Northwich Victoria 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Rushden & Diamonds allowed Northwich Victoria to double their points tally for the season by conceding a single goal in a disappointing performance in Cheshire that gave the Vics their first victory of the season.

Manager Garry Hill made one enforced change to the team that faced league leaders Aldershot last Saturday, with Andy Burgess having suffered a knock and being replaced by the returning Curtis Woodhouse, and one further change that saw the return of striker Craig McAllister in place of Lee Tomlin.

Vics Caretaker Manager Dino Maamria started with two of his three recent loan signings – 18-years old Huddersfield striker Lucas Akins and Rotherham defender Natt Kerr, with Crewe loanee striker Nick Farquarson on the bench.

On a chilly late autumn afternoon the Vics kicked off towards the chemical works end, and the first incident was after just three minutes when Curtis Woodhouse picked up a booking, on his return from suspension and injury, when a free kick move between him and Marcus Kelly went wrong, and he prevented Danny Williams from breaking clear. Jon Challinor was playing wide right, allowing Woodhouse to take up his familiar role in central midfield.

The first quarter of an hour was otherwise fairly uninspiring, with the sole Diamonds chance falling to Jon Challinor when a Dean Howell free kick from the left was headed back across the area by Craig McAllister to Challinor, but his right foot shot went wide of the left hand post.

The Vics were relying on attacks on the break, but did manage to force three corners in quick succession but didn’t threaten Nicholls goal at that stage.

However, on 18 minutes the Vics took the lead, when a long ball into the box from Luke Horrocks, who was a constant threat on the left wasn’t claimed by Nicholls under pressure from Lee Steele, and the experienced striker was able to slot in the loose ball.

Diamonds sole threat in the first half came on 24 minutes, when Curtis Woodhouse forced a corner which Marcus Kelly took, and the ball went into a group of players and bounced out to Simeon Jackson 15 yards out, but his strike sailed over the bar. Curtis Woodhouse made a couple of runs into the box, but as with similar runs from Challinor there was no end product, and the half ended with further Vics breaks threatening to increase their lead.

Half-time: Northwich Victoria 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

As expected there was a change at half-time, with Lee Hales replacing Martin Foster – although Vics were also forced into a change with captain Michael Carr being replaced by Greg Strong. It was Strong who had the best effort on goal in the early part of the half, as he met a Danny Williams corner with a strong header which rebounded back off the bar.

New signing Lucas Akins was looking more threatening on the break, and had a couple of excellent runs spoilt only by wayward shots.

As the half went on the Vics were content to soak up pressure, and try to hit the Diamonds on the break. A Jon Challinor cross was met by a well hit shot by Simeon Jackson which Tynan did well to tip around for a corner, and the ex-Diamonds keeper also made two excellent saves from Lee Tomlin shots after he had replaced Jon Challinor. Other threats came from Chris Hope as he met one of several Diamonds corners at the near post, but again his header was well cleared.

Greg Strong also had to clear over his own bar following another Diamonds corner as the attacking threat increased, but the Vics also did well to alleviate the pressure on their goal with a number of dangerous breaks that threatened a second goal.

Despite bringing on both Rankine and Tomlin, and pushing Chris Hope up front, the Vics defence held firm, and their crowd were able to celebrate their first victory of the season.

Full-time: Northwich Victoria 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

After the improved performances of the past few weeks, it was perhaps to be expected that there might be a setback against an old foe such as Northwich Victoria, with this being their sixth win over the Diamonds, a statistic that only two other clubs have bettered in the Diamonds history,

The focus will now switch to the FA Cup, with the trip to either Bristol or London being decided in midweek for the game next weekend.


Northwich Victoria (Green / White): Scott Tynan, Natt Kerr, Michael Carr (Greg Strong 45), Michael Welch, Ryan Brown, Danny Williams (Brad Maylett 80), Simon Rusk, Josh Wilson, Lucas Akins, Luke Horrocks (Adam Morning 71), Lee Steele

Subs Not Used : Ben Connett, Nick Farquarson

Rushden & Diamonds (Red): Paul Nicholls, Curtis Osano, Dean Howell, Chris Hope, Phil Gulliver, Curtis Woodhouse, Martin Foster (Lee Hales 45), Jon Challinor(Lee Tomlin 69), Marcus Kelly, Craig McAllister (Michael Rankine 58), Simeon Jackson

