Rushden & Diamonds 0 AFC Wimbledon 1

Rushden & Diamonds lost an entertaining game with AFC Wimbledon by a single goal at the Nene Park. In a fairly even game the Diamonds hit the post and missed a penalty in the first half, and poor finishing failed to give the Diamonds anything to show for their possession. A pair of defensive errors gave the Dons their early goal, with Simon Downer’s error in conceding the ball to Ross Montague compounded when Nathan Abbey let the striker’s 25 yard shot past him when he appeared to have it covered.

Following the narrow defeat at Crawley on Saturday, Manager Justin Edinburgh kept an unchanged starting XI, and the same five players on the bench. For the Dons Jon Main was unfit, so Ross Montague took a place up front for the Dons.

As with the game against Crawley, the game started with a bang, as the Dons won the ball in midfield in a challenge that saw both Craig Farrell and AlanInns go down injured after a clash of heads, but play continued, despite various shouts to put the ball out. Curtis Osano lost possession to Luke Moore, who squared a ball which Simon Downer failed to clear, allowing the ball to run to Ross Montague, and he hit a 25 yard shot that squirmed under Abbey and into the net.

Inns had to go off for attention to his head wound, and returned with a bandage that matched his fellow number 5.

The game settled down, with chances at both ends, with Craig Farrell hitting the post after a great run, and then winning a penalty as he was sandwiched between two Dons defenders, Inns and Gregory. Although the penalty was well struck, goalkeeper Pullen pulled off a great save, and then kept out Farrell’s attempted follow-up. At the other end Abbey did well to save from a Hussey free kick and a great run from Gregory saw him beating two defenders and forcing another fine save from Abbey.

The Wimbledon fans and staff were disputing every decision, and manager Brown was sent to the stands for "sarcastic applause" after they were awarded a free kick.

James Reid had had a fairly quiet first half, but he almost made an impact shortly before the break, seeing his cross from the byline go over a despairing Pullen, but there was no Diamonds player following it in, and then he combined with Craig Farrell to win a free kick on the edge of the penalty box, with Farrell’s kick going into the wall.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 AFC Wimbledon 1

The Diamonds started the second half brightly, with an early chance for Mark Byrne, and then Cliff Akurang headed a James Reid cross over the bar.

Craig Farrell was having another fine game, and apart from his penalty miss would have been a strong contender for the man of the match award. His flick-on of an Abbey clearance after 52 minutes found Cliff Akurang running into space and into a one-on-one with the Dons keeper, but as on Saturday he took one touch too many and allowed Pullen to deflect the ball away. Farrell almost made the most of the loose ball, but his shot was saved.

Curtis Osano was once again showing his abilities getting forwards, both when supporting Matt Pattison, and when making solo runs, one of which saw him burst past two defenders and lay the ball to Craig Farrell, who executed a smart turn and chipped the ball onto the head of Cliff Akurang, but the striker could only put the ball over the bar.

Osano started one of the best Diamonds moves of the game, breaking down the right, squaring to Mark Byrne, who quickly spread the ball wide to James Reid, who beat him man and ran into the area and fired a powerful shot that Pullen did well to parry.

The Diamonds were pushing men forwards to try to force the equaliser, with Simon Downer looking to atone for his earlier error, but when he tried to execute an overhead volley as the game moved into the final quarter, his shape was wrong and he deflected the ball further away from goal.

At the other end the Diamonds defence was keeping their top scorer Kedwell quiet, but their threat came down the flanks, with one good move seeing Chris Hussey break past Curtis Osano on the visitors left and hit a powerful shot that looked to be heading to the top corner until Nathan Abbey made a fine save.

Referee Adcock was having a fine game, avoiding being influenced by the constant clamours of the travelling fans for the every decision to go in their favour. He did book Simon Downer for a poor challenge, and Paul Terry for preventing a quick free kick.

Most of the Diamonds best chances seemed to fall to Cliff Akurang, and another flick-on to an Abbey clearance, this time from Neil Cousins, saw the big striker in space towards the right-hand side of the box, but his shot skewed off the side of his boot and into the crowd.

Mark Byrne was contributing to the Diamonds cause at both ends of the pitch, although he too could not find the target when presented with a couple of shooting attempts.

In order to try to increase the threat on the visitor’s goal the Diamonds had replaced James Reid with Neil Cousins, and then Matt Pattison with Sam Smith. The impact of these changes was not really apparent during the remainder of the game, and when Cousins had switched into Pattison’s role he had a last minute chance to change the game, as Pattison had had on Saturday at Crawley, but his cross went onto the roof of the Peter De Banke Terrace,

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 AFC Wimbledon 1

The Diamonds now have a few days to reflect on this defeat before Altrincham visit NenePark on Saturday

Rushden & Diamonds (White / Blue): Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, James Reid (Neil Cousins 66), Mark Byrne. Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang, Matt Pattison (Sam Smith 71)

Subs Not Used: Max Porter, Michael Corcoran, Dale Roberts

AFC Wimbledon: James Pullen, Samuel Hatton, Chris Hussey, Kennedy Adjei, Alan Inns, Brett Johnson, Steven Gregory, Lewis Taylor, Danny Kedwell, Ross Montague (Derek Duncan 76), Luke Moore (Jay Conroy 90+3)

Subs Not Used: Seb Brown, Elliott Godfrey, Luke Garrard

Goal : Montague (2)

Yellow Cards: Hussey, Adjei, Terry, Downer, Gregory

Referee: J Adcock

Attendance: 1624 (away 457)

Diamonds Man of the Match Sponsored by Type and Test : Mark Byrne

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Crawley Town 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

The Diamonds slipped to defeat at Crawley, with a Calum Willock goal in the second half separating the two sides in an even game, after the Diamonds had taken the lead. The first period ended 1-1 with both sides scoring from well-placed headers that defied rather suspect marking. After the hosts saw a Sam Rents penalty saved by Nathan Abbey in the second minute, Craig Farrell gave the Diamonds the lead, with a clean header on the end of a Curtis Osano cross. However on 27 minutes, Jefferson Louis found plenty of space to put a looping header past Abbey, from a Rusk cross. Willock netted the winner in the second half, after a Louis flick on into the area, saw him get to the ball ahead of a hesitant Jamie Stuart, and poke the ball past Abbey.

