Rushden & Diamonds 1 Weymouth 0

 

Rushden & Diamonds beat Weymouth by a single Daryl Clare goal in a scrappy game of very little quality at Nene Park.

Although the game did improve after a very disappointing first half, it was certainly a game where the result was more important than the performance, as it takes the Diamonds above their opponents in the league, and keeps them in touch with the play-off race.

Manager Hill selected Clayton Fortune at left back in place of Michael Corcoran, Luke Boden in midfield instead of Andy Burgess and Michael Rankine replacing Sam Smith up front. The other recent loan signing Joe Wilcox did not make the 16, with Lee Tomlin and Lee Phillips returning to the bench.

Terras manager John Hollins was constrained by illness, injuries and a very small squad, and could only select four substitutes. He played a 4-5-1 formation with Stuart Bevan playing as a lone striker.

The first half was a very poor affair, with the Diamonds failing to test Weymouth keeper Knowles until three minutes from the end of the half, when Michael Rankine and a defender flicked on a long free kick to newcomer Luke Boden, and although he appeared to use his hand to control the ball this wrongfooted his marker allowing him to hit a low shot that Knowles did well to capture.

At the other end the visitors had seen rather more chances during the half, but their best chance also fell towards the end of the half with a deflected shot by James Coutts hitting the bar and going for a corner.

The highlights of the first 30 minutes of the game was a number of corners for the Terras which resulted in headers from Scott Doe narrowly missing the target. Like the Diamonds their best chances came from deadball situations, with an Anton Robinson shot also well over the bar from one of them. Lone striker Stuart Bevan started very brightly, with a couple of wayward attempts on goal, but the Diamonds defence adjusted well to significantly reduce the threat he was posing.

Stephen Reed also shot wide from a Williams cross as the visitors presented the greater threat in that first third of the game, but as for most of the game their poor finishing was to let them down.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Weymouth 0

After such a disappointing first half there was a general feeling in the sparse crowd that the second half must be an improvement, and it immediately proved to be so.

Weymouth almost went ahead in the first minute of the half, with a mix-up between Hope and Woodhouse allowing Stuart Bevan to pick up the ball and fire a powerful shot that Dale Roberts saved well low to his right. The Diamonds then had their best spell of the game, with a Marcus Kelly run taking his past his marker and able to hit a shot that was well saved.

After almost giving his side the lead, Kelly made a mistake that almost resulted in the Diamonds conceding a goal, as a freekick that he took was knocked back out to him, but he dwelt on the ball, was robbed of possession, and with several defenders upfield for the free kick it allowed the Terra midfield to spread the ball wide to Williams, who easily beat Moloney and fired in a low cross that was scrambled clear.

With the Diamonds having significant momentum for the first time in the game it lead to Curtis Osano making one of his trademark runs down the right, cutting into the area, and hitting the best cross of the game which flashed across the box, being narrowly cut out by Cameron Mawer ahead of Marcus Kelly. This was the sort of run the Diamonds fans had been looking for all game, and to come from a Centre Back rather than a winger / full back will have asked a few questions about formation and positioning. The resultant corner from the left by Marcus Kelly was met by Chris Hope at the far post. Although his powerful header was well stopped by the visiting defence, the ball rebounded to Hope who was able to square the ball across the box for Daryl Clare to force home for the Diamonds first goal in four games.

Having gained the lead the Diamonds attacking focus dropped back to nearer the level of the first half as they tried to protect their lead, and a combination of good defending and poor finishing meant that the visitors were unable to make their domination of the midfield into the equalising goal.

The visitors came closest to an equaliser on 59 minutes, as a Mawer run down the right fed James Coutts, whose powerful shot was tipped over the bar by Dale Roberts who was having an excellent game.

Diminutive winger Ryan Williams was finding plenty of space wide on the left, so Manager Hill brought on Michael Corcoran in place of Brendan Moloney to try to plug that gap, but Williams on the left and Coutts on the right were still able to find space, as did Robinson in the middle, and Curtis Osano was called upon several times to clear the danger. On two occasions low crosses from the right by Coutts and Mawer went skimming across the box without a striker making the run needed to knock the ball home.

With Lee Tomlin replacing Marcus Kelly he was responsible for taking a corner won by good linkup play between Clare and Rankine, and the powerful low corner found Chris Hope in space in the penalty area but his header was cleared off the line by Cameron Mawer.

The Diamonds did have a good shout for a penalty on 82 minutes as Michael Rankine and Rob Wolleaston combined, with a Wolleaston run returning the ball towards Rankine who appeared to be pushed in the back by Scott Doe, but the appeals were fairly muted from both the players and crowd.

Chris McPhee almost set up the equaliser as the match neared full time as he latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and looped a clever pass forwards to James Coutts who appeared unmarked near the penalty spot, but he was unable to control the ball as required and the danger passed as the ball went through to a grateful Dale Roberts.

There was still time for one last chance for the Diamonds, as Lee Tomlin was able to win a corner, and then able to get in a good corner with his shiny red boots (that looked similar to a child’s red plastic sandals), and as the ball ricocheted around in the box it deflected off a Terras defender towards the goal, forcing Knowles to make one of his best saves of the game.

Referee Khatib brought the game to a close after rather more than the originally allotted three minutes, but it is to his credit that this was one of the few times his whistle was noted, as he allowed the game to flow as best he could, without needing to report to waving yellow cards or lecturing players on how he wanted the game played.

The Diamonds now have a midweek Hillier Cup game against Rothwell Corinthians before the visit of old rivals Kidderminster Harriers next weekend.

With the attendance of 1002 being the lowest for Conference game at Nene Park, and the lowest for a Saturday league game since the Southern League Midland Division days in 1994, it will be important to maintain the winning ways, as well as creating more chances from open play.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Weymouth 0

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds (White) Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Clayton Fortune, Chris Hope, Brendan Moloney (Michael Corcoran 63), Luke Boden, Rob Wolleaston, Curtis Woodhouse (Capt), Marcus Kelly (Lee Tomlin 69), Michael Rankine, Daryl Clare (Lee Phillips 84)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day, Sam Smith

Weymouth (Yellow / Black) Danny Knowles, Cameron Mawer, Kevin Sandwith, Adam Bygrave, James Coutts, Chris McPhee, Anton Robinson, Stuart Bevan, Ryan Williams, Scott Doe, Stephen Reed

Subs Not Used: Richard Barnard, Jamie Frampton, Jordan Vincent, Josh Webb

Goal : Daryl Clare (53)

Yellow Cards: None

Referee: Mr R Khatib

Attendance: 1002 (Away 61)

Man of the Match chosen by A&J Sectional Buildings : Luke Boden

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