Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cambridge United 1


Rushden & Diamonds drew with Cambridge United at the Nene Park on Bank Holiday Monday in a match dominated for long periods by the whistle of referee Rob Lewis. The Diamonds took the lead when Jamie Stuart rifled home a Lee Tomlin corner, but the visitors hit back when Wayne Hatswell headed home a Willmott free kick The game struggled to get any rhythm in the first half as Mr Lewis penalised much of the physical contact, but the sides adjusted to the referee’s approach to provide more entertainment in the second half.

Cambridge thus retained their unbeaten record on the road.

With Michael Corcoran suspended, Kurt Robinson returned to the starting line-up following his injury. Defender Bobby Aisien was given a place on the bench for the first time.

Cambridge Manager Martin Ling kept the same line-up that beat Gateshead 3-0 on Saturday, with ex-Diamond Wayne Hatswell in their defence, but no place in the squad for the injured Lee Phillips.

The first half was an even affair, but struggled to flow with the constant whistle from Mr Lewis, and reflected the Bank Holiday weather in its mood. The Diamonds early chances fell courtesy of a number of free kicks, with the best chance coming after 6 minutes when Matt Pattison was brought down by Anthony Tonkin just outside the right hand corner of the penalty area. The Lee Tomlin kick was headed back across the area towards Aaron O’Connor stealing in at the far post, but his attempt was blocked. O’Connor then saw a shot saved by Potter.

At the other end the U’s early chance came on 12 minutes, when Jamie Stuart misjudged a Willmott cross, but Danny Crow was unable to react quickly enough.

Dan Gleeson made good progress forward two minutes later, controlling a long ball and laying it off to Jai Reason who hit a powerful shot from the edge of the area which Roberts did well to save.

Reason then gave the ball away to Aaron O’Connor in the centre circle, and the striker did well to break clear of the chasing defenders, but would have been disappointed with his final shot.

Lee Tomlin was then fouled by Gleeson on the edge of the box, but once again the dead-ball opportunity was wasted as it was fired into the defensive wall.

The U’s next chance came from a Willmott corner which found Danny Gleason in space, but he fired just wide.

The Diamonds were getting little success through midfield, with each move being punctuated by the referee’s whistle before it got going, so switched to trying a long ball game, with Dale Roberts finding Cliff Akurang who showed he has a delicate touch to either set up his strike partner, or in one case after 28 minutes he brought the ball down, moved it past Hatswell and fired a shot that forced Potter into a decent save.

Akurang also linked up with Lee Tomlin after flicking on a Roberts long ball, and Tomlin forced a corner which he took short to Max Porter, picked up the return pass, and then delivered the ball into the area to see Jamie Stuart head the ball over the bar.

Ten minutes before the break the visitors had their best chance of the half, with a Willmott cross from the left finding Andy Parkinson in acres of space towards the right edge of the penalty box, but rather unselfishly he decided to square the ball to Danny Crow, who summed up his disappointing afternoon with shot that Roberts saved.

Wayne Hatswell was once again pulled up for what looked an innocuous foul on O’Connor, and from this dead-ball opportunity Tomlin fired just wide.

Akurang once again showed vision and control to divert a Roberts kick to Aaron O’Connor, and his strike partner laid the ball off to Mark Byrne, whose powerful shot looked goal-bound but is hit Hatswell, with some suggestion it might have hit a hand, but a penalty award would have been harsh.

Half Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Cambridge United 0

The Diamonds came out for the second half with a determination to dominate the action, and it seemed to have the desired effect, as they gave little cause for Referee Lewis to slow the game down, as he had done in the first, and at times he seemed content to remain more in the background, with inconsequential "peeps" on his whistle where loud controlling blasts had been in order in the first half.

This approach saw the Diamonds spend more time in the visitors half, winning a free kick in a dangerous position early on, which rebounded off the wall to Mark Byrne, whose shot was well saved by Potter. The improved play was coinciding with the improved weather as Nene Park was bathed in sunshine for much of the second half.

The period of domination culminated with the Diamonds taking the lead on 57 minutes, when a long ball by Roberts was fired at goal by Cliff Akurang, forcing Potter to concede a corner. The Tomlin kick went straight to Jamie Stuart on the edge of the penalty box, and he fired a powerful volley into the corner of the net for his first Diamonds goal.

A minute later Lee Tomlin might have increased the lead, as he set of on a run down the left that saw him leave three defenders trailing, but his well hit shot was just wide of the far post.

Danny Crow had a chance to made amends for his earlier misses when he chased a long ball to the byline, and tried to lob Roberts from an acute angle, but the attempt was high and wide.

At the other end Kurt Robinson made a rare run through the middle, and saw his attempt on goal blocked. Aaron O’Connor was helping out his defence whilst the likes of Robinson and Downer made runs forward, but he fouled Paul Carded just inside the Diamonds half, picking up a yellow card despite it being one of his few fouls of the game. The kick was taken by Jai Reason, and it found Wayne Hatswell on the left-hand side of the box, having peeled away from his marker, and the former Diamond made no mistake in heading home the equaliser on 63 minutes.

