Rushden & Diamonds 2 Kidderminster Harriers 1

The Diamonds returned to league action for the first time since early December with a 2-1 win over Kidderminster Harriers, with two goals from Lee Tomlin and a single reply from Robbie Matthews. Tomlin’s first goal came on 15 minutes after an error by Harriers keeper Coleman on the edge of his area allowed Lee Tomlin past him to score in an undefended net. Tomlin’s second goal was one of the best goals seen at Nene Park, as it came on the end of a superb Diamonds move which saw the ball moved from left to right and then back to Tomlin in the centre, who took the ball on his right foot, flicked it onto his left and hit it into the top left hand corner of the net. The Harriers pushed forwards and got a goal back when Robbie Matthews netted after being fed by Martin Riley who had beaten Curtis Osano.

The game saw the return of Simon Downer for the absent Michael Corcoran (due to illness), as Justin Edinburgh made just the single change from the team that beat Billericay in the FA Trophy. There was a welcome return to the bench for Rob Wolleaston after a long period out through injury. The Harriers caretaker manager John Finnigan was able to name an unchanged squad of 16, which meant Dean Bennett and Aaron Farrell remained in the starting line-up after they had been doubtful before the game. He also named Damian Spencer on the bench, who is on loan from Kettering Town, but there was no place in his squad for Ryan Charles, on loan from Luton Town.

The first Tomlin goal was the Diamonds first against the Harriers at Nene Park for over four seasons, since the FA Cup game back in November 2002.

The Diamonds played a similar formation in the first half to the one used in the first period against Billericay, with Byrne and Terry in central midfield behind Lee Tomlin in a roving role. Simon Downer was at centre back, with Curtis Osano restored to his right back role.

Lee Tomlin had an early shot that was saved by Coleman, and Dale Roberts was called into action to save from Aaron Farrell at the other end. The Diamonds were creating a number of good chances, with Kurt Robinson finding a lot of space on the left, squaring to Craig Farrell when he burst into the area, but the strikers attempt was blocked.

The Diamonds took the lead in unusual circumstances after 15 minutes. A looped backpass to Coleman saw the Harriers keeper clearly come outside of his area to attempt to catch the ball. Realising this he quickly released the ball, allowing Lee Tomlin to flick it past him and run on and knock the ball into an unguarded net. Referee Adcock saw his linesman flagging, so went over to check before awarding the goal – he had not blown his whistle for Coleman’s offence, which did at least allow Coleman to remain on the pitch, as he would surely have been dismissed if the free kick had been awarded.

Dale Roberts was called upon to make a headed clearance after a weak header back from Jamie Stuart, but he avoided getting into the same trouble as his Harriers counterpart.

Craig Farrell came close to increasing the Diamonds lead as he broke past Riley to run onto a long ball from Curtis Osano, but his well-hit shot was well saved by Coleman. Gavin Caines presented Tomlin with another chance to run on goal when he miskicked the ball near the half-way line, but his fellow defender Riley got a block in to deflect the shot away, with Tomlin choosing to shoot rather than squaring the ball to the unmarked Craig Farrell.

Other Diamonds chances in the first half fell to Kurt Robinson and Mark Byrne as the Diamonds would have felt they should have been leading by more than the single goal at the interval.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Kidderminster Harriers 0

The Harriers brought on Kettering loanee Damian Spencer at half-time, and he provided a greater threat to the Diamonds defence, with Simon Downer slotting back alongside Jamie Stuart to ensure that little threat came through the centre.

The Diamonds domination continued, with Craig Farrell dropping back to support the midfielders, executing an excellent sliding tackle on Knights that set up Tomlin for a run towards goal. He then chipped the ball across the area to Aaron O’Connor running in on the right, and his powerful shot was blocked.

The Diamonds second goal came after 57 minutes on the end of a superb move which saw Byrne and Farrell move the ball down the left, moving the ball to O’Connor and Wolleaston who combined on the right to get the ball to Lee Tomlin in the centre, who took the ball on his right foot, flicked it onto his left and hit it into the top left hand corner of the net. The finish was perhaps the best of many good goals the Diamonds have scored this season.

The impressive Mark Byrne saw a shot saved by Coleman as he was given more freedom by the arrival of Wolleaston, and then O’Connor shot narrowly over when set up by Farrell.

