Lambley on the right. He sent the ball across the area to Curtis Woodhouse who struck the ball first time, his 30 yard volley leaving Phil Senior with no chance and give Diamonds the lead.

Another chance on 64 minutes saw a long ball from Chris Hope bounce high on the edge of the penalty area. Rankine challenged and beat Senior to the ball, but his header was inches wide. Jake Beecroft came on for his League debut on 68 minutes replacing Glenn Wilson in midfield as Diamonds continued to dominate. Hope’s free kick from just outside the area was tipped over the bar. Simeon Jackson came on with 15 minutes remaining as Lambley started to tire and perhaps should have done better after a mistake from Richard Battersby.

Northwich’s best chance of the game came in the 83rd minute when Kevin Townson played the ball out to the unmarked Chris Williams on the left. Baker came out to narrow the angle, and managed to save with his legs, deflecting the ball out for a corner. Byrne’s corner also caused problems, but was cleared at the second attempt.

As time ticked by, Northwich tried to push forward and Andy Smart had a shot well saved by Baker, pushing the ball away. Although Matt Shaw followed up, he was given offside and Diamonds had little trouble holding out during the remaining moments for their victory.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Northwich Victoria

 

So Diamonds finish their home campaign with a win in front of their lowest League gate of the season and move above Northwich in the Conference table. The final game at Burton Albion this coming Saturday will be the last chance for some of the squad members to show why they should be part of Garry Hill’s plans for next year.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds – Matt Baker, Glenn Wilson (Jake Beecroft 68), Paul Watson, Chris Hope (c), Dave Savage (Mark Wright HT), Michael Rankine, Lee Tomlin, Mark Albrighton, Curtis Woodhouse, Lawrence Lambley (Simeon Jackson 76), Danny Williams.

Subs not used: Scott Tynan(GK), Wayne Hatswell.

Northwich Victoria – Phil Senior, Richard Battersby, Kieran Charnock (c), Carlos Roca (Chris Williams 68), Michael Byrne, Ryan Brown, Kevin Townson, Terry Barwick, James Dean (Matt Shaw 78), Mark Roberts, Andy Smart.

Subs not used: Ben Connett(GK), Tom Rutter.

Goals:             Woodhouse 62 (1-0).

Booked:          Woodhouse 15 (foul), Byrne 36 (foul), Roca 36 (dissent),

Battersby 90 (foul).

Sent off:            –

Referee:            Mr B.J.Malone (Wilts)

Attendance:      1533 (25 away)

Stik Chik Man of the Match: Curtis Woodhouse.

By Dave Mason

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