Kidderminster Harriers 1 – 3 Rushden & Diamonds

Setanta Shield 5th Round

(Northern Section)

Diamonds progressed to the Setanta Shield Northern Section semi-finals with a convincing win against old rivals Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough. Two goals from Jon Challinor and Andy Gooding’s first for the club saw them through to an away tie at Northwich Victoria. Simon Russell got one back for Harriers, but they never looked likely to match Diamonds.

After the postponement of this fixture three weeks ago, there was no danger of this game being called off due to the weather. Manager Garry Hill made five changes to the side which lost against York in the FA Trophy Quarter Finals on Saturday. Jon Challinor and David Brown replaced Michael Rankine and Charles Ademeno in attack, while midfielder Andy Gooding was given a starting role in place of Tom Shaw. Chris Hope returned after injury and came in for the cup-tied Michael Corcoran, while Adbou El Kholti was given a rare place in the starting line up,

Harriers boss Mark Yates was left frustrated with his side’s defeat against Salisbury at Aggborough on Saturday and made three changes. Alex Jeannin was cup-tied, while Matthew Bailey and Iyseden Christie were dropped to the bench. In came Michael McGrath and Paul Bignot, while Matthew Barnes-Homer partnered Darryl Knights in attack.

 

With Diamonds and Harriers both putting in a disappointing performance at the weekend, the game started at a frantic pace as both sides tried to put those games behind them and gain the upper hand. The home side looked lively coming forward and Darryl Knights and Matthew Barnes-Homer both had early efforts on goal. At the other end, Jon Challinor took the ball in from the right and tried a low shot on goal. With former Diamonds keeper Chris Mackenzie unable to hold the shot, Curtis Osano followed up but shot wide.

 

Harriers’ two quick strikers were causing Diamonds problems and after just 6 minutes, Dale Roberts did well to race out of goal to smother an attempted shot from Barnes-Homer after being set up by Knights. Roberts was again alert to captain Russell Penn’s free kick some 15 yards outside the area.

 

As Diamonds weathered the early storm, they started to play the ball to feet and take charge in midfield. It was a vast improvement from Saturday and on 24 minutes, they took the lead. Adbou El-Kholti played a ball up the left flank, and as Jon Challinor came back from an offside position, David Brown got clear. With the Harriers defenders appealing to the linesman, Brown headed towards goal and laid the ball back for Jon Challinor to side foot into the net.

 

With two minutes of the restart, Harriers were on the attack again and had a strong claim for a penalty turned down. Michael McGrath on the edge of the area took the ball inside and shot towards goal. Roberts did well to get a touch, but the ball then appeared to be deflected away from goal by Phil Gulliver’s hand. The referee turned away appeals and awarded a corner kick.

 

On 29 minutes, El-Kholti’s cross from the left found Jon Challinor unmarked, but his free header was saved by keeper Chris Mackenzie. Diamonds continued to pass the ball around well and had a penalty appeal turned down themselves after 38 minutes after a great one-two between Andy Gooding and David Brown led to Gooding being fouled by Mark Creighton. Although the offence appeared to take place two yards inside the penalty area, a free kick was awarded just outside. In the end, it didn’t matter as Andy Gooding lifted the free-kick past the wall and into the net.

 

With a two goal cushion, Diamonds were looking confident although in first half injury time, Darryl Knights struck a shot from just outside the area which cleared the bar by inches.

 

Half-time: Kidderminster Harriers 0 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

 

Harriers brought on Iyseden Christie and Simon Russell for the start of the second half, replacing Dean Bennett and Michael McGrath. Christie immediately joined Barnes-Homer and Knights in attack as they went to a 4-3-3 formation. It was Diamonds who started the second period brightly with David Brown shooting high and then wide in the first couple of minutes after the restart. Challinor also had a shot deflected off Paul Bignot for a corner. From Marcus Kelly’s corner, the ball was cleared to Andy Burgess, who struck a fierce shot which Mackenzie did well to keep out.

 

Kidderminster gradually came back into the game but although Christie looked lively; his final touch left a lot to be desired. Darryl Knights’ corner on 58 minutes found Mark Creighton on the far side of the area, but the defenders shot was blasted over the bar. Diamonds coped well with any danger posed by the home side and looked content to defend their lead with the occasion break as Harriers pushed forward. Kelly nearly increased the lead on 69 minutes when Brown laid the ball back into his path, but Mackenzie made another superb one handed save to push the ball away.