For the first 65 minutes of the game the Diamonds appeared to have been in total control, but the visitors began to push forwards and force the Diamonds very deep. This pressure paid off after 68 minutes when they won a free kick in midfield, and although the ball was initially half cleared, it fell to defender Martin Riley just outside the area. Riley switched the ball inside, beating Curtis Osano as he found Robbie Matthews just inside the left hand corner of the penalty area, and the striker struck the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

Osano was almost responsible for allowing the visitors to get an equaliser a minute later, as he headed back towards his own goal, but straight to Damian Spencer, who was promptly brought down by one of the Diamonds Centre Backs on the edge of the area. Fortunately Knights’ free kick was well blocked by Aaron O’Connor in the Diamonds defensive wall.

Dale Roberts was also called into action to tip a McPhee cross from a narrow angle over the bar, and also had to make a number of important catches from Harriers crosses and corners. Paul Terry also helped out in the Diamonds defence as the visitors threatened an equaliser, and they might have done better when Brian Smikle fed Spencer on the right, and he set up Matthews who squared the ball to McPhee whose powerful shot was fortunately straight at Roberts, who gathered at the second attempt.

After dominating the first hour of the game, the Diamonds would have some concern about how they allowed the Harriers back into the game, but overall it was a well deserved three points, with the Diamonds fans wondering if they will see a better goal from Lee Tomlin.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Kidderminster Harriers 1

The Diamonds now have to prepare for their first game in 2010 with the visit of Oxford United to Nene Park on Friday (New Year’s Day 3pm).

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter (Rob Wolleaston 55), Jamie Stuart(capt), Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell, Lee Tomlin (Jefferson Louis 83), Simon Downer, Mark Byrne, Paul Terry.

Subs Not Used: Joe Day, Nicky McNamara, Cliff Akurang.

Kidderminster Harriers: Dean Coleman, Duane Courtney, Gavin Caines, Martin Riley, Danny Andrew, Chris McPhee, Dean Bennett, Brian Smikle, Darryl Knights, Aaron Farrell (Damian Spencer 45) Robbie Matthews.

Subs Not Used: Nathan Hayward, Jasbir Singh (GK), Lee Baker, Liam Dolman,

Goals : Tomlin (15, 1-0), Tomlin (57, 2-0), Matthews (68, 2-1)

Yellow Cards: Tomlin, Terry

Referee: J Adcock

Attendance: 1425 (205)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Pizzeria Venezia: Kurt Robinson

See here for video highlights.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Billericay Town 0

 

The Diamonds progressed to round 2 of the FA Carlsberg Trophy with a 1-0 win over Billericay Town. The goal came after 74 minutes when Aaron O’Connor fired a free kick from 25 yards over the wall and into the left hand corner of the net.

The game saw the return of Craig Farrell up front for the Diamonds as Justin Edinburgh made just the single change from the team that lost at Forest Green. The Blues manager Brian Statham included Ian Cousins in his side, son of the Diamonds chairman, and gave a place on the bench to the Orient loanee Matt Hall.

The match quickly took shape, with the Diamonds dominating possession, as the visitors put 10 or 11 men behind the ball for much of the half. The Diamonds were playing a tight midfield formation, with Tomlin playing mostly in the centre behind Farrell and O’Connor and in front of a midfield three. This meant the Diamonds threat down the left flank was coming from Kurt Robinson, although the midfielders, especially Max Porter did their best to provide support. From one such attack down the left a Robinson cross was headed over the bar by Lee Tomlin for the Diamonds best effort of the first quarter.

Curtis Osano made one of his characteristic surging runs after 16 minutes, leaving three defenders in his wake before unleashing a powerful shot that was just over the bar. Mark Byrne followed suit shortly afterwards, and again his shot was wayward, as was a Craig Farrell free kick.

The sole threats from the visitors in the first half came from complacent Diamonds defending, with Billy Bricknell taking advantage of an Osano slip before firing wide, and then Dave Wareham did the same after a Stuart error to break clear, before colliding with Dale Roberts who received treatment.

The Diamonds best chance of the first half fell to Aaron O’Connor after 35 minutes, with good work by Porter and Farrell finding his in space on the edge of the penalty area. The striker’s shot deflected off keeper Walker and ran agonisingly slowly towards goal, before being cleared off the line by Ian Cousins.