Subs Not Used : Paul Bastock, Wayne Hatswell

Goals : Steele (18)

Yellow Cards : Woodhouse (3), Kerr (57), Hales (69)

Referee: R J West

Attendance: 601 (Away approx 90)

Diamonds Man of The Match : Chris Hope


Aldershot Town 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Diamonds failed to dent Aldershot’s hold on top spot as goals from John Grant and Ben Harding either side of the half time break gave the home side a two goal advantage. Simeon Jackson got one back with half an hour remaining, scoring for the 13th time in 11 games, but unlike last season, they were unable to get back on level terms.

Garry Hill, still serving his touchline ban, made just the one forced change to the team that knocked Macclesfield Town out of the FA Cup last weekend. Lee Tomlin came in to replace Craig McAllister following his loan recall from Grays Athletic. New loan signing Lee Hales was on the bench, together with Curtis Woodhouse, who had come through the Hiller Senior Cup game in midweek without any setbacks.

Shot’s manager Gary Waddock made four changes to the side that lost at Cambridge United last weekend. Rob Elvins and Scott Davies were both serving suspensions, while defender Ricky Newman failed a late fitness test. Louis Soares was also out. In came Dave Winfield and Anthony Charles starting in defence, while Lewis Chalmers played in midfield, and John Grant returned up front. John Grant had spent a short period on loan at Nene Park back in November 2001, while another former Diamond, Rob Gier was in the starting eleven.

Diamonds kicked off towards the covered stand, playing in their now familiar yellow away strip and they looked confident in the opening exchanges. They certainly started the stronger of the two sides, with Andy Burgess and Simeon Jackson having attempts on goal in the opening ten minutes. The home side were losing possession too frequently, and apart from Anthony Charles’ header over the bar, failed to trouble the Diamonds defence.

On 17 minutes, Burgess sent a great ball in from the right wing to Lee Tomlin at the far post. He struck the ball goal wards with the outside of his foot, only for captain Rhys Day to clear the ball off the goal line for a corner. Two minutes later, Tomlin turned provider with another precise pass to Simeon Jackson who had escaped his marker, but his 20 yard strike was saved by keeper Nikki Bull.

Tomlin’s persistence was causing the Aldershot defenders problems and his partnership with Jackson was looking better as the game progressed, but on 23 minutes, Aldershot made a quick break out of defence. Joel Grant and John Grant combined well and John Grant’s shot from 15 yards sailed past Paul Nicholls, but struck the post. As the ball rebounded across the goalmouth, Nicholls pounced and gathered the loose ball safely.

Diamonds failed to heed the warning as just two minutes later, Aldershot took the lead as the same two players combined. Joel Grant switched to the left and from the edge of the area, sent the ball over Phil Gulliver and onto the head of John Grant. The striker appeared to get under the ball, but it lopped agonisingly over Nicholls and into the net. Diamonds could consider themselves unfortunate to go a goal behind, and they continued to put pressure on the home defence. Both Burgess and Foster had shots which the keeper safely dealt with, while on 31 minutes, Simeon Jackson should have done better when Andy Burgess sent him clear, shooting over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

Lee Tomlin was inches wide minutes later when Marcus Kelly’s corner was flicked on by Chris Hope. Tomlin was looking for a permanent starting place and continued to close down at every opportunity, but his efforts were rewarded with a yellow card on 36 minutes after being penalised for a foul. As the half drew to a close, Jackson shot over the bar again, while Tomlin and Kelly combined well on the left side of the penalty area, Andy Burgess being just unable to bundle Kelly’s cross over the line. At the other end, Joel Grant’s quick feet was still causing Dean Howell problems and luckily for Diamonds, his dangerous cross failed to find another Aldershot player just before the break.

HT: Aldershot Town 1 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Aldershot started the second half more positively than the first as they looked to consolidate their lead, and on 50 minutes, that is exactly what they did. Diamonds were left outnumbered on the left flank, and Anthony Straker crossed the ball into the middle where the unmarked Ben Harding fired a left foot volley past Nicholls to make it 2-0.

Diamonds continued to create chances as they tried to reduce the arrears. Chris Hope struck a free kick over the bar on 53 minutes after Kelly had been brought down ten yards outside the area, while Jackson brought the ball forward from the left, but shot wide. Kelly also had an effort wide.