The home side had Karl Broadhurst sent off in stoppage time after he made a desperate tackle to stop a Matt Pattison run, in a game that also saw eight bookings.

Diamonds Manager Justin Edinburgh made two changes from the team that drew with Gateshead, with Paul Terry returning from injury at the expense of Matt Porter, and James Reid starting in place of the suspended Lee Tomlin. Sam Smith took a place on the bench ahead of Aaron O’Connor following his problem at Gateshead. The pre-match routine was disrupted when traffic problems meant the team were late arriving at the ground, as were a number of the travelling fans.

The Red Devils included ex-Diamonds Glen Wilson and Simon Rusk in their starting line-up, with Michael Malcolm on the bench. They brought back Lewis Killeen and Barry Cogan.

The game started with a bang, as a long ball from defence found Calum Willock on the wrong side of Jamie Stuart, and the Diamonds captain was adjudged to have fouled the striker. A penalty was awarded, as well as a yellow card for Stuart, but Sam Rents saw his left footed penalty well saved by Nathan Abbey. Once referee McLaughlin deemed the challenge a foul, there was an expectation he might show a red card, but he must have felt one of the other defenders was sufficiently close that they may have still been able to challenge Willock. Nevertheless, the early card meant that Stuart had to be especially careful for the remainder of the game.

The home side had the best of the first 10 minutes, and it was effectively the Diamonds first attack that saw them go ahead. Good work by Byrne and Pattison on the right saw them lay the ball back to Curtis Osano, whose pinpoint cross was headed home by Craig Farrell.

The game was then fairly even until Paul Terry made two mistakes just outside his own area, seeing the ball spread out to the overlapping Simon Rusk on the right, and his cross was met by Jefferson Louis in plenty of space in the area to put a looping header past Abbey.

The home side threatened against a hesitant Diamonds defence at times, but it was the visitors who might have felt they could have been ahead at half time, as they squandered a succession of chances just before the break. Cliff Akurang was set clear by a Farrell flick-on, but he hesitated enough to allow Karl Broadhurst to challenge. Matt Pattison then laid a great ball to Mark Byrne in space in the corner of the area, but his shot was deflected wide. Further good work by Pattison saw him get past two men and reach the by-line, but his low cross was slightly behind Farrell, who could only hook it towards goal, and see it cleared for a corner. The resultant Reid corner saw the ball go over Jamie Stuart for Craig Farrell to direct a downward header towards goal, but as it bounced towards the top of the net Simon Rayner pulled off a great save to keep the scores level at half-time.

The Diamonds had to play with 10 men for a while during the half, as Jamie Stuart picked up a knock just above an eye, and had to go off for treatment and bandaging.

Half-Time : Crawley Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Referee McLaughlin had been waving yellow cards for challenges that would have gone unpunished in the first half, booking four home players in quick succession, when normally only the challenge of Broadhurst might have been punished in that way – and then felt the need to show reciprocal cards to Akurang and Cousins for innocuous looking challenges.

Craig Farrell was continuing to create chances, and he set up James Reid with a great chance, with plenty of time to compose himself, but the loanee could only fire wide. Farrell was also having the majority of the Diamonds attempts on target, although Simon Rayner caught his headed effort easily as he was set up by an Akurang flick. Matt Pattison was continuing to threaten, but one of several good runs ended with a well hit shot being blocked.

Jamie Stuart’s challenging afternoon had one further twist, as he managed to find a lot of space in the penalty area at a Reid free kick, but was well off target with his "free-header" that should have put the Diamonds ahead again.

Thing went from bad to worse for the Diamonds captain shortly afterwards, as a long ball was flicked on by Jefferson Louis, and although he initially looked favourite to reach the ball first, Stuart allowed Calum Willock to stretch out and poke the ball past Abbey for the second goal.

The Diamonds’ offside trap had been their main defensive weapon all afternoon, but they were caught out when Calum Willock bent his run, and was clearly onside as he ran clear, but as with Akurang in the first half, he appeared to hesitate when finding himself in this space, and ended up running wide and making a poor pass as the defence chased him down. Willock and Louis were almost expecting the flag and associated whistle with every break, but they managed to breach the Diamonds offside trap twice more, and had they not been so hesitant they might have made the Diamonds pay the price.

Another side effect of referee McLaughlin’s whistle-happy approach was his failure to play advantage, notably when Craig Farrell did well to set up Neil Cousins, being fouled in the process, but the whistle went before Cousins could take on his defender on the edge of the area.

As full time approached the Diamonds threw Curtis Osano and Simon Downer further forwards, with their threat on the right balanced by Byrne and Cousins on the left, and a Byrne cross almost fell for Sam Smith in the area. One Osano run saw a last ditch tackle concede a corner, and then he saw a header go wide as his performances this season continue to improve.

