Luton Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

The Diamonds made history as they picked up their first win over Luton Town to make it four wins in a row. An excellent second half performance saw goals from Lee Tomlin and Mark Byrne give the Diamonds a deserved win. The Diamonds took the lead when Tomlin capitalised on a slip by Kevin Nicholls to race clear and slot the ball home with his left foot after 84 minutes, and then Mark Byrne broke clear and chipped Tyler to make the game safe deep into injury time.

Diamonds Manager Justin Edinburgh made one change from the team that beat Workington in the FA Cup last weekend, with Captain Jamie Stuart returning in place of Simon Downer who had picked up an injury in midweek. Dale Roberts and Matt Pattison were joined on the bench by Cliff Akurang, Mark Byrne and loan striker Danny Mills.

The Hatters welcomed their new manager Richard Money, whose appointment had only been confirmed the day before the game. His new assistant Alan Neilson had been caretaker manager, and the pair were able to select from a big squad that included several players returning from injury and suspension. This meant a return for Rossi Jarvis and Kevin Gallen. Money and chief scout Gary Brabin watched the game from the stand.

The first half ended even, but there had been many chances at either end during the half, although the Diamonds rode their luck somewhat. The Hatters had the ball in the net twice, but both were flagged offside, and Kevin Gallen failed to find an empty net with a lob after an Abbey clearance had been blocked. Abbey also made two excellent saves, and Tom Craddock hit the post when clean through. The Diamonds struggled to cope with the threat of the impressive Adam Newton down the Luton right, but Jamie Stuart made an impressive return to the side, as he and Curtis Osano coped with the threat of Kevin Gallen and Tom Craddock.

At the other end the Diamonds threatened on occasions, but had to be content with half-a-dozen corners rather than forcing Tyler into a meaningful save. The best chance fell to Lee Tomlin who was found in acres of space in the penalty box by a Neil Cousins cross. Tomlin had plenty of time to steady himself and shoot, but only managed to fire high and wide. A neat Diamonds move had also seen a chance created for Curtis Osano, but his shot threatened the Diamonds fans behind the goal more than Mark Tyler. The Diamonds had also seen an early claim for a penalty turned down when Lee Tomlin broke into the area in the first minute, and appeared to be stopped by a high tackle.

The half ended with the scores level, with Nathan Abbey responding well to the taunts he was getting from the home crowd to keep the scorelines level with his two excellent saves.

Half-Time: Luton Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Justin Edinburgh’s half-time team talk must have given his players the encouragement they needed to take the game to Luton, as they started the second half in totally dominant fashion. Whereas Mark Tyler in the Hatters goal had not really been called into action in the first half, he had to make the first of several good saves from Aaron O’Connor after Craig Farrell had directed a Jamie Stuart pass into his path.

Lee Tomlin also went close after a good run down the left, and Max Porter saw a shot go over the bar as he ran onto an O’Connor layoff as the Diamonds completely dominated play.

Farrell and O’Connor were continuing to link up well, and a chest-pass from the ex-York City striker allowed O’Connor an attempt on goal that forced another save from Tyler.

The first of the Diamonds substitutions was to replace Neil Cousins with Mark Byrne, but it was the two Luton substitutions around this time that introduced controversy, as a vocal minority in the home crowd made their feelings clearly known about the changes being made. Rossi Jarvis was called into the England C team this week, but would not have been happy to see his week end the way it did.

The Hatters main threat was coming from Claude Gnakpa, and Abbey was forced to pull off another excellent save to a well hit Gnakpa shot that also took a slight deflection.

The Diamonds made their second substitution after 77 minutes with Cliff Akurang replacing Aaron O’Connor. Special mention must be made of O’Connor’s contribution, as he chased the Luton defence for the entire period he was on the pitch, linking well with Farrell and the midfield, and with a bit more luck would have scored the goal his performance deserved. Whereas the Diamonds had been content to slow the game down in the first half, their total domination of the second half meant that a positive substitution was made as the Diamonds looked to win the game.

That intent almost paid immediate dividends as Mark Byrne made space on the right to hit a powerful shot towards the corner of the goal that Tyler could only parry, and Lee Tomlin picked up the loose ball after a hurried attempted clearance by Pilkington, but could only fire wide.

The Diamonds breakthrough came after 84 minutes, as the Diamonds defence broke down a Hatters attack, forcing them to play the ball back to Ed Asafu-Adjaye on the edge of the box, and he in turn was pressured to knock the ball quickly to Kevin Nicholls ten yards inside the Diamonds half. Although the Hatters captain was a clear favourite to get to the ball first, Lee Tomlin made the effort to put him under pressure, and this paid off as Nicholls slipped, allowing Tomlin to race clear and coolly slot home past Tyler with his left foot, despite pressure from Nicholls and another defender.

The Hatters looked shell-shocked by the goal, but did manage one more meaningful attack down the right channel via the impressive Gnakpa, and his cross to the far post was headed towards Andy Burgess by Tom Craddock, but the ex-Diamonds captain could only direct his header wide, towards the Diamonds fans who were really getting behind their team.

