Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 1

Leon Knight salvaged a point for Rushden & Diamonds in front of the Setanta cameras as they struggled against lowly Atrincham. Colin Little had given the away side a first half lead just before the interval as Diamonds were unable to replicate the form they had shown at Wrexham six days earlier.

Both managers were able to name unchanged sides. Garry Hill kept the same side which had the impressive 3-0 win at Wrexham last Tuesday. Andy Burgess made his 302nd appearance, passing Paul Underwood to become second in terms of appearances behind Garry Butterworth. Sagi Burton served his one match suspension for accumulating five bookings, while Manny Panther remains suspended after his red card against Burton Albion. Graham Heathcote’s eleven had beaten Mansfield Town on the same night and maintained an attacking 3-4-3 formation, with Colin Little, Lee Elam and Chris Senior up front.

After a fairly even opening period, it was Diamonds who had a couple of good chances after just eight minutes. Lee Tomlin fired in a shot which keeper Stuart Coburn was unable to hold, while moments later, Tomlin turned in a cross from the right which went right across the area to Phil Gulliver who off balance, put his shot wide.

On 12 minutes, Tomlin got down the right and crossed again for Mark McGregor to deflect the ball away from danger for another corner. Tomlin’s corner kick nearly took the keeper by surprise as it bounced off the top of the crossbar and away from goal.

Diamonds were having a good spell, but were unable to apply the finishing touch. Altrincham had to wait until 21 minutes before their first chance as Shaun Densmore floated in a free kick from the halfway line. Alan Marriott elected to punch the ball away, although he was fortunate the ball bounced safely away after poor contact.

With both sides struggling to put any decent moves together, the game was getting untidy and it wasn’t until the 34th minute when Tomlin turned well on the edge of the box but shot wide. Altrincham were difficult to break down and Daryl Clare and Leon Knight were being played out of the game. The visitors nearly took the lead on 38 minutes when Lee Elam broke in the middle and sent a forward ball which left Colin Little with an excellent chance to fire past Marriott, but Curtis Osano just got a foot in to prevent the ball hitting the target.

Altrincham started to go forward as the half came to an end a free kick from Chris Lane caused Marriott some concern as Greg Young’s header was just diverted by Gulliver away from Chris Senior, with the keeper grabbing the ball at the second attempt. Then after 44 minutes, the away side got the breakthrough as Little sent Lee Elam away on goal. Although he was shepherded away from goal by Phil Gulliver, Elam cut the ball back into the path of Colin Little who blasted the ball into the top of the net from twelve yards.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 1 Altrincham


As the second half commenced, Altrincham were looking to hold on to their lead as Diamonds pressed to get back on level terms. On 50 minutes, Curtis Osano fired in a fierce cross from the left which took a couple of deflections, eventually going out for a corner. Altrincham’s defence looked strong however, and Diamonds were still unable to break them down despite continually pressing forward.

The visitors looked content to defend, although in their first attack of the second half on 57 minutes, Senior’s dangerous cross from the right was cleared away from Elam by Osano. Garry Hill decided to change the formation with Lee Phillips replacing Rob Wolleaston. Phillips went up front with Clare and Knight, while Michael Corcoran was moved into midfield as they went to a 3-4-3 formation. The change nearly had an immediate effect as Phillips second touch saw him bearing down on the keeper. Coburn just managed to keep the shot out with his feet and as Leon Knight went to follow up, Mark McGregor appeared to catch the strikers foot, but the referee failed to give a decision in favour of Diamonds.

A defensive error from Osano on 64 minutes gave Chris Senior another opportunity for the visitors but his short went straight at Marriott. The effort seemed to spur them forward as they had their best spell of the half. Little came close to setting up Elam, but Gulliver did well to block any effort on goal.

With 17 minutes remaining, Michael Rankine and Marcus Kelly replaced Daryl Clare and Andy Burgess – keeping the 3-4-3 formation. Diamonds continued to press and they had a good chance when Kelly was fouled close to the edge of the penalty area. Tomlin’s free-kick found its way back to him and his second cross saw Chris Hope head inches over. Diamonds were getting closer and they finally got level on 77 minutes. Corcoran’s forward ball was put out for a corner and as Kelly’s corner found Corcoran at the far post, his header back across goal found Leon Knight who stabbed the ball over the line.

Diamonds looked more urgent coming forward, but they were unable to get that vital second goal. Hope headed just wide, but that was the nearest they came to getting the winner. Peyton also came close for Altrincham two minutes from time after Marriott failed to hold on to a corner kick, but he managed to recover to smother the shot.    

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 – 1 Altrincham


So Diamonds lost the chance to move up to third, but Altrincham’s dogged performance was worthy of a draw and any late winner would have been unfair after their strong all-round performance. Diamonds seem to be playing better on their travels this season, so they will be looking to gain another win on the road when they take on Oxford United next Saturday.


Rushden & Diamonds – Marriott, Osano, Gulliver, Hope, Knight, Woodhouse(c), Clare (Kelly 73), Burgess (Rankine 73), Tomlin, Wolleaston (Phillips 58), Corcoran.

Subs not used: Day, Jelleyman.


Altrincham – Coburn, Lane, Doughty, McGregor, Young, Lawton(c), Little (Johnson 84), Danylyk, Elam (Peyton 76), Senior (Denham 70), Densmore.

Subs not used: Street, Meecham.


Goals: Little 44 (0-1), Knight 77 (1-1)

Booked: Corcoran 90+4 (dissent).

Referee: Mr A.Halliday (Yorks).

Attendance: 1341 (46 away).

Sports Programmes Man of the Match – Curtis Osano

By Dave Mason


Wrexham 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3


Rushden & Diamonds produced one of their best team performances in five seasons as they defeated Wrexham by three goals to nil. This was the Diamonds first ever victory over Wrexham – and indeed their first clean sheet.

The victory was credit to a great term performance, but the goals were scored by Daryl Clare (who opened the scoring to keep up his goal-a-game record since his return), and two headers from Chris Hope, one in each half.

The pace of the Diamonds attack, coupled with a determined midfield four proved a real challenge, especially in the first half, when desperate tackles from the home side earned them four yellow cards.

