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

Teams:

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

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