Stevenage Borough 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds were soundly beaten by Stevenage Borough in the Boxing Day game at Broadhall Way, as a series of defensive errors gifted the home side three goals, and only a series of excellent saves by Dale Roberts kept the scoreline within reason.

After the Diamonds had started well, Boro took the lead late in the first half as a mix-up between Leo Roget and Dale Roberts as they tried to deal with a long ball saw Steve Morison presented with an easy tap-in. The Diamonds then conceded a second right at the start of the second half when a mix-up between Osano and Roget allowed Lee Boylan to run on and chip the ball over Roberts. The third Boro goal came when Roget scuffed a clearance, then Curtis Woodhouse failed to deal with the loose ball in the area, allowing Steve Morison to score his second.

The Diamonds got a late consolation when debutant Neil Cousins squared the ball to Lee Tomlin who fired low into the net.

The Diamonds had brought in Leo Roget to replace the suspended Michael Corcoran, with Gareth Jelleyman returning at the expense of Justin Cochrane, and new signing Neil Cousins was named on the bench, as the sole striker in the absence of Lee Phillips and Daryl Clare, alongside the returning Jake Beecroft.

Ex-Diamonds Manager Graham Westley named ex-Diamonds Mark Albrighton and Michael Bostwick in his starting line-up, but there was only a place on the bench for Gary Mills on his return from suspension.

The Diamonds created the first real chance of the game, as Scott Laird fouled Lee Tomlin, and Tomlin took the kick himself, finding Michael Rankine about 12 yards from goal, but the striker’s header was well tipped over the bar by Chris Day.

As Boro cleared the subsequent corner, they had their first chance when Steve Morison was able to turn past Gareth Jelleyman as the two players had remained upfield, and he appeared to have a free run on goal, but rather surprisingly he squared the ball across the front of the box for his strike-partner Lee Boylan, but Dale Roberts was able to save the striker’s shot.

Tomlin was causing problems to the home defence, and he also found space on the left to cross to Curtis Woodhouse after 11 minutes, but the captain’s shot was wide of goal.

At the other end Steve Morison was finding holes in the Diamonds defence at will, and his shot almost produced a goal as Roberts had to move quickly to prevent Lee Boylan getting to the ball first as the shot looped off a defender.

Michael Rankine was winning his share of the high balls at this stage, although he was having to drop deeper to get involved with the play, leaving Sam Smith fairly detached from the game at times. One Rankine header in midfield was well directed to Rob Wolleaston as he raided down the left, but Day was able to cut out the low cross at the near post.

As the half-hour approached the Diamonds had their best chance of the half, when Lee Tomlin was denied by a great save by Day as he volleyed towards the top corner after latching on to a loose ball, following a Marcus Kelly cross being headed by Michael Rankine towards goal.

Stevenage were playing some good football, with sweeping moves seeing the ball go from one side of the pitch to another at pace, with Drury and Cole combining well and bypassing the struggling Diamonds central midfield partnership. Morison again set up a chance for Boylan as he "nutmegged" Osano, but again Roberts made a fine save.

David Bridges and Michael Bostwick were also winning the direct battles in central midfield, and Bridges presented Morison with a fine chance which he could only strike into the side netting, with a few Boro fans thinking the bal had gone into the net.

They didn’t have to wait long for the ball to hit the net in the right place though, as a long ball from defence looked to be any easy clearance for either Roberts or Roget, but as they both hesitated Steve Morison was able to nip in, toe-poke the ball past Roberts and then run on and knock the ball into an unguarded net, five minutes before half-time.

There was just time for Curtis Woodhouse to pick up a yellow card for a foul on Drury.

Half-Time : Stevenage Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

After the Diamonds fans wondered whether their team might get back on level terms as they warmed themselves up with hot drinks, these hopes were dashed within two minutes of the restart. A long ball forward looked to be a routine clearance for either Osano or Roget, but Osano allowed the ball to bounce and as it went past him Lee Boylan ran on and challenged Leo Roget for the loose ball – and again the striker came out better, and as Roget floundered he was able to chip the ball neatly over the advancing Roberts, and it dropped into the net in front of the travelling Diamonds fans.

A poor clearance by Chris Hope gave Boylan another chance to run unchallenged towards goal, but this time Roberts had been able to close down the angle and the shot struck him and away to safety.

Worse was to come as the game neared the hour mark. A ball into the Diamonds box looked to give Leo Roget a chance for a routine clearance, but he could only scuff his attempt towards the edge of the box. Curtis Woodhouse then tried to take control, but could only carry the ball back towards his own goal line, and as he miscontrolled the ball Steve Morison was able to latch onto it and fire the ball home.

Almost immediately Andy Drury set up Lee Boylan for yet another chance as the Diamonds defence was in disarray, but again Roberts was able to save.

The goal was a signal for the Diamonds bench to make changes, with Leo Roget replaced by Jake Beecroft, who made a rare appearance at right back (with Curtis Osano moving to centre back). Rob Wolleaston was also replaced, with Yannick Bolasie taking the right midfield role, meaning Lee Tomlin moved to the left and Marcus Kelly to centre midfield alongside Woodhouse.

The game then entered a failed quiet stage on the pitch, as both set of fans adjusted to the differing qualities of their team’s performance, although Steve Morison skied a chance to get his hat-trick

The Diamonds management made their final change on 70 minutes, with new signing Neil Cousins replacing Sam Smith. This change was able to give the Diamonds some hope, as Bolasie found space down the right, to find Cousins, and he showed the vision and accuracy to find Lee Tomlin running into space, and Tomlin fired the ball low into the left hand corner of the net.

The Diamonds defence was now looking rather more stable, although David Bridges headed against their crossbar from a Drury corner.