After the home fans had booed their team off the pitch at half-time, and then further booed the team during open play in the second half as the Diamonds forced them into many mistakes, the home side rallied somewhat, but the Diamonds defence held firm, and a Diamonds free kick move saw Chris Hope convert a free header to seal the points.

Garry Hill made two enforced changes to the team that had beaten Burton Albion at the weekend, with Sagi Burton struck by illness and being replaced by Phil Gulliver, and Curtis Woodhouse replacing Manny Panther after the latter had his appeal against his red card rejected.

Wrexham manager Brian Little recalled Nat Brown, Sam Aiston and Michael Proctor into a team that had lost at Grays at the weekend.

The tone for the game was set in the first few minutes of the game, as the Diamonds midfield four showed far greater determination in the early challenges with Curtis Woodhouse showing no ill effects from his Boxing at the weekend. It was his midfield partner Rob Wolleaston that had the first decent strike on goal after Curtis Osano and Lee Tomlin had linked up down the right, with Tomlin finding Wolleaston on the edge of the box, but his strike was dealt with by keeper Ward.

Alan Marriott dealt with a couple of speculative shots from the Wrexham strikers. And a Kearney free kick, and was awarded a free kick as he was fouled whilst attempting to field a Michael Proctor cross.

Curtis Osano was fouled by Levi Mackin in a fairly central position just inside his own half on 10 minutes, and he took the free kick himself, finding Daryl Clare who found space with his back to goal. Clare was able to flick the ball up, and turn in one motion to hit a powerful right-foot volley that left Ward with no chance.

Wrexham were struggling to deal with the Diamonds attacking threat, and Sam Aiston resorted to a two footed lunge at Daryl Clare that might have earned more than the yellow card it received. This was the first of several yellows for Wrexham players when they had to resort to fouls to stop Diamonds attacks – Levi Mackin following him into the book shortly afterwards as he hauled Clare down to halt a threatening break.

Leon Knight was also getting into the action, and he held the ball up well from a Wolleaston pass, then ran at the defence and hit a shot that went wide to the right of goal.

A third booking was awarded to Darran Kempson as he too lunged at a Diamonds striker, this time Leon Knight, almost forcing the player into the advertising boards. Again a yellow card was the least the challenge deserved, but in this case the further punishment was dealt our shortly afterwards, as the Lee Tomlin free kick from near the left touchline was met by Chris Hope who leapt higher than Tremarco to head into the roof of the net to give Diamonds a two goal lead. The goal was scored whilst the Diamonds were down to 10 men as Knight recovered from the tackle and changed his ripped shirt.

Jefferson Louis was the top scorer in the league prior to this series of games, but Chris Hope and Phil Gulliver were dealing with the threat without significant issues, and Alan Marriott was able to mop up any shots or crosses. Michael Corcoran and Curtis Osano were also playing their part in a masterful Diamonds defensive performance in the first half.

The home side received a fully justified fourth yellow of the half as Steve Evans fouled Lee Tomlin.

Curtis Osano made one of the surging runs he has been making on a regular basis in recent games, with his shot cleared to Andy Burgess who shot over – and the murmurings of the home crowd started to get more and more noticeable as the Diamonds were the stronger in the challenges, more determined to win the ball, and showing more pace in their attacking play.

If was thus no surprise that Mr Mohareb’s half-time whistle was met by a chorus of boos from the home fans.

Half Time : Wrexham 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Although the Diamonds had dominated the first half so comprehensively, there was an expectation that the home side would improve their performance in the second. However, the Red Devils looked shell-shocked when the Diamonds midfield seemed even more willing to chase every ball, even when the odds were stacked against them,

Andy Burgess and Curtis Woodhouse combined on a break through the middle, feeding Daryl Clare whose chip was just over the bar. Lee Tomlin had a similar attempt on the Wrexham goal, with his shot just missing the angle of left post and crossbar. Tomlin was making some great tackles in midfield, and after one he was then able to run past two midfielders and a defender before seeing his shot blocked.

This was a signal for a chorus of boos during play from the home fans, along with loud jeers after every misplaced pass. The negative reception for the opposition surpassed any seen at a Diamonds game, even the NottsCounty and Oxford thumpings handed out at NenePark.

For a while, and to their credit, the Wrexham team did respond positively, and this was a chance for Phil Gulliver to put in a claim for a starting place in the side as he made last ditch clearances from Louis and Whalley. When Louis did manage to get a strike on goal Alan Marriott was more than equal to the challenge, pulling out two excellent saves to contribute to the overall team performance.

Lee Tomlin was continuing to enjoy his role, and he set up Leon Knight, whose goalbound shot rebounded off a defender.

Brian Little did finally respond to the calls from the crowd to change things, but this seemed to deflate his team rather than inspire them, and Curtis Osano was able to start getting forwards again, with a low shot saved by Ward. Daryl Clare was replaced by Michael Rankine, who quickly set up a chance for Andy Burgess, and with Leon Knight showing signs of tiring as he started to give the ball away, Lee Phillips was also called into the action after Diamonds were awarded a free kick on the right edge of the box, after good work from Tomlin and Osano.

With the wall lined up it looked like Andy Burgess was going to curl the ball around the left hand side of the wall with his left foot, but instead Lee Tomlin hit a right footed curling ball across the box that Chris Hope was able to run onto completely unmarked and plant his header home to score the Diamonds third and signal a mass exodus from 30% of the home support.

Michael Rankine followed the same principles of challenging for every possible tackle, which saw him going through the home defence like a steam-roller, leaving three defenders in his wake before setting up Rob Wolleaston for a shot that was just wide to the left of the goal.

The final few minutes passed without further incident, and those home fans who remained greeted the final whistle with a chorus of boos as the travelling Diamonds fans celebrated one of their best away performances for five seasons.

With nine goals in the past three games, and with a lack of yellow cards in this game, couple with a move to sixth in the table there will be a general feeling of satisfaction at the club, but Garry Hill stressed that the team is still not the finished article – but is happy with the reaction of the entire squad to the performance against Crawley three weeks ago.

The players will now have a break before returning to prepare for the game against Altrincham on Monday 29th – and a chance to produce a similar performance in front of the Setanta cameras.