Referee McLaughlin rightly added on a minimum of six minutes added time to recognise the six bookings and five substitutions in the half up until that point, as well as the 90 second stoppage in play for an injury to Thomas Pinault, and a similar stoppage for injuries to Rayner and Akurang,

The hosts had a great chance to wrap things up, as Willock outpaced Stuart and ran clear, but Nathan Abbey produced a great save to keep the game alive. At the other end an excellent run by Neil Cousins saw him set up Mark Byrne, but once again the midfielder missed the target.

The added time period was in keeping with the remainder of the game, with Simon Rusk picking up a deserved booking for a foul on Neil Cousins, and then the Diamonds threatened an equaliser as Matt Pattison ran through the heart of midfield, and was only stopped on the edge of the area by a foul challenge by Karl Broadhurst, who picked up a second yellow, and hence a red card.

The referee failed to acknowledge these additional stoppages during the added time period (which also included a further substitution), only adding a further 22 seconds as the Diamonds pushed for the equaliser/

Full-Time : Crawley Town 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

After some of the disappointments the Diamonds have suffered at the Broadfield Stadium, the fact that they perhaps did enough to take a point, and the performances of Farrell, Pattison and Osano certainly meant they didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, meant that the long trip home wasn’t as depressing as on previous trips south.

The Diamonds have a few days to regroup before the visit of newly promoted AFC Wimbledon to Nene Park on Tuesday evening for the first game between the two teams.

Teams

Crawley Town (Red): Simon Rayner, Simon Rusk, Sam Rents, Glenn Wilson, Barry Cogan, Karl Broadhurst, Calum Willock, Adam Quinn (Capt), Jefferson Louis (Danny Forrest 90+3), Thomas Pinault (Eddie Hutchinson 87), Lewis Killeen (Michael Malcolm 89)

Subs Not Used: Nick Jordan, Ben Smith

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow): Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry (Max Porter 83), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Mark Byrne, Matt Pattison, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang (Sam Smith 62), James Reid (Neil Cousins 70)

Subs Not Used: Michael Corcoran, Dale Roberts

Goals : Farrell (0-1, 10), Louis (1-1, 26), Willock (2-1, 57)

Yellow Cards : Stuart, Louis, Pinault, Quinn, Broadhurst, Akurang, Cousins, Rusk

Red Card : Broadhurst

Referee: Mr M McLaughlin (Luton)

Attendance:925 (135 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Curtis Osano

Gateshead 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds gained a point from an even game on Tyneside, with neither side looking likely to break the deadlock, with the hosts recording their first clean sheet of the season. The draw extended the Diamonds unbeaten run to six games.

Diamonds Manager Justin Edinburgh made two changes from the team that beat Mansfield on Saturday, with the injured Paul Terry being replaced by Max Porter, and Cliff Akurang starting in place of Aaron O’Connor. Sam Smith replaced Aaron O’Connor on the bench after the latter picked up a strain in the warm-up.

The Tynesiders included 19-year goalkeeper Paul Farman for his debut in the huge athletics stadium on a cool evening.

The first half was a fairly lacklustre affair, with chances few and far between. The hosts had an early chance when a mistake by Mark Byrne allowed Armand One to break clear, but a block by Jamie Stuart and a wayward attempt by Michael Mackay meant the chance was wasted.

Other than this chance, the other noteworthy action in the first quarter was when referee Halliday went down "very easily", and needed attention before continuing.

It was only as the game moved into the second quarter that the Diamonds started to pose a serious attacking threat, with a Tomlin run into the area seeing a low ball cleared by the defence, and a follow-up cross from Kurt Robinson brushed the head of Craig Farrell when Cliff Akurang might have been better placed. Another Tomlin run into the area saw a deflected shot well saved by Farman.

Attempts by Matt Pattison (blocked), Mark Byrne (header – saved) and Curtis Osano (over bar) were the Diamonds other threats in the first half, but the Tynesiders also had a couple of good chances, notably via Graeme Armstrong on the flanks – and one of his runs was halted by Mark Byrne who picked up his fourth yellow card of the season. Another run saw him reach the byline on the right and hit a good cross that Simon Downer cleared over the bar. Cliff Akurang was also helping out his defenders at set pieces, and they dealt well with the threat of 6 feet 5 inches Armand One.

At the other end the Diamonds defence was having a solid game, quashing much of the hosts attacking threat, although there were a number of unforced errors that caused concern at times.

The final action of the half saw Mark Byrne have a shot saved by Farman, but the half-time interval was a welcome break for the 400 spectators.

Half Time: Gateshead 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The second half started in a lively fashion, with both sides having better chances than they had created in the entire first half. The best of these for the Diamonds fell to Curtis Osano when he made space at the far post at a corner, which flicked off Armand One to him, but he headed over the bar.

At the other end the Diamonds defence were again causing themselves problems, and a panicked pass back to Abbey saw the keeper slice his clearance, but recovered his ground sufficiently to pull off an excellent saw as Michael Mackay fired towards the far corner of the goal. From the resultant corner Chris Swailes went close with a header.

Craig Farrell then got a firm header on the end of a Robinson cross, but Farman saved comfortably.

The action quickly returned to the other end of the pitch, as an Alex Francis chip into the area found Armand One in space, but again the Frenchman failed to hit the target.

The game then settled back to the level of the first half, with real chances few and far between.