 

Harriers got a goal back on 73 minutes when Knights set up Simon Russell on the right, who powered a fierce shot past Roberts. Diamonds responded by bringing on Dean Howell and Tom Shaw for El-Kholti and Gooding – Howell sporting a new hairstyle matching Diamonds yellow kit!

 

It wasn’t long before the two goal lead was restored. On 80 minutes, Kelly made a surge forward from inside his own half as the Harriers defenders stood back. His shot from the edge of the area was saved by Mackenzie, but Jon Challinor had made a run out to the left, and as the ball came back out, he shot past the keeper.

 

Lawrence Lambley replaced David Brown just before the end of full time and had a great chance to increase the lead, shooting just wide. Diamonds finished the stronger of the two sides and deserved to progress to the next round.

 

Full-time: Kidderminster Harriers 1 – 3 Rushden & Diamonds

 

Diamonds now have a semi-final tie at Northwich Victoria as they look to get their hands on some silverware, while the other Northern Section semi-final will be between Halifax Town and the winners of the Droylsden v Burton Albion quarter-final. In the Southern Section, both Woking and Aldershot Town have progressed to the final four.  

 

 

Teams:

Kidderminster Harriers – Mackenzie, Kenna, Creighton, Jones, Pann(c), McGrath (Russell HT), Ferrell, Bignot, Bennett (Christie HT), Barnes-Homer, Knights.

Subs not used: Coleman, Hurren, Bailey.

 

Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano, Gulliver, Hope(c), Challinor, Woodhouse, Brown (Lambley 87), Burgess, Gooding (Shaw 78), Kelly, El-Kholti (Howell 77).

Subs not used: Bastock, Bolt..

 

Goals: Challinor 24 (0-1), Gooding 38 (0-2), Russell 73 (1-2), Challinor 80 (1-3).

 

Booked: Nil.

 

Referee: Mr P.Tierney (Lancs)

 

Attendance: 739 (42 away).

 

Reporters Man of the Match: Jon Challinor.

 

Other Results

Northern Section (quarter final)

Nuneaton Borough 0 Halifax Town 1

Southern Section (semi final)

Crawley Town 2 Aldershot Town 6 (aet)

Woking 3 Weymouth 0

 

 

By Dave Mason

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Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 1

(FA Trophy 4th Round)

Dreams of playing at Wembley disappeared for Diamonds as a 16th minute header from Danny Parslow was enough to take York City into the FA Trophy semi-finals. A spirited attempt to claw back the deficit was not enough as a number of first half chances were squandered and despite throwing players forward at the end, the York defence maintained their lead and a place in the last four.

Having signed striker Charles Ademeno on loan from Southend United on Wednesday, manager Garry Hill put the youngster straight into the starting line-up, replacing David Brown who was named on the bench. Chris Hope had recovered from illness and was also on the bench, while Lee Tomlin dropped out having not fully recovered from a knock last weekend.

York boss Colin Walker was forced into two changes from the side which lost at Histon last Saturday. Simon Rusk and Leo Fortune-West were both cup-tied, so Craig Farrell and Onome Sodje started. Club captain Emmanuel Panther had recovered from injury to be named as a substitute, while on loan Rotherham winger Sam Duncum was also on the bench.

Having gone 17 games unbeaten until last weekend, York started as strong favourites and looked more confident going forward in the opening period. Curtis Woodhouse flashed an early shot wide for Diamonds, but the visitors had a couple of chances on 10 minutes. First, Nicky Wroe had a shot blocked for a corner, then as Wroe sent the ball in, Martyn Woolford had a good chance, but his shot seemed to take a deflection and went straight at Dale Roberts in the Diamonds goal.

On 16 minutes, York got what proved to be the vital goal. After Phil Gulliver had cleared the ball away from Onome Sodje for a corner, the defence went to sleep and allowed Danny Parslow to run in and power a header home from Wroe’s corner.

There was a chance for an immediate reply as Michael Rankine flicked on a cross from the right, but Charles Ademeno was just unable to get a touch. Diamonds kept up the pressure and from a corner, Michael Corcoran had a goal bound shot blocked by the hand of Anthony Lloyd in the box, but the referee waved play on. The best chance fell on 25 minutes when York defender Darren Craddock misjudged a long ball from Roberts. Michael Rankine nipped in and with just the keeper to beat, lobbed the ball weakly into the keeper’s hands.