After five minutes of added time were signalled, those travelling Diamonds fans who have witnessed late disappointment many times before would have been nervously checking their watches, but any doubt about the result was removed in the fourth minute of injury time, as Mark Byrne capped a cameo performance by running onto a ball worked forward by Michael Corcoran, starting the run from inside his own half, allowing him to run into the penalty box, compose himself, and hit a neat chip over Tyler to start the Diamonds fans celebrations for their first victory over Luton Town – and their first return of any kind from a trip to Kenilworth Road.

Full-Time: Luton Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

The Luton fans further showed their displeasure to their players as they left the pitch, and Messrs Money and Brabin, watching from the stand, would have begun to appreciate the pressures they will be under in terms of team selection, performances and expectations.

With the victory taking the Diamonds into sixth place in the table, they will now be able to put any thoughts of a push for the playoffs aside as they prepare for the visit of Hinckley United in the FA Cup next weekend.

The four wins out of the five games in October must also given Justin Edinburgh a chance of claiming the Manager of the Month prize, and he was quick to praise his players for their second half performance in his interview after the game. He will be watching Hinckley United on Monday evening in preparation for the Cup Game, the same evening that the Diamonds Youth team play Northampton Town at Nene Park.

Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Alan White (Fred Murray 75), George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Adam Newton, Kevin Nicholls (Capt), Asa Hall (Andy Burgess 60), Kevin Gallen, Tom Craddock, Rossi Jarvis (Claude Gnakpa 71).

Subs Not Used: Ryan Charles, Shane Gore

Rushden & Diamonds: Nathan Abbey, Michael Corcoran, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Neil Cousins (Mark Byrne 57), Paul Terry, Craig Farrell, Aaron O’Connor (Cliff Akurang 77), Lee Tomlin (Matt Pattison 86)

Subs Not Used: Danny Mills, Dale Roberts.

Goals: Lee Tomlin (84), Mark Byrne (90+4)

Yellow Cards: Craddock (deliberate handball), Cousins (timewasting (albeit accidental)), Tomlin (foul (plus earlier offences))

Referee: A Bennett

Attendance: 7101 (away 402)

Diamonds Man of the Match: A team performance, especially in the second half !

For video highlights see here.

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography


Workington 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3

Rushden & Diamonds went through to the first round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 victory over Workington at a windy Borough Park in West Cumbria.

The Diamonds took the lead after 20 minutes. Lee Tomlin set off on a run down the right, and won the Diamonds first corner. Tomlin took the corner, and although the first shot from Craig Farrell was blocked Aaron O’Connor was on hand to slot home.

After Tomlin missed a penalty in the second half, the Diamonds made the game safe when Michael Corcoran tapped home a Craig Farrell free kick, and then the Diamonds captain Corcoran added a third in added time from the spot after Kurt Robinson had been fouled.

With the enforced changes due to Jamie Stuart’s suspension and Cliff Akurang being unavailable, Justin Edinburgh started with Farrell and O’Connor up front, with Simon Downer returning to the back four. Having a bench with seven substitutes allowed him to name Bobby Aisien on the bench as defensive cover, alongside recent signing Danny Mills. Michael Corcoran was given the captain’s armband, and this came as no surprise for those Diamonds fans who had seen how well he had handled the difficult situation at Ebbsfleet when Garry Hill was in charge. The home side were content with six substitutes, and made just one change to the side that had beaten Radcliffe Borough in the previous round.

The Reds were lined up numbered from 1 to 11 – certainly making it easier for those watching to work out who was playing where, and coupled with the traditional feel of Borough Park it brought back memories of the days before the commercialisation of the game began to overwhelm tradition.

The changeable Cumbrian weather meant there was a rainbow over the River Derwent early in the game, but the comments of the Radio Cumbria commentator, echoed by many of the locals, that this might be an omen for the home side looking for a pot of gold in the FA Cup were to prove incorrect. The weather was the biggest factor in the game, with the hosts failing to allow for the strong wind at their backs, with many long balls ending up going through to Abbey, or out for goal kicks.

Aaron O’Connor was looking lively after his performance at Nene Park the previous weekend, and a raid down the left won the Diamonds free kick in a dangerous position on the left. Craig Farrell had been given free-kick taking duties for this game, for any kicks within range of goal. Those Diamonds fans that had seen some of the pre-season friendlies, especially the Devon Tournament, were already aware of the danger that Craig created from such kicks, and this was the first of three excellent kicks that he took during the game – this one forcing a good save from Caig just inside his near post.

The first dangerous attack from the hosts came on 19 minutes, after they won a free kick when Johnny Wright went down rather easily as Curtis Osano brushed up behind him. The free kick was cleared to Lee Tomlin, who was covering the Diamonds right flank, and he ran from down that flank and won the Diamonds a corner. Tomlin took the kick, and Craig Farrell got in a first time shot that was blocked, but fell to Aaron O’Connor who coolly netted the opening goal.

