Rushden & Diamonds 0 Stevenage Borough 3

(Setanta Shield – 3rd Round)

Diamonds failed to emulate last season’s Setanta Shield campaign as they suffered defeat in their third round tie against Stevenage Borough at Nene Park. In a poor match, the visitors took advantage as Diamonds went down to ten men after Curtis Woodhouse went off injured having already made all three substitutions. Goals from Andy Drury, Lawrie Wilson and Anthony Thomas in the final six minutes secured Borough’s place in the last sixteen.

Diamonds kept almost the same side that draw at Cambridge United on Saturday with just two changes. 16 year old Aynsley McDonald was given a place in the starting line-up at left back, with Michael Corcoran moving inside to replace Chris Hope. Jake Beecroft replaced Curtis Woodhouse in midfield.

Borough boss Graham Westley announced eight changes from the side which beat Woking at the weekend, giving an outing to some of his fringe players. Only Callum Willock, Lawrie Wilson and former Diamond Michael Bostwick remained in the starting eleven. Lee Boylan and David Bridges remained on the injury list, while there was no place in the squad for former Diamonds Gary Mills and Mark Albrighton. Willock and Anthony Thomas led the attack as both sides went for a 4-4-2 formation.

Neither side was able to assert their authority as the game commenced with play from both sides breaking down before being putting any pressure on the opposing goalkeeper. Stevenage had the first couple of attempts, with Anthony Thomas firing into the side-netting early on and Callum Willock being unable to get on the end of a cross from Lawrie Wilson.

Diamonds first real effort came after 15 minutes when Andy Burgess whipped in a cross from the right. The Borough defence cleared but Brendan Moloney sent a dangerous ball back in which was blocked and cleared. Diamonds were having their best spell of the half but the poor end product meant Ashley Bayes in the Stevenage goal had little to do.


At the other end, Thomas and Willock looked dangerous, but the Diamonds back four of McDonald, Corcoran, Osano and Moloney looked confident and were working well together. Diamonds suffered a blow on 29 minutes went Andy Burgess had to be stretchered off following a blow to the head after a late challenge. Lee Phillips came on as a replacement, but there was little change in the pattern of play with both sides struggling with recent poor form. Diamonds best chance of the half came in first half injury time following good movement from Brendan Moloney, but his effort went straight at the keeper,


Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 0 Stevenage Borough


The second half saw a bit more urgency, but again both sides lacked the cutting edge to create goal-scoring chances. Daryl Clare and Jake Beecroft doubled Diamonds efforts on goal early on, but both shots were easy for keeper Ashley Bayes. Callum Willock put the ball in the net for Stevenage on 53 minutes, but was well offside. Moments later, they had probably their best chance of the game when Scott Laird cross from the left found Thomas free at the far post, but he fluffed his header, nodding the ball down and bouncing over the bar.


Stevenage were looking more dangerous as they started to dominate the midfield, and Curtis Woodhouse was introduced just before the hour, replacing Daryl Clare – Lee Phillips moving up alongside Sam Smith.  Jamie McGuiness also came on for Aynsley McDonald and he moved alongside Woodhouse, with Marcus Kelly dropping to left back.


On 60 minutes, the visitors had another golden opportunity as Thomas got clear on the right and took the ball towards goal before unleashing a fierce drive. His shot struck the underside of the bar and bounced away from from danger. Former Diamond Michael Bostwick received a yellow card on 68 minutes for a poor challenge on McGuiness, and it was McGuiness who had a good chance at the far post on 74 minutes, after a strong surge forward by Smith, but he failed to connect cleanly.


Curtis Woodhouse had to go off with 10 minutes remaining after a thigh injury, and Diamonds played out the remaining time with ten men. Stevenage took advantage of their extra man as they pushed forward in the final period. They got the breakthrough on 84 minutes when Thomas sent a cross field ball out to Andy Drury on the right and he drilled in from 20 yards past the helpless Dale Roberts.


The goal seemed to fire up the visitors and it took only two minutes to add a second as they tore Diamonds apart. Drury set Lawrie Wilson on a run into the penalty area, and he sidefooted the ball past Roberts to double their advantage. Then on 88 minutes, it was Drury again who done the damage as his cross in to Anthony Thomas was stabbed home from close range.


Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 3 Stevenage Borough


The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Diamonds as they failed to improve on their recent poor form. The lack of any sort of creativity resulted in a quiet evening for Ashley Bayes in the Stevenage goal. Diamonds will be hoping for an improved performance when they take on Weymouth at Nene Park this coming Saturday, while the Youth Team are in action tomorrow evening when they take on Northampton Town in the FA Youth Cup 1st Round (7.45pm kick-off).



Rushden & Diamonds – Roberts, Osano, Clare (Woodhouse 58), Burgess (Phillips 33), Moloney, Wolleaston, Beecroft, Kelly, Corcoran, Smith, A.McDonald (McGuiness 64).

Subs not used: Day, Hilliard.


Stevenage Borough – Bayes, Wilson, Laird, Oliver (c), Thomas, Martin, Willock, Burke (Cazaubon 79), Drury, Bostwick, McDevitt.

Subs not used: Gibson, Brinkman, Atkins, Swaine.


Goals: Drury 84 (0-1), Wilson 86 (0-2), Thomas 88 (0-3).


Booked: Bostwick 68 (foul).


Referee: Mr Ian Smedley (Derbyshire).


Attendance: 430 (41 away).



By Dave Mason


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