Rushden & Diamonds 2 Lewes 1

Although the Diamonds dominated possession against Lewes, poor finishing meant they had to rely on a penalty to give them victory over the bottom placed team. The Rankine penalty was at the start of the second half, after the teams had gone in level following an early goal from Rob Wolleaston being equalled out by Rhys Henry five minutes later.

The Diamonds had made one change, with Marcus Kelly starting ahead of Chris Arthur. Andy Burgess started in central midfield, with Jake Beecroft playing on the right. Lewes boss Kevin Keehan had already decided to step down after the game, and was only able to name three substitutes due to call-up for a schoolboy game in Sussex.

With a full moon rising over Nene Park, the first half started with a bang, with Lewes winning a free kick straight from the kick-off, and Guy Butters found space in the area but his effort was saved from Roberts. The keeper then released the ball to the left, and Marcus Kelly was able to run down the left wing and hit a perfect low cross which Rob Wolleaston was able to control with his chest and knock home.

However, the lead was shortlived, with Lewes equalising after 6 minutes, with a move that started down the middle after Andy Burgess gave the ball away, and Joe Keehan slotted the ball past the line of defenders to Rhys Henry, who took the ball around Roberts and slotted home from a narrow angle.

Marcus Kelly was in fine form, and was putting in a number of dangerous crosses which narrowly eluded Rankine and Tomlin.

Jake Beecroft was adjusting well to his new role wide on the right, and cropped up in goalscoring positions on three occasions during the first quarter, but apart from one wayward shot he was unlucky that his efforts were blocked.

The Diamonds then had several good chances to regain the lead, with Jake Beecroft getting into several good positions, but seeing his shots saved, blocked or narrowly miss the goal. The best chance of the half fell to Michael Rankine, as Rob Wolleaston and Lee Tomlin showed skill and awareness to set up a great chance for Rankine, but the striker was unable to react quickly enough, and his attempt was blocked.

Rankine had two further excellent chances, the first a free header at the end of a Kelly cross, but he diverted the ball wide, and then when Lee Tomlin fed the ball to him on the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot was blocked.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Lewes 1

The second half followed a similar pattern, with the Diamonds scoring early on, and then dominating possession, but struggling to convert this possession into real threats on goal.

The goal came when Diamonds pressure won a corner on the left, and although the initial delivery didn’t threaten much, the ball was returned to Andy Burgess on the left, and his ball towards Simon Downer in the area saw the defender pulled back by Chris Breach and a penalty awarded. Michael Rankine stepped up to slot the spot-kick home.

Marcus Kelly continued to give the Lewes defence plenty of problems, and after latching onto a Michael Rankine clearance he broke clear down the left, and found Lee Tomlin, who unselfishly set up Jake Beecroft, and when his shot was saved Tomlin was able to get his head to the rebound, but the header was just over the bar.

The visitors did not give up, bringing on Lewis Cox to inject some pace to their front-line, and he was able to get in a dangerous looking cross from the right that Rob Wolleaston headed behind – the Diamonds midfielder once again showing his qualities at both ends of the pitch, and a few minutes later he was thwarted by a great save by Banks who palmed his shot onto the post and away, after he had made a good run through the middle of the defence.

Marcus Kelly also continued his fine form of the first half, with an excellent break out of defence, flicking the ball up and over the challenge of Barness, and then hitting a crossfield ball to Sam Smith, but Cullip got in a great challenge to thwart the striker.

Lee Tomlin then had a claim for a penalty turned down after he latched onto a poor backpass, shortly after seeing a free kick narrowly miss the left hand post. It was left to Andy Burgess to have the last attempt on Banks’ goal, but once again the keeper was able to gather.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 2 Lewes 1

Manager Edinburgh was pleased with his third win in five games, crediting Lewes for their spirit. The team will now prepare for the tough challenge at Crawley on Saturday.

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

Subs Not Used : Gareth Jelleyman, Jamie McGuinness, Chris Arthur, Lewis Hilliard.

Lewes (Red / Black) : Rikki Banks, Anthony Barness, Danny Cullip, Christopher Breach (Stefan Cox 70), Michael Standing, Joe Keenan, Shaun Wilkinson, Frederick Foreman, Guy Butters, Sam Fisk, Rhys Henry

Subs Not Used :Callum Saunders, Grant Hall

Goals : Wolleaston (1), Henry (6), Rankine (Pen) (51)

Yellow Cards : Wolleaston, Wilkinson

Referee : Mr S Beck

Attendance : 918 (away 15)

Diamonds Man of the Match (nominated by the Souster family) : Andy Burgess

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