Just before the break the Diamonds forced a number of corners on the left in quick succession, each of which was hit hard into the six yard box, with Jamie Stuart unlucky with an attempt which deflected off Walker’s gloves.

 

Half Time Rushden & Diamonds 0 Billericay Town 0

The Diamonds started the second half brightly, with an early O’Connor effort being palmed wide with some desperation by keeper Walker, and then a second O’Connor effort was saved with more confidence.

At the other end a Russell Pond shot went out for a throw, and two crosses from the left from Wareham went behind the goal, before a better cross from Wareham almost saw an otherwise impressive Jamie Stuart head into his own goal, but Roberts continued his good recent form to keep the scores level.

The original 4-3-1-2 Diamonds formation had now been changed to a more convential 4-4-2, with Lee Tomlin starting to torment Greg Oates, with the defender looking to have hauled Tomlin down, only to see the Diamonds player receive the yellow card. With Matt Pattison now playing on the right flank the Diamonds were creating more and more chances, with the winger setting up Farrell for a run on goal that saw a good save from Walker, and then a leaping Tomlin header setting up Farrell for a second chance inside two minutes, with this attempt being blocked by a combination of keeper and defender.

Tomlin was now causing plenty of problems, and Michael Shinn deserved his yellow card for a foul on the Diamonds player, setting up a free kick for the Diamonds. Although Tomlin and Farrell had taken the earlier kicks, it was Aaron O’Connor that stepped up to take this one, and he hit a precision shot that went over the defensive wall before dipping inside the left-hand post to give the Diamonds the lead after 74 minutes.

Shinn showed his frustration after conceding the free kick that led to the goal by kicking the ball at Tomlin after he was felled by a challenge in front of the press-box – but missed. He was thus very fortunate to escape a second yellow card when he repeated the offence two minutes later, this time hitting Tomlin with the ball as he lay on the ground after being felled by Oates. Although Oates picked up a yellow card for the original challenge, referee Fielding did not take further action.

There were a couple of last minute concerns for the Diamonds when Danny Green shot wide, and then Curtis Osano cut out a Matt Hall cross to ensure the Diamonds progress to the next round of the competition in early January.

Full Time Rushden & Diamonds 1 Billericay Town 0

Having avoided a potential replay, the Diamonds now have one final game before Christmas with the visit of Chester City next weekend.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart(capt), Aaron O’Connor (Jefferson Louis 90+4), Craig Farrell, (Cliff Akurang 70), Lee Tomlin, Michael Corcoran, Mark Byrne (Matt Pattison 59), Paul Terry.

Subs not used: Joe Day, Jack Ainsley.

Billericay Town: Andy Walker, Greg Oates (Harrison Chatting 86), Ashley Dumas, Michael Shinn, Lee Kersey, Ian Cousins(capt), Danny Green, Russell Pond, Dave Wareham (Matt Hall 72), Billy Bricknell, Danny Slatter.

Subs not used: Luca Frankis, Ryan O’Rawe, Lewis Lockyer.

Goals: Aaron O’Connor 74 (1-0).

Yellow Cards: 32mins – Russell Pond for foul on Lee Tomlin, 45+2mins – Paul Terry for foul on Billy Bricknell, 58mins – Lee Tomlin for diving, 73mins – Michael Shinn for foul on Tomlin, 84mins – Greg Oates – for foul on Tomlin, 85mins – Danny Slatter – not ten yards

Referee: Mr A.Fielding (Oxford)

Attendance: 696 (157 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Jordan Freeman: Jamie Stuart

Forest Green Rovers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds came down to earth with a bump at the New Lawn, as a second half goal from Mark Preece gave Forest Green Rovers victory. A combination of poor finishing in the first half, and then a disjointed second half performance saw the sorry Diamonds slip to defeat. The Diamonds had lost 4-0 at the New Lawn last seasons in one of their worst performances of the campaign, but this result was even more disappointing as the team failed to convert numerous first half chances, allowing Rovers to match their performance in the second period, and then producing very little as they tried to save the game.

Michael Corcoran was brought in to replace the injured Simon Downer at the back, with Dale Roberts continuing in goal. David Hockaday brought back ex-Diamonds Conal Platt and David Brown, as well as captain Paul Stonehouse.

As early as the 7th minute the Diamonds had the first of many clearcut chances in the first-half, when Paul Terry played a one-two with Aaron O’Connor but saw his shot saved, and Lee Tomlin tried to blast in the rebound, but hit a defender.

