Rushden & Diamonds 0 Mansfield Town 1

A late penalty from Robert Duffy gave Mansfield Town victory over Rushden & Diamonds after a fairly even game at Nene Park on Saturday afternoon. Debutant Chris Arthur clearly felled Gary Silk, and Duffy coolly slotted home the penalty.

After a largely uneventful first half, the second half was far more lively, and although Chris Arthur did help to rejuvenate the Diamonds attack when he came on, it was his error that cost the Diamonds the game.

Caretaker Manager Justin Edinburgh named an unchanged team to the one that beat York City in midweek. He made one change to the line-up on the bench, with new loan signing Chris Arthur replacing Jamie McGuinness. The Stags had only one change to the 11 that faced the Diamonds at Field Mill a month ago, with ex-Diamonds Alan Marriott and Robert Duffy in their line-up.

As on Tuesday evening, the Diamonds started very slowly, with the Stags having the better of the first 15 minutes. The Diamonds then came into the game and had a claim for a penalty on 20 minutes when Rob Wolleaston broke from just inside the Stags half, and appeared to be sandwiched in the area, but referee Duncan waved away the claims.

The Stags best chance came on 38 minutes when good work by Nathan Arnold laid on Aaron O’Connor, but Dale Roberts was able to save his shot. A good Diamonds move between Wolleaston and Tomlin found Neil Cousins in the penalty area; but his attempt to play a 1-2 was easily cut out.

Half Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Mansfield Town 0

The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, with the Stags having the better of the early exchanges, although the Diamonds rhythm was affected by losing both Neil Cousins and Michael Corcoran to injury, with Sam Smith and Jake Beecroft deputising.

The closest the Stags came during this period was a powerful dipping shot by Paul Mayo which just missed the angle of post and bar. At the other end Andy Burgess would be disappointed to see his shot squirm wide as he hit it into the ground.

As the game moved into the last quarter, what had been a fairly uneventful afternoon suddenly burst into life.

Andy Burgess was at the centre of several good moves for the Diamonds, firstly seeing a shot deflected for a corner after a sweeping move started by Jake Beecroft, who found Lee Tomlin in space, and then made ground to pick up the loose ball after Tomlin was tackled to set up the Burgess shot.

Sam Smith then did well on the left to knock a ball across to Burgess who had moved infield. However, rather than take a right foot strike before he could be closed down, the Diamonds captain decided to try to work the ball onto his left foot, which allowed the Stags defenders to get in their challenge.

At the other end the Stags best chance of the afternoon so far fell to diminutive winger Ryan Williams, as a free kick was headed down to him, but his well hit left-foot strke was well saved by Dale Roberts low to his left.

Andy Burgess saw a dipping left foot volley go just over the bar as the action continued at both ends. Curtis Osano was starting to find time and space down the right, linking up with Burgess to find Marcus Kelly free inside the penalty area almost at the six-yard box. Kelly dwelt on the ball though, allowing Marriott to scramble the ball clear, and the chance was wasted.

Chris Hope then made an impression for the Diamonds up front, after yet another commanding game at the back. Firstly he saw a looping header from a Tomlin corner tipped over by Marriott at full stretch, and then saw another header saved, although he was adjudged to have fouled his marker.

Justin Edinburgh then made his final change of the afternoon, and this one was tactical, as loanee Chris Arthur made his Diamonds debut at the expense of Marcus Kelly. The Diamonds attacking impetus was maintained by this change, with Rob Wolleaston finding an outlet on the left for the first time of the afternoon. Arnold firstly saw a shot deflected wide, and then good work by Burgess and Tomlin found him in space and he hit a great cross onto the head of Rob Wolleaston, and although the midfielder takes credit for getting into the goalscoring position, he really should have done better than direct his header wide. Arthur then saw a dangerous cross / shot well saved by Marriott after being set up by Wolleaston, and then set up Lee Tomlin for a shot that was well over.

As the game approached the final two minutes, the Diamonds continued to press, with Rob Wolleaston bursting through the middle, and appearing to be fouled on the edge of the area, but referee Duncan chose to give the Stags a free kick, which they took quickly and moved the ball smartly down their left. As the ball fell to Chris Arthur he struggled with the ball between his feet, allowing Chris Silk to rob him and run into the area, where Arthur tried to get in a tackle to make up for his error, but instead he clearly tripped Silk and both the referee and his assistant signalled a penalty.

