Kidderminster Harriers 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

After six League meetings against Kidderminster Harriers without scoring, Diamonds quickly made amends when Dean McDonald put them a goal up on 11 minutes. Harriers reply was quick as Russell Penn got the home side level three minutes later and despite Diamonds having the upper hand for most of the second half, it was Penn who gave the home side three points with a winner late in the second half.

Lack of discipline during Monday’s defeat at the hands of Histon saw Curtis Woodhouse and Lee Tomlin serving suspensions, while Marcus Kelly and Michael Corcoran were both sidelined with injuries. Leon Knight signed two year deal on Thursday after being on non-contract forms, and joined Lee Phillips in attack while Dean McDonald and Jake Beecroft replaced Tomlin and Woodhouse in midfield. Justyn Roberts made his debut in central defence replacing Corcoran.

Harriers were unbeaten at home this season and boss Mark Yates had a fully fit squad. He made just one change from the team which drew 2-2 at Burton Albion on Monday with Brian Smikle replacing David McDermott in midfield after an impressive substitute performance.

Diamonds started well and had two early chances created by Andy Burgess playing on the left side of midfield. His long cross ball found Dean McDonald on the right, who played the ball back to Jake Beecroft. He in turn set up Curtis Osano to shoot just wide. A similar ball from Burgess moments later set McDonald free, but his shot from 20 yards went wide.

Dean McDonald, playing on the right side of midfield was causing problems for the home defence, and his goal gave Diamonds a deserved lead on 11 minutes. It was another long cross ball from Burgess that set him free on the right, but instead of taking the ball towards goal, he checked back and ran across the edge of the penalty area. His shot from a central position deflected off Andy Ferrell and nestled into the corner of the net.

Harriers tried to respond immediately with Matthew Barnes-Homer firing a shot at Alan Marriott, and within three minutes of Diamonds taking the lead, they pulled level when Martin Brittain sent the ball in to the penalty area, where Russell Penn was waiting at the far post to head the ball home.

After a hectic first fifteen minutes, the game settled down. On 23 minutes, Diamonds were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area after Jake Beecroft had been fouled, but Chris Hope wasted the opportunity by firing the ball over the bar. Diamonds were looking fairly comfortable although Harriers’ midfielder Martin Brittain was causing some problems with his probing crosses.

Curtis Osano went into the referees note book for a foul on Harriers leading scorer Justin Richards, and Brittain whizzed the free kick right through the crowded penalty area. Diamonds new signing Leon Knight came close on 40 minutes, shooting wide from the edge of the area having been fairly quiet throughout the game. Lee Phillips also had a chance moments later after a defensive slip, his shot being blocked for a corner.

At the end of the first half, Kidderminster’s Mark Creighton was booked for a challenge on Marriott, while Dean McDonald had to go off in injury time after pulling up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Sagi Burton came on with less than a minute remaining of the first half.

Half-time: Kidderminster Harriers 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

 

With Sagi Burton slipping into the back four, Gareth Jelleyman moved up to a midfield role in the second half as Diamonds pushed forward. Russell Penn received a yellow card for a foul on Beecroft deep in the Harriers half. Burgess’s free kick found Phillips at the far post, but Adam Bartlett in the Harriers goal gathered comfortably. At the other end, Mark Creighton forced a fine save from Marriott on 53 minutes when he met Brittain’s corner kick.

Diamonds continued to push forward but were unable to make the pressure count. They had to be wary of the home side however and Burton did well to cut out a dangerous chip into the box from Andy Ferrell. Burgess shot wide on 62 minutes, and again two minutes later after a poor clearance following an overhead kick by Jelleyman across the area.

Diamonds continued to have the better chances and on 69 minutes, a Burgess cross from right was flicked on by Phillips, with Knight’s shot being saved by Bartlett. Sam Smith replaced Phillips, and Diamonds frustration earned another yellow card moments later when Andy Burgess protested a linesman’s decision too vigorously.

Although the home side were looking second best, Diamonds got a warning on 77 minutes when Russell Penn forced a good save from Marriott with a 20 yard shot. The warning was not heeded however as two minutes later, a long throw from Ferrell was not cleared properly and Russell Penn got his second, planting a left footed shot from 12 yards into the corner of the net.

Michael Rankine replaced Jelleyman on 83 minutes as Diamonds pushed three up front, but that allowed the home side to nearly add another. Both Ferrell and Richards came close to making the game safe for the home side.

As the game entered added time and Diamonds pushed for an equaliser, Rob Wolleaston fired in a fierce drive towards goal. It seemed it wasn’t their day as it struck Leon Knight full on leaving the diminutive striker needing treatment. After six minutes, the referee finally signalled the end with Diamonds suffering a second defeat in five days.

Full-time: Kidderminster Harriers 2 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

 

Diamonds could feel that they should have come away with at least a draw, and with just two points from the last four games, they must be more clinical in front of goal. On the plus side, youngster Jake Beecroft looked an able replacement for Woodhouse in midfield and could feel pleased with his performance. They set off for their longest away trek of the season on Tuesday evening, when they play Barrow at Holker Street. Although the Cumbrian side have had an excellent start to the season, their defeat against Stevenage Borough must give Diamonds hope of returning with three points.

 

Teams:

Kidderminster Harriers – Bartlett, Baker, Ferrell, Creighton (c), Jones, Barnes-Homer (Bennett 80), Penn, Richards, Smikle, Brittain (McDermott 90+3), Lowe.

Subs not used: Coleman, Knights, McGrath.

 

Rushden & Diamonds – Marriott, Osano, Jelleyman (Rankine 83), Hope, McDonald (Burton 45+3), Knight, Phillips (Smith 72), Burgess (c), Wolleaston, Beecroft, Roberts.

Subs not used: Gulliver, McGuiness.

 

Goals: McDonald 11 (0-1), Penn 14 (1-1), Penn 79 (2-1).

 

Booked: Osano 38 (foul), Creighton 44 (foul), Penn 50 (foul), Burgess 76 (dissent), Jones 81 (foul).

 

Referee: Mr S.Cummins (Cheshire)

 

Attendance: 1524 (approx 180 away).

 

By Dave Mason

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