Full-time: Wrexham 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3


Wrexham (Red / White) : Gavin Ward, Carl Tremarco, Darran Kempson, Steve Evans, Nat Brown, Levi Mackin, Tom Kearney (Capt), Michael Proctor, Sam Aiston, Shaun Whalley, Jefferson Louis

Subs : Christian Smith (for Mackin 61), Simon Brown (for Aiston 61), Marc Williams (for Louis 72)

Subs Not Used : Anthony Williams, Simon Spender

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow) : Alan Marriott : Curtis Osano – Michael Corcoran – Chris Hope – Phil Gulliver : Lee Tomlin – Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) – Rob Wolleaston – Andy Burgess : Daryl Clare – Leon Knight .

Subs : Michael Rankine (for Clare 61), Lee Phillips (for Knight 79), Gareth Jelleyman (for Tomlin 88)

Subs Not Used : Marcus Kelly , Jake Beecroft .

Goals: Daryl Clare (11), Chris Hope (30), (74)

Yellow Cards: Aiston, Mackin,Kempson, Evans

Referee: Mr D Mohareb

Attendance : 2805 (away 54)

Man of the Match : A team performance !

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Burton Albion 1

Rushden & Diamonds made it two wins in a row with victory over Burton Albion at Nene Park. In a closely fought game the difference between the teams was the quality of the strikes produced by Daryl Clare and Rob Wolleaston either side of half-time. Once again headlines were made by disciplinary matters, with Diamonds loan player Manny Panther seeing red along with visitor Michael Simpson in an incident that had both clubs considering appeals.

Diamonds manager Garry Hill had nine days since the visit to Lewes to decide what side to put out to ensure there was no repeat of the performance against Crawley in the previous game at Nene Park. Hill was able to play Daryl Clare for the first time in a league game at Nene Park, as well as recent loan signing Manny Panther. Michael Corcoran took a place in defence following his impressive showing on Tuesday evening in the County Cup game.

Brewers manager Nigel Clough made one change, with loan player Jon Newby getting a start alongside ex-Diamond Greg Pearson up-front.

The pattern of the match was set early on, with two evenly matched teams struggling to create many goal scoring chances. The Diamonds defence was able to nullify any aerial threat from Newby and Pearson, and they were restricted to shooting from distance in the first half, with Alan Marriott dealing with two shots from Greg Pearson, and Newby seeing a header go well wide.

At the other end the first real Diamonds chance came when the ball was played through midfield, and taking advantage of the width of the pitch, with Corcoran and Wolleaston combining with Andy Burgess to set Corcoran on a run to the byline on the left, hitting a low and powerful cross that Daryl Clare was unable to direct on target.

As at Lewes, Lee Tomlin and Curtis Osano were combining well, and Clare had another decent chance ten minutes later, when the determined Tomlin battered away at the Brewers defence on the right, forcing his way past two defenders and laying the ball in the direction of Knight, but seeing it half-cleared directly to Clare, but could only shoot over the bar.

Referee Waugh had started the game with a flexible approach towards discipline, with the likes of Darren Stride earning repeated lectures for a number of foul challenges, so Leon Knight might feel unfortunate that his first foul on Simpson coincided with Mr Waugh deciding to switch to a tougher approach, and thus earning him a booking.

Knight then almost got his name noted by the referee again – this time on the scoresheet, as he beat both Simpson and Stride, but his well hit shot was gathered by veteran keeper Poole at the second attempt.

Just as a fairly tame half looked like ending goalless, there was action for those that had delayed joining the queue at the teabar. Manny Panther made a run through central midfield after linking with Wolleaston, and he was brought down by Ryan Austin in a central position, about 25 yards from goal. With the Diamonds having wasted so many set piece opportunities this season it was no surprise to see ex-Brewer Daryl Clare standing over the ball, and, as Andy Burgess ran over the ball, Daryl Clare hit a powerful shot over the wall and into the top right hand corner of the net, giving Poole no chance.

The half ended shortly afterwards, with the Diamonds fans reflecting on how much the team had missed Clare in the early games of this season.


Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Burton Albion 0

In 19 appearances for Rushden & Diamonds at Nene Park, Greg Pearson only managed to complete the 90 minutes twice, and only scored 1 league goal in front of the home fans. He was destined to fail to improve on either of these records as he left the pitch at half-time, along with his strike-partner Jon Newby, to be replaced by Shaun Harrad and Jody Banim.

This change gave the visitors a much more potent attacking threat, and almost paid immediate dividends as they won a couple of corners, and from the second saw a looping header from Jake Buxton hit the bar at a shallow angle and slide away to safety.

However, within eight minutes of the restart the Diamonds had gone 2-0 up. Great work by Lee Tomlin on the right, harrying his marker, and chasing down loose balls saw the ball bounce out to Rob Wolleaston just outside of the area in the centre of goal, and he drilled a low powerful shot into the left-hand side of the goal.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the way that Burton might get back into the game was from a set piece, and on 55 minutes they were given a lifeline when again the Brewers won a corner on the left, and this time the ball was stabbed towards goal by one of the visitors, striking Sagi Burton on the arm. Whilst many would have seen this as an unavoidable hand ball, referee Waugh awarded the spotkick and issued the Diamonds defender with a yellow card. Shaun Harrad converted the penalty, and set up a tense final 30 minutes.

The tension increased further inside the next few minutes as Michael Simpson made a lunge at Manny Panther just in front of the Diamonds bench, and as the management team leapt to their feet, referee Waugh stepped in to separate the two players who had squared up to each other. Most in the ground thought that Simpson might receive a yellow, and Panther a ticking off for his reaction, but the referee decided that both players deserved to see red, for a reason that was not immediately clear.

The Diamonds then used their three substitutes, bringing on Beecroft, Phillips and Rankine, and for the second time in three games Lee Phillips suffered a cut head as he clashed heads with his marker in a 50/50 challenge just in front of the North Stand. Although he has recently celebrated a "milestone birthday" Simon Parsell was able to prove his legs haven’t yet gone as he won the crossfield race of the Physios. Phillips continued with a bandaged head and a number 22 shirt, dropping back into midfield as the Diamonds played 4-4-1 for the last 10 minutes.