With penalty specialist Rob Duffy having recently joined the Stags it was no surprise to see the spot kick converted, and it was too late for any meaningful response.

Although the Diamonds had created little in the first three-quarters of the game, their solid defensive performance coupled with the improvement in the last quarter meant that they deserved something from the game, but it was the Stags who took all three points.

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Mansfield Town 1

The Diamonds only have a few days to reflect on the last minute disappointment of this game before they travel to play Salisbury City on Tuesday, with the added issue of the injuries picked up by Corcoran and Cousins.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds (White): Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Simon Downer, Chris Hope, Kurt Robinson, Andy Burgess (Capt), Michael Corcoran (Jake Beecroft 56), Rob Wolleaston, Marcus Kelly (Chris Arthur 77), Lee Tomlin, Neil Cousins (Sam Smith 50)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day, Michael Rankine

Mansfield Town (Yellow / Blue) : Alan Marriott, Gary Silk, Jonathan D’Laryea (Capt), Adie Moses, Matt Somner, Michael Blackwood (Ryan Williams 60), Nathan Arnold (Neil MacKenzie 90+3), Scott Garner, Aaron O’Connor (Mark Stallard 71), Robert Duffy, Paul Mayo

Subs Not Used: Jason White, Gianluca Havern,

Goal : Robert Duffy (Pen) 89

Yellow Cards : None

Referee : Mr S Duncan

Attendance : 1774 (away 430)

Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Yvonne Boxall: Andy Burgess

Rushden & Diamonds 2 York City 0

 

Rushden & Diamonds gained a convincing victory over York City at Nene Park on Tuesday evening. Second half goals from Andy Burgess and Rob Wolleaston were due reward for the Diamonds pressure, and although York did threaten a consolation goal in the last 10 minutes the Diamonds defence held firm.

Caretaker Manager Justin Edinburgh made one change to the team that played at the weekend, with Neil Cousins replacing Michael Rankine up front. York boss Martin Foyle had been forced into two changes, which included giving a start to ex-Diamond Simon Brown. Another ex-Diamond Simon Rusk was also in the starting line-up. He started with a 4-3-3 formation, with Simon Brown joining McBreen and Brodie up front.

The first half was fairly uneventful, with a Chris Hope header being the only attempt that required a save of note in the first quarter. The visitors had a scare when Neil Cousins latched onto a poorly hit backpass by Shaun Pejic, but Cousins couldn’t quite find Lee Tomlin. Cousins also combined well with Marcus Kelly early in the half, but this time a clever flick by Kelly was intercepted for a corner.

The Diamonds had a couple of other attacks of note, including an interchange, five minutes before the interval, between Tomlin and Wolleaston that saw the latter burst through and hit a low cross that almost presented Andy Burgess with a good opportunity. Tomlin and Wolleaston had also combined five minutes earlier with thestriker cutting inside but his left foot shot was wide of the right hand post. The impressive Wolleaston had also set up a chance for Andy Burgess on the edge of the area, but his shot was deflected to allow Ingham to make a save.

York had one serious attempt on goal in the first half from Richard Brodie which Dale Roberts watched go wide, and these two players were involved in an incident which saw Roberts booked after he reacted to a foul from the York striker.

The final chance of the half fell to Simon Downer in the aftermath of a free kick move after Marcus Kelly had been fouled. The Andy Burgess free kick was not dealt with, and Downer had a chance for a header, but he failed to get any power on his header and Ingham was able to gather.

Half Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 0

The second half was more eventful than the first, with the Diamonds dominating play even more than they had done in the first period. The first sign of what was to come came within the first minute after the restart, as a long ball from Dale Roberts was deftly flicked on by Lee Tomlin to Neil Cousins, but the striker’s shot was wide to the left of the goal. The lively Cousins saw a further attempt blocked during a scramble in the area as the Diamonds started to penetrate further into the York half.

There was one panic in the Diamonds defence when Simon Downer was slow to react to a routine pass across the area, and he just managed to clear the ball towards the corner flag, Curtis Osano allowed Simon Brown to get in a cross from out wide, which was just over Brodie’s head.