Tomlin was giving Andy Langford a few challenges, especially when he showed how easily he could beat him for pace, but Langford did at least as well as Des Lyttle had done the previous weekend.

The other major chance of the half came when Neil Cousins did well to control a looping ball in his own half and get it forwards to Aaron O’Connor. The striker ran on and saw his shot blocked, then Craig Farrell forced a save from Caig with the rebound, with the ball went wide to Paul Terry who forced a further save from Caig and then hit the side-netting with the second attempt.

The last chance of the half fell to Max Porter, who is rarely wayward with his shooting, and once again forced a good save from Caig.

Half Time: Workington 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds started the second half with three dangerous looking breaks inside the first five minutes, showing they were better able to adjust to having the wind at their backs, with both Farrell and O’Connor showing good control of the looping passes forward to them.

The Reds were more of a threat on goal in the second half, but their two best chances came as a result of defensive errors by the Diamonds defence. The first came when Max Porter squared the ball to Michael Corcoran, who appeared to be in plenty of space, but the ball was caught by the wind, meaning he had more ground to make up to reach it, and Ruttledge nipped in and started an attack down the right, which ended with Simon Downer making a great clearance with a diving header for a corner, as a cross by Armison appeared headed for his strike partner. This was the first corner the hosts had won in the game, highlighting the strength of the Diamonds back five to that point.

The Diamonds had a chance to relieve the concerns that the Reds might fight back and score an equaliser when they won a penalty on the hour mark, when a Simon Downer header appeared goal-bound before hitting the outstretched arm of Andy Langford. It was a clear penalty, although the home side claimed it was "ball to hand", the distance between the two players, and the fact his arm was away from his body left referee Khatib with an easy decision to make. Lee Tomlin stepped up to take the kick, but his approach to the ball always suggested he would get under it, and the ball flew high and wide of the goal, heading towards the River Derwent. The kick was very similar to Tomlin’s miss at Corby in pre-season, and meant that the pressure remained on the Conference side.

The missed seemed to inspire the home side, and Simon Downer was called into action to save his side with a great tackle on Wright after Kurt Robinson had conceded cheaply. Downer also linked up with Craig Farrell at the other end after Kurt Robinson won a corner off Wright at the other end – and a great turn by the striker was followed by a shot just wide.

A further chance to the home side almost came as a result of a misjudged header by Curtis Osano, but to the defender’s credit he chased back and cleared the danger as Gareth Arnison threatened the goal down the right channel.

The Diamonds brought on Danny Mills for his Diamonds debut, and the tall striker immediately looked dangerous with his runs down the left flank. The second of these drew a foul from Langford. Craig Farrell had been threatening with his free kicks all game, and this one delivered a reward in the form of a clinching goal, as the powerful angled kick from only 5 yards in from the touchline eluded the Reds wall as well the central defenders, and Michael Corcoran was able to ghost in on the far post and tap the ball home. The goal was scored on 81 minutes, and the 2-0 scoreline appeared to make the game safe for the Diamonds.

The final chance to the home side almost came as a result of a mix-up between Michael Corcoran and Nathan Abbey, as they tried to decide who should deal with a routine ball towards the edge of the penalty area, but somehow they both hesitated at the same time, and just as the defender tried to lob the ball to his keeper, Arnison nipped in and got his head to the ball. Luckily for the Diamonds he could only make a glancing contact, and the ball crept wide.

After the home side had put up a fighting performance, it was perhaps rather cruel to see them concede a second penalty in the third minute of added time, as Kurt Robinson received the ball back from a throw-in on the left, and was brought down in the box by Tom Aldred. Lee Tomlin wanted another attempt, but captain Michael Corcoran had been a regular penalty taker in his earlier career, and proved this by taking the kick himself, and slotting it coolly home.

It is a tribute to the Diamonds defence, especially given the windy conditions that they protected their penalty area so well that Nathan Abbey was rarely called into action, and he did not need to make a decisive save all game.

Full Time: Workington 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3

Although a few of the Reds fans expressed their disappointment to referee Khatib at the end of the game, they had contributed to the atmosphere in a fair and well fought cup-tie – despite the wind and the open nature of Borough Park making it difficult to create an intimidating environment for their visitors. The referee also deserves special mention, as he allowed the game to flow, kept his cards in his pocket until necessary, and was not afraid to aware two clear spot kicks to a visiting side.

As the game ended, the 40 or so travelling Diamonds fans came around to the tunnel area to cheer the players for their excellent all-around performance, braving the driving rain that had started with a vengeance just as the final whistle sounded.

This was an excellent team performance, perhaps the best since the previous game in Cumbria, with no one player standing out, and each of the 14 willing to work for each other.

The Diamonds players will now plan to be in front of their TVs on Sunday afternoon between 1 and 1:30pm to see who they will face in the First Round Proper on 7th November.


