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

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