The Brewers looked like getting an equaliser on the 80 minute mark, as a break down the left following a Diamonds corner saw the Diamonds defence stretched, with Jake Beecroft making a despairing attempt to catch up striker Harrad who had a five yard start, but just as he challenged the striker made his attempt on goal, but Marriott was easily able to gather the weak shot.

Although the Diamonds did better at defending their lead than in the recent Barrow and Eastbourne games, there was still time for one last scare in the fourth of the four added minutes, as good work on the right saw Jody Banim hitting a shot across Marriott towards the far left post, but the keeper did well to tip the ball out for a corner.

Marriott was then able to complete an impressive performance with a commanding catch from the resulting corner, putting to bed the memories of a similar corner at a similar time at Holker Street earlier in the month.

The game ended with both managers considering whether to lodge appeals regarding the double sending off, with Garry Hill noting that the referee had agreed to review the video evidence which was being prepared for him after the game.

There is now a short break before the trip to Wales to play Wrexham on Tuesday, in the return fixture to the draw the two teams fought out in August at Nene Park. With the Diamonds having moved up to ninth in the table it will be an opportunity to stay above a team with one fewer point, and after having faced the four promoted teams in the first five away games, it will now be a chance to face one of the relegated teams on their home ground.


Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Burton Albion 1


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Alan Marriott : Curtis Osano – Michael Corcoran – Chris Hope – Sagi Burton : – Lee Tomlin – Rob Wolleaston – Manny Panther – Andy Burgess (Capt) : Daryl Clare – Leon Knight

Subs : Jake Beecroft (for Tomlin 74), Michael Rankine (for Clare 77) Lee Phillips (for Knight 77)

Subs Not Used : Marcus Kelly – Phil Gulliver

Burton Albion (Yellow / Black) : Kevin Poole, Michael Simpson, John McGrath, Darren Stride, Andy Corbett, Jon Newby, Keith Gilroy, Ryan Austin, Jake Buxton, Greg Pearson, Adam Yates

Subs : Jody Banim (for Pearson 45) Shaun Harrad (for Newby 45), Marc Goodfellow (for Buxton 87)

Subs Not Used : Saul Deeney, Danny Holmes


Goals : Clare (44), Wolleaston (62), Harrad (pen) (66)

Yellow Cards: Knight, Burton, Corbett, Buxton

Red Cards : Simpson (68), Panther (68)

Referee: Mr J Waugh

Attendance: 1448 (Away 257)

Man of the Match chosen by Crown Decorator Centre, Wellingborough : Michael Corcoran

Doncaster Rovers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

19.09.98 – Belle Vue (Attendance: 3800)
Diamonds Team…Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, McElhatton, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, Foster, Collins, Underwood. Subs West, Rodwell, Hanlon.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Foster
Webmasters Man of the Match award : Chris Whyte

Match Report :

Whilst driving back home after this one various words spring to mind. Cheat, Inept, Embarrassing, Un-Professional, Biased – and all would have been directed at the poor imitation of a referee that was witnessed at Doncaster today. I have never openly criticised a referee before because we all know the general standard seen at Conference games in normally low, so it evens itself out over a season. But this was the pits! Today we saw senseless bookings, being conned by the clever antics of the Doncaster players. Weird one-sided decisions always in favour of Donny. Numerous players booked for Diamonds (Five or six at least) but not one for Donny players using elbows. It was a disgrace!

Right – that’s off my chest so what about the match. A very poor first half performance from Diamonds, where they were outplayed for long periods of the game by a skilful Doncaster team. The game unfortunately was not allowed to flow, due to you know who, and his lack of control often caused players to get close to boiling point as the senseless decisions disrupted the flow of the game. Steve Nicol at the back for Donny still looks a class players, and obviously still has a lot to offer the game. Diamonds were unable to unlock the offside trap with Collins and Foster both falling foul time and time again. At the back we looked jittery, other than Chalky who was in total command. Macca gives the side a strength and commitment which is unfortunately lacking from the side when Mison is playing. I also felt Darren Bradshaw is not playing to his usual standard, as too many passes are going astray. There was really little to talk about of note in the first half, other than Diamonds could feel lucky to be going in all square.

The second half though was totally different from a Diamonds perspective. They played the ball about well, looked sharper upfront, and started to gain space down the flanks. It was from a lack of concentration from Mark Gayle in goal that led to Diamonds goal. Gayle decided to try and dribble his way around an approaching Donny forward, but got tackled, the ball bobbled about and was finally cleared down the line to a chasing Darren Collins. A shot blocked, a second chance and he looped the ball across the goal and there was Fossy hanging in the air to nod it home. On a couple of more occasions a one on one with the keeper was thwarted and as the time ebbed on Diamonds looked comfortable to gain three points. Enter the scene again our friendly man in black. A free kick given outside the area for a non-foul.( Conned again ref). By this time we were so far into injury time – there had been no injury stoppages- that I was about to ring the wife and tell her I would be stopping over. A neatly taken free kick, slack marking from Diamonds, a simple cross, an even simpler tap in, and Donny get an un-deserved equaliser. Where the man in black got all that injury time from I will never know! Yet we saw the same at Southport a few weeks ago. The referee playing on for an in-exhaustible amount of time – apparently willing the home side to equalise. Today he got his wish.

So what about Diamonds team performance! Well it certainly was not Championship material. But to be honest there has only been one match this season where for 90 minutes we have looked Championship, against Kingstonian. Brady had a poor game today by his standards, but was helped whenever he was in trouble by the ever willing Vandervalden. Upfront Fossy and Collins had good games, but the crossing from Unders and Brady was again abysmal. Every corner that was taken fell straight into the un-challenged arms of the keeper. Wilson and Wooding were steady although Tim was often beaten for pace down the flank, and allowed the attackers to get in good telling crosses.

This leaves us still perched on top – just – but having picked up just two points out of nine for the last three games. Certainly not good enough but if you look overall, by the time we have played Leek Town on Tuesday, we will have played 11 games this season of which seven will have been away games. I think if we are still on top after Tuesday/Wednesdays games BT will be very happy. If we are on top and not playing yet to our true potential then the future looks rosy. Lets hope we turn on the style against Leek, and get some goalscoring practice to wipe the smiles off the visitors next Saturday.