Lee Tomlin was continuing to cause the U’s defence many problems, and he set up Aaron O’Connor with a good chance which the striker fired over, with the suspicion it may have taken a deflection. On the right Matt Pattison was also causing a significant threat, and his impact increased with the introduction of Sam Smith and Craig Farrell, who offered support in the right channel, as well as distributing the ball quickly to the right. Farrell did well to take a quick free kick to Pattison, who burst to the edge of the area and fired a shot that was blocked.

The U’s had brought on Mark Beesley, who has found Nene Park a happy hunting ground in the past, and this helped them start threatening the Diamonds defence again, with Roberts called into action twice to face onrushing strikers, clearing once from Beesley, and then seeing Willmott push the ball past him, but just wide of the post. Curtis Osano then made a game-saving tackle on Beesley just as he was about to shoot from midway inside the penalty box.

Simon Downer started a move that almost saw him get his first goal of the season, as the ball went via Farrell and Byrne back to him, but his shot was wide. Byrne then almost capped an impressive game with an excellent crossfield ball to Matt Pattison, whose cross found the head of Craig Farrell, but the header was just over.

There was still time for one final dangerous Diamonds move down the right, with Matt Pattison setting up Curtis Osano for a run at the U’s defence that saw him fire a shot just over the bar.

Although a draw is disappointing after being ahead in the game, it was a fair result, and there were plenty of positive things to come out of the game, not least the number of goal attempts the Diamonds are making – contrasting to those sequence of games at Nene Park in previous season where the visiting keeper has been complexly underemployed.

Full Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cambridge United 1

The Diamonds now have to prepare for a road-trip that takes in Barrow and Ebbsfleet before returning to Nene Park to face Grays Athletic on 12th September.

Diamonds (White) :- Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Lee Tomlin, Mark Byrne, Cliff Akurang (Sam Smith 76), Aaron O’Connor (Craig Farrell 69), Matt Pattison

Subs Not Used: James Reid, Neil Cousins, Bobby Aisien

Cambridge (Amber / Black): Danny Potter, Dan Gleeson, Brian Saah, Wayne Hatswell, Anthony Tonkin, Andy Parkinson (Sam Ives 76), Paul Carden (capt), Jai Reason, Robbie Willmott, Chris Holroyd (Mark Beesley 76), Danny Crow

Subs Not Used: Josh Coulson, Courtney Pitt, Rory McAuley

Goals: Stuart (57), Hatswell (63)

Yellow Cards : Hatswell, O’Connor, Stuart, Saah

Referee: Mr Rob Lewis (Shropshire)

Attendance : 2344 (away 1088)

Diamonds Man of the Match (sponsored by Flagship Fruit & Nut Ltd) : Dale Roberts


Stevenage Borough 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1


The Diamonds slipped to their first away defeat of the season after battling bravely with 10 men for over 70 minutes at Broadhall Way, after Michael Corcoran was shown a straight red card for a clumsy challenge. This was after the home side had taken the lead through a disputed penalty, converted by Lee Boylan.

The Diamonds got a deserved equaliser 10 minutes into the second half, when Cliff Akurang finished off a Diamonds move down the right, but the 10 men couldn’t hold out, and conceded a second goal when Michael Bostwick finished off a sweeping move.

With the injuries to Rob Wolleaston and Nicky McNamara, Diamonds manager Justin Edinburgh named a line-up with one change from the team that started at home to Forest Green Rovers, with Aaron O’Connor starting ahead of Craig Farrell. Kurt Robinson and Sam Smith returned after injury, taking places on the bench.

Ex-Diamonds manager Graham Westley featured 4 ex-Diamonds in his squad – with Jon Ashton, Chris Beardsley and Michael Bostwick in the starting line-up and Mark Albrighton on the bench. He also recalled Chris Day in goal, and Joel Byrom in midfield.

The Diamonds kept the same formation as against Forest Green, with Michael Corcoran at left back, and he was called into action early on, with Stevenage attacking down their right via the dangerous Lawrie Wilson.

Inside five minutes the home side almost took the lead, as Chris Beardsley broke past an offside trap that was focussed on trapping Lee Boylan, facing Dale Roberts one-on-one, and his shot came back off the post, and then he fell to the ground as Roberts swiped the ball clear. Whilst the home fans were baying for a spot kick, the Diamonds fans were demanding their ex-player receive a yellow card for his actions, but referee Kinseley waved play on.

It was thus a surprise from a technical viewpoint when the referee awarded the home side a penalty moments later when a routine tackle from Curtis Osano again saw Beardsley go down in the box, but Lee Boylan stepped up to confidently fire home the penalty.

The Diamonds were struggling to get going in the game at this point, with shots from O’Connor and Osano presenting Day with little challenge, but Stacy Long was lucky to escape a yellow card are consecutive fouls on O’Connor and Tomlin.

The Diamonds were lucky not to go a further goal behind after 16 minutes when Jon Ashton was allowed a free header on the end of a Byrom corner, but he wastefully headed over the bar.

After 20 minutes the game was turned on its head, as Michael Corcoran was shown a red card for a clumsy challenge on Lawrie Wilson, resulting in the home player being stretchered off with ankle damage.

