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.

Teams

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.

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