After 57 minutes, the home side had the chance to put the game beyond doubt after a poor clearance from Paul Nicholls on the edge of the area. Harding fired the ball straight back towards the empty goal, but was well off target with his effort. Diamonds went to three up front with the introduction of Michael Rankine in place of Phil Gulliver as they strived to get a goal back, but John Grant continued to cause trouble, a neat flick from Straker allowing him to bare down on Nicholls. The keeper did well to steer him away from goal and block the ball away from danger.

Diamonds got back in to the game on 62 minutes when former Aldershot midfielder Jon Challinor chipped the ball forward to Simeon Jackson who slipped the ball past Nikki Bull. Lee Hales came on after 66 minutes for his League debut, replacing Jon Challinor, with Kirk Hudson replacing Dave Winfield for the home side. Five minutes later, there was a warm reception from the visiting supporters with the introduction of Curtis Woodhouse for Martin Foster.

Diamonds continued to press for an equaliser and Jackson’s cross for Rankine was intercepted by Anthony Charles. Aldershot’s Joel Grant continued to be a danger with Dean Howell continuing to have problems marking the 20 year-old. His chip on 76 minutes found John Grant and Kirk Hudson both clear on the keeper, but Nicholls did well again to smother the ball. Nicholls was alert again on 84 minutes, when the same two players found space inside the area. Grant’s shot was blocked, while Hudson sent the rebound high over the bar. In the final five, Joel Grant fired into the side netting.

Tomlin and Rankine both tried to run at goal as the clock ran down, but the Aldershot defence stood firm. Shot’s brought on youth team player Danny Simmonds for his debut with just seconds remaining and as the four minutes of added time came to an end, Rhys Day deflected a shot from Curtis Osano just past the post, as Diamonds attempt to gain a point vanished with the referee whistle

FT: Aldershot Town 2 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Although it was a defeat, Diamonds recent good run of form was evident and they could probably consider themselves unlucky not to have come away with a share of the points in a highly entertaining game. It is difficult to say if the presence of Craig McAllister would have made a difference, but Lee Tomlin impressed after his recent loan spell at Brackley Town. After playing the team at the top of the Blue Square Premier, Diamonds visit bottom of the table Northwich Victoria next weekend, and Simeon Jackson must fancy his chances of continuing his run of scoring going. After the last 10 League games, he has now only failed to score in the 0-1 defeat against Cambridge United.


Aldershot Town – Bull, Straker, Day(c), Charles, Chalmers, John Grant, Dixon (Simmonds 90+4), Winfield (Hudson 66), Harding, Gier, Joel Grant.

Subs not used: Milletti, Huggins, Jaimez-Ruiz.

Rushden & Diamonds – .Nicholls, Osano, Hope (c), Gulliver (Rankine 57), Challinor (Hales 66), Jackson, Burgess, Tomlin, Foster (Woodhouse 71), Kelly, Howell,

Subs not used: Bastock, Hatswell.

Goals: John Grant 25 (1-0); Harding 50 (2-0); Jackson 62 (2-1).

Booked: Tomlin 36 (foul).

Referee: Mr N.Kinseley (Essex)

Attendance:  3110 (159 away).

Reporters Man of the Match – Lee Tomlin.

By Dave Mason

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Cogenhoe United 1

Tuesday 13th November 2007 at Nene Park

(Northants Hillier Senior Cup – Round 2)

There was a warm welcome for Cogenhoe United manager Darren Collins on his return to Nene Park, but three late goals saw Diamonds safely through to the semi-finals of the Hillier Senior Cup. Wayne Hatswell cancelled out an early strike by Tom McGowan after 11 minutes, but Michael Rankine, Lee Tomlin and Michael Malcolm all got on the score-sheet in the final ten minutes.

Diamonds had won at Corby Town 5-0 in the 1st Round, while Cogenhoe United had beaten Desborough Town 2-0 at Compton Park. As in the Corby game, Garry Hill had chosen a mixture of first team and youth team players. Lee Hales had signed on a two month loan deal from West Ham United and made his debut in midfield, while Curtis Woodhouse was making his first start for two months after suspension and injury.

