Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kidderminster Harriers 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds problems finding the net continue, as they lost to Kidderminster Harriers by a single goal at Nene Park. As well as only scoring two goals in their last seven first team games, it was the fourth home game in a row against Kidderminster that they have failed to score.

The game was won by a Justin Richards penalty scored five minutes before half-time, after Curtis Osano was judged to have handled a Brian Smikle cross, hit at pace from a yard or so away from him. Richards had missed several other good chances in the first half, with Dale Roberts making three excellent saves.

At the other end, the Diamonds created more chances than in recent games, especially in the first half, but both Rankine and Clare failed to convert decent opportunities in both halves of an entertaining game. Rankine in particular missed an excellent chance mid-way through the second half when he skied over from 10 yards.

Manager Hill had selected Michael Corcoran at left back in place of Clayton Fortune, with Andy Burgess returning to the bench at the expense of Sam Smith. Chris Hope was making his 100th League start for the club. Harriers manager Mark Yates was able to stick with the line-up that had climbed the league in recent weeks, with the returning Luke Jones only claiming a place on the bench. His captain Mark Creighton opted to change ends after winning the toss to make the Diamonds play into the setting sun in the first half.

The first controversial refereeing decision of the game came in the fifth minute, as a long ball through the defence saw Matthew Barnes-Homer crunch into Dale Roberts, but referee Brown saw nothing wrong, and Chris Hope did well to protect the unguarded goal as Dean Richards had the first of many excellent chances he was to have during the half.

At the other end the Diamonds created their first clear chance following a corner which was cleared back to Marcus Kelly, and his cross was headed over by Michael Corcoran.

Curtis Osano then delivered a great ball forward to the alert Michael Rankine who made ground before hitting a shot that was blocked at the near post for a corner.

Dean Richards was looking dangerous for the visitors, and he had a great chance on the right in the 12th minute, hitting a powerful shot that Roberts did really well to palm away for a corner.

The Diamonds midfield were scrapping well at close quarters, but were finding it difficult to link up with their forwards, Marcus Kelly having particular difficulty picking passes that were near a fellow player in white. He did manage to find Daryl Clare mid-way through the half from a diagonal cross wide on the left, but the striker could only direct his header straight at Bartlett who gathered easily.

At the other end a Brittain corner from the left almost brought the opening goal as Curtis Osano missed his header and the ball fell to Dean Richards only a few yards from goal, but he somehow managed to head wide.

The Diamonds had a shout for a penalty when Daryl Clare was held back by Martin Riley, but the appeals were fairly muted.

Just after the half-hour the Harrier should have made their possession pay with a goal, firstly when Russell Penn broke down the left and crossed to Matthew Barnes-Homer, who flicked to Justin Richards, but his shot was well saved by Roberts, then from the resultant corner the ball was worked between Creighton and Ferrell to find Richards, and again the striker wasted the chance.

The Diamonds continued to create chances though, as a ball forward from Michael Corcoran was flicked on by Daryl Clare to his strike partner, but Michael Rankine’s shot was just wide.

Just as thoughts were turning to half-time and what changes might be made, the whole game pivoted on a refereeing decision. Lee Baker and Brian Smikle combined on the right, and a deft flick over the defence gave Smikle a chance to get in a cross before Curtis Osano could challenge. The cross hit Osano at point blank range, and although none of the Kidderminster players appeared to appeal for a penalty, referee Brown pointed to the penalty spot. There did not appear to be any intent by Osano to handle the ball – indeed the time he would have had to do so would be measured in microseconds.

The spot kick was duly converted by Justin Richards, with a penalty hit hard into the right hand side of the goal – perhaps the only way Richards was going to find a way past Dale Roberts on the afternoon – and indeed the keeper did get a firm hand on the ball, but couldn’t keep it out.

The Diamonds had one chance to equalise before half-time, following a corner, that Chris Hope headed towards goal, but Daryl Clare intercepted and tried to redirect it into the opposite corner, but could only divert it wide.

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kidderminster Harriers 1

After such an entertaining first half, it was clear fairly early in the second that the visitors were intent on trying to protect their lead rather than trying to extend it, and as a result the half was largely a stalemate in midfield, with the Diamonds creating more chances, but failing to convert them.

Five minutes into the half Rob Wolleaston was able to get in a rare cross from the right, but it looped towards goal, forcing Bartlett to tip it over the bar.

The action was also punctuated by a number of substitutions, with Garry Hill making three positive changes to try to get the equaliser, The nearest the Diamonds came to this was in the 75th minute, when Andy Burgess hit a ball in from the right, which was squared back across the box by Lee Tomlin, but Michael Rankine could only blaze over from 12 yards.

Burgess and Tomlin were giving the Diamonds the width they needed, with Burgess producing a couple of his trademark 30 yard passes, and Tomlin trying a couple of long range shots that flashed wide.

At the other end the Harriers created very little all half, with perhaps their best move seeing substitute Darryl Knights go on a strong run that was let down by a weak finish.

There were a couple of refereeing decisions that did not please the home bench or crowd during the half, the first when he gave a foul on Adam Bartlett in the Harriers goal following a Clare challenge that looked minor in comparison to the one on Dale Roberts early in the first half that went unpunished. Brendan Moloney was booked for showing his dissent towards this decision. He then booked Andy Burgess after he was warned he was about to take a throw in for the wrong place, so threw the ball to Brendan Moloney, rather than move down the touchline himself. The booking is also Burgess’ fifth of the season, meaning he will face a ban.

Further chances fell to Daryl Clare, the first resulting from a Burgess cross that Rob Wolleaston flicked forward, but the striker put the ball wide. Clare also wasted a free kick in a dangerous position after a Michael Rankine run was halted by a foul on the edge of the area by blasting the kick into the wall. The final Diamonds chance then fell to Chris Hope as the ball was pumped back into the box but he could only head wide.

The Diamonds now have a blank midweek following the postponement of the Grays trip, so the next game will be the fourth home game in a row – with Eastbourne Borough being the visitors.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kidderminster Harriers 1

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds (White): Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Michael Corcoran (Lee Phillips 80), Chris Hope, Brendan Moloney, Luke Boden (Andy Burgess 62), Rob Wolleaston, Curtis Woodhouse (Capt), Marcus Kelly (Lee Tomlin 69), Michael Rankine , Daryl Clare .

Subs Not Used: Joe Day, Clayton Fortune

Kidderminster Harriers (Yellow / Blue): Adam Bartlett, Keith Lowe, Martin Riley, Mark Creighton (Capt), Lee Baker, Martin Brittain (Dean Bennett 70), Andy Ferrell, Russell Penn (Darryl Knights 83), Brian Smikle, Matthew Barnes-Homer (Luke Jones 90+1), Justin Richards

Subs Not Used: Stefan Moore, Dean Coleman

Goals :Richards (pen) 40

Yellow Cards: Bennett (foul), Moloney (dissent), Burgess (dissent)

Referee: Mr M Brown

Attendance: 1391 (away 235)

Man of the Match chosen by Dunton ‘Old Boys’ FC : Chris Hope

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