Bamber Bridge 2 – 3 Rushden & Diamonds

FA Trophy – 1st Round

At Irongate, Bamber Bridge FC

Diamonds fought back after twice falling behind to win 3-2 at Irongate. Bamber Bridge took the lead from an Alex Porter penalty before Phil Gulliver equalised for Diamonds. Porter put the Brig in front just before the half time whistle, but two second half goals from Lee Tomlin secured a place in the second round.

Manager Garry Hill was forced to make two changes, with Wayne Hatswell and Dean Howell both suspended after receiving their fifth bookings at Droylsden last weekend. Chris Hope returned as captain despite not having fully recovered from an Achilles problem, while Adbou El Kholti came in at left back. With Paul Nicholls out injured for around six weeks, Martyn Margarson had been recalled from his loan spell at Rugby Town and was named on the bench.

Bamber Bridge manager Phil Entwistle made just one change from their previous League game against Chorley two weeks ago – last Saturday’s game being postponed due to the weather. Striker Sean O’Neil had recently returned from a spell at Leigh RMI and he partnered prolific scorer Ryan Salmon up front. Salmon had scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and the Brig had only lost once at home, having won all five of their last League games in the Unibond League First Division North.

Diamonds kicked off towards the clubhouse in their red away strip for only the sixth time this season having not won this year in those shirts. They started off the stronger side, but were unable to press home the advantage of their higher League status. Martin Foster’s early ball through to Michael Rankine was kicked away by the keeper, but neither side were able to create much in the way of chances. Diamonds first real opportunity came on 16 minutes after Jon Challinor had won a free kick. Andy Burgess fired in a shot which Terry McCormick did well the save low down at the near post.

Although the Brig were looking lively, Diamonds tried on several occasions to fire a long ball over the top for the forwards to run onto. Diamonds defence looked strong and Bamber Bridge were unable to get any shots on goal – but it was the home side that went in front on 27 minutes. Captain Alex Porter sent the ball forward for Danny Mahoney to chase and as he tried to control the ball inside the area, he was brought down by Adbou El Kholti. Alex Porter stepped up to take the penalty, and sent the ball low and to the keepers left leaving Bastock with no chance.

Diamonds tried to respond immediately with Rankine twice heading over and Challinor firing in a shot off target. Chris Hope pulled up with a recurrence of his Achilles injury, and was replaced on 38 minutes by Lee Tomlin – Jon Challinor moving into the back four.

The Brig had a rare opportunity again on 38 minutes when Adam Tong headed over after a cross from the left but within five minutes, Diamonds pulled level. After Paul McMenemy fouled Simeon Jackson some 30 yards out, Andy Burgess sent in the free kick and Phil Gulliver got the faintest of touches to send the ball past McCormick and into the net.

Martin Foster was having a good game in midfield closing down the opposition at every opportunity while Curtis Osano came forward on several occasions and forced a good save from the keeper as half time approached. Diamonds probably felt they should have gone into the break ahead, but in the second minute of injury time, it was the home side that went in front again. Danny Mahoney sent the ball in from the left to Alex Porter, and as the defenders stood off, he fired a shot into the top corner of the goal.

HT: Bamber Bridge 2 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

Diamonds came out at the start of the second half all guns blazing and within 30 seconds, got back on level terms. Simeon Jackson ran down the left flank and centred to ball to Lee Tomlin just inside the area. He had the space to fire a low shot on goal, and although the keeper managed to get a hand to the ball, it flew just inside the far post.

Rankine fired a fierce shot over the bar, then put Tomlin away on the right with his cross from the by-line going agonisingly across the face of the goal with no-one able to touch the ball home. At the other end, Danny Mahoney headed wide, while it wasn’t until the 55th minute that Diamonds won the first corner of the game. The home side were struggling at that point and both Adam Tong and Glen Steel went into the referee’s notebook. On 61 minutes after Steel’s booking for a foul on Rankine, Andy Burgess found Lee Tomlin free at the far post, and he made no mistake volleying the ball past McCormick.

Jackson tried to make the game safe by lobbing the keeper moments later, but the ball went over the bar, while a Tomlin shot was misdirected wide. With fifteen minutes remaining both sides made changes – Neil Spencer replacing Sean O’Neil for the home side, and Craig McAllister coming on for Simeon Jackson for Diamonds.

In the final ten minutes, the home side tried to create more openings up front. Ryan Salmon’s header went straight at Bastock, while Adam Tong had a great chance inside the area, but again, the shot was easy for the keeper. As Bamber Bridge tried to wrestle the ball away from Diamonds, Ryan Salmon and Matt Mahoney both went into the referee’s notebook, but it was all to no avail as Diamonds saw out the closing moments.

FT: Bamber Bridge 2 – 3 Rushden & Diamonds

Although Diamonds seemed to make hard work in getting the win, Bamber Bridge put up a spirited resistance and could so easily have forced a replay late in the second half. Diamonds on the other hand were probably unfortunate to be behind at the break, and after Lee Tomlin had put Diamonds back in the lead, they also had opportunities to put the tie beyond doubt. But it was Diamonds who make Monday’s second round draw, and they will be hoping for a home tie on January 12th.

Teams:

Bamber Bridge – McCormick, Steel, McMenemy, Melling (Williams 80), Tong, M.Mahoney, Brown, D.Mahoney, Salmon, O’Neil (Spencer 70), Porter.

Subs not used: Fletcher, Carroll, Dashti.

Rushden & Diamonds – Bastock, Osano, Gulliver, Hope (Tomlin 38), Challinor, Woodhouse, Jackson (McAllister 76), Burgess, Rankine (Hales 87), Foster, El Kholti.

Subs not used: Margarson, Kelly.

Goals: Porter 27pen (1-0), Gulliver 42 (1-1), Porter 45+2 (2-1), Tomlin 46 (2-2), Tomlin 61 (2-3)

Booked: Tong 59 (dissent), Steel 61 (foul), Salmon 84 (foul), M.Mahoney 90 (foul).

Referee: Mr C.Pawson (Yorkshire)

Attendance: 330 (approx 60 away)

Man of the Match – Lee Tomlin

By Dave Mason

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