Droylsden 1 Rushden & Diamonds 4

Diamonds returned from the outskirts of Manchester thoroughly soaked, but with an important three points after three successive defeats. Wayne Hatswell and Michael Rankine gave Diamonds a first half lead, but there was controversy after the officials failed to notice that Simeon Jackson had also scored, the ball skimming out through a hole in the back of the net. Second half penalties from Jackson and Rankine, plus one for the home side from Jody Banim in the worsening conditions left the score-line at 4-1 in favour of Diamonds.

Chris Hope was out with a sore achilles tendon and manager Garry Hill gave a start and the captaincy to Wayne Hatswell. Craig McAllister and Marcus Kelly were both demoted to the bench, with Michael Rankine partnering Simeon Jackson in attack. Following his boxing victory on Wednesday night, Curtis Woodhouse returned to midfield in place of Marcus Kelly.

Droylsden were without a game last weekend and boss Dave Pace made just one enforced change from the side which beat Forest Green Rovers two weeks ago. Jamie McGuire was suspended after picking up five bookings, and Kevin Lynch came in to replace him. Steve Halford (ankle) and Jamie Tandy (head) had both recovered from injury to be named on the bench.

Despite a number of pitch inspections prior to the game, referee Ross Joyce deemed the playing surface fit enough for the game to commence, although most inside the ground were doubtful that the game would be completed as the rain continued to fall heavily. Both sides had difficulty getting used to the dire conditions, the ball holding up in many areas of the ground. With players slipping and sliding, Dean Howell and Chris Denham clashed early on with Howell ending up sliding into the advertising hoardings. Both players’ reactions led to them entering the referee’s notebook.

Neither side were able to create any clear-cut chances, although Diamonds had a narrow escape on 19 minutes, when Phil Gulliver cleared off the line after a cross from Denham was deflected past Paul Bastock. Moments later Bastock did well to hold on to a shot from Jody Banim. Jon Challinor had a couple of efforts on goal, the first sailing over the bar, while another going just wide from an Andy Burgess corner.

Both keepers needed to take extra care with the slippery ball and Bastock touched away a dangerous corner kick from Gareth Morris, but it was from a corner kick at the other end conceded by Colin Cryan which led to the opening goal on 36 minutes. Burgess sent the kick to the far post, where Hatswell headed towards the keeper. Paul Phillips fisted the ball straight back to Hatswell under a challenge from Jackson, and Wayne Hatswell made no mistake with his second effort volleying the ball into the net.

Two minutes later, Diamonds doubled their lead – or at least they thought they had when a long ball forward found Simeon Jackson with time to fire a shot past Phillips from 25 yards. The ball went just inside the post, but skimmed under the net, hit the advertising hoardings behind the goal and bounced out. As the players went to celebrate, the keeper placed the ball for a goal kick and to the amazement of those present, the referee waved play on despite the strong protests.

Diamonds looked more confident in the conditions and Woodhouse had a shot saved by the keeper, and Foster fired over the bar. As half time approached, keeper Paul Phillips came out of his area to clear a ball up field, but it fell straight to Andy Burgess on the half-way line. Seeing the keeper off his line, he lobbed the ball towards goal. It looked as if it just had enough power to cross the line, but struck the post and rebounded out. Michael Rankine followed up and slid in to put the ball over the line from two yards out.

Half-time: Droylsden 0 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

There was no let up in the rain as the second half commenced, and Diamonds soon increased their lead. After Jon Challinor had put Jackson through on goal, Lee Roche clattered into the striker and the referee made amends for his earlier mistake by awarding a penalty. Roche was sent off for the challenge, leaving the Bloods down to ten men. Simeon Jackson made no mistake from the spot, sending the ball low to the keeper’s right.

Rankine nearly got another moments later after some good control gave him space for a shot on goal. The keeper parried the shot away, but only as far as Curtis Woodhouse, who followed up and struck the post. The ball just eluded those following up. Wayne Hatswell received a yellow card for a foul on Kevin Lynch, and Bastock did well to punch away Gareth Morris’ free kick. After 55 minutes, Droylsden made a couple of changes with Jamie Tandy and Steve Halford replacing Burbeary and Warner.

Diamonds were still looking to extend their lead and Challinor came close again after Rankine laid the ball off, his shot being pushed wide by the keeper. The home side continued to try to get back into the game and Paul Bastock made a brilliant save from Jamie Tandy on 58 minutes. Moments later, they were awarded a penalty after Marcus Kelly fouled Banim on the edge of the area. Jody Banim took the spot kick himself and sent Bastock the wrong way.

Within a minute, the referee awarded a third penalty, this time in Diamonds favour. As Rankine challenged to keep the ball in play close to the by-line, both he and Morris slipped to the ground. Morris, feeling he had been fouled grabbed the ball but no free kick had been awarded so a penalty was given for handball. Michael Rankine powered home the spot kick.

Tom Shaw came on for a rare appearance after 66 minutes replacing Jon Challinor as Diamonds looked to keep possession in the final quarter. Rankine shot into the side netting from a narrow angle, while the quick footed Chris Denham was causing Howell and Hatswell problems at the back. Howell was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card for one of his challenges.

On 87 minutes with the keeper off his line, Curtis Woodhouse nearly added another from 40 yards, but Cryan managed to get back to head off the line, Woodhouse seemed to injure himself taking the shot and had to go off leaving both sides to play out the remaining time with ten men. There was still time for the home side to have two final attempts on goal – Bastock saving with his feet from Banim, then just managing a one handed save after Gulliver nearly headed into his own goal.

Full-time: Droylsden 1 – 4 Rushden & Diamonds

The referee will feel somewhat embarrassed when he sees the footage of Jackson’s “goal” but at least it had no effect on the result. In all honesty, the game should never have gone ahead in such atrocious conditions, but at least it was the home side that felt more aggrieved with the result. With a break from League action until Boxing Day, Diamonds have visits to Bamber Bridge in the FA Trophy next weekend, followed by Cambridge in the Setanta Shield tie just before Christmas.

Teams:

Droylsden – Phillips(c), Roche, Cryan, Murray, Warner (Halford 55), Denham, Morris, Lynch, Burbeary (Tandy 55), Banim, Daly (Talbot 62).

Subs not used: Senior, Murphy.

Rushden & Diamonds – Bastock, Osano, Gulliver, Hatswell(c), Challinor (Shaw 66), Woodhouse, Jackson (McAllister 58), Burgess (Kelly 52), Rankine, Foster, Howell.

Subs not used: Nicholls, Tomlin.

Goals: Hatswell 36 (0-1), Rankine 45 (0-2), Jackson 51pen (0-3), Banim 60pen (1-3), Rankine 62pen (1-4).

Booked: Howelll 9 (u/sporting behaviour), Denham 9 (foul), Burbeary 40 (foul), Hatswell 53 (foul), Halford 73 (foul).

Sent off: Roche 50 (foul).

Referee: Mr R.Joyce (Cleveland).

Attendance: 417 (approx 60 away).

Man of the Match – Michael Rankine.

By Dave Mason

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