Workington: Tony Caig, Andy Langford, Gari Rowntree, Kyle May, Tom Aldred, Shaun Vipond, Phil McLuckie, Tony Hopper (Capt) (Callum Ruttledge 30), Jonny Wright, Gareth Arnison, Anthony Wright (Dan Shannon 77)

Subs Not Used: Darren Edmondson, Aaran Taylor, Lee Andrews, Andy Hardman.

Diamonds: Nathan Abbey, Michael Corcoran (Capt), Kurt Robinson, Max Porter (Mark Byrne 83), Simon Downer, Curtis Osano, Neil Cousins (Matt Pattison 73), Paul Terry, Craig Farrell, Aaron O’Connor (Danny Mills 76), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: James Reid, Sam Smith, Dale Roberts, Bobby Aisien

Goals: O’Connor (20), Corcoran (81) , Corcoran (pen 90+3)

Yellow Cards: McLuckie (foul), Langford (dissent)

Referee: B Khatib

Attendance: 724 (away approx 40)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Simon Downer

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Tamworth 2

Rushden & Diamonds won an entertaining game with Tamworth by three goals to two at Nene Park. The Diamonds went ahead after four minutes when Lee Tomlin beat two men and fired home. The visitors equalised after 7 minutes when poor Diamonds defending allowed Simon Russell to shoot and see the shot parried to Nick Wright who netted easily. After 17 minutes the Diamonds took the lead when Tomlin took a short corner, received the ball back from Max Porter, beat one man and hit a cross / shot which went straight into the net at the far post. In the second half, Aaron O’Connor made it 3-1 when he tapped home a parried Tomlin shot on 77 minutes. There was a late scare for the Diamonds when Richard Tait scrambled the ball home in the third minute of the five minutes of added time.

Apart from the late goal, the other disappointment for the Diamonds was the yellow card awarded to Jamie Stuart – his fifth of the season – so he will be suspended for the FA Cup tie next weekend.

With the team only having scored three goals in their last six games, manager Justin Edinburgh started with Farrell and Akurang up front, and left Mark Byrne and Matt Pattison on the bench for the second successive game. For the Lambs Gary Mills included himself on the bench, and included ex-Diamond Tom Shaw in his starting line-up.

The first-half started without a lot happening until the fourth minute, when Kurt Robinson got forwards for the first time down the left, linking up with Lee Tomlin, who took the ball past two defenders as he cut inside, and hit a shot that was deflected past Alcock.

It only took the visitors three minutes to equalise, when a long ball had the Diamonds defence in the same sort of trouble they had seen at Chester, and they only managed to clear the ball to Simon Russell, whose shot was parried by Abbey, but it fell straight to the unmarked Nick Wright who fired home.

The Diamonds appeared to have a good case for being awarded a penalty after 12 minutes when a Farrell flick-on was well controlled by Neil Cousins and his cross to the far post appeared to hit a defensive arm, but referee Coote waved away the penalty claims.

Lee Tomlin almost made a great chance for Cliff Akurang, after Kurt Robinson knocked an excellent crossfield ball from Max Porter into his path, but the cross narrowly eluded the striker and the far post.

The Diamonds second came after 17 minutes, when the Diamonds won a corner on the left, which Lee Tomlin took short to the alert Max Porter, received the ball back, beat one man and fired in a cross shot which went straight in the goal, in-off the far post.

Tamworth were playing the ball around a five-man midfield, whereas the Diamonds were often resorting to a long ball from defence, and the visitors had the best of the play in the remainder of the first half, with Russell and Sheridan proving a threat down both flanks. One run by Sheridan saw him leave Neil Cousins and Michael Corcoran in his wake, but his shot was just wide to the left of the goal.

On the half-hour the Diamonds had a further chance when a free kick from defence was played to Lee Tomlin, and he hit a defence splitting pass to Cliff Akurang, whose first touch was good and took him past Gaughran, but his powerfully hit shot was touched around the post by Alcock.

The visitors should have equalised on the stroke of half-time, when Sheridan set Pritchard free on the left, and he hit an excellent cross onto the head of Wright, who should have done better with his header.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 2 Tamworth 1

As with the Grays game that delivered seven goals, the Diamonds were attacking the empty AirWair end in the second half. Kurt Robinson was starting to get forwards more, and the unselfish Lee Tomlin was happy to tee him up in space on several occasions. Robinson was then alert enough to find Tomlin in space from a quick throw-in, who hit a shot from a narrow angle that Alcock saved. Robinson then ran onto a pinpoint through-ball from Tomlin, but his first touch was a bit heavy, and he could only attempt to square the ball rather than shoot.

With Aaron O’Connor replacing Cliff Akurang, Jamie Stuart also started to move the ball forwards to the feet of the Diamonds midfield, rather than relying on the long ball, and from one of these Lee Tomlin played a 1-2 with Kurt Robinson, and then threaded a slide-rule pass into the area for Robinson to run onto, but the defender was just wide of the right hand post with his shot.