After Scott Laird narrowly missed from the resultant free kick after Jamie Stuart headed clear, the Diamonds had the better of the remainder of the half. Manager Edinburgh switched to a 3-4-2 formation, with Curtis Osano moving to the left of the back three.

Aaron O’Connor started to threaten down the left, and Lee Tomlin started to find holes in the home defence, but his delivery from dead-ball situations was unable to cause them any problems,

The nearest the Diamonds came in the half was five minutes before the break when Cliff Akurang flicked on to O’Connor who broke down the left, and fired a cross to Matt Pattison who ran in from the right to fire a powerful volley that was just too close to Day to challenge him. Lee Tomlin then tried to chip the ball over Day, but his attempt was just wide.

Referee Kinseley signalled a minimum of four minutes additional time in the half, but this became more than five when he took action against Max Porter and Ronnie Henry after a Porter challenge caused a mass response from the home side not seen by Diamonds fans for some while. Although Porter’s challenge might have looked reckless, it was well timed, and won the ball, so the resultant melee was perhaps more a legacy of the earlier incident.


Half-Time : Stevenage Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds almost conceded a second goal at the start of the second half, as a Ronnie Henry cross found Lee Boylan, but the striker seemed to have too much time, and allowed the chance to be scrambled away. A similar scramble ensued moments later after Mitchell Cole set up Boylan, with Beardsley and Bostwick also failing to apply the finishing touch, and then Cole fired over the bar when in a good position.

The Diamonds first real threat of the second half resulted in the equaliser. Aaron O’Connor had moved wide on the right, and he was able to control and flick on a through ball to Mark Byrne, who beat his man and fired into the area, where Matt Pattison saw his shot rebound off Day, but he was able to square the ball to Cliff Akurang, who forced the ball home.

The Diamonds were having their most significant pressure of the game, and Mark Roberts had to make two fine clearances for corners, and Curtis Osano made a great run through the heart of midfield, but rather delayed his final shot.

Both sides then made a number of changes, with Kurt Robinson allowing the Diamonds to turn to a 4-4-1 formation when he replaced Aaron O’Connor as the Diamonds looked to hold on to their point, but after 74 minutes Boro were able to score again. Their move initially started down the left, with substitute Yemi Odubade’s run being stopped by Osano and Downer, but they failed to get the ball completely clear, and it was quickly switched to the right, where Ronnie Henry laid the ball across to Michael Bostwick to fire home.

The Diamonds introduced Cliff Akurang and Sam Smith to try and find an equaliser, but even when Simon Downer was switched up front to try and help them the home goal was only briefly threatened via a Tomlin shot, as a number of other dead-ball opportunities were wasted.

Boro had two further chances to make the game safe, as Peter Vincenti moved off the right wing to attack down the left channel, but was let down by the chances that fell to his weaker foot.

Full-Time : Stevenage Borough 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds now have a day to regroup before Cambridge United visit Nene Park on Bank Holiday Monday.

Stevenage Borough : Chris Day, Lawrie Wilson, Scott Laird, Jon Ashton, Stacy Long, Lee Boylan, Joel Byrom, Mark Roberts, Chris Beardsley, Michael Bostwick, Ronnie Henry

Subs : Mitchell Cole (for Wilson 24), Peter Vincenti (for Beardsley 64), Yemi Odubade (for Long 72). Not Used : Ryan Rayner, Mark Albrighton


Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Simon Downer, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Mark Byrne, Lee Tomlin, Matt Pattison, Aaron O’Connor, Cliff Akurang.

Subs : Kurt Robinson (for O’Connor 66), Craig Farrell (for Pattison 78), Sam Smith (for Akurang 84). Not Used : James Reid, Jake Beecroft

Goals : Boylan (7 – Pen), Akurang (58), Bostwick (74).

Red Card : Corcoran (21)

Yellow Cards : Porter, Henry


Referee :N Kinseley

Attendance : 1704 (away approx 200)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Max Porter

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Forest Green Rovers 2

The Diamonds fought back to beat Forest Green Rovers after going behind to an early goal. A slick move down the right saw debutant Sean Rigg net for the visitors, but the Diamonds had regained the lead before half time, as firstly Craig Farrell headed home after a corner, and then Mark Byrne headed home to give the Diamonds the lead. In the second half Cliff Akurang increased the Diamonds lead after a good move down the Diamonds left found him free in the area. Rovers pulled a goal back via a solo effort from substitute Ross Stearn, but the Diamonds quickly restored their two goal margin when Aaron O’Connor beat off a challenge on the left and cut inside to score his first goal for the club.

The match ended on a note of concern with Nick McNamara stretchered off with a knee injury.

The Diamonds started with Mark Byrne replacing the injured Rob Wolleaston, with Craig Farrell up-front and Aaron O’Connor on the bench. Jake Beecroft was the addition to the squad with a place on the bench.

Rovers caretaker manager David Brown included new loan signing Sean Rigg as well as ex-Diamonds Jon Challinor and Conal Platt. With Brown in the line-up ex-York City Manager Colin Walker was looking after things from the side of the pitch. The two loan signings from Torquay Steve Adams and Mark Ellis also started.