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Rothwell Town 0


Rushden & Diamonds beat Rothwell Town 2-0 in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup game at Nene Park with goals from Dean McDonald and Michael Rankine. This game was originally drawn as a home tie for Rothwell Town, but had been switched to Nene Park.

The Diamonds gave a first team debut to Joe Day in goal, making him the 300th player to appear in an official first team game for the club, Day was behind a back four of McGuinness, Corcoran, Gulliver and Roberts – with Jamie McGuinness also getting his first start in a senior game. Marcus Kelly and Jake Beecroft were in central midfield with Sam Smith on the right and Dean McDonald on the left. Starting up front were Daryl Clare and Michael Rankine.

The first quarter was all played in the Bones’ half, with Dean McDonald looking a constant threat, although the link-up play between the midfield and the strikers was very disjointed. Michael Corcoran was dominant at the back, as was Jake Beecroft in midfield. Beecroft showed willingness to run at the opposition rather than always taking the simple option to spread ball wide, as well as making a number of excellent challenges for the ball.

Phil Gulliver was looking in need of match practice as he made a couple of errors that resulted in corners when there was little danger.

The first goal came on 22 minutes as Sam Smith got in a good cross from the right and Dean McDonald found space to head home low to the left of the Rothwell keeper.

McDonald created himself a further chance with a surging run and powerful shot, but Tom Smith did well to save.

Rothwell had a couple of attempts on goal from Kevin Byrne, the first of which saw an excellent save from Day, but, apart from some poor defending of corners, the Diamonds defence was largely untroubled during the half.

Half-time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Rothwell Town 0

Although neither side made any changes at half-time, the Diamonds had clearly instructed Jamie McGuinness to push forwards more, and this greatly increased the threat on the right, with McGuinness and Smith combining well, although the number of clear cut chances was still rather limited, and the Diamonds strikeforce was caught offside far too often.

After 55 minutes youngster George Cox replaced Dean McDonald, who must surely be in contention for a starting place in the team at the weekend. Cox moved into central midfield, with Marcus Kelly moving out left. After being overshadowed by his midfield partner in the middle, Kelly started to look a threat when afforded more space on the left, but he also created the Diamonds best effort on goal during the third quarter when he picked the ball up in the right channel, pushed the ball inside to the left past two defenders and hit a powerful shot that was only inches over the bar with keeper Smith struggling.

Rothwell were still creating the occasional chance with Byrne feeding Difante whose shot from a narrow angle was smothered.

Another youngster Lewis Hilliard replaced Daryl Clare, and he fitted in well to the right midfield role, with Sam Smith moving up front alongside Rankine, and it was this change that created the decisive second goal in the 84th minute, as good work by Hilliard found Smith on the right hand edge of the six yard box, and he was able to hit a low ball across the box for Michael Rankine to run onto and slot home.

There was still time for Lewis Hallford to be given a full debut as he replaced Marcus Kelly, and Joe Day to make a further excellent save as he spread himself running forwards to block an attempt by Kevin Byrne, the most impressive Rothwell player. The game ended without any stoppage time, meaning the Diamonds progress to the second round later in the year.

With McDonald looking impressive, as well as Corcoran at the back, and Daryl Clare managing 70 minutes there will be a number of options available to Garry Hill for the game against Burton Albion on Saturday.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Rothwell Town 0


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Joe Day, Jamie McGuinness, Michael Corcoran, Phil Gulliver (Capt), Justyn Roberts, Sam Smith, Jake Beecroft, Marcus Kelly, Dean McDonald, Michael Rankine, Daryl Clare

Subs : George Cox (for McDonald 55), Lewis Hilliard (for Clare 70), Lewis Hallford (for Kelly 85)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott, Grant Hill

Rothwell Town (Blue) : Tom Smith, Ollie Wilkinson, David Glass, Martin Flannigan (Capt), Rob Maddox, Danny Powell, Mark Hackett, Danny Marlow, Chris Difante, Kevin Byrne, Fazell Koriya

Subs : Peter Sneddon (for Pownell 66), Adam Bridgeford (for Hackett 66), Andy Brown (for Wilkinson 77)

Subs Not Used : Liam McInally, Stuart Marshall

Goals: Dean McDonald (22), Michael Rankine (84)

Referee: Mr I Rathbone

Match Attendance : 183.

Man of the Match : Jake Beecroft

Lewes 0 Rushden & Diamonds 4


Rushden & Diamonds returned to winning ways with a victory over Lewes at the Dripping Pan in the Thursday evening game. Those watching the game on Setanta TV will have been treated to the away team scoring four goals for the second night running, although there will have been little public demand to view the highlights of a lacklustre first half – although Leon Knight netted two goals and an assist as his partnership with Daryl Clare got off to an impressive start. It was only in the last 15 minutes of that first half that the Diamonds started to make their impression on the game, and then they came out with added determination in the second half.

Andy Burgess chipped in with three assists as Daryl Clare scored a goal from six yards for his debut goal, Leon Knight scored with two headers, the second from an excellent Diamonds move that was almost a repeat of the move that saw Chris Hope score the Diamonds third goal.

The Lewes fans voiced their concerns at the end, staying behind to make their feelings known, whilst the travelling Diamonds fans saluted the promising performance in the second half.

After the lacklustre performance against Crawley Town on Saturday, there was great interest in how Garry Hill would reshape his side, but the changes made were rather as expected, with Gareth Jelleyman returning from injury to replace Justyn Roberts, Lee Tomlin returning from suspension to allow Curtis Osano to revert to right back at the expense of the unfortunate Michael Corcoran, and Daryl Clare also returning from injury to make his league debut for the club at the expense of Lee Phillips.

Phillips and Corcoran took a place on the bench alongside Michael Rankine and Phil Gulliver, with youth goalkeeper Joe Day also appearing on the bench.

For the Rooks, manager Kevin Keehan included recent loan signing Kerry Mayo.

On a pleasantly mild and dry evening the teams lined up in the Setanta cameras, with this being the first time Lewes had appeared on live TV – and indeed the hosts showed little sign of stage fright as they took the game to the Diamonds in the first 20 minutes.