Darren Collins played 286 times for Diamonds in the 90’s, and is still by far the clubs leading goal-scorer having knocked in 152 during his six year spell at Nene Park. Having previously played for Cogenhoe, he returned during the summer to take up the vacant manager’s job. Former Diamonds keeper Darren Watts was named in goal, while there were two changes from the side which drew 1-1 at St.Ives Town at the weekend – Dan Holman and scorer Zac Nedimovic starting in place of Rob Foster and another former Diamond Malcolm Ndekwe.

Diamonds got off to a slow start and lost the ball almost immediately from the kick off resulting in an early shot on goal for Tom McGowan, but Paul Bastock was well positioned to save. As Cogenhoe continued to push forward in the opening two minutes, Tom McGowan found himself with some space inside the penalty area again, but this time placed his shot clear of Bastock to give the visitors a surprise lead.

The goal seemed to spur Diamonds into action, and they gradually took charge in midfield to control the game. Wayne Hatswell headed straight at the keeper, while Curtis Woodhouse shot over from the edge of the area. On 11 minutes, Lee Tomlin and Woodhouse linked well on the edge of the area, Tomlin’s shot being blocked for a corner. Woodhouse sent the corner to the near post, where Michael Rankine flicked on for Wayne Hatswell to bundle to ball over the line at the far post.

As Diamonds stamped their authority on the game, they had a number of good chances that should have made the game safe before half time. Abdou El Kholti had a shot saved at near post on 14 minutes, while new boy Lee Hales made a good run through the defence, but delayed his shot allowing a defender to get back and block his shot. In a ten minute spell, Rankine fired inches over the bar, Phil Gulliver failed to get enough contact on a free header from a Woodhouse free-kick and Tomlin shot wide.

Diamonds looked comfortable at the back and were able to deal easily with any attacks from the visitors. Keeper Darren Watts rode his luck as he tried to clear with Michael Malcolm closing down, the ball rebounding just wide of the goal. On 33 minutes, Rankine had two great chances to give Diamonds the lead. Watts saved the first effort with his legs, then Rankine managed to steer the ball wide from close range after Malcolm’s shot had been partially blocked and deflected towards the goal line.

HT: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 1 Cogenhoe United

As the second half commenced, it seemed only a matter of time before Diamonds took the lead, but they continued to squander chance after chance. Rankine headed wide from a Tomlin cross, while a shot from Curtis Woodhouse was brilliantly saved by Darren Watts, palming the ball onto the bar and over for a corner. As the bombardment on the visitors goal continued, they were rescued by the post as Tomlin came close.

On 53 minutes, Cogenhoe came forward after winning a free kick deep inside the Diamonds half and Paul Bastock did well to save from Rob Goldring after Neil Champelovier’s free-kick to the far post. But it was a rare opportunity for the visitors as Diamonds pressed for the winning goal. On 64 minutes, Ben Nunn’s cross nearly caught out Watts, with the keeper tipping the ball over the bar. From the corner, Lee Gotch came close to heading in his own net, but again. ball went over bar for another corner.

Watts was living a charmed life and did well to touch El Kholti’s shot past the post on 77 minutes, then a few minutes later, he managed to tip substitute Josh Melley’s deflection over the bar. He was finally beaten on 80 minutes, when a flick from Woodhouse found Michael Rankine with space to fire a powerful shot into the bottom corner,

There looked little possibility of the Cooks getting back in the game, and two minutes later, El Kholti’s cross from the left found Lee Tomlin, who shot through a crowded area from 20 yards to make it 3-1.

As full time approached, Sam Smith and Lewis Hilliard replaced Rankine and Woodhouse, while Sean Calcutt came on for Phil Gulliver. There was however, still time for Lee Tomlin to send in a cross from the left for Michael Malcolm to flick to ball past Darren Watts.

FT: Rushden & Diamonds 4 – 1 Cogenhoe United

So Diamonds progress to the semi-final stage, where they will play Northampton Spencer at Nene Park – date to be confirmed, while the other semi-final is between Rothwell Town and Brackley Town.


Rushden & Diamonds – Bastock, Nunn, El Kholti, Gulliver (Calcutt 90), Hatswell (c), Shaw, Hales, Rankine (Smith 87), Malcolm, Woodhouse (Hilliard 87), Tomlin.

Subs not used: Day, Watts.