Craig Farrell was impressing with his hold-up play, and his unselfish distribution, but his turn past his marker saw a shot go just over the bar.

The Diamonds were finding room on both flanks, with Mark Byrne giving the Diamonds a new dimension, and he and Max Porter drew the Lambs defence over to the Diamonds right before spreading the ball across to Lee Tomlin on the left, and he quickly broke towards the byline before squaring the ball for Aaron O’Connor to force the ball home.

Tomlin and Robinson were running Des Lyttle ragged on the Diamonds left, and Craig Farrell came over to join them in a slick move that saw Tomlin fire over the bar. Matt Pattison had joined the action, and he was giving the Diamonds more of a threat on the right, and was unlucky to see a well-hit shot strike Craig Farrell. Farrell then executed a delicate back flick to a throw-in from Pattison into the path of Aaron O’Connor whose shot was narrowly wide.

With 15 minutes left Tom Shaw was replaced by Michael Wylde, and he was applauded from the field by both sets of fans.

Referee Coote had been fairly inconspicuous in the first half, but his "performance of two halves" resulted in his whistle and yellow card getting much more of an airing. Several of the yellows appeared to be awarded for fairly routine foul tackles, but there were questions whether Daniel Andrews’ challenge on Matt Pattison which sent the Diamonds midfielder into the Tamworth dugout might have merited more punishment.

Five minutes of additional time were signalled, which came as a surprise given there had only been brief interruptions in play, and only the single goal in the half, whereas there had only been a minute added in a first half of three goals and a injury being attended to. Initially this did not seem of concern to the Diamonds, but in the fourth of these added minutes the visitors found several gaping holes in the Diamonds defence, with a Sheridan shot being deflected to Nick Wright, whose shot was deflected onto the bar by Abbey, but the Diamonds keeper had to watch as his defence still failed to get the ball clear and allowed Richard Tait to fire home. There was still time for a further Tamworth attack, and a chance for a surprise equaliser, but Wright’s shot was harmlessly wide.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 3 Tamworth 2

The Diamonds now have a clear week preparing for the alternative challenge of the FA Cup. With Simon Downer back after suspension, but Jamie Stuart’s fifth card of the season means he will miss that game. Clearance will be required for the loan signings to compete in the game, and with seven substitutes permitted on the bench, it may be a chance for Nicky McNamara and Rob Wolleaston to return to the team sheet.


Rushden & Diamonds: Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry (Matt Pattison 80), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran, Neil Cousins (Mark Byrne 58), Max Porter, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang (Aaron O’Connor 52), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: Sam Smith, Dale Roberts

Tamworth: Danny Alcock, Des Lyttle, Michael Blackwood, Sam Gaughran, Michael Briscoe, Richard Tait, Jake Sheridan, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Shaw (Michael Wylde 75), Simon Russell (Daniel Andrew 70), Nick Wright

Subs Not Used: Gary Mills, Anthony Bruce, Wayne Looker

Goals: Tomlin (1-0 4mins), Wright (1-1 8mins), Tomlin (2-1 17), O’Connor (3-1 78), Tait (3-2 90+4)

Yellow Cards: Sheridan, Gaughran, Stuart, Osano, Briscoe, Andrew

Referee: David Coote (Newark)

Attendance: 1313 (away 150)

Diamonds Man of the Match nominated by Diamonds fans in the Dave Joyce suite: Lee Tomlin.

Daventry United 2 Rushden & Diamonds 5

NFA Hillier Senior Cup

Rushden & Diamonds beat Daventry United 5-2 in the Hillier Senior Cup at Royal Oak Way. Goals from James Reid, Dan Easlea, Nicky McNamara (2) and Sam Smith gave the Diamonds a comfortable victory, but the Motormen gave them a good workout, taking the lead, and competing strongly, especially in the first half.

Paul Driver and Micheal Stone took charge of first team affairs, and they gave full debuts to Matt Evans, Bobby Aisien, Sean Shields and Dan Easlea. First teamers in the starting line-up included Dale Roberts, Jamie McGuinness, Simon Downer, Rob Wolleaston, Nick McNamara, Sam Smith and James Reid.

The Diamonds started brightly, with Sean Shields impressing as he looked very comfortable playing alongside the collection of first team players.

The home side took the lead from the spot after 20 minutes – the goal scored by Liam Hynes after Ben Jones was brought down in the box.

The Diamonds equalised after 33 minutes when James Reid was brought down just outside the area, and he took the kick himself, which found the net off the inside of the post, with Farrow stranded.

A number of other chances were wasted, with Rob Wolleaston starting a great move which sliced through United’s defence, but his final prod towards goal was easily gathered by Farrow. McNamara blazed over from a good position, and a 35 yard shot by Sam Smith was well saved.

The visitors then took the lead in added time at the end of the first half. Simon Downer set off on a run down the Diamonds right, and was fouled. James Reid took the kick which Dan Easlea knocked home.