With five minutes to go the Diamonds missed a chance to stage a late comeback, as Marcus Kelly moved across to the left to slide the ball through to Lee Tomlin, but this time the youngster’s shot was across goal and wide of the far post. The final Diamonds chance fell to debutant Cousins, who had a chance to divert an attempt from Curtis Woodhouse into the net, but could only divert it wide of the left-hand post.

Referee Kinseley was one of the factors that made this such an entertaining game, as he allowed the game to flow, and didn’t resort to yellow cards without justification. The Diamonds fans were rather upset that several Stevenage players chose to stay down after challenges, with sufficient signs of agony that the referee stopped the game, and yet in one case the player then decided the trainer was not even needed. When this was coupled with Stevenage giving possession back to the Diamonds via a throw in near their own corner flag it increased the frustration of the travelling fans, who already had plenty to question regarding their own team’s defensive performance.

Although referee Kinseley allowed four minutes of added time there was little further action, and as the Diamonds players trooped off after one of the worst defensive displays that most fans could remember they would be able to consider what response they will produce to this mauling when they face the same opponents in six days time.

Full-Time : Stevenage Borough 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Teams

Stevenage Borough (White / Red) : Chris Day, Scott Laird, Mark Albrighton, Lee Boylan (Calum Willock 82), Mark Roberts, David Bridges, Steve Morison, Mitchell Cole (Jerome Anderson 77), Andy Drury (Gary Mills 90+1), Michael Bostwick, Ronnie Henry

Subs Not Used : Ashley Bayes, Luke Oliver

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow) : Dale Roberts , Curtis Osano , Gareth Jelleyman , Chris Hope , Leo Roget (Jake Beecroft 60), Lee Tomlin , Rob Wolleaston (Yannick Bolasie 60), Curtis Woodhouse (Capt) , Marcus Kelly , Michael Rankine , Sam Smith (Neil Cousins 70)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott , Justin Cochrane

Goals : Morison (41, 59), Boylan (47), Tomlin (77)

Yellow Cards : Woodhouse

Referee : N Kinseley

Attendance : 1,012 (Away Approx 250)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Lee Tomlin

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Northwich Victoria 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds received an early Christmas present as they gained a fortunate victory over an unlucky Northwich Victoria at Nene Park in the last game before Christmas.

Goals from Sam Smith and Lee Tomlin earned the win during a brief five minute period during the second half where the Diamonds were able to match their opponents. Tomlin was able to celebrate being taken off the Transfer list in the week with his third goal in recent games, and Smith was able to move up to become the clubs top scorer courtesy of only his second start in the league this season.

New signing Justin Cochrane was given a place in the starting line-up, with Curtis Woodhouse moving to left back at the expense of Gareth Jelleyman. Sam Smith started up front with Simon Brown relegated to the bench.

Vics manager Steve King brought back ex-Diamond Scott Tynan in goal, and preferred Darryn Stamp and Dean Lodge up front.

The scene was set for the first half inside the first two minutes, as Darren Stamp set up Rashid Yussuf who ran at the Diamonds defence, working the ball to the right of them before squaring to Matt Crowell whose shot was just wide to the left of the goal.

Surprisingly the Diamonds fans seemed to get frustrated with their team very early on, as debutant Justin Cochrane struggled to adjust to the pace of the game.

The first showing from the Diamonds when Lee Tomlin picked out Chris Hope on the left of the area as part of a free kick move, but the header across the area was not anticipated by the strikers. They then had their best chance of the half on 8 minutes, when Marcus Kelly raided down the left, and hit a long ball across to the right of the area, where Lee Tomlin hit a low cross which Sam Smith diverted narrowly wide of Tynan’s near post.

Peter Winn was finding space on the left for the Vics, and he met a cross from the right by Aspin, but could only head over the bar.

Northwich were having by far the better of the half, and deservedly took the lead after 13 minutes when Matt Crowell picked up the ball in just outside the centre circle and was allowed to run towards the goal unchallenged, and hit a 30 yard shot that went into the centre of the goal with Roberts diving to his left. Although there was a clear hand-ball by Yussuf before he laid the ball to Crowell, the goal was deserved on the balance of play.

The Diamonds only threat was coming from their free kick opportunities, and Chris Hope set up Marcus Kelly for one of the few Diamonds shots on target during the half, but it was easily gathered by Tynan.

The visitors had a good claim for a penalty on 20 minutes when Michael Corcoran appeared to handle the ball as a corner was cleared – and Matt Crowell picked up a yellow card for dissent as he contested the decision.

Despite Kelly and Tomlin switching wings for the latter portion of the half, the home team rarely threatened, whereas the visitors pace and movement saw further chances for Lodge and Stamp.

Even the Diamonds use of the dead-ball situations was deteriorating, with two poor free kicks being wasted with one straight into the wall by Tomlin, and another the bar by Hope.

The half ended with the Diamonds relieved they were only facing a one goal deficit.

Half Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northwich Victoria 1

The second half started in similar fashion with the Vics on top, with Peter Winn seeming able to beat Michael Corcoran and find space for a cross from the Vics left at will, resulting in a series of corners which the Diamonds defence was able to deal with.

The Diamonds midfield was struggling to find each other with a direct pass, with several stray passes going straight into touch, to the frustration of the home fans.

As the game reached an hour old the change to 3-4-3 was made by the Diamonds management, with the introduction of Yannick Bolasie for debutant Cochrane. This suddenly gave the Diamonds some cohesion, and a corner move saw a Chris Hope header falling to Michael Rankine inside the six-yard box, and his attempt was scrambled back to Sam Smith to slot home his sixth goal of the season, making him the Diamonds top scorer.