 

At the other end, Wroe’s 30 yard effort failed to cause any problems for Roberts, but it was Diamonds who looked more likely to score. There was another great chance on 37 minutes, when Ademeno got the better of Craddock and sent in a cross from the right. It looked like Michael Rankine would level the scores as he powered into the penalty area, but with the goal at his mercy, his header missed the target to the relief of the York team and supporters.

 

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 1 York City

 

The visitors looked more composed at the start of the second half and started to cause Diamonds a few more problems. Anthony Lloyd seemed to have a lot of room on the left as Curtis Osano let him have more and more space. On 50 minutes, Craig Farrell’s shot on goal from just inside the area was saved low down by Roberts, while Stuart Elliott had a couple of stinging shots blocked. York continued to push forward to make the game safe and Diamonds were under increasing pressure with Sodje’s shot being put out for a corner.

 

With Diamonds on the back foot, Tom Shaw came closest to a reply with a shot too close to the keeper. York thought they had doubled their lead on 62 minutes, when Craig Farrell knocked the ball forward for Sodje to fire home, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Ten minutes later, Woolford had another good chance as he got clear of the back line, but Phil Gulliver did well to get back and block the danger.

 

In the final fifteen minutes however, Diamonds started to get forward as they pushed for an equaliser and David Brown and Jon Challinor came on to replace Charles Ademeno (who had pulled up with a hamstring injury), and Marcus Kelly. Michael Corcoran struck the bar with a header from one of several corners, but in pressing forward, gaps began to open at the back. Only some selfish play from Onome Sodje kept Diamonds in with a chance as they had three against one, but he tried to run with the ball instead of supplying Wroe or Panther with an easy opportunity to score.

 

Chris Hope replaced Andy Burgess on 84 minutes as he came on to join Rankine and Brown in attack. Diamonds had another great chance as play resumed with David Brown trying an overhead kick from 8 yards which should have found the target. With gaps appearing at the back, Wroe’s run downfield ended with a poor finish from Martyn Woolford, while substitute Richard Brodie had a shot blocked. Then deep into the four minutes of added time, Dale Roberts did well to keep out Emmanual Panther’s effort, using his legs to clear the ball away.

 

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 1 York City

 

Dreams of a trip to Wembley have gone for another year and Diamonds must concentrate on improving their League position in the 15 remaining games. They still have the chance to win some silverware in the shape of the Setanta Shield, when they visit Aggborough to take on Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday evening (1945 kick off).

 

 

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano, Gulliver(c), Woodhouse, Ademeno (Brown 69), Burgess (Hope 84), Rankine, Shaw, Kelly (Challinor 71), Howell, Corcoran.

Subs not used:. Bastock, Gooding.

 

York City – .Evans, Craddock, Elliott, McGurk(c), Parslow, Sodje (Brodie 79), Farrell, Woolford, Wroe, Purkiss (Panther 65), Lloyd.

Subs not used: Mimms, Robinson, Duncum.

 

Goals: Parslow 16 (0-1).

 

Booked: Parslow 59 (foul).

 

Referee: Mr N.Kinseley (Essex).

 

Attendance: 1626 (333 away).

 

Cloverdale Catering Man of the Match – Michael Corcoran

 

 

Other FA Trophy results

Burton Albion 0 Ebbsfleet United 0

Tamworth 1 Aldershot Town 2

Torquay United 4 Crawley Town 1

 

 

 

By Dave Mason

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 0

A header from Michael Rankine after just 13 minutes was enough to secure three points against an Altrincham side struggling just above the relegation zone.

With Chris Hope out due to illness, manager Garry Hill was forced to make changes and former Oxford United central defender Michael Corcoran made his first start, with Phil Gulliver taking the captain’s armband. The only other change from the side which drew against Halifax Town last weekend was the return of Curtis Woodhouse, who replaced Jon Challinor.

Altrincham boss Graham Heathcote made just one change to the team which drew against Farsley Celtic last Saturday, with Rotherham United loan signing Tom Cahill replacing Chris Senior.

