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)

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