The Diamonds management stuck to this more attacking formation following the equaliser, and within a few minutes this paid dividends as a Lee Tomlin run through the centre saw him lay the ball to Smith, collect the return and slot into the left hand corner of the net.

Initially it looked as though the Diamonds might continue in the same attacking vein. A series of good opportunities were then wasted, the first when Smith won the ball and laid it off to Rankine, expecting a return ball, but the misdirected pass was straight into touch. The revised formation was giving Corcoran some respite from trying to handle Winn, and he was able to get forward to support Lee Tomlin, whose cross resulted in a disappointing outcome as Michael Rankine failed to hit the target with his header, the attempt going out for a throw.

The remaining substitutions were a sign of the desire to close the game down, but rather bizarrely, a section of the Diamonds crowd were upset when the Diamonds attempted to see out the 90 minutes at 2-1, rather than going for a third goal – most notably during added time when Rob Wolleaston did as required during a quick break, winning a freekick near the corner flag. Those Diamonds fans who witnessed last minute disappointments at Barrow this season, Stevenage last season, and many other examples during the Football League days would have realised the potential for something similar occurring.

The Diamonds now have the festive "double-header" against Stevenage Borough, starting with the visit to Broadhall Way on Boxing Day, and will be well aware of the need for an improved performance there,

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 2 Northwich Victoria 1

Teams :

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran , Curtis Woodhouse (Capt), Chris Hope, Curtis Osano, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston, Marcus Kelly (Gareth Jelleyman 72), Justin Cochrane (Yannick Bolasie 61), Michael Rankine, Sam Smith (Simon Brown 87)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott, Leo Roget

Northwich Victoria : Scott Tynan, Ryan Brown, Matt Crowell, Mike Aspin, Owen Price (Jonny Allan 71), Peter Minn, Dean Lodge, Darryn Stamp (Lee Steele 79), Simon Grand (Capt), Will Antwi, Rashid Yussuf

Subs Not Used : Michael Jones, Michael Welch, Aaron Burns

Goals : Matt Crowell (15), Sam Smith (67), Lee Tomlin (70)

Yellow Cards : Crowell, Hope, Antwi, Brown

Attendance : 1134 (Away 34)

Referee : P Varley

Man of the Match chosen by Julian Swales : Dale Roberts

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1 (R&DFC win 5-3 on pens)

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1 (R&DFC win 5-3 on penalties)

Sam Smith rescued Rushden & Diamonds with a goal in the third minute of added time to force extra time against Newport County in FA Carlsberg Trophy First Round replay at Nene Park. The Diamonds then went on to win 5-3 on penalties after there were no goals scored in extra time. Dale Roberts saved a Robert Duffy penalty which helped to make up for his earlier error, which had led to a Craig Reid goal for the visitors early in the second half of normal time. Curtis Woodhouse scored the final penalty in the shootout which helped to atone for his penalty miss early in extra time.

The Exiles will feel disappointed to have conceded such a late equaliser, but the referee had rightly added on time for their constant time wasting after they had taken the lead. They also felt they were denied a penalty late on when Curtis Woodhouse appeared to pull back Josh Klein-Davis on the edge of the box.

The Diamonds had made three changes from the game in Wales on Saturday, with Gareth Jelleyman replacing the injured Andy Burgess, allowing Curtis Woodhouse to revert to his midfield role. Marcus Kelly replaced Yannick Bolasie in the left of midfield, and Simon Brown replaced Lee Phillips up front.

Exiles manager Dean Holdsworth made a single change with Aaron Cook failing to recover from a calf injury and being replaced by Ashley Vickers – who also took over as captain. Ex-Diamond Robert Duffy took a place on the visitors bench.

A disappointing crowd at Nene Park of 421 was the lowest ever FA Trophy crowd at Nene Park – the previous highest being 812 against Burton Albion in their first game in this competition in October 1993.

In an even first half, Curtis Osano had the first real chance of the game, as a corner was cleared back to Marcus Kelly, and Osano found space in the area but could only head over from 10 yards. Kelly also created a good chance for Michael Rankine with a cross from the left touchline but the striker could only head wide.

County had their first real chance midway through the half as they won their first corner and Adie Harris headed on to Paul Cochlin, but his scuffed shot was wide. Cochlin turned provider a few minutes later as his long ball found the head of Paul Bignot, who was able to head the ball up in the air, then get a second header towards goal, but it lacked enough power to trouble the Diamonds defence.

Michael Rankine went close on 33 minutes as a Corcoran cross was not dealt with by keeper Thompson, and as the ball bounced in the area Rankine attempted an overhead kick and was very unlucky to see his attempt go just wide of the left-hand post.

County were looking more threatening as the half came to a close, with Dale Roberts having to make two saves, first from a shot across goal by Craig Reid after he had found space on the right, and then from a Adie Harris free kick.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Newport County 0

The second half started with a bang, as first Simon Brown set Michael Rankine free down the right, and he outpaced Vickers to get in a low ball across the area to Lee Tomlin but the shot was straight at Thompson. County then took the lead as a long hopeful ball bounced in front of Dale Roberts, but the bounce was higher than the keeper anticipated, and he could only get a fingertip to the ball, and it fell to Craig Reid for a simple tap in on 48 minutes.

The Diamonds defence then became very ragged, with a number of missed tackles and miscued clearances, coupled with a couple of nervous moments for Roberts as the visitors threatened to increase their lead. The game also saw four yellow cards in quick succession as it became more lively. The Diamonds threw on Sam Smith and Yannick Bolasie on the hour mark for the ineffective Brown and Wolleaston. Marcus Kelly switched to the right, with Lee Tomlin moving infield.

The match was now quite open, and the best Diamonds chance fell to Michael Rankine as Sam Smith flicked on a cross from the left, but the striker could only shoot straight at Thompson.

