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

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