A lively and competitive first half had seen two yellows for the home side, and one for the Diamonds, and perhaps the worst of three bad tackles from the Motormen, from Bobby Lea went unpunished.

Half-Time: Daventry United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

In the second half the Diamonds dominated proceedings as the home side tired. A Reid corner was knocked home by Nicky McNamara after 55 minutes, and the midfielder scored the Diamonds fourth two minutes later as he found space in the area to strike home from a Reid free kick. The Diamonds scoring was completed when Sam Smith scored their fifth after latching onto a Matt Evans cross from the left, chesting it down and netting past Lee Farrow.

Other chances fell to George Cox, who failed to round off a great move involving Sean Shields, and Nabil Shariff who made a great run down the right, but chose to pass rather than take a more selfish approach which would have allowed a strike on goal. Cox and Shariff were second half substitutes along with Connor Hayes, who was making his first appearance in a senior game for the Diamonds.

Danny Finlay netted a late consolation for the hosts as a free kick from just outside the box wasn’t dealt with by the Diamonds defence. There was still time for Dale Roberts to make a fine save that capped off a commanding performance as Ross Irvine connected with a Motormen free kick.

Full-Time: Daventry United 2 Rushden & Diamonds 5

Paul Driver and Michael Stone were happy with the workout for both the first team squad members and the youngsters who complemented them. The draw for the next round of the competition is expected in the next few days.

Daventry United: Lee Farrow, Rob Seale (Luke Manders 70), Ally Keay, Ross Irvine, Nicky Ling, Brad Harris (Matt Coburn 68), Bobby Lea (Danny Finlay 66), Ian Waldock (Capt), Liam Hynes, Ben Jones, Damon Black

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Jamie McGuinness, Matt Evans, Nick McNamara (George Cox 60), Bobby Aisien (Capt), Simon Downer, James Reid, Rob Wolleaston (Connor Hayes 57), Sam Smith, Sean Shields, Dan Easlea (Nabil Shariff 75)

Subs Not Used: George Artemi, James Broadbent

Goals: Hynes (1-0 20), Reid (1-1 32), Easlea (1-2 45+3), McNamara (1-3 55), McNamara (1-4 58), Smith (1-5 72), Finlay (2-5 83)

Yellow Cards: Nicky Ling, Damon Black, Matt Evans

Attendance: Approx 75

Referee : Nigel Field

Diamonds Man of Match : James Reid

Chester City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1 (Match Void)



The Diamonds gained a rare away victory against 9-men Chester City at the Deva Stadium, but following three defeats the result was more important than the overall performance. The goal was scored with less than four minutes on the clock, when Lee Tomlin took a short corner on the right, received the ball back and ran to the edge of the box and shot home. The second half saw two Chester players receive red cards for poor challenges, but the Diamonds did just enough to hold onto victory.

Diamonds Manager Justin Edinburgh made four changes from the team that lost to Altrincham, with Simon Downer suspended, and places on the bench for Cliff Akurang, Mark Byrne, and Matt Pattison alongside James Reid and Dale Roberts meaning a return to the starting line up for Max Porter, Michael Corcoran and Neil Cousins, with Lee Tomlin returning after suspension.

Jim Harvey made four changes to the Blues starting line-up, including the introduction of loan signing Mark Beesley from Cambridge United.

The Diamonds started the first half with a bang, winning three corners in as many minutes. From the second of these Jamie Stuart should have given the Diamonds the lead, as he did well to find space to get on the end of a well-hit corner from the left from Tomlin, but his header was well wide of the target. The Diamonds pressure meant they won a throw on the right, and a smart throw from Michael Corcoran found Aaron O’Connor on the right side of the penalty box, and he forced the home defence to concede their third corner in quick succession. This time the corner was on the right, and Lee Tomlin took it short to Paul Terry, receiving the ball back before running past a defender towards the edge of the box and fired a powerful left-foot shot into the right hand side of the net.

Chester’s main threat came from long balls to Mark Beesley, and on two occasions this tactic almost paid off, once when a Beesley chip was just over, and once when he was flagged offside despite looking like he ran from behind the last defender. The Blues other chance fell to Ben Wilkinson, whose shot was well saved by Abbey, after a good move involving Blundell and Beesley – possibly the only time in the game that the Diamonds keeper was tested in this way.

At the other end, the Diamonds attacks were in fairly short supply, but when they did break they could have done better in front of goal. The first great chance fell to Craig Farrell, after Tomlin and Robinson combined on the left, and Robinson’s low cross was direct to Farrell, but he could only shoot wide.

Lee Tomlin forced a good save from Danby on 33 minutes after O’Connor had found him in space.

The next chance fell to Aaron O’Connor, with a good run by the striker down the left seeing a defender slip over in his wake, but his angled shot was wide of goal.

The two final chances of the half fell to Craig Farrell, as he also found space on the left side of the area, but Danby did well to block the shot, and he then made himself room on the right side of the box, but his pass to O’Connor was slightly behind his strike partner.