Cogenhoe United – Watts, Thomason, Ashton, McGowan, Knight (Melley 71), Gotch, Holley, Champelovier (Goodacre 67), Holman, Nedimovic, Goldring (Allcock 68).

Subs not used: Foster, Ndekwe.

Goals: McGowan 2 (0-1); Hatswell 11 (1-1); Rankine 80 (2-1); Tomlin 82 (3-1); Malcolm 90+1 (4-1).

Booked: Nil.

Referee: Mr S.Burt (Northants).

Attendance:  310.

Reporters Man of the Match: Abdou El Kholti.

By Dave Mason

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Macclesfield Town 1

Diamonds progressed to the next round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win against League Two opposition Macclesfield Town. Two goals from Simeon Jackson either side of a Jon Challinor header gave Diamonds a comfortable lead within the hour. Martin Gritton scored a consolation goal for the visitors 14 minutes from time. 


Garry Hill named an unchanged side to the team which beat Oxford United nine days ago. Although midfielder Curtis Woodhouse is close to recovery from a knee injury sustained last month, he was not named in the sixteen man squad as the substitutes also remained unchanged.


Macclesfield Town manager Ian Brightwell had been busy over the past 48 hours signing Phil Doughty on loan from Blackpool and Sean Hessey on a two month loan deal from Chester City. Both players had reportedly been given permission to play, although Doughty was not named in the squad, while Hessey was on the bench. In fact, he made only one forced change from the team which played Brentford on Tuesday night, with defender Carl Regan replacing Richard Edghill who suffered broken ribs in the Silkmen’s 1-0 win. James McNulty had passed a late fitness test after a sprained ankle, while Francis Green (calf) and Jamie Tolley (wrist) had also recovered to be named on the bench. Andrew Teague remained sidelined with a broken leg.


Diamonds kicked-off towards the De Banke Terrace in confident mood as both teams tried to find an early opening and it was the home side that got off to the perfect start. After just 6 minutes, Andy Burgess sent a great ball out to Craig McAllister on the right as he ran towards the by-line. His cross found Simeon Jackson in the centre to fire into the roof of the net leaving Macclesfield keeper Tommy Lee helpless.


The visitors tried to respond with Levi Reid shooting over the bar, but Diamonds were passing with confidence and appeared to have a lot more possession. Another long ball forward from Martin Foster found McAllister free again with the visitors looking frail, but this time, the cross just eluded Jackson.


Macclesfield did have a good opportunity after Phil Gulliver misjudged a cross from Carl Regan, but Martin Gritton’s hurried shot went wide of the goal. As Diamonds continued to press forward, Marcus Kelly went wide with a free-kick, while a deft chip from Dean Howell found Jackson just offside. McAllister was also just unable to get on the end of a Jackson cross.


After 25 minutes, Jackson tried a fierce shot from a tight angle from 15 yards, but the keeper did well to save at the near post. Chances continued to fall to Diamonds as the Silkmen’s defence came under increasing pressure. Kelly, Foster, Challinor and Burgess were dominating the midfield and Kelly went close a couple of time from free-kicks. Macclesfield continued to struggle although they had a couple of chances on 41 minutes when Luke Dimech’s header, was saved by Paul Nicholls and Dimech shot over the top.


As the game entered the second minute of added time, Marcus Kelly and Dean Howell combined well, with Howell’s cross being put out by Maltese International Luke Dimech. The visitors seemed to go to sleep as Kelly played the ball short to Andy Burgess on the edge of the area. Burgess had time to cross onto the head of Jon Challinor, who made no mistake from 5 yards.


HT: Rushden & Diamonds 2 – 0 Macclesfield Town


The Macclesfield players were out early for the second half, with Simon Wiles (on loan from Blackpool) and Jamie Tolley replacing Levi Reid and Terry Dunfield in midfield. The change failed to have much effect however as Diamonds continued to have the upper hand. Wiles did look lively however and put in a dangerous cross early on in the second half that was deflected away by Howell.


Diamonds made the game safe on 58 minutes after some good forward play down the right with Curtis Osano supporting Jackson. After Macclesfield had won back the ball, Burgess was quick to close down Adam Murray, and regain possession on the edge of the area. His short pass found Simeon Jackson, whose quick shot was drilled past Tommy Lee from just inside the area before the keeper could react.


