Barrow 1 Rushden & Diamonds 6

The Diamonds ended their ten game run without an away victory with a flourish, with a 6-1 win at Holker Street against Barrow. The Diamonds scored three goals in the first half, through Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang and Matt Pattison as their sweeping attacking play, assisted by a strong wind, threatened the Barrow goal with almost every attack. Even though Barrow pulled a goal back early in the second half, the Diamonds scored three more, through Farrell, Neil Cousins and James Reid the last two after the Bluebirds had been reduced to 10 men.

The travelling Diamonds fans were rewarded for their efforts in making the long trip north by an impressive team performance, with some excellent passing moves through midfield, two wide players who threatened all afternoon, and a strikeforce that impressed on the deck as well as in the air.

With the four previous away wins being 9-0, 4-0, 3-0 and 4-0 it is over a season since the Diamonds had a narrow away victory – against Eastbourne at the start of last season.

With Simon Downer unavailable due to the finger injury picked up against Cambridge a few days earlier, Max Porter dropped back to full back, with Curtis Osano moving to centre back. This allowed Paul Terry to make his Diamonds debut in midfield. Up front Craig Farrell was recalled to partner Cliff Akurang.

Barrow made just one change for the game as they celebrated 100 years at Holker Street, with the names of Barrow legends being held up by the fans as the teams ran onto the pitch. Ex-Diamond Gareth Jelleyman was in the Bluebirds starting line-up.

Home captain Paul Jones elected to change ends to play into the strong wind in the first half.

The first goal came inside four minutes, as the Diamonds won a free kick on the right, with the ball floated by Porter into the area for Lee Tomlin to force the ball back to Craig Farrell  to hit the ball on the half-volley in-off the post. In previous games the Diamonds luck might have seen that volley bounce back off the post, but perhaps this was the first indication this might be Diamonds afternoon.

The second goal wasn’t long afterwards, after 14 minutes, when Matt Pattison once again drifted past Gareth Jelleyman and hit a cross shot which Craig Farrell stepped over for Cliff Akurang to fire home from the edge of the six-yard box.

Dale Roberts was rarely troubled in the first half, but he did make one excellent save from Robin Hulbert during the half, albeit the flag had gone up for offside. At the other end Tim Deasy’s goal was under constant threat, with both wide men making runs into the area and shooting narrowly wide, along with Mark Byrne and Paul Terry impressing in midfield. Perhaps the most impressive players were Akurang and Farrell, who had quickly built up a great understanding with the midfield four, and were able to join in some tight passing moves that showed the vision of all six players. With some great touches on the ground the Diamonds had used the wind in their favour to great effect.

The Diamonds did have one scare in the first half when Mark Boyd hit the post, having been set up by Jason Walker, but they scored a deserved third when Kurt Robinson won the ball on the left, and it was worked forward by the impressive Paul Terry to find Matt Pattison, in a fairly central position, and he was able to keep the ball on his left foot, holding off the Jelleyman challenge as he ran to the edge of the box and fired home.

The Barrow defence was in disarray at times, with Phil Bolland lucky not to have been punished by the fourth goal as giving a loose ball straight to Craig Farrell. Farrell then turned provider as he laid the ball off to Lee Tomlin, who ghosted past Spender and was unlucky to see his shot deflect off a defender and into keeper Deasey’s arms.

Paul Terry came close to marking his debut with a goal as he was set up by Matt Pattison on the end of a slick passing move, but his shot from the edge of the area, was well gathered by Deasey.

The final action of the half saw Craig Farrell receive the ball in space in the penalty area from a quick Pattison throw-in, and although he appeared to be hauled down, no penalty was awarded. This was quickly followed by Mark Byrne forcing Deasey into yet another save after Cliff Akurang had combined with Matt Pattison – the save meaning that Deasey required treatment.

