Farsley Celtic 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Jon Challinor scored Diamonds winning goal on 73 minutes as the referee dominated proceedings, awarding two red and seven yellow cards in a game that could hardly be described as bad tempered.

Manager Garry Hill surprised those who made the trip to the outskirts of Leeds by naming a 3-5-2 formation, with Chris Hope, Phil Gulliver and Michael Corcoran at the back and Curtis Osano and Abdou El-Kholti pushing wide into midfield. Tom Shaw returned to the middle in place of Marcus Kelly who was not named in the squad. Dean Howell and Andy Burgess both dropped to the bench. Michael Rankine and Jon Challinor provided the attack.

With Celtic having beaten fellow strugglers Stafford Rangers at the weekend, manager John Deacey named an unchanged eleven, with just one change on the bench – striker David McNiven (on loan from Stafford) returning after being refused permission to play against his parent club.

Celtic’s win at the weekend saw them escape the relegation zone for the first time since Christmas and they were looking to pull further away from Weymouth and Altrincham. They started the better of the two sides and within the opening two minutes, nearly took the lead after Rory Prendergast and Damien Reeves combined well. Phil Gulliver did well to get a foot to the ball and Dale Roberts gathered. Scott McNiven then fired a free kick too close to the keeper, but the best chance fell on 16 minutes when Reeves ran unchecked from the halfway line and shot from the edge of the area with Roberts producing an excellent save low to his left.

Diamonds had very little in the way of chances and the players seemed uncomfortable with the formation. Prendergast fired a free kick that was deflected for a corner. Tom Shaw’s forward pass to Jon Challinor finally provided the visiting supporters with some excitement but the flag went up for offside as his shot went just wide of the goal. On 29 minutes as Celtic pressed forward again, the course of the game was changed. Rory Prendergast was challenged in the area and immediately appealed to referee Paul Curry for a penalty, but the official was unmoved. After taking his protest too far and swearing at the referee, he was immediately shown a red card for foul and abusive language.

Straight way, Diamonds started to get back into the game and Rankine was fouled as he tried to turn George Santos just outside the area. Curtis Woodhouse fired the free kick over the bar. Moments later, Jon Challinor tried to challenge Curtis Aspden on the edge of the box but caught the keeper’s leg in the process. Aspden reacted angrily to the challenge and pushed the Diamonds striker to the ground and was extremely lucky only to be shown a yellow card as Challinor was also booked. Challinor’s work rate was second to none and just before the whistle, his deflected shot only just cleared to bar.

Half-time: Farsley Celtic 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

Within 20 seconds of the restart, it was Challinor again who nearly got the opening goal, shooting over the bar from twenty yards. Diamonds started to exploit their one man advantage as they moved the ball around the field with slow and deliberate passing. Curtis Woodhouse tried to bend a shot around Aspden on 53 minutes, but the keeper did well to save.

Charles Ademeno came on after 59 minutes and replaced Andy Gooding who was guilty of some poor passing after some recent good performances. Michael Rankine entered the referee’s notebook for a foul on Amjad Iqbal as Diamonds pressed forward. Then after Ademeno had won a corner, Chris Hope headed Shaw’s cross onto the top of the crossbar. Shaw himself was later booked for a challenge from behind.

Lee Tomlin replaced Michael Rankine as Diamonds tried to increase the pressure, and when Andy Burgess came on for Curtis Osano on 71 minutes, Abdou El-Kholti dropped back and they reverted to the favoured 4-4-2 formation. Within two minutes, Diamonds scored what proved to be the decisive goal. Charles Ademeno turned on some speed and cut in from the left. As his run into the penalty area was blocked, the ball ran free to Jon Challinor, who blasted a low shot past the keeper from 16 yards.

Michael Corcoran became the fourth Diamonds player to be booked for another strong challenge, as Farsley brought on James Knowles and David McNiven to replace Scott McNiven and Andy Watson. As the resultant free kick was taken by Roy Stamer, George Santos appeared to have been hindered, but his penalty appeal was turned down.

In the final ten minutes, Tom Shaw saw his effort saved while Chris Hope’s header was clawed past the post by Aspden. George Santos was booked as Diamonds looked to make the game safe. Andy Burgess shot over while Charles Ademeno came close to opening his account as he rounded the keeper only to be forced wide by Celtic captain Amjad Iqbal. As the four minutes of added time came to an end, a foul on Ademeno saw Santos receive a second yellow card and complete a miserable evening for the home side.