The final change was to bring on Lee Phillips with 10 minutes to go, but this had little immediate impact on the game, which had become very disjointed, as County took any opportunity to run down the clock. The referee had noted this from the point he booked keeper Thompson (who was one of the worst culprits), and could easily have been shown a second yellow for repeated time-wasting offences, and as a result the referee dictated there should be a minimum of six minutes of added time .It was during this period, in the third of the added minutes, that long ball was knocked on by Michael Rankine for Sam Smith to force the ball over the line for a dramatic equaliser. There was more to come though, as on the next attack Michael Rankine beat his man on the left edge of the area and hit a powerful shot the rebounded off the underside of the bar and away to safety.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1

In the first period of Extra Time the Diamonds won a penalty inside the first two minutes as Paul Cochlin fouled Lee Phillips, but Curtis Woodhouse saw his spotkick well saved to his left by Glyn Thompson.

The visitors then had a great chance of their own, with Josh Klein-Davis and Wayne Turk combining, but the chance was squandered.

The Diamonds dominated the remainder of this period, with several near misses from corners – notably Chris Hope headers.

The first period ended with the score still 1-1. The Diamonds had adjusted their formation to allow for the attacking focus they had deployed to get the equaliser, so Michael Corcoran and moved to the centre of a back three with Chris Hope and Curtis Woodhouse, and Corcoran made two excellent headers to halt dangerous looking County attacks. Curtis Osano was playing further forward on the right, and he produced a dangerous cross that almost produced a Diamonds winner. Marcus Kelly had also had a good game, and he had showed his flexibility by playing on the right side of midfield

The second period lacked the excitement of the first half, with neither side creating too many chances, although keeper Thompson continued to impress as he cut out a dangerous Rankine cross.

The visitors had a good claim for a penalty of their own as Curtis Woodhouse appeared to pull back Klein-Davis on the edge of the area – but nothing was given and the game went to penalties

After Extra-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1

The penalties were taken at the empty AirWair end.

Penalty 1 :Michael Rankine – scored (low right) 1-0

Penalty 2 :Craig Reid – scored (low right) 1-1

Penalty 3 :Michael Corcoran – scored (high left) 2-1

Penalty 4 :Rob Duffy – saved (low right) 2-1

Penalty 5 :Lee Phillips – scored (low left) 3-1

Penalty 6 :Adie Harris – scored (high left) 3-2

Penalty 7 :Sam Smith – scored (low right) 4-2

Penalty 8 :Danny Rose – scored (high right) 4-3

Penalty 9 :Curtis Woodhouse – scored (low right 5-3

Rushden & Diamonds win 5-3 on penalties.

After such a narrow victory in an even game the Diamonds can now focus on the league over the Christmas and New Year period before preparing for the trip to face Torquay United in Round 2 on January 10th. The next league game is at home to Northwich Victoria on Saturday.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Gareth Jelleyman (Lee Phillips 80), Chris Hope, Curtis Osano, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston (Yannick Bolasie 60), Marcus Kelly, Curtis Woodhouse (Capt), Michael Rankine, Simon Brown (Sam Smith 60)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott, Jamie McGuinness.

Newport County : Glyn Thompson, Paul Bignot, Martyn Giles, Wayne Turk, Ashley Vickers (Capt), Paul Cochlin, Danny Rose, Craig Hughes(Rob Duffy 83), Craig Reid, Adie Harris, Kevin Cooper (Josh Klein-Davies 80)

Subs Not Used : Steve Jenkins, Kris Leek, Scott James

Goals : Craig Reid (48), Sam Smith (90+3)

Yellow Cards : Corcoran, Thompson, Vickers, Tomlin, Bolasie, Cochlin, Woodhouse

Referee : D Ford

Diamonds Man of The Match : Michael Corcoran

Attendance : 421 (away 47)

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Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1 (R&DFC win 5-3 on pens)

Sam Smith rescued Rushden & Diamonds with a goal in the third minute of added time to force extra time against Newport County in FA Carlsberg Trophy First Round replay at Nene Park. The Diamonds then went on to win 5-3 on penalties after there were no goals scored in extra time. Dale Roberts saved a Robert Duffy penalty which helped to make up for his earlier error, which had led to a Craig Reid goal for the visitors early in the second half of normal time. Curtis Woodhouse scored the final penalty in the shootout which helped to atone for his penalty miss early in extra time.

The Exiles will feel disappointed to have conceded such a late equaliser, but the referee had rightly added on time for their constant time wasting after they had taken the lead. They also felt they were denied a penalty late on when Curtis Woodhouse appeared to pull back Josh Klein-Davis on the edge of the box.

The Diamonds had made three changes from the game in Wales on Saturday, with Gareth Jelleyman replacing the injured Andy Burgess, allowing Curtis Woodhouse to revert to his midfield role. Marcus Kelly replaced Yannick Bolasie in the left of midfield, and Simon Brown replaced Lee Phillips up front.

Exiles manager Dean Holdsworth made a single change with Aaron Cook failing to recover from a calf injury and being replaced by Ashley Vickers – who also took over as captain. Ex-Diamond Robert Duffy took a place on the visitors bench.

A disappointing crowd at Nene Park of 421 was the lowest ever FA Trophy crowd at Nene Park – the previous highest being 812 against Burton Albion in their first game in this competition in October 1993.

In an even first half, Curtis Osano had the first real chance of the game, as a corner was cleared back to Marcus Kelly, and Osano found space in the area but could only head over from 10 yards. Kelly also created a good chance for Michael Rankine with a cross from the left touchline but the striker could only head wide.