On the 70th minute the most controversial incident of the game occurred. A Diamonds attack broke down just as the linesman flagged Kurt Robinson offside. Referee Halliday waved play on, as the home side had initial possession, indicating the flag should be put down. As he did this Max Porter won the ball in midfield and set Lee Tomlin free on the left, and he aimed a cross into the penalty box, only to see it hit the raised arms of Craig Baxter for what looked a clear penalty. Referee Halliday waved away these claims much to the surprise of the 400 watching the action.

The Diamonds appeared to tire as the game entered the final quarter, with a number of set pieces lacking the quality seen in recent games, but the Diamonds defence continued to cover for each other, with Robinson covering Stuart, and then the Diamonds captain covering for his centre-back partner Simon Downer.

The nearest the Diamonds came to breaking the deadlock was after 82 minutes, when Sam Smith replaced Cliff Akurang, and he was set up by Lee Tomlin to hit a powerful snap shot with his first touch, forcing Farman to make the best save of the evening.

The Diamonds also had Lee Tomlin and Craig Farrell booked for falling "very easily" under challenges near the edge of the penalty area, although the latter was well tackled and perhaps would feel aggrieved with the card in what was the final action of the game.

Full Time : Gateshead 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds face the long trip home before preparing for another road trip at the weekend – this time braving the M25 on their trip to play Crawley Town. Manager Justin Edinburgh felt that both Aaron O’Connor and Paul Terry might be fit for this game.

Gateshead (White / Black): Paul Farman, Craig Baxter, Kris Gate, James Curtis, Phil Turnbull, Graeme Armstrong, Alex Francis (Wayne Phillips 73), Chris Swailes, Phil Cave, Michael Mackay (Jamie Harwood 73), Armand One (Steven Richardson 62)

Subs: Jim Provett, Mark Robinson

Rushden & Diamonds (Yellow): Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Matt Pattison, Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang (Sam Smith 83), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: Michael Corcoran, James Reid, Dale Roberts, Neil Cousins

Goals: None

Yellow Cards: Byrne, Harwood, Tomlin, Farrell

Referee: Mr A Halliday

Attendance: 409 (away approx 30)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Curtis Osano

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Mansfield Town 0

A late Cliff Akurang winner in injury time gave the Diamonds victory at Nene Park for the second Saturday running. The three points were well merited on the strength of the Diamonds play in the first quarter, but the dismissals of Lee Tomlin and Gary Mills changed the game totally, after the Diamonds had dominated that period. The Diamonds had nine great chances in those first 20 minutes, but had to rely on an Akurang header that was deflected over Alan Marriott by one of his defenders in the second minute of injury time.

Debutant goalkeeper Nathan Abbey made two great saves, one in each half, as the Diamonds kept a clean sheet. The Diamonds had 12 attempts on target in the game, with their opponents only managing to find the target with the two headed attempts by Robert Duffy that resulted in the Abbey saves.

As well as including Nathan Abbey for his first Diamonds appearance, manager Edinburgh brought back Simon Downer at the expense of the unfortunate Max Porter. Dale Roberts took a place on the bench, alongside Porter, Cousins, Reid and budding super-sub Cliff Akurang.

The Stags included ex-Diamonds Alan Marriott, Rob Duffy and Gary Mills in their starting line-up, with Daryl Clare on the bench.

The action started straight from the first whistle, with the Diamonds threatening down both flanks, with Pattison and Tomlin starting as they had done against Grays. Matt Pattison engineered the first chance as he cut inside and hit a short pass to Craig Farrell, who continues to show he has excellent touch and vision, and he laid the ball back to Mark Byrne, who hit a defence splitting pass to Aaron O’Connor, who was flagged offside.

The Diamonds then won the first of many corners on the right, and the ball was flicked across the area to Lee Tomlin, whose first shot was blocked, but he quickly adjusted to hit a second shot on the volley, with this one saved by Alan Marriott.

With barely five minutes gone the Diamonds had their third great chance, as Tomlin found O’Connor in the area, but his excellent turn was followed by a shot that was just left of the target.

The action continued down the right, with Farrell pressure forcing a defender to head into the path of Matt Pattison, who crossed for Tomlin to run in and hit a shot into the ground that bounced over the bar.

Farrell was causing the Stags problems through the middle, and he created the Diamonds fifth great chance for himself, after just nine minutes, as he ran past Jones who hesitated under a long ball, but chipped his attempt over the bar.

A Diamonds free kick saw Jamie Stuart flick the ball backwards with his head to Tomlin, but his attempt was caught by Marriott.

The Stags finally got out of their own half after 10 minutes, as Blair Sturrock ran down the left and hit a good cross onto the head of Rob Duffy, but Nathan Abbey silenced the taunts of the travelling fans with a great save.

Another Diamonds free kick again saw Jamie Stuart flick the ball on – with this time Craig Farrell seeing an attempt caught by Marriott.

With the game only 15 minutes old the Diamonds had their eighth great chance, with Matt Pattison shooting narrowly wide after being set up by Tomlin.

Shortly before the end of the first quarter the Diamonds could easily have got the deserved opening goal. Lee Tomlin picked up the ball mid way inside his own half, beating Matt Somner easily, and seeing him quickly give up the chase, he ran on and once again left Silk flat-footed as he cut in from the left to hit a powerful shot that had Marriott well beaten, but saw the shot bounce back off the post.

Paul Terry also got into the goalmouth action as he went close with a header, and Aaron O’Connor saw a good run and 1-2 with Craig Farrell end up with his shot hitting the side netting as the Diamonds were rampant. Mark Byrne also went close from 20 yards as he latched on to a defensive header from a corner.

