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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