County had their first real chance midway through the half as they won their first corner and Adie Harris headed on to Paul Cochlin, but his scuffed shot was wide. Cochlin turned provider a few minutes later as his long ball found the head of Paul Bignot, who was able to head the ball up in the air, then get a second header towards goal, but it lacked enough power to trouble the Diamonds defence.

Michael Rankine went close on 33 minutes as a Corcoran cross was not dealt with by keeper Thompson, and as the ball bounced in the area Rankine attempted an overhead kick and was very unlucky to see his attempt go just wide of the left-hand post.

County were looking more threatening as the half came to a close, with Dale Roberts having to make two saves, first from a shot across goal by Craig Reid after he had found space on the right, and then from a Adie Harris free kick.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Newport County 0

The second half started with a bang, as first Simon Brown set Michael Rankine free down the right, and he outpaced Vickers to get in a low ball across the area to Lee Tomlin but the shot was straight at Thompson. County then took the lead as a long hopeful ball bounced in front of Dale Roberts, but the bounce was higher than the keeper anticipated, and he could only get a fingertip to the ball, and it fell to Craig Reid for a simple tap in on 48 minutes.

The Diamonds defence then became very ragged, with a number of missed tackles and miscued clearances, coupled with a couple of nervous moments for Roberts as the visitors threatened to increase their lead. The game also saw four yellow cards in quick succession as it became more lively. The Diamonds threw on Sam Smith and Yannick Bolasie on the hour mark for the ineffective Brown and Wolleaston. Marcus Kelly switched to the right, with Lee Tomlin moving infield.

The match was now quite open, and the best Diamonds chance fell to Michael Rankine as Sam Smith flicked on a cross from the left, but the striker could only shoot straight at Thompson.

The final change was to bring on Lee Phillips with 10 minutes to go, but this had little immediate impact on the game, which had become very disjointed, as County took any opportunity to run down the clock. The referee had noted this from the point he booked keeper Thompson (who was one of the worst culprits), and could easily have been shown a second yellow for repeated time-wasting offences, and as a result the referee dictated there should be a minimum of six minutes of added time .It was during this period, in the third of the added minutes, that long ball was knocked on by Michael Rankine for Sam Smith to force the ball over the line for a dramatic equaliser. There was more to come though, as on the next attack Michael Rankine beat his man on the left edge of the area and hit a powerful shot the rebounded off the underside of the bar and away to safety.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1

In the first period of Extra Time the Diamonds won a penalty inside the first two minutes as Paul Cochlin fouled Lee Phillips, but Curtis Woodhouse saw his spotkick well saved to his left by Glyn Thompson.

The visitors then had a great chance of their own, with Josh Klein-Davis and Wayne Turk combining, but the chance was squandered.

The Diamonds dominated the remainder of this period, with several near misses from corners – notably Chris Hope headers.

The first period ended with the score still 1-1. The Diamonds had adjusted their formation to allow for the attacking focus they had deployed to get the equaliser, so Michael Corcoran and moved to the centre of a back three with Chris Hope and Curtis Woodhouse, and Corcoran made two excellent headers to halt dangerous looking County attacks. Curtis Osano was playing further forward on the right, and he produced a dangerous cross that almost produced a Diamonds winner. Marcus Kelly had also had a good game, and he had showed his flexibility by playing on the right side of midfield

The second period lacked the excitement of the first half, with neither side creating too many chances, although keeper Thompson continued to impress as he cut out a dangerous Rankine cross.

The visitors had a good claim for a penalty of their own as Curtis Woodhouse appeared to pull back Klein-Davis on the edge of the area – but nothing was given and the game went to penalties

After Extra-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newport County 1

The penalties were taken at the empty AirWair end.

Penalty 1 :Michael Rankine – scored (low right) 1-0

Penalty 2 :Craig Reid – scored (low right) 1-1

Penalty 3 :Michael Corcoran – scored (high left) 2-1

Penalty 4 :Rob Duffy – saved (low right) 2-1

Penalty 5 :Lee Phillips – scored (low left) 3-1

Penalty 6 :Adie Harris – scored (high left) 3-2

Penalty 7 :Sam Smith – scored (low right) 4-2

Penalty 8 :Danny Rose – scored (high right) 4-3

Penalty 9 :Curtis Woodhouse – scored (low right 5-3

Rushden & Diamonds win 5-3 on penalties.

After such a narrow victory in an even game the Diamonds can now focus on the league over the Christmas and New Year period before preparing for the trip to face Torquay United in Round 2 on January 10th. The next league game is at home to Northwich Victoria on Saturday.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Gareth Jelleyman (Lee Phillips 80), Chris Hope, Curtis Osano, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston (Yannick Bolasie 60), Marcus Kelly, Curtis Woodhouse (Capt), Michael Rankine, Simon Brown (Sam Smith 60)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott, Jamie McGuinness.

Newport County : Glyn Thompson, Paul Bignot, Martyn Giles, Wayne Turk, Ashley Vickers (Capt), Paul Cochlin, Danny Rose, Craig Hughes(Rob Duffy 83), Craig Reid, Adie Harris, Kevin Cooper (Josh Klein-Davies 80)

Subs Not Used : Steve Jenkins, Kris Leek, Scott James

Goals : Craig Reid (48), Sam Smith (90+3)

Yellow Cards : Corcoran, Thompson, Vickers, Tomlin, Bolasie, Cochlin, Woodhouse

Referee : D Ford

Diamonds Man of The Match : Michael Corcoran

Attendance : 421 (away 47)

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Newport County 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

FA Trophy 1st Round

Diamonds felt robbed of a victory when the referee awarded the home side a controversial penalty in the 72nd minute after on loan striker Craig Reid appeared to dive in the box. Michael Rankine had put Diamonds in front on 66 minutes after Lee Tomlin’s free kick was played into the area by Curtis Woodhouse, but Reid converted County’s spot kick to send the tie to a replay at Nene Park this coming Tuesday night.