The Diamonds had an early chance to take the lead when good work from Lee Tomlin found Craig Farrell in the box, but his good turn was followed by a shot straight at keeper Burton.

The visitors took the lead, against the run of play, after five minutes, following a break down the right, with debutant Sean Rigg playing a one-two with Steve Davies to beat the Diamonds offside trap and run unchallenged into the area and slot home.

The action was then mostly in the Rovers half for the remainder of the period. With Lee Tomlin hitting a powerful left foot shot just wide after a receiving a defence splitting pass from Max Porter. After 11 minutes Cliff Akurang won the Diamonds a corner on the right, and Lee Tomlin’s kick was headed back across the area by Simon Downer, and then back across goal by Jamie Stuart, with Craig Farrell nipping in to head home.

Farrell then went close with an overhead kick, and saw Burton pull off a good save when he headed an Akurang shot towards goal, as an alert Diamonds midfield quickly got the ball back into play after Terry Burton had to rush out of his area to head clear. Akurang too was unlucky when his powerful shot was saved, and Michael Corcoran also saw a header saved. Dale Roberts did well at the other end to save from Conal Platt, but the Diamonds pressure told when Osano and Pattison combined on the right to get in a cross that was headed home by Mark Byrne on the edge of the six yard box.

Cliff Akurang and Craig Farrell were linking well and the latter saw a shot skew wide before good work by the impressive Pattison and Byrne found Akurang on the edge of the area, and two good touches fashioned a shooting chance which Burton saved.

After a quiet period, where the visitors created a great chance with a free header for David Brown, and a shooting opportunity for Jon Challinor, the Diamonds almost increased their lead when Matt Pattison did really well to bring down a long ball to the right wing, beat his man, and then hit a powerful shot against the post.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Forest Green Rovers 1

The second half again saw the Diamonds threatening to score in a manner not seen at Nene Park since the return to the Conference, but continuing to cause concern at the back, with the visitors switching to 4-3-3 to try to get something from the game.

At the start of the half Sean Rigg showed what a good acquisition he is for the Gloucestershire team, forcing an excellent save from Roberts, and he had to repeat the feat when Rigg broke clear down the left.

Aaron O’Connor replaced Craig Farrell, who received a well deserved ovation from the Diamonds fans. Just after the hour mark the Diamonds appeared to have wrapped the game up, as Tomlin and Byrne combined down the left, and found Cliff Akurang in the proverbial "acres of space" in the area – so much so that some fans were expecting a flag to be raised, but the striker coolly slotted the ball home to make the score 3-1.

Curtis Osano was starting to combine well with Matt Pattison on the right, and he was able to get in a good cross which Lee Tomlin narrowly failed to convert.

Lee Tomlin was continuing to cause the Rovers defence problems, and after winning a corner on the left and delivering it himself, Matt Pattison picked up the loose ball on the right, and his cross was headed towards goal by Cliff Akurang only to see David Brown head off the line.

Simon Else finally picked up a yellow card for repeated fouls on Tomlin, although two of these in quick succession might have seen a card in their own right.

After the Diamonds narrowly survived a goalmouth scramble with several player unable to get the ball clear, the did concede a goal on 82 minutes. The Diamonds offside trap had looked shaky all half, and both Downer and Stuart were playing Ross Stearn onside, and he then weaved his way past Curtis Osano to engineer a shooting position in front of goal, firing into the top corner, leaving Dale Roberts with little chance.

Once again, however, the Diamonds did not let their heads drop, or show any signs of panic, as Aaron O’Connor took the ball on a run down the left, beating Jon Challinor in a tackle then cutting inside and firing home his debut goal for the Diamonds to secure the game at 4-2.

James Reid replaced Lee Tomlin, and he too was able to deliver a dangerous corner which Cliff Akurang headed wide as the Diamonds threatened a fifth goal.

On the stroke of 90 minutes Nick McNamara picked up a bad knock in midfield, having to be stretched off the field with a knee injury.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 4 Forest Green Rovers 2

Given the Diamonds went 22 home league games last season without scoring more than two goals, and in the two previous seasons goals have been few and far between at NenePark there is a really different feel to the proceedings at NenePark these days. There is still some concern about the goals being conceded, but in addition to the goals being scored there have been many attempts on goal that have been saved or cleared off the line in the past two games.

There is now a clear week before the potentially sterner tests over the Bank Holiday weekend, with the visit to Stevenage on Saturday followed by the fixture against Cambridge United at Nene Park on Bank Holiday Monday.