Although the home side had the lion’s share of possession in this period, dominating in midfield, and finding space on the right, they could only manage shots from the edge of the box which were all handled comfortably by Marriott.

As on Saturday, little was happening on the Diamonds left, and both Andy Burgess and Gareth Jelleyman were starting to creep inside on several occasions. Lewes player Rowland survived calls from the Diamonds fans for a red card as he committed a bad foul on Chris Hope, but he only received a yellow card, as did Jelleyman a few minutes later.

As the game moved into the second quarter the Diamonds started to create chances, mainly down the right with Curtis Osano and Lee Tomlin to the fore. The Diamonds had a shout for hand-ball as a Tomlin shot was blocked. From another one of these raids a corner was awarded, and that resulted in the best Diamonds chance of the game, with a goalmouth scramble and a Leon Knight effort cleared off the line. Tomlin also saw a shot blocked after a surging run into the area, as well as a header saved by Keeper Banks. A further scramble and last ditch clearance followed a few minutes later as the Diamonds started to dominate the game and threaten to take a lead into half-time.

The half-time whistle signalled the end of a half of poor quality, but the Diamonds domination of the latter part of the half was cause for encouragement.

Half-time: Lewes 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds started off the second half as they had finished the first, with Andy Burgess looking especially fired up, as he started to hit the quality cross-field balls seen in the first half at Kidderminster – this time finding Lee Tomlin who was finding the space required.

Lee Tomlin continued to threaten down the right, and he had the first shot on goal after five minutes of the half, although the shot was narrowly wide. He also made another run towards the box, but the referee ruled that the challenge that halted him was a fair one. The pressure on the Lewes goal was soon to tell though, as a foul on Rob Wolleaston saw Andy Burgess take a free kick that was flicked on by Chris Hope, and a run across Rikki Banks by Leon Knight meant that the keeper could only palm the ball out to Daryl Clare who knocked home from six yards for a goal on his Diamonds league debut.

Curtis Osano came close to making it 2-0, with one of the runs that are fast becoming his trademark, right through the centre of the defence, but his shot was just over the bar.

The opening goal was to be Daryl Clare’s last major contribution to a game that was his first since the end of July, with Michael Rankine replacing him.

With Burgess and Knight both involved in the first goal, it was that partnership that were also involved in the Diamonds second goal as a Burgess corner saw Chris Hope find space and outjump the home defence, and head the ball to Leon Knight who was able to propel the ball forward in an arc that just took it under the bar, over the head of the despairing defender.

The second goal had surely made the game safe, with the home side heads dropping, and the risk of the late goal seen in recent game being reduced in possible impact, the Diamonds started to play the sort of football the fans had hoped to see earlier in the season.

A long free kick from Curtis Osano on the right was partially cleared by the home defence, but as the play was quickly switched to the left, Andy Burgess was able to hit a powerful cross first time, and Chris Hope was there in the centre of the area to head the ball home.

More was to come though, with possibly the best goal of the game, following good work by Michael Rankine,  Andy Burgess again showed skill and control on the left to fire a low cross that saw the diminutive Leon Knight timing his run perfectly to head home, making it three Diamonds goals in six minutes.


Michael Rankine almost made it five a few minutes later as he surged towards the box, hitting a shot on the edge of the box that flashed narrowly wide, and the striker had a second chance as he showed great control to bring down a back-flick from Leon Knight, but again his effort was just wide.

To their credit Lewes didn’t give up, and Joe Keehan had possibly their best chance of the evening as he hit a powerful volley inches over the bar.

The match ended with the Diamonds emulating England in scoring four goals on Setanta TV, and after a disappointing first quarter it was a dominant performance from then on.

The Diamonds next game in the Blue Square Premier is the home game against Burton Albion, which is now confirmed as remaining on Saturday 20th September. Curtis Woodhouse has his next bout on that day, so he will not be available for that game. Prior to that the Diamonds face Rothwell Town at Nene Park in the Northants FA Hillier Senior Cup on Tuesday 16th September at 7:45pm.

Full-time: Lewes 0 Rushden & Diamonds 4


Lewes (Red / Black) : Rikki Banks , Anthony Barness , Kerry Mayo , Chris Breach , Steven Elliott , Michael Standing , Joe Keehan , Ollie Rowland, Stefan Cox , Scott Taylor ,Tom Lyons

Subs : Matt Geard (for Rowland), Shabazz Baidoo (for Lyons)

Subs Not Used : Zachariah Beda, Dean Ruddy, Sebastian Wallis-Taylor

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

Subs : Michael Rankine (for Clare 67), Phil Gulliver (for Hope 72), Michael Corcoran (for Woodhouse 75).

Subs Not Used : Joe Day , Lee Phillips

Goals: Daryl Clare (54), Leon Knight (67, 73) Chris Hope (69)

Yellow Cards: Rowland (26), Jelleyman (34)

Referee: Mr R Lee (Essex)

Attendance: 636 (Away 50)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Leon Knight

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Crawley Town 1

Rushden & Diamonds produced their most disappointing performance of the season to date, losing to an injury time winner from Crawley substitute Steve Fletcher as their run of games without a win was stretched to six at Nene Park.

This was the first game of the season where the Diamonds have failed to score – and in fact visiting keeper Rayner was only called upon to make one save all afternoon – from a freekick.

Manager Garry Hill made it clear afterwards how disappointed he was with the performance, how disappointed he was for the fans that witnessed it, and how he planned to resolve the situation.

As well as the poor performance, an additional worry will be the disciplinary record, with a further four yellow cards being picked up.

On a wet autumnal afternoon the Diamonds started with the anticipated line-up, with the unfit Gareth Jelleyman being replaced by Justyn Roberts, with Sagi Burton returning at Centre Back. Lee Phillips had recovered sufficiently from his midweek knock to take his place in the team, albeit with a bandaged head.

Crawley kicked off towards the Peter De Banke terrace, watched from the South Stand by their manager Steve Evans, and quickly found holes in the Diamonds defence to generate a couple of half-chances, but neither resulted in Marriott needing to make a save.

Curtis Osano was perhaps looking the most threatening Diamonds player on the attack, with one great run seeing his ghost past the wide defender, cut inside past a second defender and then hit a left foot shot that flew only narrowly wide of the right hand post.