Garry Hill named an unchanged side to the eleven which drew at Woking on Tuesday evening, with Curtis Woodhouse continuing in the left back role. Gareth Jelleyman had recovered from an ankle injury to be named on the subs bench.

Newport boss Dean Holdsworth named just one change from the side which drew at Thurrock last weekend, with Adie Harris replacing Steve Jenkins in attack. Holdsworth is no stranger to Diamonds having played seven games at the rear end of the 2002/03 season, when Diamonds won the Division 3 championship. Another former Diamond player with the Exiles, Rob Duffy was not in the squad due to injury. The team included several loan players, Aaron Cook, Wayne Turk from Salisbury City; Craig Reid for Grays Athletic and Paul Bignot from Kidderminster Harriers.

County had beaten Andover 3-0 in the previous round and kicked-off this 1st Round proper tie hoping to cause an upset. Diamonds took the game to Newport and some neat play by Lee Tomlin saw his effort blocked, with captain Andy Burgess firing the rebound just wide from the edge of the area. They were looking positive during the opening period with the home side unable to create much in the way of chances until 16 minutes, when Kevin Cooper crossed from the right for Craig Reid to head wide.

Tomlin was looking lively and he set up Lee Phillips with an opportunity on 19 minutes, the ball just drifting past the post. County started to settle however and began to create some chances of their own. Midway through the first half, a cross from the left caused all sorts of problems for the Diamonds defence, and it was only a desperate block from left back Curtis Woodhouse that prevented Cooper putting the home side in front. From the resultant corner, Danny Rose sent a fierce shot wide.

Both sides weren’t afraid to press forward. Michael Rankine had a shot blocked by centre back Aaron Cook just before the half hour mark, while County’s Craig Hughes fired a shot across the goalmouth, which the diving Dale Roberts was grateful to see go wide of the post. Moments later, it was Hughes again who headed just wide. At the other end, Tomlin and Burgess were both off target, before Rob Wolleaston got clear on the right and sent in a dangerous cross which just missed the advancing Rankine. Chris Hope and Yannick Bolasie also had had chances just before the break. 

HT: Newport County 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

 

The second half commenced in a similar fashion to the first, with both sides having chances to open the scoring. Roberts saved low down from Rose’s long drive, while Rob Wolleaston was put through by Burgess’ pinpoint pass, his shot being blocked by Newport keeper Glyn Thompson.

Lee Phillips made way for Sam Smith on 65 minutes and moments later, Diamonds finally broke the deadlock when they won a free kick deep in the Newport half. Tomlin played the ball out left for Woodhouse to strike the ball into the goalmouth. As the shot was blocked, Michael Rankine managed to get a foot to the ball to steer it past the keeper via the upright.

County immediately tried to respond, Roberts racing off his line to block at the feet of Martyn Giles. The Diamonds goalmouth came under increasing pressure with Roberts saving again from Craig Reid at the near post. Then on 72 minutes came the controversial moment that got the home side back in the game. A through pass saw Reid race towards goal with just the keeper to beat. Roberts pulled out of the challenge when he saw Reid’s heavy touch was taking the ball away, but the on loan Grays striker went down and the referee awarded a penalty. Craig Reid took the spot kick himself, and sent the ball low to Roberts left.

Burgess had to come off following the equaliser, still feeling the after-effects of a facial injury he suffered earlier in the second half – the Diamonds captain being taken to hospital as a precaution. Gareth Jelleyman came on at left back, with Woodhouse moving into midfield.

On 77 minutes, Diamonds made their final substitution, with Marcus Kelly replacing Bolasie. Kelly almost had an immediate impact, the keeper doing well to tip over a 30 yard drive. Kelly had another effort from Rankine’s cross go just wide, while Tomlin’s turn and shot deep into added time clipped the outside of the post leaving the scores level at the final whistle.

FT: Newport County 1 – 1 Rushden & Diamonds

 

While on the balance of 90 minutes play, Newport probably deserved their draw, the way they got back on level terms was somewhat controversial. Both teams fight it out again on Tuesday night in the replay which will decide who will progress further in the competition.

Teams:

Newport County: Thompson, Bignot, Giles, Turk, Cook (c), Cochlin, Rose, Hughes, Reid, Harris, Cooper.

Subs not used: Jenkins, Vickers, Klein-Davies, Armitage, James.

Rushden & Diamonds: Roberts, Osano, Hope, Woodhouse, Phillips (Smith 65), Burgess (Jelleyman 73), Rankine, Tomlin, Wolleaston, Corcoran, Bolasie (Kelly 77).

Subs not used: Marriott, Brown.

 

Goals: Rankine 66 (0-1), Reid 72pen (1-1).

 

Booked: Nil.

 

Referee: Mr A.Bennett (Devon)

 

Attendance: 603 (approx 60 away).

 

by Dave Mason

Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

After dominating the first hour of the game at Kingfield, Rushden & Diamonds will be disappointed to only come away with a point as a Michael Rankine goal towards the end of the first half equalised a goal for the home team by Tom Denton as he deflected in a Paolo Vernazza strike.

For all of the Diamonds pressure and attempts on goal they failed to force too many saves from home keeper Eastwood, and then allowed the home team to get back into the game in the closing stages as they went off the boil following a number of changes – in fact it took a late save from Dale Roberts and latch ditch defending from Curtis Osano to avoid the additional disappointment of going down to a defeat.

The Diamonds brought in Curtis Woodhouse to play at left back in place of the injured Gareth Jelleyman, and Lee Phillips was preferred to Simon Brown. Lee Tomlin started the game on the left, with Yannick Bolasie on the right. Andy Burgess retained the captain’s armband.