As the hour mark approached the Diamonds took the lead when a short corner on the left saw Lee Tomlin fire in a cross, and when the defence failed to clear, Andy Burgess was there to fire home the opening goal.

Justin Edinburgh made his first change on 68 minutes, when the hard-working Cousins was replaced by Sam Smith, andwithin a couple of minutes the substitute had played his part in the Diamonds second goal. An excellent move down the right channel saw Smith and Burgess combine with Lee Tomlin who laid the ball into the path of Rob Wolleaston who ran on to lash his shot into the net in a similar fashion to the goal he had scored on Saturday. With two goals in two games, and the man-of-the-match credit in both of them, the Diamonds fans are seeing the best of the ex-Cambridge man at present.

Rather surprisingly, Martin Foyle’s response to the second goal was to take off his two main strikers, but the replacements seemed to inject some pace and purpose into the visitors attack. The Diamonds had also reshuffled, with Michael Corcoran pushed back into defence as Jake Beecroft replaced Simon Downer who has formed a solid partnership with Chris Hope in the Diamonds defence.

The York City fans had remained rather muted for the first 80 minutes, but finally had something to lift their mood as the substitutions introduced some pace up front with Sodje and Adam Smith looking threatening, and with Boyes they created a great chance which Dale Roberts did really well to push wide. The resultant corner also caused some concern as Kurt Robinson should have been able to make an easy interception on the near post, but somehow he miskicked and the ball ricoched off several pairs of shins before being forced clear.

That was the last of the attacking threat from the visitors, and the Diamonds did threaten a third goal on the break, as first Smith, then Tomlin and then Burgess broke clear, but none of them caused too much concern for Michael Ingham. Referee Rayner and her two colleagues had also had good games, and she signalled full-time with the 2-0 scoreline a fair reflection of the Diamonds dominance, especially in the second half.

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 2 York City 0

Justin Edinburgh praised the performance of his team, following a slow start, and made special mention of the contribution of the Diamonds fans, who had got behind their team from before the game started, and had continued to back the side right until the final whistle.

Teams :- Rushden & Diamonds (White): Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Simon Downer (Jake Beecroft 76), Chris Hope, Kurt Robinson, Andy Burgess (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Rob Wolleaston, Marcus Kelly, Lee Tomlin (Michael Rankine 88), Neil Cousins (Sam Smith 68)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day, Jamie McGuinness

York City (Sky Blue / Navy Blue): Michael Ingham, Danny Parslow, , Simon Rusk (Adam Smith 67), Levi Mackin, Andy McWilliams, Kyle Critchell, Shaun Pejic, Christian Smith, Simon Brown, Daniel McBreen (Onome Sodje 73), Richard Brodie (Adam Boyes 73)

Subs Not Used:, Mark Greaves, Simon Russell

Goals : Burgess (58), Wolleaston (71)

Yellow Card : Roberts

Referee : Ms A Rayner

Attendance : 1020 (Away 87)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Pestfree : Rob Wolleaston.

Weymouth 0 Rushden & Diamonds 9

 

Rushden & Diamonds did what was required to earn a comfortable victory against a scratch Weymouth side at the Wessex Stadium, but the game was far from being a true contest. Credit must go to the Weymouth youngsters for their efforts, with their keeper Joe Prodomo producing a number of excellent saves to keep the score down.

Goals from Michael Rankine, Lee Tomlin (2) and Chris Hope made the score 4-0 at half time, with Tomlin also missing a number of chances for a first half hat trick, and as well as saves from keeper Prodomo there were several good clearances off the line from the young defenders.

As might be expected, the Weymouth youngsters tired in the second half, but to their credit they didn’t give up, despite the scoreline, and further goals from Michael Rankine, Rob Wolleaston, Marcus Kelly (2) and Kurt Robinson completed the scoring, with Neil Cousins also hitting the bar. The nine-nil scoreline is thus the Diamonds record victory, but one gained in unfortunate circumstances. For league games it overtakes the 7-0 victory over Redditch United at Nene Park on 10th August 1993, and also beats the record 7-1 away win over Atherstone United a year later..

For his first game in charge Justin Edinburgh played a 4-4-2 formation with Lee Tomlin supporting Michael Rankine up-front. Michael Corcoran played in central midfield, with Andy Burgess wide right.