The best Diamonds move of the game came in the first quarter, as Andy Burgess wrong-footed ex-Diamond Glenn Wilson on the left and broke into the area, laying the ball off to Lee Phillips – the strike then prodded the ball to Rob Wolleaston, but, as was to become the pattern for the afternoon, the midfielder dragged his shot wide from close range.

At times though, the midfield and strikeforce seemed extremely disjointed, evidenced by one run by Osano where nobody came to support him, and although he almost lost the ball, it was left to him to try to retrieve it ahead of several Diamonds players who were nearer the ball.

There was also the sight of Andy Burgess repeatedly moving infield and then there being no outlet on the left, and also the sight of Burgess winning the ball near his own goalline and them pumping it upfield to an empty space on the left where only he might have been the player expected to receive it.

The Diamonds seemed unable to connect with the strikeforce, other than with long balls that were food and drink to the Crawley defence. On the one occasion Andy Burgess was able to turn past Quinn it was clear that the defender was lacking in pace, but the Diamonds did not have the guile to engineer similar opportunities – and Quinn was more than capable of clearing any aerial threat.

At the other end Crawley continued to generate the occasional half-chance, and won a number of corners – with one scraping just wide of the far post after Alan Marriott appeared to have been fouled as the ball came across his area.


Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Crawley Town 0

After such a disappointing first half, the muted crowd must have been looking for some entertainment in the second, but most of the action seemed to centre around referee West. Although he had been willing to tolerate a certain amount in the first half, preferring warnings to yellow cards, his approach in the second half was to penalise a lot more – reacting to Crawley protests to 50/50 challenges, and issue yellow cards whether or not the player had committed an earlier offence. This saw Sagi Burton and Chris Hope booked for minor fouls, as well as Leon Knight for dissent after he had been penalised for a foul on Wright, as well as Curtis Woodhouse.

On the hour mark the Diamonds forced Simon Rayner into his only save of the game, as Leon Knight was tripped by Pinault, and Andy Burgess’s free kick was comfortably dealt with by the keeper.

The remainder of the third quarter saw misplaced passes from Wolleaston, long balls from defence mopped up by the Crawley defence, and a number of dead-ball opportunities wasted, mostly by Burgess.

The Diamonds had an appeal for a penalty, as a quickly taken freekick saw a Burgess cross head towards Leon Knight, who bounced off a solid challenge by the impressive Jake Wright.

Garry Hill brought on Michael Rankine for Phillips, but with little difference to the pattern of play, and then Marcus Kelly and Jake Beecroft replaced the disappointing Burgess and Wolleaston, but Kelly also failed to take advantage of dead-ball situations.

Crawley had their own appeal for a penalty, as the Diamonds readjusted following the substitutions, with a Sagi Burton challenge on Danny Forrest being seen as a legal one by referee West.

Perhaps the best action involving a Diamonds player was seen on 80 minutes, as Michael Corcoran made an excellent tackle on ex-Diamond Jamie Cook on the edge of the six yard box.

It then looked like the game might peter out into a goalless draw, which, given the poor quality on show, might have been a reasonable result, but there was still time for Crawley to claim their reward for creating a greater share of the chances on the afternoon. They won a series of throw-ins near the Diamonds line, and from a long throw from the left by Quinn, the ball was flicked over to the right to Dannie Bulman, and his cross was met by substitute Steve Fletcher with a powerful header which hit the underside of the bar before going into the net for the winning goal.

Referee West brought the game to an end as the Diamonds fans headed to the exit or voiced their feelings about the performance.

Garry Hill has stressed his determination to resolve the problems on show in this game, and will need to do this before the Diamonds appear on Setanta TV against fellow strugglers Lewes on Thursday evening.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Crawley Town 1


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Alan Marriott : Michael Corcoran – Justyn Roberts – Chris Hope – Sagi Burton : Curtis Osano – Rob Wolleaston – Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) – Andy Burgess : Lee Phillips – Leon Knight

Subs : Michael Rankine (for Phillips 56) Marcus Kelly (for Burgess 80), Jake Beecroft (for Wolleaston 80)

Subs Not Used : Phil Gulliver, Sam Smith

Crawley Town (Red) : Simon Rayner, Sam Rents, Simon Weatherstone, Jake Wright, Danny Forrest, Dannie Bulman (Capt), Thomas Pinault, Jamie Cook, Lewis Killeen, Glenn Wilson, Adam Quinn

Subs : Steve Fletcher (for Killeen 66) Anton Douglas (for Cook 86)

Subs Not Used : Jamie Stevens, Chris Giles, Brad Thomas

Goal: Steve Fletcher (90+3)

Yellow Cards: Burton, Knight, Woodhouse, Hope

Referee: Mr R West

Attendance: 1376 (Away 91)

Man of the Match chosen by Pressbox : Curtis Osano

Barrow 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1


The travelling Rushden & Diamonds fan is a long time sufferer from Déjà vu, with memories of many games where a late goal has meant a long trip home disappointed, but the game at Holker Street provided a double dose.

Not only was the late Barrow equaliser so similar to those on a long list of late goals scored against the Diamonds, but the fact it was scored as the conditions suddenly worsened into teeming driving rain brought back memories of the FA Cup game in Bristol last season.

Although it will be Alan Marriott who acknowledges his part in that goal, the contribution he had made prior to that incident had made him "head and shoulders" the Diamonds man of the match, but, as ever, the poor goalkeeper can make half-a-dozen quality saves, but none of these are remembered, but any mistake is magnified 10 times.

All of this late drama followed the early blow of seeing Lee Phillips stretchered off inside the first five minutes, plus the debut goal for Leon Knight in the first half.

Garry Hill made two change of personnel, as well as a positional change, from the line-up that lost at Aggborough on Saturday, with Michael Corcoran playing at right back allowing Curtis Osano to push forwards into right midfield to replace the injured Dean McDonald, and Curtis Woodhouse returning at the expense of Jake Beecroft. Marcus Kelly returned to the bench, meaning that Phil Gulliver and Jamie McGuinness were left to warm down prior to the game after not making the 16.

Joint Barrow managers Dave Bayliss and Darren Sheridan named themselves on the bench as they brought in Mike Pearson at right back in place of the injured Paul Black.