Diamonds lost the toss and kicked off towards the de Banke Terrace on a sunny but cold February afternoon. There was an early scare for the home side when Curtis Woodhouse was dispossessed deep inside his own penalty area but striker Colin Little was unable to take advantage. Diamonds started to press forward more and more and on 12 minutes, Michael Rankine did well to chase down a long ball to the by-line, cutting the ball back with David Brown’s effort blocked for a corner. Marcus Kelly’s corner was aimed at Phil Gulliver, but the ball was put behind again for another. This time, with the defence concentrating on the Diamonds captain, Michael Rankine stole in unmarked and headed in from close range past keeper Stuart Coburn.

 

The goal seemed to buoy Diamonds, as Woodhouse fired over the bar a few minutes later and on 19 minutes, they should have added a second. Tom Shaw did well to keep in a cross from Andy Burgess, and sent the ball across the goal line. As the ball drifted agonisingly across the goal, it seemed that David Brown would only have to tap the ball in at the far post for his first goal, but some brave defending saw the ball go wide.

 

Altrincham had little in the way of chances, although midway through the half, Colin Little’s header from a James Jennings cross was deflected over Dale Roberts, landing on the roof of the net. Jennings went into the referee’s notebook on 28 minutes after a foul on Michael Rankine as Diamonds mounted another attack. Marcus Kelly’s attempt on goal was deflected skyward and found Rankine in space but this time, his header was aimed straight at the keeper.

 

Rankine was causing problems for the Altrincham defence and on 35 minutes, came close again heading wide from a Kelly corner and Diamonds should have finished the half with more than just the single goal advantage.

 

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Altrincham

 

Altrincham started to come forward more at the start of the second half, but were unable to really trouble the home defence. Diamonds back four looked comfortable and the only problems came from Ryan Shotton’s long throw-ins. Lee Tomlin came on after 58 minutes and replaced David Brown.

 

Neither side were able to impose themselves as the half progressed but Tomlin’s introduction saw Diamonds press forward again, trying to get the vital second goal. Shaw headed at the keeper, while there was a valid claim for a penalty as Tomlin seemed to be bundled off the ball by Jennings. Moments later, Tomlin did well to rob Ryan Shotton and run towards goal, but the defender did well to get back and deflect the ball behind for a corner.

 

At the other end, Robbie Lawton tried to kid the officials, going down in the Diamonds area but the referee saw through the dive. Altrincham made a couple of changes just after the hour with Chris Senior and Richard Battersby coming on for Tom Cahill and Ryan Toulson, but Diamonds looked to be in control. Andy Burgess had a shot blocked after Kelly’s cross went over the defenders, and Tomlin’s follow up went wide. Stuart Coburn then did well to take the ball off Marcus Kelly’s feet as he looked to take the ball past the keeper.

 

With just one goal in it though, it made for a rather nervy ending as Altrincham started to come forward. Darren Tinson’s header was easily taken by Roberts, while Little’s shot was deflected over. With 15 minutes remaining, Jon Challinor replaced Kelly for Diamonds, while Joe O’Neill came on for Warren Peyton. In the end, Diamonds were able to cope quite easily with the Altrincham attack. A shot from distance by Little and a Jennings free kick both failed to test Roberts.

 

Diamonds made their final substitution four minutes from time with Andy Gooding coming on for his home debut, replacing Tom Shaw. As Altrincham tried to press forward at the end, chances fell to Rankine, who tried unsuccessfully to chip the keeper after dispossessing Shotton, and Tomlin, whose fierce shot was deflected wide. With three minutes of injury time, there was just enough time for Jon Challinor to receive a yellow card for a foul on Jennings, but Diamonds held out easily for the win.

 

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 0 Altrincham

 

While relegation is not an issue, it was still nice to move further away from the bottom five and the aim for the rest of the season must be to try to secure a place in the top half of the table. There is also the possibility of a trip to Wembley on May 10th and Diamonds must concentrate on next Saturday’s FA Trophy Quarter Final. They were encouraged to hear that opponents York City’s long unbeaten run finally came to an end with a 3-1 defeat at Histon.

 

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano, Gulliver (c), Woodhouse, Brown (Tomlin 58), Burgess, Rankine, Shaw (Gooding 86), Kelly (Challinor 76), Howell, Corcoran.

Subs not used:. Bastock, El-Kholti.

 

Altrincham – Coburn, Tinson (c), Lawton, Little, Young, Peyton (O’Neill 77), Cahill (Senior 61), Shotton, Toulson (Battersby 64), Jennings, King.