Full-time: Farsley Celtic 0 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

It was unfortunate for both sides that the game was dominated by some poor decisions from the referee, but the home side now have to count the cost of losing key players Rory Prendergast and George Santos due to suspension. The three points for Diamonds see them move up another place as they bid to move into the top half of the table. There is a break from League action on Saturday as Diamonds try to progress to the last four of the Setanta Shield against Northwich Victoria at the Victoria Stadium (3pm kick-off). Woking and Aldershot are already through to the Southern Section Final, while Halifax Town, Droylsden and Burton Albion still have to contest the other place in the Northern Section.


Farsley Celtic – .Aspden, Jackson, Iqbal(c), Reeves, Watson (D.McNiven 76), S.McNiven (Knowles 76), Bentham, Krief, Torpey (Stamer 63), Santos, Prendergast.

Subs not used: Backhouse, Bambrook.

Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano (Burgess 71), Gulliver, Hope(c), Challinor, Woodhouse, Rankine (Tomlin 63), Shaw, Gooding (Ademeno 59), Corcoran, El-Kholti.

Subs not used: Platt, Howell.

Goals: Challinor 73 (0-1).

Sent off: Prendergast 29 (abusive language), Santos 90+2 (2nd yellow card).

Booked: Aspden 34 (violent conduct), Challinor 34 (foul), Rankine 61 (foul), Shaw 68 (foul), Corcoran 75 (foul), Santos 84 (foul), Santos 90+2 (foul).

Referee: Mr P.Curry (Northumberland)

Attendance: 475 (45 away).

Man of the match: Jon Challinor

By Dave Mason


Rushden & Diamonds 2 Woking 1

Rushden & Diamonds moved up to 14th in the Blue Square Premier after coming from behind to defeat Woking at Nene Park. After a dour first half-hour the game livened up, and the Diamonds went on to dominate the last hour.

Manager Hill made several changes from the side that went out of the FA Trophy last weekend, with Tom Shaw, Charles Ademeno and Phil Gulliver dropping to the bench, being replaced by Andy Gooding, Jon Challinor and Chris Hope respectively. Both Gooding and Challinor had earned a starting place following their goalscoring exploits in midweek at Kidderminster. Recent signing Conal Platt was also on the bench along with Lee Tomlin, with Hill preferring to use five outfield players there.

Woking manager Frank Gray brought back Bradley Quamina in place of Adam Green, who dropped to the bench.

As a low winter sun shone over Nene Park, the Diamonds kicked off towards the Peter De Banke terrace, and within three minutes they had gone behind as a Marvin Morgan crossfield ball from in front of the pressbox somehow eluded Dean Howell allowing Matt Pattison to seize the ball and hit a powerful shot past Roberts from the right corner of the box.

At the other end Jon Challinor was looking lively up-front in a similar role he had played on Tuesday evening at Kidderminster, popping up in dangerous positions on both sides of the area.

After such a bright start the match the game deteriorated rapidly into a very scrappy affair with a series of long balls and with little of any quality – at least up until the half-hour mark.

The other highlight of the first half-hour was a run by Marvin Morgan, beating Woodhouse and Corcoran, but foiled by Chris Hope.

On the half-hour mark the Diamonds seem to wake from their slumbers and start looking more like a team that had played together before. Good work from Marcus Kelly saw the Diamonds win a corner on the left, and for this game the corner-taking duty on that side had been handed to Andy Gooding, whose low and powerful corner skimmed off a couple of heads on the edge of the six yard box before being cleared to safety. A minute of so later the Diamonds played the ball through midfield, rather than attempting yet another long ball to Rankine, and it immediately paid dividends as a Woodhouse pass through the middle bounced off Michael Rankine to Andy Gooding, and his ball into the box was towards Jon Challinor, who was facing away from goal, but he took one step, turned and hit the ball past Worner.

This goal also seemed to wake up a Woking side who had seemed content to try to sit on their lead for 85-odd minutes, and with Liam Marum springing the Diamonds offside trap they had been relying on all afternoon, he was able to run in on goal unchallenged, but Dale Roberts once again showed what an asset he has been, since replacing Paul Bastock, with a great save.