Half-Time : Chester City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds started the second half looking as if they wanted to wrap the game up quickly, with the impressive Max Porter providing a threat down the right, with his cross in the first minute of the half.

To balance the threat from Porter on the right, Tomlin and O’Connor also found space on the left, with a defence splitting pass from Tomlin setting O’Connor free on the left of the penalty box, but his shot was blocked for what looked like an obvious corner, but referee Clark gave a goal-kick.

Tomlin was then involved in a challenge with Glenn Rule in midfield, with the defender lunging at a loose ball, and appearing to stamp on Tomlin. Although there may not have been too much malice in the challenge, referee Clark was left with little option but to show a red card to the home defender whilst Tomlin received lengthy treatment for the blow to his jaw.

Tomlin and Robinson then combined with a quick one two down the left, allowing the Diamonds defender to break into the box, but with three men to pick out in the area he could only pass behind them.

With the Diamonds having eradicated the long ball threat seen in the first half, they had a scare when Paul Terry was caught in possession, but Gregg Blundell saw his shot blocked.

With just over 10 minutes to go the home side were reduced to nine men, as substitute Nick Chadwick chased a long ball, reaching it just after Nathan Abbey had gathered it. Opinions differ as to why referee Clark showed a red card to the Blues striker, although those that have seen the match video felt that the poor challenge meant the award was appropriate.

Cliff Akurang struggled to adjust to the pace of the game, but did have one good chance after a 1-2 with the hard working Craig Farrell, but his shot was well wide. Lee Tomlin needed attention from Simon Parsell, and had to leave the pitch with cramp in both legs shortly before the end.

Curtis Osano had needed to change his shirt midway through the first half, after picking up a nose bleed, and the temporary number 15 shirt was seen clearing up in central defence,, as well as injecting some urgency into midfield, and having the best shot of the half, that just flew over the bar, after one of his bustling runs at the home defence,

Osano then made a last ditch clearance from right in front of his own goal, doing really well to avoid heading into his own net, as the Diamonds seemed content to hold onto the ball and see out the remaining minutes.Although this proved the correct approach, it meant that the overall performance wasn’t as satisfying as once again a rare Diamonds away victory was achieved against a side without 11 opponents on the pitch.

Full-Time : Chester City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds have a County Cup game at Daventry in midweek, which will be a chance for some of the fringe players to get action, as well as some of the Youth squad to play alongside them. The next game in the Blue Square Premier is when Tamworth visit Nene Park next Saturday. In the meantime the Diamonds will find out who their opponents are in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Chester City: John Danby, Glenn Rule, Tim Ryan (Capt), Kristian Platt, Neil Ashton, Anthony Barry, Clark Keltie, Ben Wilkinson (Kevin Roberts 63), Michael Lea, Gregg Blundell (Nick Chadwick 61), Mark Beesley

Subs Not Used: Andrew Murphy, James Owen, Adam Kay

Rushden & Diamonds: Nathan Abbey, Michael Corcoran, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Neil Cousins (Matt Pattison 78), Paul Terry, Craig Farrell, Aaron O’Connor (Cliff Akurang 75), Lee Tomlin (James Reid 90+2)

Subs Not Used: Mark Byrne, Dale Roberts

Goal: Lee Tomlin (4)

Yellow Cards: Beesley, Keltie

Red Cards: Rule (60), Chadwick (77)

Referee : R M Clark

Attendance : 1089 (away approx 125)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Max Porter

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Altrincham 1


Rushden & Diamonds lost to Altrincham by a single goal at a windy Nene Park. In a poor game the visitors scored after 81 minutes when a Tom Kearney free-kick penetrated the Diamonds wall and deflected low into the net. That free kick had been given when Simon Downer had fouled Nicky Clee, who was running in on goal after a mistake by Curtis Osano, and as a result had been shown a red card. The Diamonds had a number of chances after going behind, but a combination of poor finishing and a good save by Stuart Coburn meant they failed to take advantage. Although they had a penalty claim when Sam Smith went down in the box late on, the lacklustre performance meant that there were few arguments about the decision from the Diamonds’ management, and Altrincham were able to secure their first win at Nene Park.

Following the two defeats in recent games, Manager Justin Edinburgh made one change with Aaron O’Connor playing on the right of midfield, meaning that Matt Pattison switched to the left. For the Robins, Graham Heathcote kept an unchanged starting X!, with Greg Young and Colin Little returning to take places on the bench.

The first-half was the worst half of football seen at Nene Park this season, with only two decent attempts on goal from the Diamonds, both from Matt Pattison, whose dipping shot from the left angle of the penalty box was well caught by Stuart Coburn low at his near post. Pattison made his second chance himself as he beat two men in a mazy run in from the left, but his shot was over the bar.