Subs not used: Scott, Lane.

 

Goals: Rankine 13 (1-0).

 

Booked: Jennings 27 (foul), Challinor 90+3 (foul).

 

Referee: Mr S.Proctor-Green (Lincs).

 

Attendance: 1364 (115 away).

 

Marfrig Europe Man of the Match – Phil Gulliver.

 

 

By Dave Mason

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Halifax Town 2

Rushden & Diamonds earned another draw at Nene Park with a scrambled injury time equaliser from Phil Gulliver making it 2-2. It was probably a fair result from a game that produced little of great quality from either side.

Manager Hill kept faith with the eleven that started in the FA Trophy game with Halifax the previous weekend, This meant that Lee Tomlin was on the bench, along with Curtis Woodhouse on his return from injury. David Brown made his Nene Park debut, and Michael Corcoran was on the bench.

Halifax manager Chris Wilder made two initial changes to the team that lost to the Diamonds in the trophy, with Tom Kearney returning to the side and Simon Ainge making his first league start. He was forced into a third change when Alex Bailey was injured in the warm-up and Tom Harban took his place in central defence.

As a low winter sun shone over Nene Park, Halifax kicked off towards the Peter De Banke terrace, and within three minutes they had taken the lead, as Dean Howell played the ball square across the area to keeper Roberts, but he allowed the ball to run in front of him, for Craig Nelthorpe to run onto and score.

Halifax continued to dominate the first quarter of the game, and it was Roberts who twice prevented Town going further ahead to make partial amends for his early mistake.

The first of these saves came after seven minutes as an excellent ball from Heslop allowed Anthony Griffith to run into the area, but Roberts was quickly off his line to block the shot and see it spin away for a corner.

Diamonds had few threatening attacks in this period, with Marcus Kelly having the best of them as he ran on to one of the many flicks-on that Michael Rankine was able to deliver. Kelly’s shot was blocked for the first Diamonds corner of the half. The corner duty was falling to Tom Shaw for this game, and he saw a partial clearance reach Michael Brown, whose powerful shot hit Chris Hope and Jon Challinor could only skew his shot wide from the loose ball.

On 17 minutes Roberts made his second excellent save of the period, as Phil Gulliver allowed the ball to bounce over his head and Jon Shaw hit a powerful shot that he did well to save at close range.

The Halifax attacks were forcing the Diamonds defenders into more and more mistakes, and Howell and Gulliver managed to combine to concede a corner under little pressure on 21 minutes. The resultant corner was well caught by Roberts, and his quick clearance found David Brown wide on the right, who easily beat Doughty but his cross was just behind Marcus Kelly as he ran in on goal.

For the second quarter the Diamonds started to dominate play, with David Brown starting to link well with Rankine, as the big striker continued to win more than his fair share of the 50/50 balls, and also show some deft touches in distribution to Brown or Burgess.

One great move saw Shaw, Burgess and Osano combine on the right, with Osano’s cross headed narrowly wide by Rankine. Andy Burgess was having some joy with his flicks and touches, and one of these found Challinor, whose shot rebounded to Rankine, but the striker could only force the ball wide.

Another excellent move saw a Rankine overhead kick near the half-way line find Brown, in the middle, but the return ball was well cut out by Adam Quinn. A few minutes later, on 40 minutes, Brown was able to get away from his marker, and run onto a ball over the defence down the left channel. As he attempted to flick the ball around Simon Ainge the ball appeared to hit the defender’s arm, and the the linesman on the far side signalled a penalty.

After protests from the Halifax players had been waved away, Tom Shaw stepped up and hit the spot kick into the left-hand side of the net.

The equaliser was a reasonable reward for the Diamonds attacking play in the second quarter, and the half ended with the scoreline even.

Half time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Halifax Town 1

Any thoughts that the Diamonds improved play in the latter part of the first half might be continued after half-time were quickly dispelled, as the match turned into a stalemate for the early part of the second half. Neither side really threatened to get ahead until a great move between Rankine, Shaw, Burgess and Brown saw the striker first dummy the ball to free Burgess, then hit a cross which Michael Rankine was inches away from getting his foot to the ball.