Macclesfield brought on their final substitution on 64 minutes when striker Francis Green replaced Danny Thomas. They were being restricted to efforts from outside the area, and shots from Adam Murray and Green failed to pose a threat to Paul Nicholls. Diamonds meanwhile were looking to emulate their previous two games where they had scored five goals. Jackson came close to his hat-trick on 65 minutes when his shot struck the outside of the post after a good ball from Osano.


The visitors continued to shoot from distance, Green, Evans and Tolley all going wide, but they finally made an impact on 76 minutes when Simon Wiles’ cross left Nicholls out of position, with Martin Gritton heading home at the far post. It gave some hope to Macclesfield and Nicholls had to come out quickly to smother a through ball as Gritton raced forward again. They had another good chance on 84 minutes when Green shot wide after Adam Murray’s ball over the defence.


Despite Macclesfield’s late pressure, the danger quickly faded as time ran out. Diamonds made a couple of late substitutions to run down time, Michael Rankine replacing McAllister and Michael Malcolm replacing Jackson. In injury time, Burgess tried an audacious lob with the keeper off his goal line, while Rankine’s 30 yard powerful drive whistled just past the post.   


FT: Rushden & Diamonds 3 – 1 Macclesfield Town


So Diamonds deservedly progress through into the 2nd Round – the draw being taking place Sunday afternoon. Manager Garry Hill commented on the confidence gained from the two 5-0 wins, and apart from a brief spell when the Silkmen got a goal back, they looked in little danger. Craig McAllister and Simeon Jackson looked a formidable pair up front, and it is unfortunate that McAllister returns to Grays on Monday after being recalled from his loan period. Jackson has now scored seven goals in the last five games. Diamonds next game will be on Tuesday evening (13 November), when they take on Cogenhoe United in the Northants Hillier Senior Cup (Nene Park 7:45pm kick-off) for a semi-final place against Northampton Spencer. Next League action is at top of the table Aldershot Town on Saturday.



Rushden & Diamonds – Nicholls, Osano, Gulliver, Hope(c), Challinor, McAllister (Rankine 87), Jackson (Malcolm 90+), Burgess, Foster, Kelly, Howell.

Subs not used: Bastock, Hatswell, Shaw.


Macclesfield Town – Lee, Regan, Dimech, Gritton, Thomas (Green 64), L.Reid (Wiles HT), McIntrye (c), Murray, McNulty, Dunfield (Tolley HT), Evans.

Subs not used: Brain, Hessey.


Goals: Jackson 6 (1-0), Challinor 45+ (2-0), Jackson 58 (3-0), Gritton 76 (3-1).


Booked: Nil.


Referee: Mr J.Linington (Isle of Wight)


Attendance: 1759 (175 away).


Premier Bathrooms & Kitchens Man of the Match:

Simeon Jackson.



By Dave Mason

Rushden & Diamonds 5 Oxford United 0

Rushden & Diamonds stormed to their second 5-0 win in five days with a comprehensive victory over Oxford in the televised game at Nene Park. This doubled their tally of league goals at home this season, and was their first league victory in Northants since mid-August,

Manager Garry Hill kept an unchanged 16 from the FA Cup game on Saturday, which meant Wayne Hatswell didn’t get a chance to start against his old club, but Andy Burgess and Martin Foster lined up against an Oxford Team which included Billy Turley and Barry Quinn.

Oxford manager Jim Smith left top scorer Yemi Odubade on the bench as he recovered from a recent injury, giving a debut to loanee Kieron St Aimie as well as recalling Matt Day, Phil Gilchrist and Alex Jeannin.

On a mild Autumn evening the Diamonds kicked off towards the AirWair stand, and within four minutes were ahead, as a McAllister flick on found Simeon Jackson running at the Oxford defence, and as they backed off and gave him space he hit a low shot which somehow eluded Turley and put the Diamonds ahead. It was certainly a mistake one would not expect to have seen Turley make whilst in a Diamonds shirt, but Jackson must also take credit for his accurate shot.

On eight minutes another Jackson turn towards the box was halted by a foul by Chris Wilmott. Although Andy Burgess blasted the free kick into the wall, it rebounded to Martin Foster on the edge of the box, and although he failed to get a clean strike on the ball, it took a huge deflection off Matt Day and Turley could only tip it into the net with a despairing dive.