Weymouth Manager Alan Lewer had little choice but to select a squad made up of Youth Team players, with little first team experience within the 16 players named.

The game started in bright sunshine on a warm and pleasant afternoon, and immediately it became clear that the Diamonds were intent on approaching the game in a professional manner, whatever the opposition. The Terras did win the first corner of the game as Curtis Osano cut out a run by Ollie Tribe, but the Diamonds then showed the benefits of the positional changes that Justin Edinburgh had made. Andy Burgess was able to hit two of his trademark 35 yards cross-field passes straight to Marcus Kelly, whilst Lee Tomlin was causing the home defence all kinds of problems as he ran at them through the middle and the right channel.

That combination saw Prodomo make the first of many saves he was to make during the afternoon as he gathered at Tomlin’s feet, and then he saved again from Michael Corcoran as the Diamonds had more attempts on goal in the first 10 minutes than they have had for some entire games played this season.

The pressure told on 8 minutes, as Lee Tomlin exchanged passes with Rob Wolleaston and unleashed a shot from just inside the box, and although Prodomo made a save, Michael Rankine was on hand to slot the loose ball home.

Marcus Kelly was also starting to get the measure of his marker, and three minutes later he won the ball off Jordan Vincent to force a corner. Kelly took the kick himself, taking it short to Andy Burgess, whose cross was headed towards goal by Michael Rankine, and although the effort was blocked, Lee Tomlin was on hand to force the ball home.

A number of other Diamonds attempts on goal were then either narrowly wide, or well cleared by Prodomo and his defenders, notably a shot from Kelly from a narrow angle and a Chris Hope header from an Andy Burgess cross. Curtis Osano also got in on the act with a low shot that was blocked by Shola Dadson.

The half-way point in the period was still to be reached when the Diamonds scored their third – the best goal of the half, as Lee Tomlin robbed Jordan Vincent and lobbed the ball over Prodomo and into the net. After having some ribbing from the home crowd earlier the striker could not resist a goal celebration response that was out of keeping with the mood of the afternoon, earning a talking-to from referee Sainsbury, and the wrath of the home fans for the remainder of the half.

Having brought the home fans into life, this also seemed to inspire Prodomo to make further good saves from Tomlin as he threatened to burst through the home defence every time he dropped back to collect the ball from Burgess or Wolleaston, and the striker was also guilty of shooting wide on a couple of occasions, as well as wasting a free-kick opportunity after an excellent Andy Burgess run had been stopped by a desperate tackle.

Kelly and Hope saw further attempts tipped over by Prodomo before Chris Hope made it 4-0 on 32 minutes as he made space at a corner to get in a clean header on goal.

Kelly and Tomlin combined to create further chances before half-time, as the Diamonds statistics showed attempts on goal well into double figures. Michael Rankine also got back in on the action as he realised the need to drop back to pick up the ball and then run at the defence – on doing this he ran past two defenders and hit a powerful shot that Prodomo did well to save.

Half Time : Weymouth 0 Rushden & Diamonds 4

Neil Cousins replaced Lee Tomlin at the start of the second half, denying the latter a chance of a hat-trick, but within a couple of minutes it was Michael Rankine who was also challenging for the match-ball as he made space to head home an Andy Burgess cross.

Rankine then returned the favour as he set up Andy Burgess who cut inside to hit a curling shot that appeared destined for the top corner of the goal before Prodomo leapt to tip the ball away for a corner – possibly his best of many saves he made on the afternoon.

Shortly after another attempt by Michael Rankine was deflected away for a corner, Rob Wolleaston was able to get the goal his performance deserved as he outmuscled his marker and hit a powerful shot from the edge of the box into the top left hand corner of the net to make in 6-0.

With Michael Rankine now having been replaced by Sam Smith, it was Marcus Kelly who then made the attempt on the match ball. His first goal was scored on 65 minutes, as he cut in from the left hand side and scored with a powerful shot with his left foot. His second goal followed 10 minutes later in very similar fashion to make it 8-0.

Sandwiched between the two Kelly goals was an attempt from Neil Cousins which hit the crossbar, and a good run from defence by Jamie McGuinness which saw him set up Andy Burgess who narrowly missed the goal that his performance deserved.