However, as the game neared the 30 minute mark, the whole complexion changed. Ex-Diamond Gary Mills launched into a challenge on Lee Tomlin that looked more than worthy of a red card, leaving Tomlin incensed, and he got up to remonstrate with Mills. As other players got involved, referee Joyce pulled out his red card and waved it at both Mills and Tomlin.

The Mills challenge was a particularly poignant one for those Diamonds fans who had seen him stretchered off at Oxford following a challenge, but the net effect of the two red cards meant that the Diamonds period of total dominance was ended, and the game was rather even and uneventful from then on – especially in comparison to those first 30 minutes.

The Stags made a substitution to rearrange their 10 men, with Steven Istead replacing wide-left midfielder Ryan Williams.

It quickly became clear that the Mills incident had a bigger effect on the Diamonds, as their dozen or so chances prior to the dismissals were a distant memory by half-time.

The Stags desperation to get back into the game was highlighted in a number of incidents where their strikers might have been described as “going down rather easily”, notably Blair Sturrock when he was being shepherded away from the area by Curtis Osano, and he was rather lucky to escape a yellow card.

Referee Joyce did show cards to Briscoe after he appeared to react to a challenge from Kurt Robinson, and then to Matt Somner. This card was in response to a foul committed at the start of a move that the referee allowed to continue to the Diamonds advantage, but Steve Istead would have to consider himself fortunate to not see yellow for the tackle that ended that move, or for a similar poor challenge a few minutes later.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Mansfield Town 0

The second half was an even affair, with the Diamonds switching to play with three at the back, allowing Kurt Robinson to push into left midfield.

Neither side created many clear-cut chances in the second half, with the tempo of the game significantly slowed. Nathan Abbey was called upon to make his second excellent save of the game, again from a Robert Duffy header. At the other end Alan Marriott saved from a Craig Farrell shot and Kurt Robinson seemed to be enjoying being pushed further forwards as he broke through the middle before being well challenged on the edge of the box.

One talking point was the yellow card awarded to Nathan Abbey early in the half when he risked catching a long ball on the edge of his penalty area, and was adjudged to have accidentally strayed outside. As there was no immediate threat on goal, the yellow card appeared the correct decision. It was from the resultant free kick that he made his save from the Duffy header. so he had quickly made amends.

Both sides completed their allowed substitutions during the half, but neither side looked like creating the necessary chance to score the winner. The Stags had more possession than they had seen in the first half, but were unable to add to their total of two efforts on target.

Just after the referee announced there would be three minutes of added time, Jamie Stuart showed his strength and determination to win a double tackle near the half-way line, the second part of which saw him on the ground, but still able to get the ball forward to Max Porter on the left. Porter took the ball forwards and won a throw in off Gary Silk, who had seen such a torrid 30 minutes facing Lee Tomlin. Kurt Robinson went forward to take the throw, which was then laid back to Jamie Stuart to fire a cross towards the far post. Cliff Akurang rose well above his marker and headed towards goal, with the ball deflecting off the head of Luke Jones and over the despairing leap of Alan Marriott.

There was still time for referee Joyce to issue a further card as Mark Byrne picked up a yellow for a foul challenge,

Although the goal tally did not match that of the previous weekend, the entertainment at Nene Park continues at a level not seen for several seasons, especially in that first 30 minute period.

Full Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Mansfield Town 0

Manager Edinburgh was delighted with the result, the clean sheet, and the attacking domination of the first quarter, although he had expected some of those chances to be converted. He also confirmed the club are considering an appeal against the Tomlin booking, given his reaction to such a poor challenge did not involve any violent conduct.

The Diamonds now have a short break before the long trip to Gateshead for the game on Tuesday evening.

Rushden & Diamonds (White / Blue): Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry (Max Porter 75), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Lee Tomlin, Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell (Cliff Akurang 58), Aaron O’Connor, Matt Pattison (James Reid 67)

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts, Neil Cousins

Mansfield Town (Yellow / White): Alan Marriott, Gary Mills, Luke Jones, Scott Garner, Louis Briscoe, Matt Somner, Rob Duffy (Jake Speight 58), Ryan Williams (Steven Istead 29), Craig Armstrong, Gary Silk, Blair Sturrock (Kyle Mix 74)

Subs Not Used: Daryl Clare, Luke Graham

Goal: Akurang (90+2)

Yellow Cards: Briscoe (foul), Somner (persistent fouls), Abbey (handling outside area), Stuart (dissent), Istead (persistent fouls), Byrne (foul)

Red Cards : Mills (foul) Tomlin (reaction to foul) – both after 28 minutes.

Referee: Mr Ross Joyce (Cleveland)

Attendance: 1822 (away 506)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Nathan Abbey

Rushden & Diamonds 5 Grays Athletic 4

Rushden & Diamonds won a pulsating game with Grays Athletic 5-4 at Nene Park. The Diamonds dominated the first half, but only had a superb goal from Matt Pattison to show for their efforts before Glenn Poole scored the equaliser in first half injury time with a deflected free kick. A crazy second half saw the Diamonds go behind three times, getting level via Lee Tomlin, James Reid and a Tomlin penalty before Cliff Akurang scored the winner in injury time, heading home a Tomlin cross. Tomlin had assisted in the three goals he didn’t score, and was rightly man of the match

With Simon Downer still unavailable, Max Porter continued at right-back to allow Curtis Osano to play Centre-Back. Paul Terry made his home debut, and Aaron O’Connor replaced Cliff Akurang up front. Michael Corcoran returned from his suspension to take a place on the bench.

Grays were looked after on a temporary basis by Peter Shreeves, and he named two ex-Diamonds triallists Gavin Hoyte and Jamie Slabber in his starting eleven.

