Rushden & Diamonds 2 Histon 3

Rushden & Diamonds were overwhelmed by a storming second half performance by Histon after managing to equalise twice in the first half, The Histon domination with the wind at their backs in the second half was such that the Diamonds did not force Histon goalkeeper to make a save in that half, and thus lost their first ever fixture with the Cambridgeshire club.

Manager Garry Hill made one change to the 16 from the FA Cup game on Saturday, with Martin Foster returning to the starting line up after injury, in place of Curtis Woodhouse who was preparing for his next bout.

Histon manager Steve Fallon kept faith with the team that won 2-1 at Altrincham on Saturday.

On a cool and damp December evening Histon kicked off into the wind towards the Peter De Banke terrace, and within three minutes could easily have been ahead, as the Diamonds defence failed to deal properly with a Histon raid, allowing the ball to break to the right where the cross was met by a largely unchallenged Nathaniel Knight Percival, and also his hooked shot went to the right of the goal, Danny Wright also found himself in space, but his header came back off the bar.

Diamonds first real attack saw Simeon Jackson outpace Matthew Mitchell-King, forcing the defender to foul him and earn a yellow – perhaps this was a sign that although both Histon central defender had plenty of aerial presence, the Diamonds midfield might be able to take advantage of Jacko’s pace.

Both sides looked to have adopted an attacking policy, with chances at either end, Diamonds seeing wayward shots from Jackson and Challinor, and a Burgess shot deflected for a corner.

Following the “wonder-goal” from Marcus Kelly on Saturday, Diamonds had two attempts at repeating it, with first a Paul Bastock free kick bouncing over the keeper Naisbitt’s head and over the bar, and then great vision from Andy Burgess from 40 yards saw his attempt go over the keeper’s head but bounce behind him and up over the bar.

Histon were also getting good reward from Adrian Cambridge long throws, with Cliff Akurang and Danny Wright looking threatening, and it was this forward combination that put Histon ahead on 28 minutes, as a long ball out of defence found Dean Howell and Danny Wright challenging for the ball, and although there were strong claims for a foul on the defender, Wright was allowed to carry on and shoot, with the shot being bundled home by Cliff Akurang with a simple finish.

Diamond were quickly searching for an equaliser, with Curtis Osano starting to look threatening, and he linked up with Andy Burgess down the right forcing a foul from Knight-Percival on Osano just outside the right corner of the box. Marcus Kelly took the free kick which found Chris Hope with time and space to direct his header into the left hand side of the goal.

The Histon long throws continued to cause a threat at one end, and at the other Simeon Jackson was caught offside three times by an alert Histon defence.. On 39 minutes Jon Challinor fouled John Kennedy in central midfield at they challenged in the air. The resultant free kick was 30 yards out, and it appeared the Diamonds defence were expecting a high ball from Gareth Gwillim but his left footed free kick looped around several players and past a static Bastock into the net.

Again Diamonds made a rapid response, and within 90 seconds were level again. Andy Burgess received the ball from Curtis Osano on the right wing, and cut inside hitting a left footed shot from 25 yards. The power was too much for Naisbitt, and he could only palm the ball out, and Simeon Jackson was on hand to tuck into the net.

There were two more chances for the Diamonds to take a lead into half-time, with Jon Challinor chesting down for Simeon Jackson to blaze over the bar, and Marcus Kelly presenting Jacko with a second chance that was only narrowly over.

So an entertaining half ended honours even.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Histon 2

The second half was a completely different story to the first. Histon were able to take full advantage of the wind at their backs, and the old cliché of pinning the Diamonds back in their own half was never more appropriate, as Diamonds struggled to get near the Histon goal for at least 35 of those 45 minutes, failing to make Naisbitt make a save for the entire half.

As in the first half, Histon had a real threat from Adrian Cambridge long throws, and it was Cambridge who delivered the ball into the box on 68 minutes, and as the Diamonds defence failed twice to get in a telling clearance the ball looped out of the box to an unmarked John Kennedy, who hit a telling volley into the top right hand corner of the net.

As much as Garry Hill tried to chance things, with Rankine, Hatswell and Tomlin coming on, very little difference was made to the one way traffic towards the Diamonds goal, with further chances for Akurang and Knight-Percival following long throws from Cambridge. Once Cambridge was substituted there were a couple of chances made by Tomlin and then Jackson, and both might have done better with shooting opportunities that flew high and wide, but the Diamonds performance in the second half did not merit any return.

The final whistle signalled the end of another disappointing performance from the Diamonds at Nene Park, notably in the second half. Although this was only the second league game at Nene Park where the Diamonds have scored more than one goal, it will be the fact that the midfield and defence were overrun in the second half that causes much concern. Excellent performances by the likes of Foster and the Osano and Burgess combination going forwards in the first half meant nothing as the side capitulated in the second.

They must now regroup before the trip to Droylsden on Saturday in a game that takes on greater significance as the team try to halt a four game losing streak in their last league game before Christmas.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Histon 3

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Paul Bastock, Curtis Osano, Dean Howell, Chris Hope (Wayne Hatswell 72), Phil Gulliver, Jon Challinor, Andy Burgess, Martin Foster, Marcus Kelly (Lee Tomlin 78), Craig McAllister (Michael Rankine 66), Simeon Jackson

Subs Not Used : Paul Nicholls, Lee Hales

Histon (Red / Black) : Danny Naisbitt, Craig Pope, Matthew Langston, Matthew Mitchell-King , Gareth Gwillin, John Kennedy, Erkan Okay, Adrian Cambridge (Antonio Murray 84), Nathanial Knight-Percival, Cliff Akurang, Danny Wright

Subs Not Used : Lance Key, Matthew Haniver, Jamie Barker, Robbie Nightingale

Goals : Akurang (28), Hope (30), Gwillim (41), Jackson (43), Kennedy (68)

Yellow Cards : Mitchell-King, Foster, Challinor, Cambridge

Referee: O Langford

Attendance: 1351 (Away 141).

Man of the Match sponsored by the Diamonds Rioja Club : Andy Burgess

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