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.

Teams:

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

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