After dominating the early exchanges, the Diamonds took the lead after 10 minutes when a magnificent 35 yard crossfield ball from Lee Tomlin on the left found Matt Pattison on the right, and he controlled the ball superbly with his first touch, then cut inside before firing a shot that was deflected into the net.

Kurt Robinson had forced Grays keeper Lee Butcher into a fine save after 3 minutes, and O’Connor and Tomlin also came close before the Diamonds took the lead.

The Diamonds then had many chances to increase their lead during the first half, with Craig Farrell turning his marker on two occasions, with one resulting in a shot gathered by Lee Butcher, and the other hitting the right hand post. Jamie Stuart had two headers in quick succession, one that was deflected wide, and one that was blocked on the line. Matt Pattison also set up Lee Tomlin for a chance that saw a dipping shot end up on the top of the net.

Curtis Osano was also able to raid forwards, with referee Ross playing an excellent advantage, allowing him to find Lee Tomlin, whose shot was well saved.

At the other end, there was perhaps a sign of things to come, as twice Gavin Hoyte was given time and space as he went forwards for Grays dead ball opportunities, and could have done better with his headers on goal.

Paul Terry almost scored his debut goal for the Diamonds as a double attempt was cleared by a combination of Butcher and his defence.

Just after referee Ross had signalled one minute of added time, Jamie Stuart was adjudged to have fouled Jack Jeffrey as he tried to clear a looping ball, and from the kick Glenn Poole saw his shot deflect off Kurt Robinson and over Dale Roberts head for the equaliser.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Grays Athletic 1

The visitors made what proved to be a telling change at half-time, with the Jack Jeffrey replaced by the lively Charlie Taylor. The Diamonds also made a change, with Max Porter, having been carrying a foot injury since early in the first half, being replaced by Michael Corcoran.

The Diamonds looked like they wanted to make up for their failure to make their pressure pay, as they came close within the first minutes of the second half, as Mark Byrne and Matt Pattison outwitted two Grays defenders near the corner flag, and the Pattison cross was cleverly stepped over by Craig Farrell, but Aaron O’Connor could only shoot wide.

Pattison was continuing his impressive work from the first half, and he found Lee Tomlin with an excellent crossfield ball, with Tomlin forcing Cameron Mawer to concede a corner. Once again Lee Tomlin fired in a dangerous corner, but Michael Corcoran could only head over the bar,

The visitors then won a free kick on the right when Jamie Stuart nudged Charlie Taylor in front of the Assistant Referee. The Poole free kick floated over a static Diamonds defence in a similar manner to the goals conceded to Cambridge and Barrow, and Jack Obersteller ghosted in at the far post to slot home.

Aaron O’Connor’s best work was coming outside of the penalty box, and his run down the left past two defenders saw him feed Lee Tomlin, who cut back inside and fire just inside the left post, just eluding Butcher’s right hand.

Jamie Slabber thought he had restored Grays’ lead a few minutes later, as he slotted home on the end of a Poole freekick, but the whistle had already gone for offside, but the Diamonds defence were clearly struggling to cope with these opportunities.

The best strike of the game saw Grays’ lead restored as the game neared the hour mark, with a Kenny Davis strike on the turn leaving Dale Roberts little chance.

The Diamonds were still getting forwards well, with Kurt Robinson able to support the attack, and his pass to Matt Pattison saw keeper Butcher have to pull out another good save. That was to be Pattison’s last contribution, as he left the game to a well deserved ovation. He was replaced by James Reid, and within a minute the Forest loanee had scored with his first touch of the ball. Once again it was Lee Tomlin who provided the “assist” for the goal, as he picked up a quick Robinson throw, beat his man, then squared to James Reid who netted from near the penalty spot to make it 3-3.

The Diamonds intention to try to go on and win the game was made clear with Cliff Akurang joining the action to replace Craig Farrell, who once again had impressed with his link-up play. Akurang’s first touch was to Lee Tomlin, and he set up Mark Byrne for an effort that was just wide, as the Diamonds “attempts on goal” tally continued to mount.

Despite that, it was the visitors who took the lead again a few minutes later, and once again it was as a result of poor defensive organisation from a dead-ball situation. Curtis Osano was forced to concede a corner by the impressive Taylor, and from the kick Anwar Uddin found a lot of space in order to make the score 3-4.

Both sides then had a chance to score the next goal, with few in the ground thinking the scoring had finished, as Mark Byrne hit a great shot that zipped narrowly wide, and then the visitors had a chance to wrap the game up when Taylor forced Jamie Stuart to turn and chase a long ball from Butcher, getting ahead of him to try to lob an advancing Dale Roberts, but chipped the ball over the bar.

Lee Tomlin showed sublime ball control as he brought a 30 yard crossfield ball under control, but his attempt on goal was just wide. He got his reward a few moments later though, as he beat his man running down the left, getting to the byline to fire towards Aaron O’Connor. Before the striker could put the ball in the net referee Ross had clearly blown his whistle, and after some confusion it was clear he had awarded the Diamonds a penalty, rather than the goal, although it was not too clear what offence he had seen. The referee had played some excellent advantages earlier in the game, but as he had blown before the ball reached O’Connor, the goal could not stand. The issue was resolved when Lee Tomlin fired home the penalty to make it 4-4.

The Diamonds then had 10 minutes plus added time to try to win the game, and it began to look like their efforts would not be good enough, as a Tomlin freekick was headed towards goal by Jamie Stuart, but deflected for a corner. The corner went straight to Michael Corcoran, who had done well to find space in the area, but his first touch allowed a defender to get in a challenge.