A few minutes later Diamonds could have had a third as the Oxford defence was completely out of shape, allowing Jon Challinor a free shot at the ball came across the area, and although he almost hit an air shot, it bounced off a defender towards Simeon Jackson, but he was adjudged offside, suggesting the ball must have hit a Diamonds player.

However, it wasn’t long until the third goal came, and this time it was a solo goal from Craig McAllister, following a ball over the top by Jon Challinor, no more than his efforts deserved as he ran from the edge of the centre circle, past two static defenders, held off a third and dinked the ball over Turley.

The Diamonds fans were blinking in disbelief, with memories of the game that marked Brian Talbot’s return in early 2006, when there was a similar start to the game but in that game it took 22 minutes to get 3-0 ahead.

Perhaps the difference in attitude of the two teams was summed up when Dean Howell collected the ball on the left hand edge of his own six yard box, and was allowed to make a great run across the box and up the right wing, eluding a number of weak tackles from the Oxford side.

As might be expected, Diamonds did start to take their foot off the gas, and Oxford started to create a number of chances, notably with breaks down either flank as the Diamonds two full backs looked for support by their wide midfielders. In fact had Oxford forced two corners to Rushden’s one by late in the half, but most of their efforts on goal went across the face, with no attacker gambling to try to reach them at the far post.

Oxford did have a claim for a penalty, as a cross by Jeannin from the left flicked up at Chris Hope’s arm off St Aimie, but there was no time to get out of the way.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 3 Oxford United 0

With Oxford making two substitutions at half-time, including the dangerous Yemi Odubade, it might have been expected that Oxford would have had a real go at salvaging something from the game, but Diamonds quickly re-established their dominant position, with an early free-kick by Chris Hope bouncing off the wall for a corner, and the resultant Marcus Kelly corner being headed back out to reach Andy Burgess, and his powerful shot looked to be going well wide before being deflected agonisingly past Turley by Kieran St-Aimie.

At 4-0 the match was over, although Oxford still threatened on occasions down the flanks, but Paul Nicholls dominated his area to nullify any thread. The best goal was saved for last, as on 65 minutes Dean Howell mopped up an Oxford attack, and quickly moved the ball forward down the Diamonds left to Simeon Jackson. He took the ball easily past his marker before cutting inside past Wilmott and Foster and hitting a great shot into the far right hand corner of the goal, giving Turley no chance.

Both sides had chances to score further goals, and Paul Nicholls made a couple of splendid saves to preserve a clean sheet. The best of these was a splendid effort as a Yemi Odubade run on the right saw him hit a great shot towards the near post but Nicholls did really well to touch it wide, showing Turley how it should have been done. There was also time for one of the worst free kicks seen at NenePark, as Oxford forced a free kick on the left hand edge of the box, but Phil Trainer’s attempt on goal went sideways into the crowd, summing up Oxford’s evening. One final goalmouth scramble saw Nicholls gather at the second attempt and the clean sheet was assured.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 5 Oxford United 0

With two 5-nil victories in five days the goal drought at Nene Park has suddenly ended, and team confidence must now be high in preparation for facing a League 2 side in the FA Cup next Saturday, after a nine day rest.


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Paul Nicholls, Curtis Osano, Dean Howell, Chris Hope (capt), Phil Gulliver, Jon Challinor, Andy Burgess, Martin Foster (Tom Shaw 66), Marcus Kelly, Craig McAllister (Michael Rankine 73), Simeon Jackson (Michael Malcolm 81)

Subs Not Used : Paul Bastock, Wayne Hatswell

Oxford United (Royal Blue) : Billy Turley, Barry Quinn, Chris Willmott, Phil Gilchrist (Carl Pettefer 45), Stefan Bailey, Luke Foster, Phil Trainer, Alex Jeannin (Yemi Odubade 45), Matt Day, Kieran St-Aimie (Alex Fisher 73), Jordan Rhodes

Subs Not Used: Michael Corcoran, Sam Warrell

Goals : Jackson (4), Day (og – 9), McAllister (13), St-Aimie (og – 53), Jackson (65)

Yellow Cards : Trainer (46), Quinn (57)

Referee: P Gibbs

Attendance: 1990 (Away 426).

Man of the Match sponsored by Johnsons Honda : Simeon Jackson

See here for video highlights of Simeon Jackson scoring the Diamonds fifth goal.

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