Cambridge United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds deservedly went through to the next round of Setanta Shield with a convincing 1-0 win over Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium.

After a dominant first half-hour capped by a Tom Shaw goal Cambridge did start to present an attacking threat, but Paul Bastock was only forced to make one real save all game. Diamonds also hit the post twice in the second half, and did not appear to pick any injury worries prior to the Christmas period.

Manager Garry Hill fielded a team of familiar faces, with Abdou El-Kholti and Lee Hales getting starts. Cambridge fielded three fringe players, including recently signed youngster Robbie Willmott. Andy Burgess and Chris Hope didn’t make the sixteen.

On a cool winter evening R&DFC kicked off towards the 100 or so travelling fans. They started with a formation that might best be described 4-5-1 with McAllister up front supported by Tomlin on the right, Kelly on the left and a central midfield of Shaw, Hales and Woodhouse.

It was the Diamonds that dominated the first half-hour, with constant harrying of the United defence yielding a number of half chances, with Lee Tomlin lively on the right and Kelly on the left, Marcus Kelly had two shots midway through the half, forcing Potter into conceding a corner with the most dangerous one.

Abdou El-Kholti was also providing an additional threat down the left, with two low crosses causing problems for the U’s defence. On 25 minutes, Kelly showed great vision to find Tom Shaw in plenty of space on the edge of the "D". The midfielder decided to place his shot rather than going for power, but he was too far out, and Potter made an easy save.

On 29 minutes Diamonds deservedly went ahead, with a Lee Tomlin run from left to right resulting in Craig McAllister laying the ball off to Tom Shaw just outside the "D", and this time he hit a shot with power and beat Potter to his left to make the score 1-0.

Cambridge then seemed to wake up, and started to push forwards, but only really created one chance of note in the half, when a Stephen Reed cross was met by Bastock and Rendell at the same time, but the ball squirmed to safety.

Craig McAllister continued to impress, and went close with a shot from the left hand corner of the box that didn’t have quite enough dip on it to get over Potter and under the bar.

So the half ended with Diamonds deservedly one goal to the good.

Half-time: Cambridge United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds made two changes at half-time, with McAllister and El Kholti being rewarded for their excellent first half performances with a rest for the second, as Dean Howell and Michael Rankine took to the field.

The U’s did start the half with rather more purpose than they showed in the first, and Gavin Hoyte was guilty of a dreadful miss as the ball was headed across the box to him, and from the corner of the six yard box he could only poke the ball well wide.

Marcus Kelly continued to look a threat, and he linked up with Tom Shaw to set up Michael Rankine but the striker screwed his shot wide.Lee Hales also had an attempt on goal, as the Diamonds remained in charge. Curtis Osano was also getting forwards and beating defenders with powerful runs, and after his team-mates failed to capitalise on one of the chances he made them, the defender made a run through the defence and hit a great shot from the right hand side of the box, which hit the inside of the left hand post, but somehow came back out into play.

On 78 minutes the U’s had their best attack of the game, as Boylan and Rendell combined to free Pitt, and his dangerous cross caused a goalmouth scramble, with first a great block by Phil Gulliver, and then a great save by Paul Bastock from Lee Boylan.

Jimmy Quinn then brought on Leo Fortune-West in a final throw of the dice, but it was Diamonds who might have wrapped the game up on 86 minutes, as Jon Challinor came on and presented an immediate threat, and after linking with Lee Tomlin fed Michael Rankine, and his attempt on goal ricocheted off defender and goalkeeper onto the post and away to safety.

With a Lee Tomlin booking for dissent / timewasting the only other incident, the Diamonds will be happy to progress into the next round.

Full-time: Cambridge United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

A well-deserved win will hopefully set the team up nicely for the Christmas period, starting with the visit of Stevenage Borough on Boxing Day.

Teams:

Cambridge United (Amber / Black): Danny Potter, Stephen Reed (Leo Fortune West 83), Mark Albrighton, Danny Brown, Dan Gleeson, Rob Wolleaston, Scott Rendell, Gavin Hoyte, Michael Hyem (Courtney Pitt 55), Joshua Coulson, Robbie Wilmott (Lee Boylan 55)

Subs Not Used : Mark Convery, Michael Morrison

Rushden & Diamonds (Red) Paul Bastock, Curtis Osano, Abdou El-Kholti (Dean Howell 45), Phil Gulliver, Wayne Hatswell, Lee Hales, Tom Shaw (Jon Challinor 83), Curtis Woodhouse, Marcus Kelly, Lee Tomlin, Craig McAllister (Michael Rankine 45)

Subs Not Used Martyn Margarson, Simeon Jackson

Goals : Tom Shaw 29

Yellow Cards : Lee Tomlin

Referee: Mr R Fletcher

Attendance: 1309 (Away 102)

Diamonds Man of the Match: :Marcus Kelly

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