At the other end Adam Quinn was allowed a free header at a corner, but failed to hit the target. Marcus Kelly found Michael Rankine in the area, but the strikers shot was narrowly wide. The match then quietened down, and there appeared little prospect of any more scoring.

Both sides then started to make changes to try to liven things up, but little of note happened until the 80th minute. Andy Campbell had come on for goalscorer Nelthorpe 12 minutes into the half, and shortly after he was narrowly caught offside by a square-looking Diamonds defence he managed to spring the offside trap after Tom Kearney was gifted the ball by Curtis Osano, and the Halifax captain hit a through ball for Campbell to run unchallenged into the area, taking the ball wide of Roberts and easily knock the ball into the net.

Garry Hill’s immediate response was to take off striker David Brown, and bring on Andy Gooding, moving Lee Tomlin into the middle. This almost paid dividends when Tom Shaw combined with Andy Burgess after Lewis Killeen had given the ball away near the half-way line, and after his first cross was blocked his second cross found Michael Rankine, but his attempt on goal was well blocked.

As the game moved into three minutes of injury time it appeared that the points were heading north to Yorkshire until the Diamonds won a throw on the left, and with the big defenders going up into the area, Michael Rankine was allowed to take the throw. His long throw caused panic in the Town defence, with Tom Shaw in the thick of the action, and the ball broke to Phil Gulliver on the edge of the six yard box to force the ball home for a late equaliser.

The game ended shortly afterwards with perhaps the final scoreline being fair to both sides, but it will be Halifax who will be the most disappointed with the result. The Diamonds now face Grays in midweek, and will be looking to pick up a win to increase their buffer with the drop zone.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Halifax Town 2

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds (White):

Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Dean Howell, Chris Hope (Capt), Phil Gulliver, Jon Challinor, Andy Burgess, Tom Shaw, Marcus Kelly (Lee Tomlin 61), David Brown (Andy Gooding 80), Michael Rankine

Subs Not Used : Paul Bastock, Curtis Woodhouse, Michael Corcoran

Halifax Town (Yellow) : Adam Legzdins, Matt Doughty, Adam Quinn, Tom Kearney (Capt), Lewis Killeen, Jon Shaw, Craig Nelthorpe (Andy Campbell 57), Anthony Griffith, Simon Ainge (Darryn Stamp 78), Tom Harban, Simon Heslop

Subs Not Used : Tom Sharpe, Steve Torpey, Nicky Gray

Goals: Nelthorpe, Shaw (Pen), Campbell, Gulliver

Yellow Cards: Osano, Quinn, Harban

Referee: Mr M Bull

Attendance: 1472 (80)

Man of the Match sponsored by Sports Programmes : Andy Burgess

Halifax Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

FA Trophy – 3rd Round

Shay Stadium

Diamonds left it late to secure a victory in the FA Trophy as a goalless draw and replay looked on the cards. But a goal from Lee Tomlin three minutes from time and another from Michael Rankine deep in to stoppage time were enough to seal a place in the quarter final draw on Monday.

Garry Hill made three changes from the side which lost at Burton Albion on Tuesday night. Loan signing David Brown from Accrington Stanley was given the No.9 shirt and replaced Simeon Jackson, who had been signed by Gillingham on Thursday. Michael Rankine partnered Brown up front in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, while Marcus Kelly replaced Curtis Woodhouse. Lee Tomlin was dropped to the bench. New signings Michael Corcoran and Andy Gooding were named amongst the substitutes.

Halifax manager Chris Wilder was forced into changes due to the suspension of captain Tom Kearney after receiving a fifth yellow card last weekend, while Nottingham Forest loanee Tom Sharp was injured. Returning from a five match suspension after his third red card of the season was Anthony Griffith (on a season long loan from Doncaster Rovers), while there was a welcome return for Brian O’Callaghan after missing several games through injury. Recent signing from Bradford, Simon Ainge was on the bench.

Diamonds kicked-off wearing their yellow kit towards the visiting fans with the pitch looking in good condition after the snow of the previous night had been cleared during the morning. After just four minutes, Halifax had the ball in the net when Lewis Killeen slotted the ball home after some neat play between Jon Shaw and Craig Nelthorpe, but the Shaymen’s striker was flagged offside.