Tomlin then beat his man yet again to set up Aaron O’Connor, but the striker pulled his shot past the left post, and this was repeated a couple of minutes later, with the striker again missing at the left-hand post.

Just as the referee announced there would be four minutes of added time, Jack Obersteller skewed a clearance that gave the Diamonds a corner on the right, and the Lee Tomlin kick found the head of Cliff Akurang, who soared above the visiting defence to head home the winner. Tomlin then tried to get his hattrick with an attempt from a Kurt Robinson pass, but the shot was straight to Butcher, allowing him to start a final Grays attack.

The final action of the game saw Akurang pick up a yellow card for time wasting, as he clearly inhibited a Grays defender retrieving the ball in front of the Airwair stand,

Referee Ross blew the final whistle shortly afterwards to bring the pulsating game to an end.

Full Time: Rushden & Diamonds 5 Grays Athletic 4

The level of entertainment at Nene Park this season is back to that seen when the Diamonds were on their rise through the Football Leagues, with a much higher goal-per-game ratio than that seen since those days.

After the early season games were dominated with questions about whether the Diamonds could produce the same level of performance in both halves, the questions now surround the yo-yo levels of performance from defence and attack, with the attack scoring 11 goals on successive Saturdays, yet looking blunt at Ebbsfleet in midweek, and the solid defensive performances since the Salisbury and Forest Green games not suggesting that four goals would be conceded to a Grays team who were averaging less than one goal per game prior to this fixture.

The Diamonds now have a week break for only the second time this season, before the visit of Mansfield Town next weekend.

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Max Porter (Michael Corcoran HT), Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Lee Tomlin, Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell (Cliff Akurang 69), Aaron O’Connor, Matt Pattison (James Reid 62)

Subs Not Used: Sam Smith, Neil Cousins

Grays: Lee Butcher, Anwar Uddin (Capt), Gavin Hoyte, Cameron Mawer, Jamie Slabber, Richard Graham, Sam Cutler (Billy Crowther 82), Thomas Harvey (Jack Obersteller 37), Kenny Davis, Glenn Poole. Jack Jeffrey (Charlie Taylor HT)

Subs Not Used: Preston Edwards, Getro Kilapi

Goals: Pattison (10, 1-0), Poole (45+1, 1-1), Obersteller (52, 1-2), Tomlin (56, 2-2), Davis (58, 2-3), Reid (63, 3-3), Uddin (70, 3-4), Tomlin (pen 80 4-4), Akurang (90+1, 5-4)

Yellow Cards: Pattison (foul), Terry (dissent), Mawer (persistent fouls), Graham (foul), Akurang (time wasting)

Referee: Mr S J Ross

Attendance: 1192 (away 39)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Lee Tomlin

For Video highlights see here.

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

The Diamonds saw their away campaign in the 2009-10 season start with a well-deserved point in a goalless draw against York City. The fact that the home sponsors gave their man of the match award to York keeper Michael Ingham perhaps sums up the evening, as the Diamonds dominated midfield and reduced York to break-aways and long-balls for long periods. Ingham made a world class save to deny Neil Cousins mid way through the second half as the Diamonds pushed for the goal their play deserved. Despite some late scares when York brought on Michael Gash to partner Richard Brodie, the point was the least the Diamonds deserved from the evening.

The Diamonds started with Craig Farrell, Neil Cousins, Max Porter and Michael Corcoran in the side, meaning places on the bench for Cliff Akurang, Nick McNamara and James Reid. Mark Byrne and Matt Pattison completed the five players on the bench. Martin Foyle was able to name the same 16 that played at Oxford at the weekend. Corcoran started at right back, with Curtis Osano moving to centre back.

The Diamonds had the better of the first half, with some fine moves combined with energetic closing down of their opponents; soliciting cries of "look like you want it" and "move yourselves" from the home crowd towards their team.

York did come the closest to opening the scoring, when Alex Lawless and Neil Barrett combined to break past Jamie Stuart, and Curtis Osano fouled Barrett on the edge of the box, with the referee signalling the free kick before the ball was put into the net by Michael Rankine.

At the other end the Diamonds came close when Lee Tomlin switched to the right (he had started on the left) and nutmegged James Meredith as he burst to the corner of the six-yard box, but keeper Ingham parried his shot away for a corner, with Rob Wolleaston on hand if the ball had got past him.

Tomlin also created a great chance for Craig Farrell with a cross from the left, after a great ball from Max Porter had found him in space, but the ball struck the striker on the arm, and the referee had blown his whistle before the ball was put into the net by Porter who had run 50 yards in support.

Half-Time: York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The second half was rather more even, with the Diamonds best spell coming midway through the half, as firstly Cousins was denied by Ingham, and then James Reid, Craig Farrell, Rob Wolleaston and Cliff Akurang all went close, with Farrell putting in a fine performance against his old club, Reid looking far less nervous than he did on Saturday, and Max Porter being especially impressive on his full debut for the club, including a powerful effort from 30 yards that Ingham did well to parry. Centre backs Osano and Stuart were ably supported by Corcoran and Robinson, with Dale Roberts quick to gather any loose balls. Lee Tomlin had to leave the action on the hour mark due to a recurrence of an injury sustained in training.

The only real scare early in the half came when Curtis Osano tried to play football when under pressure, rather than resorting to "Row Z" tactics, and his attempt to get a goal-kick off the shins of Andy Ferrell saw the ex-Kidderminster midfielder set clear on goal, near the byline, and his low cross brought the best out of Dale Roberts as he scooped the ball away to safety. Roberts also did well to tip a curling shot from Brodie around a post.

