Rushden & Diamonds 1 Torquay United 3

Rushden & Diamonds were comprehensively beaten by a dominant Torquay side by three goals to one at Nene Park in a game that saw both sides reduced to 10 men. The victory was the Devon side’s first at Nene Park as goals by Carlisle and Sills in the first half were added to by Wroe early in the second before Manny Panter saw a straight red for the Diamonds, and Matt Green received similar treatment for the visitors.

Diamonds manager Garry Hill kept faith with the same starting eleven that beat lowly Grays in midweek, whilst Gulls manager Paul Buckle also retained the side that had drawn with Oxford United on Thursday evening.

With a strong Autumn sun making a pleasant afternoon in Northamptonshire, Chris Hargreaves elected to play with the sun at his team’s back in the first half, so the Diamonds kicked off towards the Peter De Banke end, and had an early chance when Curtis Woodhouse disposed Matt Green near the centre circle and ran towards the edge of the box before shooting just over.

After that initial optimism it was clear that Torquay were starting much the brighter, and they almost scored in the third minute when a long throw from Nicholson on the left was flicked on by Tim Sills to Wayne Carlisle at the far post, but his shot was saved at close quarters by Dale Roberts and scrambled away for a corner.

For the second game running Daryl Clare failed to threaten with a free kick from 25 yards after Lee Phillips was fouled – this time the ball found the wall rather than sailing towards the A6.

However, just after the sixth minute mark, Phil Gulliver conceded a throw after a tussle with Matt Green. This time Curtis Osano reached the identical Nicholson throw ahead of Sills, but the ball flicked across the area to Wayne Carlisle who this time made no mistake to give the visitors the lead.

Carlisle almost added a second three minutes later when Stevens hit a ball into space for Matt Green who outpaced Gulliver

There was more to come from the visitors though, after 14 minutes, after Phil Gulliver picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Green, and the long freekick from Steve Woods was met with a looping header 15 yards out from Tim Sills, which found the top corner of the net.

The Diamonds did wake from their stupor to create a couple of chances in the remainder of the first half, with Curtis Osano making a great run into the area but saw his shot blocked – with some fans claiming it had involved a defender’s hand. Marcus Kelly also had a great chance to slide in and knock home a Lee Phillips cross after good work by Manny Panther, but the ball eluded him. Phillips too had a chance after a great crossfield ball from Curtis Osano found Marcus Kelly, who held the ball up until Michael Corcoran was able to support him, and the defender’s was headed back across the box by Andy Burgess to Phillips who could have done better with his header.

That proved to be Phillips’ last contribution, as again he suffered a head injury and had to be replaced by Sam Smith.

At the other end the visitors continued to present the greater threat, with Matt Green giving Gulliver a torrid time, and he saw a shot blocked after being fed by Tim Sills. Manny Panther forced Scott Bevan to make one of the few saves he was required to make all game – the stand-in Gulls keeper was dealing confortably with corners and crosses, but the Diamonds could not test his agility beyond this – the keeper appeared to be carrying an injury and relied on Kevin Nicholson to take the goalkicks, but the Diamonds strikeforce could not take advantage of this. That save was in first half injury time, and the ball was cleared to Cutis Woodhouse, whose follow-up attempt was also saved and although the ball was then put into the net the Diamonds strikers had been flagged offside.

Before the half ended the visitors also saw a goal ruled out for offside, with a Green strike ruled out to end an entertaining half, but one which the Diamonds defence would prefer to forget.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Torquay United 2

Despite a chance of formation by the Diamonds at half-time, with Leon Knight replacing Michael Corcoran to allow a 3-4-3 formation, the visitors sliced through their defence early in the second half, with a real route one goal. Dale Roberts could only parry a Matt Green shot after the striker ran onto a ball threaded through by Tim Sills from a Nicholson goal kick, with Nicky Wroe easily knocking home the rebound.

Within two minutes things went from bad to worse for the Diamonds, as Manny Panther received his straight red card for a two footed challenge on Steve Woods in the process of winning the ball cleanly.

Within a few minutes though it was 10 versus 10 as ex-Cardiff striker Matt Green saw the same for a challenge on Curtis Osano. Chris Hope also picked up a yellow card for remonstrating with Green for the clash which saw a bloodied Osano needing a replacement shirt, but neither Sills nor Hargreaves saw any sanctions despite giving the impression of lack of respect for the match officials following the dismissal.

The Diamonds fans hoped this might be the catalyst for a revival, and they did have some hope when Leon Knight showed control and touch just ouside the centre circle to flick the ball into space for Sam Smith to run onto and fire into the left-hand corner of the net.

However, these hopes were shortlived, as the Diamonds failed to lift their game in the remaining 20 minutes, and were unable to seriously test Bevan in that period. In fact it was the visitors that had the best chance, and it came after they had embarrassed the left-hand side of the Diamonds defence, with Lee Mansell pushing forwards to interchange passes with Carlisle and Wroe, and as the trio bamboozled Gulliver (who didn’t have the support he might have expected), the final pass found Wroe free in the area, but he failed to find the target. The introduction of Mustapha Carayol meant that the Diamonds defence was also tormented on their right during the remaining few minutes of the game

The game ended after four minutes of injury time, with Manager Hill offering no excuses for a defeat by a better side. The visit to York next weekend has now taken on a greater significance, with a gap opening up to the top teams that is now equalling the gap to the bottom four in the division.  With the period up until Christmas always being one disrupted by Cup and Trophy dates, is it important to avoid becoming a "mid-table side" at this stage of the season.


Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Torquay United 3


Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Dale Roberts : Curtis Osano – Phil Gulliver – Chris Hope – Michael Corcoran : Andy Burgess – Manny Panther – Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) – Marcus Kelly : Lee Phillips – Daryl Clare

Subs : Sam Smith (for Phillips 40), Leon Knight (for Corcoran 45), Lee Tomlin (for Clare 67)

Subs Not Used : Gareth Jelleyman – Rob Wolleaston

Torquay United (Yellow) : Scott Bevan, Kevin Nicholson, Steve Woods, Chris Robertson, Lee Mansell, Tim Sills, Nicky Wroe, Chris Hargreaves (Capt), Wayne Carlisle, Matt Green, Danny Stevens

Subs : Lee Hodges (for Woods 71), Mustapha Carayol (for Stevens 76), Tyrone Thompson (for Sills 88)

Subs Not Used : Elliott Benyon, Steve Adams

Goals : Wayne Carlisle (7), Tim Sills (14), Nicky Wroe (50), Sam Smith (68)

Yellow Cards: Gulliver, Hope

Red Cards: Panther (52), Green (54)

Referee: Mr I Cooper

Attendance: 1649 (Away 259)

Man of the Match chosen by Richard Marriott of H Squared : Manny Panther


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