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.

Teams:

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

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