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.

Teams:

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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