Phil Gilchrist included Paolo Vernazza in his starting line up, as well as loanees Simon Eastwood (making his debut), Tom Denton and Joe Magunda.

The Diamonds should have taken the lead inside the first minute, as good work by Bolasie and Wolleaston created a clear chance for Michael Rankine 10 yards out from goal, but he failed to connect.

The pace of Bolasie was causing the home defence real problems, and the Diamonds midfield were spreading the ball wide at every opportunity. Shots from Rankine and Phillips were deflected away for corners, and other attempts from Bolasie and Tomlin failed to hit the target.

It was thus well against the run of play when the home side took the lead on 17 minutes, as Abdou El Kholti made progress on the left, and his cross was cleared to Paolo Vernazza, whose well hit shot might have tested Roberts, but the deflection from Tom Denton ensured the ball found its way into the net. Denton clearly claimed the deflection was deliberate so he was awarded the goal.

To their credit the Diamonds did not let this setback affect their dominance of the game, as they continued to threaten down both flanks, notably when Rob Wolleaston won the ball in midfield, beat his marker and found Lee Tomlin in space on the left, who also beat a defender before hitting a low cross which was cut out for a corner. From the corner kick Curtis Osano peeled off the pack in the middle of goal and found himself in a lot of space at the far post, but although the ball seemed to reach him at a decent height he got a poor contact on it, and could only place it back into the melee to be cleared by a Woking defender, rather than the gaping net.

Andy Burgess was as influential as he had been at Altrincham at this stage, and home defender Quamina was booked for a challenge which had Burgess needing attention and to leave the pitch for a new shirt after blood from a facial wound stained the first one.

Burgess was spreading the ball out to Tomlin who was showing good ball control and the ability to beat his marker regularly, but the home defenders were getting to his crosses ahead of Rankine and Phillips. Tomlin was also taking a selection of freekicks and corners, and Eastwood was forced to make one good save amongst several routine catches.

At the other end Matt Pattison was guilty of missing two excellent chances on the Woking right as he found space away from his marker Curtis Woodhouse and met crosses from the left.

Rob Wolleaston saw his shot deflected to Lee Phillips who could not capitalise, and then Phillips was fouled on the edge of the area as he an Bolasie interchanged passes. The kick was taken by Andy Burgess who hit a low shot under the wall, but Eastwood was well positioned to gather. Yannick Bolasie continue to chase down loose balls and pressurise defenders into mistakes, but as on Saturday his finishing left something to be desired.

As half-time approached it was beginning to look like the Diamonds wouldn’t be rewarded for all of their pressure, but a Rob Wolleaston shot was deflected for a corner on the left, taken by Lee Tomlin, and although the first attempt was knocked back out to him, the follow-up cross found Curtis Osano in space at the far post for the second time in the half, but this time the defender was able to knock the ball back across the six yard box for Michael Rankine to head home for the equaliser.

The Diamonds still had further chances to take a half-time lead their pressure would have deserved, but had to be content with the 1-1 scoreline at the break.

Half-Time : Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The second half started in a similar vein, with attempts on goal from Phillips, Bolasie, Tomlin and Rankine, with Tomlin, Burgess and Wolleaston all finding room down the left. The best chance fell to Lee Phillips, as a Wolleaston cross was half cleared to a home defender, but he was very slow in clearing the loose ball, and was robbed by Phillips who then turned and shot, but the attempt was too close to keeper Eastwood who did well to spread himself to smother the shot.

As the hour mark approached, Yannick Bolasie was firstly switch to play on the left, and then replaced by Marcus Kelly, to the obvious relief of the home defence. With the home side making a change at the same time, the pattern of the game changed – although still open and entertaining, both sides were now making chances, and both were guilty of poor finishing as the entertainment level remained high.

Curtis Woodhouse now started getting forwards to support Kelly down the left, and one of his crosses presented Lee Tomlin with a free header on goal, but he could only loop it high and wide.

Rankine and Phillips were starting to build up a decent understanding, and the two combined to allow Phillips another shot on goal which went wide, but that proved to be his last contribution as he was replaced by Sam Smith.

A good run by Marcus Kelly through the home defence was let down by the quality of the shot, and Sam Smith saw a header loop wide as both sides looked for a winner.

With the game in the last quarter of an hour, the Cards had two chances to win the game, the first when Vernazza beat the Diamonds offside trap which had been so effective, but although he appeared to have several yards head start, Curtis Osano made up several yards to get in a saving tackle.

Dale Roberts then had to make two excellent saves, one from a Domoraud cross which appeared to be heading to either of three unmarked attackers, and one from Pattison as the home side threatened a late winner before the referee blew the whistle for full time.

The Diamonds will be disappointed that their first half performance did not cement what could have been a convincing away win, but that poor finishing meant they were vulnerable to a late winner by the home side. They now travel to Wales at the weekend to face Newport County in the FA Trophy.

Full Time : Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Teams

Woking : Simon Eastwood, Paul Lorraine, Danny Bunce, Bradley Quamina, Colin Miles (Capt), Abdou El Kholti, Liam Marum, Matt Pattison, Paolo Vernazza, Joe Magunda, Tom Denton

Subs : Wilfred Domoraud (for El Kholti 57), Guiseppe Sole (for Marum 77)

Subs Not Used : Nick Gindre, Daniel Spence, Joel Ledgister

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Andy Burgess (Capt), Chris Hope, Michael Corcoran, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston, Yannick Bolasie , Curtis Woodhouse, Michael Rankine, Lee Phillips.