Once again the home crowd started to get restless with their team, with shouts of "look interested" as well as discussion about how a team as impressive as the Diamonds could have lost to Salisbury.

Neil Cousins picked up a yellow card for his part in a mêlée after Neil Barrett had fouled Rob Wolleaston. Referee Khatib had handled the game very well, and had kept his cards in his pocket on a couple of occasions, but he had little alternative to penalise the worst tackle of the game.

Michael Rankine left the field to a standing ovation from the home crowd, but although he had won his share of headers, very little was created from them as a result of excellent covering work by the Diamonds defence.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, the Minstermen had perhaps their best period of the game, with the Diamonds starting to tire after such excellent closing down and winning such a percentage of "second ball". They had a claim for a penalty when Jamie Stuart brought down Richard Brodie just outside the box, and then Brodie broke clear but poor control allowed the Diamonds defence to clear the danger.

There was still a Diamonds threat at the other end, even though it appeared they would be happy with a draw by this stage – with excellent interchanges between Porter, Wolleaston and Cousins seeing Cousins shot blocked, and then Cliff Akurang almost made the home defence pay for sloppy play by beating his man and running on goal as the match entered injury time. Although he appeared to move the ball to make space past Ingham, his shot went across the face of the goal and away to safety. Akurang had a final chance when Craig Farrell flicked the ball on, and although he shrugged off his marker his shot went across the face of the goal once more.

Full-Time: York City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Teams:

York City: Michael Ingham, Alex Lawless, David McGurk, Danny Parslow (Capt), James Meredith, Ben Purkiss, Levi Mackin, Andy Ferrell, Neil Barrett, Michael Rankine, Richard Brodie

Subs: Craig Nelthorpe(for Ferrell 60), Michael Gash (for Rankine 68), Adam Smith (for Lawless 86).

Subs Not Used: Djoumin Sangare, Alan O’Hare

Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Rob Wolleaston, Lee Tomlin, Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell, Neil Cousins.

Subs: James Reid (for Tomlin 59), Cliff Akurang (for O’Connor 63).

Subs Not Used: Nick McNamara, Matt Pattison, Mark Byrne

Yellow Cards: Barrett 73 (foul), Cousins 73 (reaction to foul)

Referee: Billy Khatib

Diamonds Man of the Match: Max Porter

Attendance: 2267 (away 93)

Ebbsfleet United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

The Diamonds failed to repeat their exploits at Barrow, as they had to be content with a point from a goalless draw at Ebbsfleet. It was an even game, with both sides hitting the woodwork once, and both keepers making a single quality save.

As expected, Justin Edinburgh named an unchanged 16, following their performance at Barrow on Saturday.

The first half was a poor affair, with the Diamonds struggling to adjust to the home side’s 4-5-1 formation, and it was the hosts who had the few chances that occurred in the first 40 minutes, with Dale Roberts doing well to cover when Simon Thomas beat the offside trap. Magno Viera shot over from a good position, and Stefan Bailey headed a Collins cross wide.

It was only in the last five minutes of the half that the Diamonds really threatened the Fleet goal, with Craig Farrell tripping when running onto a Cliff Akurang flick on, then Mark Byrne hitting the post when set up by Matt Pattison. Lee Tomlin also had a chance to run on goal after great work by Paul Terry, but he was thwarted by Dean Pooley at the end of a lacklustre half.

Half-Time: Ebbsfleet United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The second half had to be an improvement – and it certainly started with a bang, as Dale Roberts pulled out a great save to deny Magno Viera’s header. Lee Tomlin then had the Diamonds best chance of the game, as he was set free on goal by an Akurang flick, but he tried to lob keeper Cronin who was wise to it, and easily caught the ball.

The game then descended to the level of the first half, although Fleet came the closest to breaking the deadlock when substitute James Lindie struck the post with a header. Fleet also had claims for a penalty turned down when fell under a challenge from Jamie Stuart, but referee Whitton deemed the Fleet played had dived, and issued a yellow card.

The Diamonds had a couple of penalty claims of their own, as first Lee Tomlin was tackled by Leon Crooks in the area after he was alert to a Terry pass which dissected the Fleet defence, and then Craig Farrell was brought down just before the 90 minutes were up, but as with the Fleet claims, the referee looked to have got the decisions correct, as he did for much of the game.

Whereas the front six had impressed in the victory at Barrow on Saturday, it was the Diamonds back five that travel back from Kent with credit, as the attacking threat was severely blunted, and the second half substitutions changed little.

Full-Time: Ebbsfleet United 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds now have a few days to prepare before the visit of Ebbsfleet’s neighbours Grays United to Nene Park on Saturday.

Ebbsfleet United : Lance Cronin, Jordan Collins, Gavin Heeroo, Dean Pooley, Magno Viera, Ishmael Welsh, Kane Willis (Ricky Shakes 85), Leon Crooks, Stefon Bailey (Jamie Forshaw 90+3), Darius Charles, Simon Thomas (James Lindie 58)

Subs Not Used: Will Salmon, Scott Ginty

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Max Porter, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Matt Pattison (James Reid 83), Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang (Sam Smith 71), Lee Tomlin (Aaron O’Connor 66)

Subs Not Used: Bobby Aisien, Neil Cousins

Goals : None

Yellow Cards : Ishmael Welsh (Diving), Matt Pattison (foul)

Referee :R Whitton

Attendance : 863 (away 79)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Jamie Stuart

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