The Diamonds started much the brighter in very difficult conditions, but within five minutes their initial plans were upset as Lee Phillips jumped to challenge for the ball and went down with a head injury – after a three minute delay he was stretchered off, to be replaced by Sam Smith, getting a chance to play for much longer than in recent games.

Wave after wave of Diamonds attacks were led by Andy Burgess on the left, and Curtis Osano on the right, with Osano looking especially threatening in this right midfield role – one run in particular saw him get past three defenders, but Deasy was able to save his shot. Curtis Woodhouse was also creating a threat through the middle, and his powerful shot was deflected just over the bar.

The Barrow threat was purely on the counter attack at this stage, and the Diamonds defence was not unduly troubled as a result. The Diamonds meanwhile had a number of shots on target deflected for corners, as it looked a matter of time before they took the lead.

The opening goal game on 26 minutes, as Justin Walker was penalised for backing in to Chris Hope, and he was lucky to escape with no more than a warning to him and his captain after further dissent towards the referee. The punishment that followed though was more significant – the Alan Marriott free kick looked to be an easy chance for Jones or McNulty to clear but they got in each others way, and the ball broke to Sam Smith, who shot towards the left-hand post. Goalkeeper Deasy could only parry the ball into the path of Leon Knight, who gleefully netted his debut goal for the Diamonds.

Apart from a threat on the break, the other threat from the home side came from the freekicks they were awarded . one in particular from Boyd flashed just wide of the right-hand post.

Just after the half-hour mark the Diamonds should have got their second, as a floated cross from the left from Andy Burgess eluded Smith and the two centre backs, bouncing in the corner of the six yard box to an unmarked Curtis Osano, but he skewed his shot wide of the right hand post.

The only real threat from the home side in open play in the first half saw Alan Marriott pull off a great save to tip a powerful cross-shot from the left by Paul Brown around the post – although the referee failed to spot this touch, to the annoyance of the home crowd – although they were lucky a few minutes later as a Pearson foul on Knight on the edge of the box went unpunished.

Curtis Woodhouse tried to chip the goalkeeper as half-time approached, and another powerful run by Curtis Osano saw a Leon Knight shot blocked.

Half-time: Barrow 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

With the wind now assisting them, and any rain in the Diamonds players faces, the home team started the second half much more brightly, and it was almost 10 minutes before the Diamonds were able to establish a meaningful attack.

Referee Handley had been rather lenient in the first half, especially towards Pearson and Walker, but he appeared to change his approach during the second, issuing three yellow cards to Diamonds players in quick succession, each of them in a similar spot just in front of the Barrow fans near the half-way line. Although each challenge was a clear foul, with the possible exception of a clumsy arm-hold from Wolleaston, none of them looked worse than what had gone before – indeed Burton’s offence was such a minor push that one can only assume there was some additional dissent – although the referee had been very lenient towards dissent from Walker in the first half.

On the hour mark the Bluebirds had their best chance of the game so far, as a run down the right by Matt Henney saw him set up Lee Hunt, and although his shot was well saved by Marriott, it looked like Henney might follow-up the rebound, but he could only find the side netting.

A move that started from what looked a clear foul throw by Pearson (more so than the Corcoran one penalised in the first half), new arrival Nick Rogan hit a good shot that was well saved by Marriott low to his right.

Although they had the lion’s share of possession and territorial advantage, the home side struggled to create clear-cut chances. With many attempts at a "final pass" running through to Marriott., it was suddenly the Diamonds that created two decent chances – the first was a double chance on 75 minutes as a Sam Smith header from a corner was flicked to safety by a defender on the line, with Deasy beaten, and then a further chance fell to Chris Hope following the Burgess corner from the left, but his shot was blocked. On 85 minutes the Diamonds could have wrapped the game up following a surging run by Curtis Osano who beat three defenders on his way to slotting the ball through to Leon Knight, who is still reluctant to use his full pace against Conference defenders, but he moved the ball across the area to Andy Burgess on the left, but the resultant shot was dragged just wide of the far right post.

As the game entered injury time the weather took a sudden turn for the worse, and heavy driving rain lashed into the Diamonds defenders faces, as well as the 200 home fans who were braving the open terrace behind the goal. Alan Marriott made his first error of the game (and indeed for many games), when he dropped a Brown cross, but was quick enough to gather it on the soggy ground. Jake Beecroft did well to cover back and prevent a cross being delivered, at the expense of a corner, but from this kick from Logan the ball slipped out of Alan Marriott’s hands and straight to Paul Brown, who slotted home, leaving the home fans singing in the rain.

The game ended shortly afterwards, and a disconsolate Alan Marriott trooped off, all thoughts of what an excellent game he had been having were gone in an instant as far as he was concerned – although both his team mates and the travelling fans realised the contribution he had made to the game.

With the run of games without a win now stretched to five, and another "game of two halves" where the Diamonds failed to deliver for the whole 90 minutes, it will be essential for the good performances for part of the game be extended to more of the game and three points gained as a result – starting with the visit of Crawley Town on Saturday.

Full-time: Barrow 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1


Barrow : White / Blue : Tim Deasy, Andy Bond, Steve McNulty, Paul Jones, Mike Pearson, Carlos Logan, Mark Boyd, Paul Brown, Matt Henney, Jason Walker, Lee Hunt

Subs : Nick Rogan (for Walker 71), Paul Tait (for Hunt 80), Aaran Taylor (for Boyd 86)

Subs Not Used : Darren Sheridan, Dave Bayliss

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow) : Alan Marriott : Michael Corcoran – Gareth Jelleyman – Chris Hope – Justyn Roberts : Curtis Osano – Rob Wolleaston – Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) – Andy Burgess : Lee Phillips – Leon Knight

Subs : Sam Smith (for Phillips 8), Sagi Burton (for Jelleyman 40), Jake Beecroft (for Wolleaston 72)

Subs Not Used : Michael Rankine, Marcus Kelly

Goals: Leon Knight (27), Paul Brown (90+1)

Yellow Cards: McNulty, Roberts, Burton, Wolleaston,

Referee: Mr D Handley

Attendance: 1663 (Away 25)

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