Phil Gulliver was an early entry into the referees note book for what appeared to be a pretty innocuous foul on Killeen, as Diamonds tried to stop the home side from taking control. Alex Bailey and Anthony Griffith produced some good movement on the right with the ball crossed in to Killeen, but Jon Shaw got in the way of Killeen’s shot. Then after 14 minutes, Simon Heslop tried a low shot from distance, but keeper Dale Roberts took the ball well.

Although Halifax had more possession, Diamonds tried to quell any further attacks by closing down quickly and started to create some chances themselves. A mix up between Brian O’Callaghan and Adam Quinn on 22 minutes provided David Brown with an excellent opportunity to open his account for Diamonds, but he scuffed his shot with the keeper at his mercy. Moments later at the other end, Nelthorpe saw Dale Roberts slightly off his line, but his chip went wide of the goal.

Tom Shaw had a free kick was deflected away from goal as Diamonds tried to put some pressure on the home side. On 38 minutes, Shaw’s ball forward found Rankine, and after beating a defender sent a cross in to the centre. Marcus Kelly was well positioned in the middle, but with the goal gapping, he sliced the ball over the bar from 10 yards.

Halifax defender Rob Scott was injured in a clash with Rankine and had to leave the field just before the break, Andy Campbell replacing him. Despite Halifax having more of the play in the first half, it was Diamonds that had the better chances as Jon Challinor shot wide just before the half time whistle.

Half-time: Halifax Town 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half started brightly with Halifax trying to make use of their home advantage. On 50 minutes, Killeen set Jon Shaw clear and with just the keeper to beat, tried to place the ball into the corner of the goal. Dale Roberts produced an excellent save to push the ball away for a corner. As Halifax came forward, Andy Campbell and Anthony Griffith both had chances but Diamonds were quick to close down and clear the danger.

Neither side were able to create opportunities and although the home defence looked slow on occasions, Diamonds were unable to exploit their advantage. It wasn’t until the 79th minute that there was another chance on goal. Lee Tomlin had replaced debutant David Brown minutes earlier and with his arrival came the chance for Diamonds to take advantage and get behind the defence. Burgess set Curtis Osano down the right and the full back cut inside and pushed the ball up to Tomlin. The keeper was fortunate to save Tomlin’s shot with his feet.

A long ball from the back then found Tomlin challenging the keeper on the edge of the box, but Adam Legzdins just managed to clear the ball away. Then just as the game was heading for a goalless draw, Diamonds took the lead on 87 minutes. Dean Howell sent a ball over the top of the defence and Lee Tomlin judged his run to perfection. With the defenders appealing to the linesman, the teenager took the ball towards goal and slipped it past Legzdins and into the net.

Halifax never really looked like getting an equaliser as Diamonds brought on Michael Corcoran in injury time for his debut. Andy Burgess tried a long shot, but it was Michael Rankine who got onto another long ball over the defence and powered forward leaving Legzdin no chance with his shot into the corner of the goal.

Full-time: Halifax Town 0 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

So Diamonds wait to see who they will play in the quarter finals on 23rd February. The away fixture at Stafford Rangers scheduled for that date will be re-arranged (details will be announced as soon as possible). Diamonds have the chance to progress in the League Cup on Tuesday evening when they visit Aggborough to take on old rivals Kidderminster Harriers in the 5th Round of the Setanta Shield (Northern Section).

Teams:

Halifax Town – .Legzdins, Scott (Campbell 43), Doughty, Quinn, Killeen, Shaw (c), Nelthorpe (Gray 83), O’Callaghan (Stamp 90), Griffith, Bailey, Heslop.

Subs not used: Mawson, Ainge.

Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano, Gulliver, Hope (c), Challinor, Brown (Tomlin 75), Burgess, Rankine, Shaw, Kelly (Corcoran 90+2), Howell.

Subs not used: Bastock, Gooding, Hales.

Goals: Tomlin 87 (0-1), Rankine 90+3 (0-2).

Booked: Gulliver 7 (foul).

Referee: Mr C.D.Sarginson (Staffs)

Attendance: 1052 (71 away).

Reporters Man of the Match: Lee Tomlin

Other FA Trophy results

AFC Wimbledon 0 Torquay United 2

Aldershot Town 3 Braintree Town 0

Burton Albion 1 Histon 1

Crawley Town 8 Droylsden 0

Ebbsfleet United 1 Weymouth 0

Farsley Celtic v York (playing Sunday)

Stafford Rangers 2 Tamworth 2

By Dave Mason

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