There were four yellow cards in the first half, as well as the three goals, with Mark Byrne picking up a card for holding back Jon Shaw, and Lee Tomlin picking up a card when he tangled with keeper Deasey, who was also booked. Simon Spender was shown the other yellow, after Craig Farrell was pulled down at the start of a Diamonds break, but, with the referee initially playing advantage, Gareth Jelleyman was lucky to not also see yellow as he stopped Cliff Akurang who was threatening to run free on goal. There was also a suggestion that Spender was booked for dissent, with the foul on Farrell being by Bolland, who escaped any sanction.

Half Time : Barrow 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3

The Diamonds started the second half brightly, with Lee Tomlin forcing Deasey to save with his feet after being set clear by Craig Farrell.

Barrow pulled a goal back early in the second half, as substitute Andy Bond fired home when a Jon Shaw effort cannoned back off the angle of post and bar. Shaw had been allowed space in the area as a free kick had been delivered from the left, but the wind was clearly a factor in the misjudgement by the Diamonds defence,

Within a few minutes the three goal lead was restored when Craig Farrell headed home a pin-point Matt Pattison cross. In another example of poor defending Farrell was able to head home unchallenged without needing to jump for the ball.

Barrow when down to 10 men when Simon Spender picked up a second yellow card for an attempt to win a penalty, which the referee and his assistant saw as a dive. Spender left the pitch to applause from the home fans, something his team-mates were denied when they left the pitch after 90 minutes to a chorus of boos.

Against 10 men the Diamonds continued to dominate, with Kurt Robinson coming close on two occasions as he was able to get forwards and link up with Lee Tomlin – the second effort being the best struck shot of the afternoon that stung Deasey’s hands. Tomlin also forced a good save before he was repaced by James Reid, possibly a legacy of his earlier booking.

Although Phil Bolland had been having a wretched day in the Barrow defence, he did have the home side’s best effort during the last quarter, as he was fed by Jason Walker, and realising he lacked support he hit a powerful shot that Roberts did well to save.

The Diamonds had what looked like a clear penalty shout turned down, when Paul Jones knocked a cross away to safety with his hand, and despite the assistant referee flagging furiously to indicate he had seen the offence, referee Mohareb chose to play on, but perhaps it would be too greedy to highlight this issue too much.

Reid was able to continue the good work that Tomlin had started, with dangerous runs down the left, as well as some well-hit corners and free kicks, so it was no surprise when he burst into the area and fired across goal for fellow substitute Neil Cousins to slide home for the Diamonds fifth. James Reid then completed the scoring during added time, after being put in by Aaron O’Connor and firing into the right hand side of the net.

Full Time : Barrow 1 Rushden & Diamonds 6

The Diamonds now just have a short break before their next away game, at Ebbsfleet on Tuesday. It will be important to try to string together two impressive away performance (and hopefully results), especially with respect to the “false dawns” of the impressive Wrexham and Altrincham away performances last season

Barrow: Tim Deasy, Simon Spender, Gareth Jelleyman, Paul Jones, Phil Bolland, Paul Rutherford, Robin Hulbert, Mark Boyd (Andy Bond HT), Jason Walker, Jon Shaw, Carlos Logan

Subs Not Used: Stuart Tomlinson, Mike Pearson, Adam Dugdale, Phil Morris

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Max Porter, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Matt Pattison (Neil Cousins 86), Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell (Aaron O’Connor 74), Cliff Akurang, Lee Tomlin (James Reid 70)

Subs Not Used : Sam Smith, Bobby Aisien

Goals : Farrell (0-1 4 mins), Akurang (0-2 14 mins), Pattison (0-3 38 mins), Bond (1-3 52 mins) Farrell (1-4 57 mins), Cousins (1-5 90 mins), Reid (1-6 90+2 mins)

Yellow Cards: Byrne, Spender, Deasy, Tomlin

Red Card: Spender (64 mins)

Referee 😀 Mohareb

Attendance : 1089 (away approx 50)

Diamonds Man of the Match : Craig Farrell

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

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