The Diamonds main threat was coming down the right, with Jefferson Louis knocking a ball down to O’Connor who found Mark Byrne clear in space on the right. Byrne looked to have a great chance to score, but chose to pass to Louis, with his pass slightly behind the striker, allowing a challenge to get the ball clear.

A quick Tomlin free kick after 20 minutes, found the alert Paul Terry and his backwards header looped narrowly wide. A minute later Lee Tomlin cut out a ball in midfield to free Louis, who shot early but just over the bar. More was to come when good run from Max Porter , linking with both his strikers, saw his shot saved by Burton.

Byrne and O’Connor combined again on the half-hour to free Louis for a shot which Burton saved with his feet, and then Lee Tomlin was floored by a challenge in the penalty area that referee Powell deemed as a fair tackle, one of the few times he allowed such a challenge to go unpunished during the game.

At the other end Dale Roberts did well to save a long shot from Rocastle before the break, perhaps only the second time he was really called into action in the game, after an earlier Osano mistake had forced him to palm away a low cross. The Diamonds wasted other chances to take the lead in the first half, with a deflected Tomlin shot well saved by Burton, and then Louis flicked on a Corcoroan throw for a further chance for Byrne and then Tomlin on the stroke of half-time.

Half Time : Forest Green Rovers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

The second half was a different story, as both teams struggled to put together any meaningful moves, with the whistle of Mr Powell dominant. There was initial promise when Paul Terry forced Burton to make another save, and then Lee Tomlin did really well to win a challenge on the half-way line, play a one-two with Louis, then run 20 yards before firing a long ball across the area to Mark Byrne who in turn set up Aaron O’Connor for a shot which Burton also did very well to save.

Dale Roberts was called upon to make an excellent save to match the one he made towards the end of the first half, as he palmed away a long shot from Ameobi.

The Diamonds were unable to defeat the hosts offside trap on a frustrating afternoon, with both O’Connor and Louis guilty of failing to look along the line, as the game declined to the level more fitting to a relegation clash, not helped by the teeming rain which once again affected a Diamonds game.

As the game passed the hour mark it began to look as if it might end up goalless, but as with the game in midweek, the Diamonds could not keep their defensive concentration for 90 minutes. Paul Terry was deemed to have fouled David Brown 25 yards out, although the challenge looked the sort that would have seen play waved on by a less fussy referee. Brown took the kick himself, and it eluded the entire group of players in the centre of the area, and Paul Terry was pleased to see the bouncing ball skim off his head and away for a corner, rather than towards the goal.

Brown also took the corner that followed, and the ball bounced around before dropping to O’Cearuill who flicked the ball towards goal, where fellow defender Mark Preece headed home from close range.

Referee Powell was making full use of his whistle, with few tackles being made that were deemed fair challenges. In addition the changes to the Diamonds strike force did little to reduce the number of occasions they were caught offside, thus making the game even more disjointed. The referee also made further use of his yellow card resulting in a total of five Diamonds bookings in a game that probably only had two poor challenges during the 90 minutes, one of which resulted in the home team’s sole booking.

Full Time : Forest Green Rovers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

With three defeats in a row, the Diamonds will be looking for a significant improvement in front of goal, and a full 90 minutes concentration at the back when they face Billericay Town in the FA Trophy at Nene Park next weekend.

Forest Green Rovers: Terry Burton, Curtis McDonald, Mark Preece, Joe O’Cearuill, Paul Stonehouse (Capt), Tomi Ameobi, Craig Rocastle, Jared Hodgkiss, Conal Platt (Danny Powell 62), David Brown (Isaiah Rankin 86), Jonathan Smith

Subs Not Used:, Tom Pass, Ben Joyce, David King,.

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter (Matt Pattison 74), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Mark Byrne, Paul Terry, Aaron O’Connor (Cliff Akurang 78), Jefferson Louis (Craig Farrell 68), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Jack Ainsley.

Goals : Preece (64)

Yellow Cards: Rocastle, Corcoran, Louis, Terry, Robinson, Osano

Referee :Chris Powell

Attendance : 755 (away 100)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Paul Terry

Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 1

 

The Diamonds unbeaten run in the league ended as they lost by a single goal to close rivals York City. The Minstermen’s winner was scored by Richard Brodie with a header midway through the second half, as he got clear of his marker at a corner. In a game of few chances, Brodie’s effort was one of the rare attempts on goal, with the Diamonds seeing their best effort to equalise being a shot from Craig Farrell that was saved by Michael Ingham.