Diamonds (white) : Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Lee Tomlin, Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang, Matt Pattison

Subs : Aaron O’Connor (for Farrell 62), Nicky McNamara (for Porter 68), James Reid (for Tomlin 84). Not Used : Jake Beecroft. Neil Cousins


Forest Green Rovers (Green): Terry Burton, Jon Else, Mark Preece, Mark Ellis, Paul Stonehouse (capt), Jon Challinor, Steve Davies, Steve Adams, Conal Platt, David Brown, Sean Rigg

Subs : Ross Stearn (for Platt 38), Paul Lloyd (for Davies 70). Not Used :Callum Henry, Ben Pugh, TomPass (GK)

Goals : Rigg (5), Farrell (13), Byrne (27), Akurang (65), Stearn (82), O’Connor (84)

Yellow Cards : Stuart, Else

Referee : R Madley

Diamonds Man of the Match: Simon Downer

Attendance : 1056 (away 55)

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Hayes and Yeading 1

The Diamonds achieved their first victory of the 2009-10 season with a 2-1 victory over Hayes & Yeading United, courtesy of a 20 yard strike from Lee Tomlin and a solo effort from Craig Farrell. After an hour of very poor football the game was transformed with the third of Diamonds three substitutions on the hour mark, with Craig Farrell winning the ball in midfield, and Mark Byrne setting Lee Tomlin free to strike the opening goal. The Diamonds side were then transformed, and saw three attempts cleared off the line, with Overland making several good saves. They got the second goal via Craig Farrell on 84 minutes with turning past El-Adb as he received the ball from a throw-in, and slotting home.

The visitors got a late consolation through Robert Gradwell, when an attempted shot by Justin Cochrane skewed off Jamie Stuart into his path for an easy chance. After a nervous last few minutes the Diamonds sealed their victory.


The Diamonds gave a debut to Matt Pattison, as well as recalls for Lee Tomlin and Cliff Akurang who had made such an impression as substitutes at the weekend.

Hayes manager Garry Haylock gave a start to Justin Cochran against his former club.

The first half was an entirely forgettable affair, with chances few and far between. The visitors threatened early on, with Scott Fitzgerald put a free header wide from an Adam Green free kick. Jamie Stuart and Dale Roberts almost presented Hayes with a gift when poor communication and a weak pass saw Roberts narrowly managing to clear the ball away from an onrushing striker.

At the other end Lee Tomlin saw a shot blocked after Cliff Akurang had hooked a ball across the area to him, and then Simon Downer was narrowly wide with an overhead kick with the rebound.

Rob Wolleaston was supporting the attack down both flanks, and his 1-2 with Cliff Akurang saw the striker blaze over, and a similar move saw Curtis Osano shoot over. A long kick by Dale Roberts saw Aaron O’Connor run in on goal, but keeper Overland smothered any danger.

Michael Corcoran was one of the few players to shine in the first half, and he also had a good attempt on goal as Cliff Akurang headed down to him. He finished the half with his head bandaged after a clash of heads with Ram Marwa.

Matt Pattison also had a chance for a volley after being found by the second of two consecutive balls into the box by Max Porter, and O’Connor had a late chance when he and Akurang combined on the end of a Roberts punt.

The Diamonds were losing their shape to the extent that one attack saw Akurang and Osano breaking down the right, and although they held the ball up there was no support in the middle.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Hayes & Yeading 0

Mark Byrne made his first Diamonds appearance replacing Rob Wolleaston (who had been carrying an injury into the game) at the start of the second half, with Nick McNamara replacing the injured Corcoran (who had needed stitches for his head wound, and was feeling dizzy. This meant Curtis Osano switched to left back, with Max Porter moving to right back.

This meant the Diamonds were using their third left-back of the season, and Curtis Osano was playing in his third different role in the four matches so far.

After a further 15 minutes of poor quality football, the Diamonds made their final change of the evening with Craig Farrell replacing Aaron O’Connor, and immediately the match was transformed. Farrell won a header in midfield, knocking it to Byrne who quickly moved it across to Lee Tomlin on the left, who took one touch before running on and hitting a 20 yard shot past.

That goal gave Tomlin the inspiration to dominate the game for the final half-hour, despite the attentions of his markers, earning them a succession of yellow cards. He firstly fed the ball to Craig Farrell in the area, whose turn and shot was tipped over the bar by the impressive Overland.

Farrell then won the ball again and passed to Nick McNamara who teed up Cliff Akurang, but the striker spooned his shot over the bar. Tomlin then saw another effort deflect off a defender for a corner on the right, which he took, and when the ball was squared back to him he hit a powerful shot that Overland did really well to tip over once more.

Cliff Akurang, Simon Downer and Jamie Stuart then all saw headers saved or cleared off the line as the Diamonds looked certain to increase their lead. The Diamonds were now playing the ball on the ground more, with Byrne having an impressive debut, and one move involving Tomlin, Pattison, McNamara and Farrell saw the striker execute a diving header which Overland saved. Farrell then turned well in the box and saw another shot cleared off the line.

Mark Byrne almost marked his Diamonds debut with a goal as his run and shot saw the ball clip the bar and away to safety, with referee Fletcher ruling it had taken a deflection on the way.

Tomlin and Byrne spoilt their impressive second half performances with bookings for time-wasting as referee Fletcher gave his card more of an airing in the second period.

Just as it was beginning to look like the Diamonds pressure wasn’t going to pay off, but with five minutes left they won a throw on the left, and it was quickly taken by Curtis Osano to Craig Farrell who turned past Sami El-Abdand struck the ball home.

With a minute left the visitors gain a late consolation from Robert Gradwell, who received the ball in space in the area, after Justin Cochrane had mishit a shot, which skewed off a defender.

A long ball from Max Porter to Tomlin saw his challenge on Overland result in the ball spiralling into the air, and as the keeper retreated Tomlin tried a lob which the keeper needed all his 6′ 4" height to tip away.

