Rushden & Diamonds 1 Histon 2


Rushden & Diamonds lost their unbeaten record in the Blue Square Premier season in controversial fashion, after having two players sent off in a 2-1 defeat by Histon at Nene Park.

After an excellent first half that had seen the visitors take a one goal lead, yet seen the Diamonds only denied by several top-class saves by the Histon keeper as well as the woodwork, the whole game changed as a result of incidents either side of half-time.

The first half ended in controversy, as a 50-50 challenge between Woodhouse and Nightingale saw both players end on the floor, with Antonio Murray getting involved and jostling Woodhouse, preventing him getting to his feet. A dozen or so players then joined in the general melee, and referee Fletcher dismissed Tomlin for his involvement, and booked Woodhouse and Sagi Burton, as well a single Histon player.

The second half then started with similar controversy, as a foul by Curtis Woodhouse was seen as worthy of a second booking, so the Diamonds were down to nine men. Marcus Kelly had come on as a substitute at half-time, but within 5 minutes he had to be substituted as he suffered a nose injury in a challenge with Wright.

The Nine-men Diamonds team battled bravely, even after conceding a second goal, getting a goal back as Michael Corcoran headed home – his debut goal for the club – and the equaliser was only denied by two further excellent saves by Danny Naisbitt from Lee Phillips.

The match line-ups saw Rob Wolleaston partnering Curtis Woodhouse in central midfield at the expense of Michael Corcoran, and new signing Leon Knight starting in place of Michael Rankine. Curtis Woodhouse was starting his 50th League Game for the club.

Histon started without the injured Erkan Okay, and the suspended Nathaniel Knight-Percival.

On a cool and windy afternoon, Histon chose to start with the wind at their backs, kicking towards the Airwair stand.

It quickly became clear that the Histon tactics were based around dead-ball situations, either the kicks from Lanre Oyebanjo, or the long throws of Mat Mitchel-King. After facing a long throw expert on Saturday, it might have been expected that the Diamonds defence would be able to cope with the Mitchel-King throws better than they did.

It was a Oyebanjo corner on 8 minutes that could have brought the visitors an early goal, as it was flicked on by Langston to Wright in the centre of goal, but the striker was unable to direct his header other than back in the direction of the corner flag.

Leon Knight made an initial impression a minute later as he flicked the ball to Lee Phillips, whose shot rebounded off a defender to Rob Wolleaston, but his shot was saved. From the resulting Tomlin corner Andy Burgess leapt and headed towards the left hand side of the goal, but keeper Danny Naisbitt made a great diving save.

Another Mitchel-King throw brought danger as it flicked off the group of players and went to Neil Andrews right in the centre of the area, but the midfield player scuffed his shot.

A further Mitchel-King throw brought the reward that had threatened for some time, as it was flicked on by Robbie Nightingale for Antonio Murray to prod home with a toe-poke that wrong-footed Marriott.

The goal was the signal for the Diamonds to increase their workrate, and attempts on goal, with a Lee Phillips shot hitting the post, and then another Phillips shot bringing out another fine save by Naisbitt. Lee Tomlin started to get some joy running at the Histon defence, with one great run towards the right corner seeing him beat two defenders before firing into the side netting.

Tomlin then saw a great shot turned over by Naisbitt, and his good work along with Rob Wolleaston saw Leon Knight running towards the area before being upended, but Mr Fletcher deemed that the award of the free-kick was sufficient punishment. After a freekick that had to contend with a wall that looked too close, and being closed down before the ball was touched, the final Diamonds chance of the half saw another great save from Naisbitt, this time for Knight.

The rest of the half saw the action repeatedly interrupted by the loud blasts of Mr Fletchers whistle, but just as the half appeared to be ending with the Diamonds wondering how Naisbitt had kept them at bay when the whole game changed. A 50-50 challenge between Woodhouse and Nightingale might normally have ended up with a free-kick either way, but as Woodhouse attempted to get to his feet, and Nightingale stayed down, Antonio Murray got involved and started pushing Woodhouse back into the grounded Histon player. This immediately inflamed the situation, and various other players rushed to get involved, and, as with such incidents it is difficult to work out who is trying to pull players apart, and who is trying to get involved, but the result was that Lee Tomlin was dismissed for getting hold of a Histon player, and Woodhouse and Burton were shown yellows for the Diamonds, Ada for Histon, as Nightingale was left on the floor still suggesting he needed attention.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Histon 1

Garry Hill brought on Marcus Kelly for the second half, in place of Sagi Burton, making his 150th appearance for the club. Before the impact of any formation changes had been seen, further decisions by Mr Fletcher had further dictated the course of the game. Curtis Woodhouse made a tackle on Robbie Nightingale that looked a "routine" foul and free kick, and initially that appeared to be all that would happen, but Mr Fletcher then seemed to have a change of heart and showed Woodhouse a second yellow, and reduced the Diamonds to nine men.

