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

Teams:

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

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