Diamonds now looked far more threatening going forwards, with Burgess and Gooding combining to find Rankine in space in the area, but the striker dwelt too long and Hutchinson was able to clear.

There was still time for the impressive Challinor and Dean Howell to have clear shots on goal before half-time, but both were blazed over.

Half time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Woking 1

Woking were forced into a change at half-time with Paul Lorraine being replaced by Damian Batt. The Cards started the half as the more lively team, with a move involving Marum and Gray seeing Matt Pattison having a shot cleared away, but the Diamonds then dominated proceedings for the remainder of the game.

Curtis Osano went a on great run that included a one-two with Jon Challinor to find Michael Rankine, but his attempt was cleared for a corner, Dean Howell started to get forward far more, and this also seemed to create space for Marcus Kelly, and it was the winger who cut inside and picked out Jon Challinor on the right edge of the box, but his first touch was too strong and he was forced to shoot from a narrow angle into the AirWair stand.

Challinor continued to torment the Woking defence throughout the half, and his cross from the right found Michael Rankine on 58 minutes, but his leap was mistimed and could only result in a corner.

Kelly and Howell combined again on 61 minutes, with Howell getting a great ball low across the area to Michael Rankine’s feet. The striker turned well but scuffed his shot wide of the right hand post.

Jon Challinor was also winning his share of the aerial challenges, and one of his flick-ons found Michael Rankine in space towards the left edge of the penalty box, but once again the striker screwed his shot wide of the right-hand post.

Rankine returned the favour to Challinor on 66 minutes, and Challinor hit a low shot that was fumbled by Worner in perhaps his only mistake of the game, and although Marcus Kelly managed to latch onto the ball, he had to knock the ball away from goal to a teammate, and the danger was averted.

All the Diamonds pressure was beginning to tell on the Woking defence, and Damian Batt very sloppily conceded a throw as he attempted to move the ball forwards down the right. Dean Howell took the throw, and then received the return ball from Curtis Woodhouse to make his way to the by-line, and hit a great cross that Michael Rankine headed home.

Challinor was having easily his best game at Nene Park, and continued to threaten, with further shots on target that forced a corner. From the resultant play Tom Shaw hit a powerful shot that unfortunately hit Michael Rankine, and Marcus Kelly repeated this feat a few minutes later.

Another Howell cross wasn’t dealt with by Batt, and Andy Burgess was allowed two attempts on goal from close range, with the second being deflected over for a corner.

The one threat to the Diamonds goal came after a mix-up between Woodhouse and Osano with the ball breaking to Jason Norville on the edge of the box in plenty of space – but the striker hit a first-time shot over the bar rather than taking advantage of the space he had. Woking did force one corner near the end, but the impressive Roberts again caught the ball to defuse any danger.

Charles Ademeno had come on as a late substitute, and he had an eventful few minutes, as his pace took him clear of two chasing defenders in pursuing a long ball, but Worner parried his shot, allowing the striker to jinx his way back round the defenders one more time before the ball was finally cleared to Woodhouse who could only lob the ball back to Worner. He then felt the full weight of a Worner clearance and appeared to collapse to the ground, but after treatment he was able to continue.

The Ademeno incident meant that referee Salisbury ended up playing almost 6 minutes of injury time, but the Diamonds held out for the win that moves them up to 14th in the Blue Square Premier table.

The Diamonds are now in a period of repeatedly having two games in a week, with a trip to Yorkshire on Tuesday to face Farsley Celtic.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Woking 1


Rushden & Diamonds (White): Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Dean Howell, Chris Hope (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Andy Gooding (Tom Shaw 62), Andy Burgess, Curtis Woodhouse, Marcus Kelly (Phil Gulliver 88), Jon Challinor, Michael Rankine (Charles Ademeno 83)

Subs Not Used: Conal Platt, Lee Tomlin

Woking (Green) : Ross Warner, Paul Lorraine (Damian Batt 45), Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Matt Gray (Guiseppe Sole 79), Bradley Quamina, Matt Ruby, Danny Bunce, Matt Pattison, Marvin Morgan, Liam Marum (Jason Norville 73)

Subs Not Used :, Adam Green, Goma Lambu

Goals: Pattison 2, Challinor 34, Rankine 72

Yellow Cards: None

Referee: Mr A Sainsbury

Attendance: 1335 (Away 117)

Man of the Match : Jon Challinor

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