Weymouth 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

After Weymouth’s Jefferson Louis had cancelled out Simeon Jackson’s early goal, Diamonds looked to be heading for a fourth consecutive draw, but recent signing Michael Malcolm scored an 83rd minute winner to secure all three points against manager Garry Hill’s former club.

Hill was returning to Weymouth for the first time since his departure in January this year and made two changes from the side which drew against Burton Albion on Saturday. Simeon Jackson partnered Michael Rankine in attack, with Michael Malcolm dropping down to the bench. Captain Chris Hope was unwell during the journey to the south coast, and former Terra Dean Howell took his place in the back four with Wayne Hatswell playing a more central role.

Weymouth had taken three wins and two draws from their last five games and manager Jason Tindall made three changes to the side which defeated Droylsden at the Butchers Arms at the weekend. Midfield duo Nick Crittenden and captain Simon Weatherstone, who was available again after suspension, made the starting eleven replacing James Coutts and Sido Jombarti. John Stewart replaced Jason Matthews in goal. Paolo Vernazza (knee) and Trevor Challis (hamstring), and Narada Bernard remained sidelined with injury.

Diamonds kicked-off towards the Carlsberg Stand and both sides had early efforts, Nick Crittenden shooting wide and Curtis Osano running towards goal and firing a shot over the bar. In fact, the opening exchanges were fairly even with neither side being able to get a shot on target. A booking for Weymouth’s Justin Roberts after 9 minutes for a petty offence was a foretaste of things to come. The defender kicked the ball a couple of yards back after awarding Diamonds a free kick and set the standard by which the referee was going to control the game which finished with another eight names in his notebook.

Shortly after the booking however, Diamonds took the lead. The free kick from Jon Challinor on the right found Andy Burgess at the far post. He headed the ball back across the face of the goal where Simeon Jackson was waiting to fire a shot past keeper John Stewart. As Weymouth tried to counter immediately after the restart, the referee booked Simon Rusk for a fairly innocuous foul on Stuart Beavon and both teams should have been aware that any sort of challenge was going to earn them a card.

Beavon, who had almost joined Diamonds from Didcot Town last year, nearly got the home side back in the game after 13 minutes when he saw Paul Bastock venture out of his goal.  The striker tried to chip the ball towards goal, only to find Wayne Hatswell covering back and heading the ball away to safety. Bastock made a poor clearance minutes later punching the ball straight into the path of Jefferson Louis, but his goal-bound shot was blocked.

Wayne Hatswell and Jon Challinor were then booked for fouls on Stuart Beavon and Kyle Critchell respectively. From the second of the free kicks awarded, Marcus Browning had a free header on goal but went wide of the target. On 29 minutes, Dean Howell’s through ball to Jackson saw the keeper just get his fingertips to knock the ball away from goal. Weymouth continued to press for an equaliser but were being caught offside on several occasions. Browning’s frustration earned him a yellow card on 32 minutes for a foul on Challinor, but within 60 seconds, Weymouth were level. A cross from the left seemed to wrong foot everyone, and although the ball went behind Jefferson Louis, he had time to try an overhead kick which just crept inside the post.

Louis and Beavon were both causing problems for Diamonds and they teed up Simon Weatherstone to shoot just wide. Deep into injury time, Bastock made up for earlier indiscretions with an excellent save, palming a shot from Conal Platt just past the post.

Half-time: Weymouth 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Andy Burgess had picked up a knock late in the first half, and Lee Tomlin came on to replace him for the second half. Within half a minute of the restart, Dean Howell became the sixth player to be booked for a foul on Nick Crittenden as the referee continued to penalise every challenge. Both side struggled to get going after the break, and it wasn’t until 58 minutes that there was a shot on goal when Conal Platt fired wide from just outside the area. Platt then nearly caught Diamonds by surprise when he unleashed a fierce shot from just inside the area, but Bastock got down well and saved low to his left.

Diamonds first chance of the half came on 66 minutes from a quick free kick by Jon Challinor, but Jackson shot wide. Both Curtis Osano and Lee Tomlin then had shots deflected wide in quick succession. Another foul a few minutes later saw Martin Foster carded for a foul on Platt.

Within minutes of Michael Malcolm coming on for Simeon Jackson, Paul Bastock was the hero again on 75 minutes, tipping over a deflected shot from Stuart Beavon. Moments later though, he could only watch as Louis headed onto the crossbar and out of play. Louis continued to cause problems and had another chance as Weymouth pressed for a winning goal, shooting across the goal and past the post. It wasn’t all Weymouth though. Jon Challinor beat the keeper with a chip, but Justin Roberts cleared off the line. As the ball came back into the area, Challinor challenged the keeper for the loose ball and tapped the ball into the net, but the referee decided the keeper had been fouled. Protests from Michael Rankine resulted in yet another card. Diamonds were having a good spell of pressure and they finally got their rewards on 83 minutes. Osano sent a cross to the far post where Lee Tomlin nodded the ball back. With the keeper stranded, Michael Malcolm guided the ball into the net to give Diamonds a valuable lead.

With 5 minutes remaining, Weymouth made three substitutions within four minutes as they went on the attack. On the stroke of full time, Jefferson Louis had a great chance, but completely mishit his shot with the defence flat-footed. He tried to make amends in injury time, but shot just inches wide with Bastock beaten. That turned out to be the home side’s final effort, although the referee still had time to book Danny Phillips for a foul on Tomlin.

Full-time: Weymouth 1 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

The home side might have felt that they deserved at least a share of the points, and certainly had enough chances to maintain their five game unbeaten run, but while Paul Bastock made a string of fine saves, they were guilty of squandering several opportunities. Diamonds took full advantage of their chances. With six bookings on the night, it might prove to be an expensive victory but at least the players were able to celebrate with those supporters that had made the long midweek trip. Diamonds face another long away trip on Saturday when they visit Halifax Town.

Teams:

Weymouth – Stewart, Kitamirike (Vickers 88), Weatherstone(c), Roberts, Critchell, Crittenden, Browning (McCallum 85), Robinson, Platt (Phillips 86), Louis, Beavon.

Subs not used: Coutts, Douglas.

Rushden & Diamonds – Bastock, Osano, Gulliver, Hatswell(c), Challinor, Jackson (Malcolm 76), Burgess (Tomlin HT), Rankine, Foster, Howell, Rusk.

Subs not used: Nicholls, Shaw, Beecroft.

Goals:     Jackson 10 (0-1), Louis 33 (1-1), Malcolm 83 (1-2).

Booked:  Roberts 9 (u/s behaviour), Rusk 11 (foul), Hatswell 17 (foul), Challinor (foul), Browning 32 (foul), Howell 46 (foul), Foster 73 (foul), Rankine 80 (dissent), Phillips 90+2 (foul).

Referee:   Mr M Mullarkey (Devon)

Attendance:   1252 (35 away).

Reporters Man of the Match – Wayne Hatswell

By Dave Mason

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