Subs : Marcus Kelly (for Bolasie 57), Sam Smith (for Phillips 78)

Subs Not Used: Alan Marriott, Leo Roget, Simon Brown

Goals : Denton (17), Rankine (41)

Yellow Cards : Quamina

Referee : J Farries

Attendance : 1119 (approx 40 travelling fans)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Curtis Osano

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Barrow 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds fought back for a 1-1 draw with a Lee Phillips goal in the second half levelling after the visitors had held a half-time lead.

Manager Hill selected the same side that had put four goals past Altrincham last weekend, with Curtis Woodhouse and Lee Phillips returning to the bench.

Barrow dominated the early stages of the game and went ahead on 10 minutes when slick interchanging down the left between Carlos Logan, Marc Boyd and Paul Brown saw a low cross from Boyd turned into the net by Jason Walker.

Barrow had a further chance when Luke Joyce won the ball off Michael Corcoran and reached the byline unchallenged, but Chris Hope managed to scramble the low cross away.

The one Diamonds threat in the first quarter when Gareth Jelleyman was able to get in a left-wing cross, which Lee Tomlin flicked on to Simon Brown, but the striker could only put the ball tamely wide.

The Diamonds played the first quarter with Lee Tomlin on the left and Yannick Bolasie on the right, the opposite combination to that which appeared so dangerous the previous weekend, and indeed they started to look dangerous for the first time in the game mid-way through the half when those roles were reversed.

On the half-hour Rob Wolleaston was able to win the ball in midfield and run at the defence and saw his shot deflected wide.

Two minutes later Michael Corcoran was able to break through midfield after winning the ball on the half-way line, and his shot was saved low to the right of the goal by the impressive Alan Martin. The resultant corner saw Martin called into action to make an even better save from a Chris Hope header.

The visitors had one final chance of the half, when a David Brown hand-ball went unpunished and the ball was fed to Paul Brown who again was able to reach the byline down the Barrow left, and hit and dangerous cross that was cleared after David Brown and Walker appeared to get in each other’s way,

As half time approached Chris Hope saw a looping header go just over the bar from a corner, and then on the stroke of half-time Lee Tomlin won the ball on the right edge of the area, beat the first man, and then unselfishly set the ball up for Michael Rankine, but his shot was disappointingly wide of the left hand post.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Barrow 1

The Diamonds had clearly made some adjustments at half-time, including the decision that Bolasie is at his best down the left, and it was this approach that immediately promised the equalising goal. Bolasie showed his abilities in terms of ball control and speedy runs, but clearly there is still work to do on his finishing as he had several wayward shots into the AirWair stand during the half.

Bolasie was also starting a number of moves as both he and Tomlin straying inside to support the central midfielders who were struggling to have an impact. A Bolasie flick found Michael Rankine on the edge of the box, and he showed great vision to spread the ball to Lee Tomlin who forced a corner off Carlos Logan. The corner saw a Michael Corcoran header blocked, but the ball fell to Chris Hope on the edge of the area, whose well hit shot was well saved by the visitors’ Man of the Match Alan Martin.

It was the introduction of substitute Lee Phillips with half an hour to go, for the struggling Simon Brown, that increased the goal threat – and almost straight away he had an impact, winning a free-kick on the right, and then getting in a near post header, from the Tomlin kick, that was well saved by Martin.

A couple of minutes later Phillips was again unlucky as he saw his header from a Tomlin corner go flashing across goal.

The introduction of Phillips also seemed to unsettle the visitors defence, and allowed Burgess and Wolleaston to start getting more involved in the action, with Wolleaston making an impressive run and seeing his deflected shot saved by Martin, and then setting up Bolasie for one of his shots that gave the ball boys in the AirWair stand some exercise.

On 66 minutes Gareth Jelleyman took a knock as he was challenged by Matt Henney, and he limped off to be replaced by Marcus Kelly, who was playing in his third unfamiliar position in the past seven days – this time left back.

The visitors did make the odd raid into the Diamonds half, and Dale Roberts had to be on his toes to save from David Brown.

Despite playing at left back, Marcus Kelly was still prepared to go forwards, and he combined with Andy Burgess to set off on a run past the right back that was as good as those seen when he first burst into the first team, and his excellent cross was headed home by Lee Phillips for the equalising goal.

The Diamonds looked the most likely to go on to score the winner, but clear-cut chances were rather rare in the last 15 minutes – in fact the visitors may have had the best opportunity when Lee Tomlin gave the ball away in central midfield, and Matt Henney saw his attempt saved by Roberts.

There was still time for Bolasie to impress with his power and pace, but also for him to test the strength of the seats behind the goal with another wayward shot.

Although this would have been a game the Diamonds hoped to win, to have fought back for a point was credit to the renewed commitment and team spirit, and they will travel to Woking on Tuesday night in confident mood.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Barrow 1

Teams : Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Gareth Jelleyman, Chris Hope, Michael Corcoran, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston, Andy Burgess (Capt), Yannick Bolasie, Michael Rankine, Simon Brown .

Subs : Lee Phillips (for Brown 60), Marcus Kelly (for Jelleyman 67), Sam Smith (for Rankine 86)

Subs Not Used: Curtis Woodhouse, Clayton Fortune

Barrow : Alan Martin, Mike Pearson, Paul Jones (Capt), Steve McNulty, Carlos Logan, Matt Henney, Luke Joyce, Marc Boyd, Paul Brown, Jason Walker, David Brown

Subs: Nick Rogan (for D Brown 79), Paul Tait (for Walker 88)

Subs Not Used: Natt Kerr, Tim Deasy, Darren Sheridan

Goals : Walker (10), Phillips (71)

Yellow Cards : Walker, Pearson, Corcoran

Referee : M Heywood

Attendance : 1120 (away 121)

Man of the Match : Curtis Osano (as decided by the press box)

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