As the game neared its conclusion there was just time for one final Diamonds goal, and it was the debut goal for Kurt Robinson, who ran at the defence from the half-way line, and hit the ball from the edge of the box into the top left corner of the goal. There was one final attempt by Michael Corcoran to get on the score sheet before referee Sainsbury blew the final whistle on the stroke of 90 minutes.

A final mention must be made of referee Sainsbury, who took an appropriate approach to refereeing what might have been a difficult game. The home fans gave their youngsters a well deserved round of applause at both half-time and full-time, and there was no dissent in the ground when the man-of-the-match award was given to Joe Prodomo in the Terra goal.

Full Time : Weymouth 0 Rushden & Diamonds 9

Justin Edinburgh was sympathetic to the Terras plight, but at the same time pleased with the way his team had approached the game, scoring some decent goals in preparation for a different challenge at home to York City on Tuesday evening.

Teams

Weymouth (Claret / Blue / White): Joe Prodomo, Jordan Vincent, Scott Dixon, Jordan Collins (Capt), Shola Dadson (Tom Richardson 50), Ollie Tribe, Bostry Bansende, Ryan McKechnie, Callum Robins (Sam Poole 46), Turgu Agera, Ben Reiffer (Charlie Tubbs 62).

Subs Not Used : Michael Neish, Aiden Perrett

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow) : Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano (Jamie McGuinness 51), Simon Downer, Chris Hope, Kurt Robinson, Andy Burgess (Capt), Rob Wolleaston, Michael Corcoran, Marcus Kelly, Michael Rankine (Sam Smith 59), Lee Tomlin (Neil Cousins H/T)

Subs Not Used : Joe Day, Jake Beecroft

Goals : Rankine 8, Tomlin 12, Tomlin 18, Hope 33, Rankine 48, Wolleaston 59, Kelly 66, Kelly 75, Robinson 88

Yellow Cards : None

Referee : A Sainsbury

Attendance : 967 (away approx 75)

Diamonds Man Of The Match : Rob Wolleaston.

Burton Albion 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Rushden & Diamonds went down by three goals to nil against table-topping Burton Albion on a wintry evening at the Pirelli Stadium.

The Diamonds conceded a goal to John McGrath shortly before half-time after Andy Burgess gave the ball away in midfield, and then conceded again right at the start of the second half as a Ryan Austin shot was deflected home by Shaun Harrad. The game was ended as a contest just after the hour mark as Marc Goodfellow found an unmarked Shaun Harrad who slotted home.

On a bitterly cold February’s evening, Burton Albion and Rushden & Diamonds kicked off to a light drizzle, with little evidence of the snow that has covered Northamptonshire except for a few melting piles along the side of the pitch, a pitch which is a testament to the ground staff at Burton Albion for being playable, despite the fact the rain was leading to an increasingly erratic bounce off the surface.

Garry Hill had brought back Andy Burgess in place of Jake Beecroft and Simon Downer returned into defence. Rushden played four at the back, five in midfield, with Corcoran and Burgess often dropping back, pushing Wolleaston forward into a more attacking midfield role, with Smith up front on his own, albeit aided by Tomlin and Kelly down the wings.

Around 30 hardy souls travelled from Northamptonshire as The Diamonds started kicking towards the Burton Albion end. The first half was one of large periods of Rushden possession, punctuated with incisive attacks from Burton as both sides struggled to adapt to the dreary conditions.

The game started off with both sides sharing possession evenly, Burton proved physical in defence as both sides tried to put the ball on the floor and play the ball around the pitch, Robinson and Kelly combined well for the Diamonds whilst Burton enjoyed attacks down either wing.

The first clear-cut chance fell to Greg Pearson on the seventh minute, Burgess was caught dithering on the ball and punished as Pearson took it off him striding towards the keeper, however Pearson had a moment of dithering too, at one-on-one with Dale Roberts. A combination of Dale Roberts rushing off his line and Simon Downer rushing back was enough to see off the threat. As the half progressed The Diamonds enjoyed possession inside the Burton half, more than matching their top of the table opponents.

Burton’s physicality in defence showed as Kelly was barged off the ball and Tomlin pushed off to deny good attacking moves. Rushden were determined not to lose the first half battle however, as the rain drove down the first half gradually became scrappier, both teams cancelling each other out. Downer committed a foul on the edge of the box on the twentieth minute, with the resulting cross blocked, and the snap shot that followed also blocked by a crowd of Rushden bodies.