The game saw the return of Dale Roberts in the Diamonds goal following recent mistakes by Nathan Abbey. Jefferson Louis and Aaron O’Connor were preferred up front, and Paul Terry returned in central midfield, allowing Mark Byrne to move to the right to replace the injured Neil Cousins. Simon Downer continued at right back. The Minstermen included Michael Rankine in their line-up.

The first half action came in patches, interspersed with long period of stalemate. After a quiet first 15 minutes York had the first meaningful threat when Brodie and Lawless combined to free up Chris Carruthers for a shot which took a deflection forcing Dale Roberts to make an excellent save. From the resultant Barrett corner the ball was flicked to the unmarked Michael Rankine, who blazed wide.

The Diamonds quickly created a great chance of their own, when Jefferson Louis flicked on a long ball to Aaron O’Connor who ran past his marker and hit an angled shot that beat Ingham but clipped the far post. Lee Tomlin took the corner on the left, and Jamie Stuart headed towards goal and saw it deflect off one York defender on the line, across to another on the line and away to safety with the Diamonds questioning whether the ball had crossed the line.

Another fairly quiet period was followed by a good Diamonds move that saw a Lee Tomlin volley blocked by McGurk, and a Tomlin run past McGurk halted by Alex Lawless, with calls for a penalty rather muted, especially as it appeared Tomlin had fouled McGurk on his way into the box.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 0

Jack Ainsley was brought on at the break for his league debut to replace Simon Downer who had picked up a knock in the first half. There was initial promise in the Diamonds play when one of their few sweeping moves of the game saw Jefferson Louis fire a crossfield ball to Mark Byrne, who controlled the ball well before hitting a shot that appeared to be curving towards the top corner, but Ingham did well to catch cleanly.

The game went even more flat in the second half, with very little action of note in a stop-start affair punctuated by niggly fouls and offside decisions.

York made a double substitution on 62 minutes, including replacing Michael Rankine by Michael Gash, and within a couple of minutes Gash was presented with a great chance after good work from Chris Carruthers following a clearance from Jack Ainsley that put Paul Terry under pressure. The chance was wasted however, and Gash knocked the ball tamely out of play with his standing foot.

The Diamonds began to defend rather deeply, and the York back line was able to take up position near the half-way line with little prospect of the Diamonds putting the ball into space behind them. Left back James Meredith was having a good game, and he was able to get forward and force a corner off Jack Ainsley. The Diamonds had been preparing to bring on Craig Farrell for Jefferson Louis, but deferred the change to allow Louis to help defend the corner. Before the kick was taken Louis and Richard Brodie were given a "talking to" by referee Coote, but when the kick was finally taken by Neil Barrett, Richard Brodie ran clear of his marker and planted a header past Roberts and the two defenders on the line from close range from about 10 yards out.

The Diamonds were giving away far too many silly free kicks, which meant they couldn’t create any kind of rhythm, and rarely threatened Ingham’s goal.

Five minutes of additional time were signalled, and in the third of these the Diamonds forced a corner, with the ball skewing off McGurk’s foot. The corner from the left was one of a few that threatened the visitor’s defence, and it fell to Craig Farrell near the penalty spot, but his effort was well saved by Ingham – perhaps only his second real save of the game.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 1

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Simon Downer (Jack Ainsley HT), Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Mark Byrne, Paul Terry (Cliff Akurang 81), Aaron O’Connor, Jefferson Louis (Craig Farrell 73), Lee Tomlin

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Matt Pattison

YorkCity: Michael Ingham, Alex Lawless (Andy Ferrell 90+2), David McGurk, Danny Parslow (Capt), James Meredith, Chris Carruthers, Levi Mackin (Adam Smith 62), Luke Graham, Neil Barrett, Michael Rankine (Michael Gash 62), Richard Brodie

Subs Not Used : Josh Mimms (GK), Kevin Gall

Goal : Richard Brodie 73

Yellow Cards: O’Connor (foul)

Referee : David Coote

Attendance : 1117 (away 153)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Pestfree: Aaron O’Connor

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