Rushden & Diamonds 0 Ebbsfleet United 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds slipped to their first defeat in the Blue Square Premier with a single goal defeat by to Ebbsfleet United in an uninspiring game in the Nene Park rain.

Manager Garry Hill made one change from the team that overcame Farsley Celtic on Tuesday night, with Simeon Jackson starting at the expense of Michael Rankine in a 4-4-2 line-up..

Ebbsfleet manager Liam Daish was only forced to make one change to the team that lost at Salisbury, despite earlier speculation about wholesale changes – the ex-Diamond Michael Bostwick replaced the injured Neil Barrett – and Daish also preferred George Purcell to Phil Starkey.

On a cold, dull and ultimately wet afternoon, Diamonds kicked off towards the empty Airwair stand. The first fifteen minutes were very uneventful, with both sets of fans finding little to cheer about, as neither side seemed able to create any openings, with the only serious attempt on goal being a long shot from Sacha Opinel which easily cleared the bar.

On 16 minutes Diamonds had their first serious chance, following good work from Curtis Woodhouse in the centre of the field, making space to hit a ball down the left channel towards Simeon Jackson, but the strikers shot was high and wide to the left of the goal.

Ebbsfleet then managed to create the first real goal threat of the game on 25 minutes, as a poor defensive header from Chris Hope dropped straight to Luke Moore, who hit a powerful shot that was well caught by Bastock,

After half an hour of very poor entertainment, Ebbsfleet gave their travelling fans something to cheer as Stacy Long set up Mark De Bolla on the right hand side of the box, and although the midfielder’s shot was poor, it went across goal to the unmarked George Purcell who slotted easily past Bastock.

Diamonds had one more threatening attack before the end of the half with a Chris Hope header from a Hatswell free kick finding Lee Tomlin just outside the six yard box, but an alert defence smothered the strikers shot.

The half ended without Scott Tynan having had a save to make, and left the Diamonds fans wondering what changes might be made to liven things up.

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

The second half started in a much more lively fashion, with good work from Jon Challinor finding Simeon Jackson in space on the right hand edge of the area, but his cross to Lee Tomlin reached the striker at the same time as a defender’s challenge.

At the other end Michael Bostwick was getting further forwards for Ebbsfleet, and had two dangerous looking shots in quick succession. The Kent side were looking dangerous on the break, and good combination between Luke Moore and Chukki Eribenne saw the latter break free down the right, and it was only a great tackle by Curtis Osano that prevented Moore converting the return cross.

Curtis Osano was also starting to get forwards more, and one great run infield saw him burst towards the box and find Lee Tomlin, but not for the first time of the afternoon the striker’s shot was well over the bar.

Jon Challinor also started linking up better with the strikers, and one good move saw Lee Tomlin get a shot on target, but Tynan gathered comfortably. As the attacking got more anxious the number of offside decisions start to increase.

On 61 minutes came the change the Diamonds fans had been looking for, with a switch to a 3-5-2 formation with Michael Rankine playing up front with Jackson.

Initially this brought a number of half-chances, most of which resulted in Tomlin shots over the bar, but Simeon Jackson forced a corner with a good run into the box, and although the corner was cleared, Dean Howell found Phil Gulliver in space, but his header was well saved by Tynan.

There was still a threat from Ebbsfleet on the break, with Purcell, Moore and Long combining to force a good stop from Bastock, and a few minutes later a Moore and Long interchange forced another good save.

At the other end the Diamonds threatened as substitute Shaw livened up the attacking options, and Curtis Osano started getting past his man. On one of these runs Osano hit a powerful shot that Tynan did well to save, and others saw dangerous crosses being blocked, or moves breaking down due to Diamonds players straying offside.

Ebbsfleet had been taking opportunities to waste time during the half, and, as well as booking two players, referee Yeo added on 5 minutes of additional time. In this period Diamonds had two great chances to snatch an equaliser – the first was a result of a great cross from the left from Tom Shaw, finding Simeon Jackson in the most space he had found all afternoon in the box, but his header was high and wide. Finally a Chris Hope header found Curtis Osano just outside the box but his powerful shot just missed the top corner.

A disappointing game thus ended in the first defeat of the season, and manager Hill will be considering the fact that the only saves that his ex-Goalkeeper Tynan had to make were from two of his defenders, as his strikeforce is still to get on the scoresheet this season.

The Bank Holiday Saturday game at high flying Torquay is next up, quickly followed by old rivals Kidderminster at Nene Park on the Monday.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Ebbsfleet United 1

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds (White) Paul Bastock, Curtis Osano, Chris Hope(c), Wayne Hatswell, Paul Watson (Phil Gulliver 61), Ryan Semple (Michael Rankine 61), Jon Challinor, Curtis Woodhouse, Dean Howell, Lee Tomlin (Tom Shaw 76), Simeon Jackson

Subs not used:Paul Nicholls, Lawrence Lambley

Ebbsfleet United (Yellow / Black) : Scott Tynan, Peter Hawkins, Michael Bostwick (Phil Starkey 84), Paul McCarthy, George Purcell, Sacha Opinel, Stacy Long, Mark De Bolla (Liam Coleman 72), Chris McPhee, Luke Moore, Chukki Eribenne (Raphael Nade 65).

Subs Not Used:Sam Mott, Dan Stubbs

Goals : Purcell

Yellow Cards : Bostwick, Woodhouse, Moore, Purcell

Referee: Keith Yeo (Essex)

Attendance: 1456 (Away 71).

Reporters Man of the Match : Curtis Osano

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