The 24th minute saw a good run by Robinson picked out with a cross field ball from Burgess, which under normal conditions would have sat up nicely, but with the wet weather, zipped off the surface and out of harms way. Moments later Marc Goodfellow dispossessed Burgess in the centre of the park, seeing Dale Roberts off his line, Goodfellow went for a spectacular shot from around 35 yards out, which sailed onto the roof of the net, much to the relief of the backtracking Roberts.

The 31st minute saw another Burton chance, Kurt Robinson heading a Burton cross out of play, denying the clear goalscoring opportunity, but coming scarily close to heading the ball into his own net in the process. As the half wore on Rushden had chances, with Kelly denied and Corcoran’s header from the resulting corner saved by veteran goalkeeper Kevin Poole.

Burton took the lead on the 41st minute, as the driving rain turned into snow. Some stray passing from Rushden meant Michael Corcoran and Andy Burgess were dispossessed by Marc Goodfellow, who’s neat ball with Pearson led to John McGrath getting the chance to coolly slot it through Dale Roberts legs to make it 1-0 Burton.

Half Time: Burton Albion 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The yellow ball was brought into action for the second half, as Rushden switched to a more conventional 4-4-2 formation, with Michael Corcoran dropping back to become right back, Curtis Osano becoming right winger and Lee Tomlin pushing up front.

It didn’t take long for Burton to increase their lead, Burgess fouled Shaun Harrad leading to a free kick in a dangerous position. Ryan Austin hit the free kick into the defensive wall, but Austin reacted first on the rebound to hit a powerful shot which took a deflection off Shaun Harrad on its way to beat Roberts.

The second goal so early in the second half seemed to knock the wind out of Rushden’s sails, after having spells of possession in the first half, The Diamonds momentum seemed deflated. Sam Smith had an opportunity, shooting low and hard which was easily saved by Poole at his near post.

An exquisite through ball by Goodfellow on the 55th minute found Simpson in the box, who turned and shot, seeing it rebound off the post. A scramble ensued, with Simpson fluffing a shot, Goodfellow and Harrod both having efforts until the ball was eventually collected by Roberts.

A Tomlin corner moments later saw a chance with a header from Chris Hope going just wide. Despite the Rushden efforts, the hosts always looked more likely to get the next goal.

Garry Hill brought on Neil Cousins just after the hour mark, but the third goal came after 64 minutes when Marc Goodfellow broke from the half-way line, ran to the edge of the box and knocked the ball across to Shaun Harrad at the far post who netted a simple tap-in.

Simon Downer brought down Keith Gilroy for the first yellow card of the game on his return from suspension, with a rash tackle, although in his defence the slippery surface appeared to carry the momentum of the slide tackle, making it seem worse than it probably was, the home crowd definitely felt it deserved more than a yellow from referee Coote.

Andy Burgess won a free kick after being fouled by Andy Corbett, but Lee Tomlin fired it well over the bar, summing up the Diamonds evening. Rushden replaced Rob Wolleaston with Jake Beecroft and Burton made their first sub, bringing on Lee Morris for former Diamond Greg Pearson, who had been quiet all evening. Tomlin was then replaced by Michael Rankine as the Diamonds pushed more men forwards in an attempt to salvage something from the game.

Neil Cousins won another free kick off Corbett, just outside the box, and Chris Hope did force Kevin Poole to tip the ball over the bar. The resulting corner headed out for another, which was headed wide. Rankine was denied by a great tackle by Jake Buxton and minutes later burst through the Burton defence, getting to the byline and releasing a cross-cum-shot which bounced along the bar, only for the linesman to decide his cross had swung off the field and back on, so a goal kick was given.

A Hope interception right in front of Roberts (who could have claimed it) led to a Burton corner, which looped inwards, threatening to curl into the goal, forcing a near post punch from Roberts.

Jake Beecroft picked up a late yellow card for a foul on Andy Corbett, before Danny Holmes almost made it four, with the deflection off Simon Downer going over the bar, as the game moved into the three minutes of added time.