The goal had given the Diamonds a few anxious minutes, as there was a minimum of five minutes of added time signalled by referee Fletcher, which contrasted with the amount of added time seen at Eastbourne on Saturday when there had been several lengthy stoppages, and from a corner they did get the ball into the net, but referee Fletcher had signalled a foul on Dale Roberts as he was clearly impeded by Gradwell, so the Diamonds held firm to claim their first win of the season.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 2 Hayes & Yeading 1

The big question for the Diamonds is whether they can now "kick on" following this first victory of the season, gaining confidence from the performance of the last 30 minutes, and avoid repeating what was on offer for the first hour for their game against struggling Forest Green Rovers at the weekend.

Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Michael Corcoran (Nicky McNamara 45), Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston (Mark Byrne 45), Aaron O’Connor (Craig Farrell 61), Cliff Akurang, Matt Pattison

Subs Not Used: Neil Cousins, James Reid

Hayes & Yeading : Simon Overland, Danny Allen-Page, Adam Green, Tom Cadmore (Capt), Ram Marwa (Esmond James 80), James Mulley, Marc Canham (Robert Gradwell 72), Scott Fitzgerald (George Daly 64), Dale Binns, Sami El-Abd, Justine Cochrane

Subs Not Used: Toby Little, Delroy Preddie (GK),

Goals : Lee Tomlin (63), Craig Farrell (85), Robert Gradwell (89)

Yellow Cards: Allen-Page (foul), Cadmore (foul),Tomlin (dissent), Green (foul), Byrne (dissent)

Referee : R Fletcher

Diamonds Man of the Match : Lee Tomlin

Attendance : 1059 (away 54)

Eastbourne Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds got their first goal of the season, but poor finishing meant they failed to beat Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane. The home side had taken the lead on 25 minutes, as a Dale Roberts punch was volleyed into the net by Simon Weatherstone. The Diamonds equalised after 57 minutes, shortly after bringing on Lee Tomlin and Cliff Akurang, and it was a Tomlin cross following a corner that found Akurang unmarked on the edge of the 6-yard box to slot the ball home. Although the home side had the better of the play in the first half, the Diamonds improved in the second, and had enough chances to win the game.

The Diamonds started with Michael Corcoran replacing the injured Kurt Robinson at left-back, with Simon Downer returning in the centre of defence, allowing Curtis Osano to revert to right back. Lee Tomlin was not risked for a starting place, so James Reid started, with Tomlin on an otherwise unchanged bench.

The Sports included new signing Simon Weatherstone as their only change from the team that beat AFC Wimbledon in midweek, with Dan Smith stepping down to the bench.

The home side had much the better of the early exchanges, and could have gone ahead after 5 minutes when Liam Marum ran onto an Austin cross, getting to the ball before the outrushing Roberts, but his header went wide of the left-hand post.

It wasn’t until the 15th minute that the Diamonds had their first meaningful attack, with Rob Wolleaston making a good run into the area to get onto a Max Porter through-ball, but as he tried to get the ball under control his chance was smothered. The Diamonds then saw an opportunity denied by the offside flag, as a chipped cross from Neil Cousins on the right found Aaron O’Connor, but the linesman flagged him offside before he slotted the ball home.

This brief period of Diamonds pressure soon ended, and Simon Weatherstone went close when a cross from the left was headed out to him by Simon Downer.

The home side were forced into a change after Neil Jenkins injured himself as he challenged James Reid, with Dan Brown switching to left-back and Matt Smart joining to play in midfield. Within a few minutes the home side had taken the lead, as a long Austin cross from the right was hooked back across from the left by Matt Crabb, forcing Dale Roberts into a punch at full stretch, and the ball went straight to Simon Weatherstone who volleyed the ball into the net.

The home side came close to increasing their lead when a powerful shot from Matt Smart was well saved by Dale Roberts, low to his left.

The Diamonds sole attempt to trouble keeper Knowles in the first half was a deflected shot by Aaron O’Connor, with Craig Farrell failing to trouble him with a volley on the turn from a Wolleaston headed cross, or a long ball from James Reid that saw him running clear into the area. O’Connor also had a free run on goal following a Wolleaston long ball, but he could only lob over the bar.

Half-Time : Eastbourne Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

After the Diamonds had failed to take advantage of having the wind at their backs in the first half, they came out with far more attacking intent in the second.

Within three minutes Craig Farrell had won a free kick just outside the penalty area when he was felled by Darren Baker. Although this was the first opportunity for Farrell to take a kick in such a dangerous position since his success during the pre-season games, it was James Reid who took the kick, forcing Danny Knowles into his best save of the afternoon.

Farrell had another opportunity to break clear of the defence, albeit in a slightly wider position, but he allowed a defender to get in a tackle and win the goal kick. That was to be his last action of the match, as he was replaced by Cliff Akurang, and Lee Tomlin replaced James Reid shortly afterwards.