More was to come a minute later though, with Marcus Kelly receiving a blow to his face from a challenge by Danny Wright. He had to leave the field with a suspected broken nose, and was replaced by Michael Corcoran after only taking part in five minutes of the game, after the Diamonds had played two or three minutes with only eight men.

Histon continued in their hard-tackling direct style, and the Diamonds fans were drawing comparisons with their tackling to the one that had seen Woodhouse dismissed. Rob Wolleaston continued to run and chase down with great energy, despite the abuse he was receiving from the visiting fans.

As expected, the two man advantage meant that Histon players were getting even more space at their dead-ball situations, and a Oyebango corner from the left found an unmarked Jack Midson at the far post to score the Histon second goal.

When it might have been expected that the nine-men Rushden team would enter a damage-limitation mode, they did the opposite, and pushed to get something from the game, with an initial reward 10 minutes later when a Jelleyman freekick was headed back by Hope to Michael Corcoran who headed into the top corner.

The Diamonds fans were given further encouragement that they might overcome the odds to get something from the game, but perhaps the sight of Michael Corcoran being booked for a challenge that was well below the severity of what had been unpunished earlier could have been deflating. More was to come though – Lee Phillips faced up to the free kick (only just inside the Diamonds half) at what looked a reasonable distance to those observing from the side, but Mr Fletcher, without measuring the distance, decided that Phillips had not retreated far enough and showed him the yellow. Given the Diamonds were behind at the time, it was unlikely that Phillips would have been seeking to gain advantage by time-wasting.

In contrast to Phillips 8-12 yard retreat, a few minutes later the Diamonds were awarded a freekick with a Histon player making no attempt to retreat more than one yard, but as Andy Burgess’s free kick struck him, Mr Fletcher decided that the ball had not been stationary when Burgess kicked it as the Diamonds fans bayed out questions about consistency.

Good work by Andy Burgess saw Lee Phillips taking on the Histon defence towards the right corner, and his shot looked goalbound from a narrow angle before Naisbitt tipped it over. A challenge from Nightingale which appeared to include the use of an elbow also saw no further punishment than a free-kick, taken by Gareth Jelleyman, and it appeared to be headed wide by a defender.

A further chance fell to Lee Phillips, and again the striker seemed to do everything right at he hit a powerful shot towards the top corner, but again Danny Naisbitt was able to touch the ball around the post.

Chris Hope moved up front as the Diamonds pressed for an equaliser, but Histon showed ability to kill the game off, and it duly ended as the first Diamonds defeat of the season.

The end of the game saw a great reaction from the Diamonds fans to the players who had fought so hard under such difficult circumstances all afternoon. Although the unbeaten record has gone, the performance and team spirit were still greatly encouraging.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Histon 2


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Alan Marriott : Curtis Osano – Gareth Jelleyman – Chris Hope – Sagi Burton : Rob Wolleaston – Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) – Andy Burgess – Lee Tomlin : Lee Phillips – Leon Knight

Subs : Marcus Kelly (for Burton 45), Michael Corcoran (for Kelly 50), Sam Smith (for Knight 60)

Subs Not Used : Michael Rankine, Justyn Roberts

Histon (Red / Black) : Danny Naisbitt, Lanre Oyebanjo, Matthew Langston, Patrick Ada, Robbie Nightingale, Antonio Murray, Neil Andrews, Mat Mitchel-King (Capt), Jamie Barker, Danny Wright, Jack Midson

Subs : Ben Coker (for Barker 45), Damien Reeves (for Murray 55), Tyler Campbell (for Wright 63)

Subs Not Used : Lance Key, John Kennedy

Goals: Antonio Murray (16), Jack Midson (54), Michael Corcoran (64)

Yellow Cards: Midson (20), Burgess (33), Woodhouse (45), Burton (45), Ada (45), Woodhouse (48), Corcoran (68), Phillips (68)

Red Cards : Lee Tomlin (45), Curtis Woodhouse (48)

Referee: Mr R Fletcher

Attendance: 1613 (Away 165)

Man of the Match chosen by Pro-Digital Systems : Michael Corcoran


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