Full Time : Burton Albion 3 Rushden & Diamonds 0

A 3-0 defeat against a Burton side who are running away at the top of the table isn’t such a negative. The Diamonds matched their hosts for much of the first half, however failed to capitalise on the mistakes caused by a cold and wet evening. Burton managed to capitalise on the Diamonds mistakes, and took their chances well. The Rushden faithful fans were left with a long slow journey back through the snow, and a Valentines day encounter with Lewes to look forward to.

Teams and Stats

Burton Albion

1 Kevin Poole, 4 Michael Simpson (Captain), 5 Tony James, 6 John McGrath (Danny Holmes 79), 8 Andy Corbett, 9 Shaun Harrad, 11 Keith Gilroy, 14 Marc Goodfellow, 15 Ryan Austin, 16 Jake Buxton, 18 Greg Pearson (Lee Morris 74)

Subs Not Used: Saul Deeney, Darren Stride, Jamie Yates

Rushden & Diamonds

19 Dale Roberts, 2 Curtis Osano, 5 Chris Hope, 6 Simon Downer, 8 Kurt Robinson, 11 Andy Burgess (Captain), 15 Lee Tomlin (Michael Rankine 75), 17 Rob Wolleaston (Jake Beecroft 72), 23 Marcus Kelly(Neil Cousins 63), 24 Michael Corcoran, 25 Sam Smith

Subs Not Used: 26 Joe Day, 20 Jamie McGuinness

Goals: John McGrath, Ryan Austin, Shaun Harrad

Yellow Cards: Simon Downer (foul), Jake Beecroft (foul)

Referee: D Coote

Assistant Referees: D Meeson, M Thorley

Fourth Official: E Smart

Attendance: 1291 (Away Approx 35)

Diamonds Man Of the Match: Dale Roberts – without whom the Burton goal tally could have been higher

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cambridge United 2

 

Rushden & Diamonds were beaten by a late Phil Bolland header in a 2-1 defeat by Cambridge United after they had fought back from a goal down, and put in an improved second half performance that merited a share of the points. Although the visitors had the best of the first half, taking the lead through a Chris Holroyd penalty after 20 minutes, the Diamonds struck back just before the break when Sam Smith hit a low shot past Danny Potter. The victory was the U’s first away victory since August, helped by an impressive away following of over 1000 in the AirWair stand.

Garry Hill had brought back Lee Tomlin after suspension to replace Andy Burgess who was absent due to illness, and he started up front alongside Sam Smith who was replacing Michael Rankine, who had reported feeling unwell shortly before kickoff. United had made several changes from the side that drew with Oxford United, with Daryl McMahon, Anthony Tonkin and Scott Rendell missing, meaning there were starts for ex-Diamonds Wayne Hatswell and Jon Challinor. The visitors favoured a 3-5-2 system with Courtney Pitt and Danny Gleeson playing as wing-backs.

The game started quietly with the Diamonds playing into the cold easterly wind towards the visiting supporters. Although the visitors had the better of the early possession, it was the Diamonds that came closest to scoring in the first quarter. Jon Challinor fouled the impressive Lee Tomlin in the right corner, and from the Marcus Kelly free kick it was Tomlin who "ghosted in" on the far post to direct a header on goal, and Challinor who was able to clear it off the line for a corner.

The next 20 minutes were dominated by the visitors as the Diamonds struggled in midfield. A Danny Gleeson cross from the right was directed to Mark Beesley, who laid it off to Chris Holroyd, but Roberts deflected the attempt away for a corner with his foot. From the resultant corner on the left the ball was fed backwards to Paul Carden, still in a wide position, and he hit a powerful shot that Roberts had to be alert to direct around the post for another corner.

United took the lead after 22 minutes. Wayne Hatswell was able to support his midfield, and got in a cross towards Danny Crow, but he fell to the ground whilst challenged by Chris Hope, and referee Brown signalled a penalty. Chris Holroyd fired home a well struck penalty into the roof of the net.

The visitors had a chance to increase their lead shortly afterwards when a quick break saw Danny Crow with a clear run on goal, and the supporting Holroyd unmarked to his right, but Curtis Osano showed his pace in getting in a challenge before Crow could get in a telling shot or pass, much to the delight of the Diamonds fans who had been giving him "the bird" after his part in the penalty decision.

A Pitt freekick eluded the Diamonds defence as it curled over their heads, and Phil Bolland had slipped his marker, and almost had a free header on goal. Other chances fell to Holroyd, Hatswell and Carden as the visitors threatened to extend the lead.