Between the two substitutions Jamie Stuart had misheaded backwards, forcing Simon Downer to bring down Taylor, but Ben Austin put the free-kick wide,

Within a couple of minutes of the substitutions the Diamonds had equalised. A long crossfield ball from Curtis Osano had glanced off Armstrong for a corner on the left, which Tomlin took short, receiving the ball back to hit a cross which Cliff Akurang pounced on, having slipped his marker, to fire home.

Max Porter looked to have freed Aaron O’Connor for a free run on goal, but the striker was adjudged just offside as the Diamonds were dominating play, with Tomlin and Akurang to the fore.

Tomlin was hauled down by Austin about 5 yards from the byline, just outside the penalty box on the left, and to most people’s surprise Tomlin had a shot on goal that Knowles did really well to parry away. From the resultant corner Jamie Stuart found space, but could only head over the bar.

A defensive mix-up gave the home side a rare chance to retake the lead, as Jamie Stuart appeared to shout Dale Roberts to field a ball that he was third favourite to get, behind Stuart and Jamie Taylor, but the Sports striker, although first to the ball, could only pull his shot wide.

With the Diamonds on top they would probably have not wanted the interruption of over three minutes after referee Berry went down injured and had to be replaced by his assistant Jaye.

The Diamonds were chasing the ball down far better now, with Rob Wolleaston starting to get reward for his efforts, and was unlucky that his blocked shot found Aaron O’Connor offside. Neil Cousins also came close when he got on the end of a Max Porter cross from the left, but his attempt was too close to Knowles.

The two worst tackles of the game on Tomlin and Akurang rightly earned Yellow cards for Austin and Brown, but again the Diamonds wasted the dead ball chances.

Although there had been two stoppages for player injuries, as well as the yellow card incidents, as well as the time taken to change officials, replacement referee Jaye only played 3 minutes of additional time, but it was the home side that almost snatched a winner during that period, as Simon Downer appeared distracted by a long ball over his head at the same time as a noisy jet from the local airshow flew overhead, and substitute Andy Atikin really could have done better with the chance he was presented with, lobbing the ball over the bar.

Full-Time : Eastbourne Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds have achieved a point in each of their two away games this season – and if they can win their next two home games then manager Edinburgh’s two-point average will be a lot closer.

Eastbourne Borough:Danny Knowles, Darren Baker, Neil Jenkins, Ben Austin, Marc Pullan, Simon Weatherstone, Paul Armstrong, Jamie Taylor, Liam Enver-Marum, Matt Crabb, Dan Brown

Subs: Matt Smart (for Jenkins 24), Andy Atkin (for Marum 79), Dan Smith (for Taylor 83). Not Used : Michael Jordan, Gary Elphick

Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Simon Downer, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Rob Wolleaston, Neil Cousins, Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell, James Reid

Subs : Cliff Akurang (for Farrell 52), Lee Tomlin (for Reid 56). Not Used : Nick McNamara, Matt Pattison, Mark Byrne

Goals : Simon Weatherstone (29), Cliff Akurang (58)

Yellow Cards : Ben Austin (foul), Dan Brown (foul)

Referee(s) : C Berry, R Jaye

Attendance : 941 (away approx 100)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Rob Wolleaston

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Salisbury City 2

The Diamonds saw their 2009-10 season get off to a disappointing start as they slipped to their first ever defeat by Salisbury City by two goals to nil.

An own goal by Jamie Stuart right at the start of the second half gave the visitors the lead as his header intended for Dale Roberts looped over the keeper’s head. The visitors then scored a second by Christopher Flood as the game entered injury time, and then Simon Downer was given a red card after a tussle with Matt Tubbs just before the final whistle.

Aaron O’Connor had missed a penalty early in the first half after Lee Tomlin had been fouled inside the first minute. Although the Diamonds created a significant number of chances as they pushed for the equaliser, with Craig Farrell hitting the post as soon as he joined the action, they could not get on the scoresheet.

Although the result was disappointing, with a number of chances being wasted, Diamonds fans will remember the despair of the defeat at Crawley on opening day, or even the bore-draw at home to Kidderminster two seasons earlier, where the warning signs were already there for the season ahead. In this instance the positives were masked by the penalty miss, the own goal and then the events in the last few minutes – but the Diamonds have a chance to show that they can live up to early promise with their two away games in the next week.

On a pleasant Northamptonshire afternoon the Diamonds started with Cliff Akurang and Aaron O’Connor up front, with Lee Tomlin, Nick McNamara, Rob Wolleaston and James Reid in midfield. Tommy Widdrington was able to name 10 of his first choice line-up with only Luke Ruddick missing, and with many of the side the Diamonds faced last season.

The first half started with a bang, as within 50 seconds the Diamonds had been awarded a penalty, with Lee Tomlin hauled down as he burst past a defender. Aaron O’Connor stepped up for what looked like being a very early debut goal, but he blazed over the bar and into one of the top rows of the AirWair stand.

Tomlin then came close two minutes later when he controlled a defensive header on his chest and hit a powerful dipping volley that was just over the bar.

The game was still not 10 minutes old when Aaron O’Connor almost made amends for his earlier error, as he ran onto a McNamara through ball towards the left corner of the six-yard box, but his shot was wide of the far post, and too far ahead of Cliff Akurang for the striker to get a touch.