At the other end the visitors created little, as they played into the strong wind for the first half, but did have two good chances just before half time, the first falling to Chris Senior from a long throw by Clee, but his attempt didn’t trouble Abbey, and then Nicky Clee failed to take advantage of a skewed clearance by Jamie Stuart from a Matt Doughty shot.

The visitors picked up two yellow cards during the half, Chris Senior for obstructing a free kick, and Chris Denham for a foul on Matt Pattison. Pattison was also on the receiving end of a sliding challenge from Anthony Danylyk that might also have been worthy of a caution.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Altrincham 0

The second half had to provide more entertainment than the first, and although it managed this, there was still something lacking compared to the games seen at NenePark during August and September.

Playing against the wind should have given the Diamonds midfield the play the ball into space for the strikers to run onto, and the wide players to hit outswinging crosses, but neither was forthcoming to any degree until Curtis Osano started to get forwards more. Osano linked up with Matt Pattison on 52 minutes and hit an angled cross onto the head of Paul Terry, but his attempt on goal was headed wide.

The visitors main threat was continuing to come from the Clee long throws, one of which early in the half saw the ball flicked across the box forcing Curtis Osano to head out for a corner.

Matt Pattison won a free kick wide on the left for the Diamonds, which Craig Farrell took, and Aaron O’Connor flashed a header across the goal.

On of the best Diamonds moves of the game saw Paul Terry play a precise pass forwards to Craig Farrell, who flicked it on to Pattison, and the winger squared it back to Farrell, who turned well, but could only hit a shot straight at Coburn, and there was a similar outcome to a move involving the three players 10 minutes later, although this time it was a combination of a good Coburn save and solid covering by Matt Doughty that denied the Diamonds striker.

After an initial substitution for each team, the Robins should have taken the lead, as a Diamonds attack down the left broke down, leaving Kurt Robinson stranded, and allowing Chris Denham a clear run down the right. He squared it for Chris Senior to run onto, with the Diamonds defence once more relying on their offside trap, but on this occasion it was clearly breached. As Curtis Osano trailed behind him, Senior appeared to have as much time as he wanted to strike on goal, but he hit it early and Nathan Abbey saved well with his legs.

Mark Byrne was still at the centre of many of the Diamonds best moves, and a defence splitting pass found Aaron O’Connor, who beat his man but could only hit the side netting. The first of the Diamonds two penalty shouts came shortly afterwards, as Craig Farrell’s shot hit James Smith’s arm, but referee Barratt clearly thought the contact was accidental.

Further substitutions saw the tall Robins defender Robbie Williams pushed up front, and he quickly showed what made Graham Heathcote take that decision as the Diamonds defence struggled to cope with his aerial threat. Substitute Max Porter tried to spread the ball wide to Curtis Osano, but rather overhit the pass (possibly as he had yet to adjust to the windy conditions), and it arrived at head height. Rather than heading the ball out of play, Osano tried to get the ball under control, but only succeeded in laying the ball into the path of Nicky Clee. The pacy winger knocked the ball past Simon Downer, and appeared to be accelerating past him before colliding with the Diamonds defender, a challenge which referee Barratt had little alternative to punish with a redcard.

The Diamonds were doubly punished, as Robins’ captain Tom Kearney hit a free kick into a defensive wall built on rocky foundations, and saw it deflect low into the right hand corner of the net.

James Reid seemed to have energised things up front for the Diamonds, and he almost converted a Farrell flick-on, with Coburn pulling off a great save that proved unnecessary as the Diamonds player was offside. In added time Reid latched onto an Aaron O’Connor flick on and hit an instinctive shot that forced Coburn to pull off an even better save.

The Diamonds had one final dangerous attack, deep into added time, as Sam Smith picked up a Farrell flick in the area and fell under a challenge from Greg Young. On some days a penalty would have been given, but it would have perhaps have been more than the Diamonds performance merited.


Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Altrincham 1

In his post match interview Justin Edinburgh made his disappointment with the Diamonds performance very clear, and with a week to prepare for the game at Chester next weekend, commented that "a lot of players have lost their place in this team".


Rushden & Diamonds: Nathan Abbey, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Paul Terry (Max Porter 68), Jamie Stuart (Capt),Simon Downer, Matt Pattison (Sam Smith 83), Mark Byrne, Craig Farrell, Cliff Akurang (James Reid 60), Aaron O’Connor

Subs Not Used : Neil Cousins, Dale Roberts (Gk)

Altrincham: Stuart Coburn, Shaun Densmore, James Smith, Robbie Williams, Matt Doughty, Chris Denham, Tom Kearney (Capt), Anthony Danylyk (Robbie Lawton 79), Sam Sheridan (Greg Young 61), Nicky Clee, Chris Senior (Colin Little 73)

Subs: Russell Saunders (Gk), Michael Welch

Goal : Kearney (81)

Yellow Cards: Denham, Senior

Red Card: Downer (80)

Referee: W Barratt

Attendance: 1168 (away 103)

Diamonds Man of the Match Sponsored by Shire Foods: Jamie Stuart

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