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

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