After such a bright first ten minutes the game became scrappy with Nick McNamara picking up the first Diamonds yellow card of the season for a foul on Robert Sinclair. Salisbury keeper Bittner also picked up a yellow when he brought down Cliff Akurang as he beat the Salisbury offside trap for one of the few times in the first half. Several other Salisbury players appeared to pick up “final warnings” from referee Brown – with striker Matthews appearing to have his second such warning shortly before half-time.

Aaron O’Connor also did well to beat a player and get in a shot that was parried by Bittner, and Jamie Stuart did well to break clear of his markers to get a free header at the sole Diamonds corner of the half, but he could only place the ball wide. The Diamonds forward line struggled to free themselves from the visitors’ offside trap, which was especially frustrating when it appeared they could have given the defenders a yard start and still been able to get to the ball.

The Whites had few attacking opportunities, but in the last two minutes of the half they came close from a free kick after Simon Downer slipped, and then when Sinclair laid the ball off to Matthews, but Dale Roberts gather both attempts.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Salisbury City 0

The second half started with the Diamonds going behind as quickly as they might have gone ahead in the first. What looked like a routine exercise by the Diamonds defence to clear up after thwarting an attack ended with the ball in the back of the net as Jamie Stuart  committed to heading the ball back to Roberts, expecting the keeper to be on his line, but the ball looped over his head for an own goal.

To their credit, the Diamonds heads did not drop, and they started to dominate play winning a number of corners and free kicks in dangerous positions. Although several were wasted via short corner or free kick moves, when the balls were put into the box the chances were there for the taking. From one Tomlin cross Simon Downer might have done better as the ball took Bittner by surprise and went over his head.

Rob Wolleaston should have done better when put clear by a through ball through the middle from James Reid where he showed his forward line how to beat the offside trap, and ran clear on goal, but rather than shooting he tried to take a touch past Bittner, and the keeper was able to stick out his arm and knock the ball away from danger.

The frustration of the Diamonds inability to read the offside trap continued, but when Craig Farrell replaced Cliff Akurang the move almost paid immediate dividends, as the striker played a 1-2 with Aaron O’Connor and saw his shot deflect off the side of the post and away to safety.

Lee Tomlin tried a shot that was well over, and then he chipped the ball across the box for O’Connor but the striker couldn’t quite connect. At the other end the visitors still threatened, with Sean Clohessy shooting narrowly wide, and then Matt Tubbs twisting Jamie Stuart into a slip before hitting a shot that Dale Roberts saved.

Craig Farrell was unselfishly setting up chances for players around him, and from one of these Rob Wolleaston saw a shot deflected to Lee Tomlin ,who could only blaze wide. Farrell then made a raid down the left and squared the ball back to O’Connor, whose first touch took his wide, but he was still able to swivel and hit a powerful shot that Bittner did well to block. Farrell also saw a header go over the bar as he got on the end of an O’Connor cross.

Tomlin did finally get one of the short corner routines to work, as he was able to hit a low cross across the box that none of the players in the box were able to get on the end of.

Curtis Osano was then almost guilty of a basic error as the last defender when he tried to beat his man on the half-way line, and although perhaps the victim of a poor bounce he was robbed by Spencer who set Matt Tubbs racing clear, but Dale Roberts was quickly off his line for a ball he looked second favourite to reach, and kicked the ball clear. After Roberts had also pulled off a fine save from a Clarke shot the signs were clear that Salisbury might force a second goal, and so it was just as the match was entering injury time, as Tubbs found space on the right to slide ball across to Chris Flood who netted easily.

There was still time for the Diamonds day to get worse though, as Simon Downer and Matt Tubbs were involved in a challenge and related tussling which saw both players pick up a yellow card, and since Downer had seen yellow earlier in the half he also received a red card, as Tubbs must have reflected on the referee’s leniency towards the visitor’s challenges in the first half that might easily have seen him awarded an earlier yellow.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Salisbury City 2

The Diamonds have just a couple of days to review the lessons learned from this defeat before setting off on a road trip to York on Tuesday evening, and then Eastbourne next weekend. Simon Downer will be suspended for that YorkCity game.

Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Nick McNamara, Rob Wolleaston, Lee Tomlin, Aaron O’Connor, Cliff Akurang, James Reid

Subs : Craig Farrell (for Akurang 60), Sam Smith (for Reid 70), Max Porter (for McNamara 73). Not Used : Neil Cousins, Michael Corcoran.

Salisbury City: James Bittner, Sean Clohessy, Stuart Anderson, Jamie Turley, Daniel Webb, Robbie Sinclair, Darrell Clarke, Robert Matthews, Matthew Tubbs, Ryan O’Hara, Daniel Spence

Subs : Chris Flood (for O’Hara 69), Patrick Cox (for Webb 83), Bradley Gray (for Tubbs 90+2). Not Used: Ben Osman, Toby Osman

Goals : Stuart (og) 46, Flood (90)

Yellow Cards : McNamara, Bittner, Downer, Matthews, Tubbs

Red Card : Downer

Referee : Mark Brown

Attendance : 1272 (away 83)

Match Gallery Pictures courtesy of Mal Swinden

Diamonds Man of the Match : Kurt Robinson

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