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 !


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