Lee Tomlin continued to provide the Diamonds main threat, whether alongside Cousins on the right, or through the middle supporting Smith. He took on several defenders just after the half-hour mark, but his shot was deflected. It was Tomlin that made a major contribution to the equalising goal, as he ran through the middle and laid the ball forwards to Sam Smith, who did really well to outmuscle the experienced Bolland and fire a low shot into the right corner of the net.

Half Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cambridge United 1

With a suddenly snow flurry in their faces the visitors started the second half on the back-foot, as the Diamonds started to put their passes together and force their opponents into a rearguard action to protect their goal.

The snow had started to settle on the pitch, and a number of players were finding it difficult to keep their feet, but before thoughts turned to whether an orange ball might be required the weather improved, and eased up for the rest of the game.

Marcus Kelly and Kurt Robinson were providing a real threat down the Diamonds left, and both were able to get in crosses that only just eluded Neil Cousins at the far post.

The first talking-point of the half came when the Diamonds had a claim for a penalty as Lee Tomlin was brought down in the box by a tackle by Bolland after good work by Rob Wolleaston had set him clear on the right. Tomlin was also winning a high percentage of the balls through the middle, and it was from a long kick by Dale Roberts that he flicked on to Sam Smith who ran towards goal, only to be body-checked by Bolland. It looked like the main decision for Mr Brown was whether Bolland had denied a clear goal scoring opportunity, but instead he waved play on.

The visitors were then mirroring the Diamonds contribution during the first half, with the odd breakaway threatening Roberts goal. Marcus Kelly was starting to run at the visiting defence, and from one of these he won a free kick just outside the area that Lee Tomlin curled over the well, but Potter tipped around the post.

Michael Corcoran followed up his impressive performance at Mansfield with a display that was capped with coolness under pressure after Rob Wolleaston’s attempt to help out his defence had put the Irish defender in a position where he was under threat by three attackers on the corner of his own penalty box, but he was able to out-think all three and take the ball clear.

The Diamonds had a scare from a Wilmott corner when Roberts and Osano appeared to leave the ball to each other, and Josh Coulson fired the chance over. Courtney Pitt was also guilty of missing a couple of chances to get in telling crosses as he seemed to struggle to keep his feet.

At the other end, Chris Hope beat his old defensive partner Wayne Hatswell in the air at a Lee Tomlin free kick but saw his header saved.

Just as the game appeared to be heading to the draw that would have reflected the overall play, it was the visitors that scored the winner two minutes before time. The Diamonds defence appeared tired as they were slow getting out after an initial clearance from a corner, allowing Courtney Pitt to cross onto the head of Phil Bolland only 10 yards from goal who easily nodded the ball past Roberts. With only a few minutes left it was too late for the Diamonds to reply, and they slipped to another Nene Park defeat.

Garry Hill praised his team for their fighting second-half performance, as well as the Diamonds fans for getting behind their team after several recent disappointments. The Diamonds now have a few days to regroup before facing runaway league leaders Burton Albion on Thursday evening in the televised game.

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cambridge United 2

Teams :

Rushden & Diamonds (White): Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Curtis Osano, Chris Hope (Capt), Kurt Robinson, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston , Jake Beecroft, Marcus Kelly (Danny Broadbent 90), Sam Smith, Neil Cousins (Jamie McGuinness 84)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day, Lewis Hilliard, George Cox

Cambridge United (Amber / Black) : Danny Potter, Danny Gleeson, Phil Bolland, Wayne Hatswell, Mark Beesley (Robbie Wilmott 65), Jon Challinor, Courtney Pitt, Josh Coulson, Paul Carden (Capt), Chris Holroyd, Danny Crow

Subs Not Used: Ben Farrell, Gavin Hoyte, Felino Jardim, Rory McAuley

Goals : Chris Holroyd (20), Sam Smith (42), Phil Bolland (88)

Yellow Cards : Crow (Foul), Broadbent (foul), Corcoran (Dissent)

Referee : Mr M Brown

Sponsors Man-of-The-Match : Lee Tomlin – as chosen by our matchday sponsors Domino’s Pizza of Rushden

Attendance : 2058 (away 1020)

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