Rushden & Diamonds 4 Barrow 1

The Diamonds returned to league action for the first time in 2010 with a convincing win over Barrow, with striker Jefferson Louis getting two goals and an "assist" for a third. The Diamonds took the lead on 14 minutes, when a Rob Wolleaston cross was headed against his own bar by Robin Hulbert under pressure from Mark Byrne, and Jefferson Louis was there to force home the loose ball. Louis got his second inside a minute of the restart, when he slid home a Tomlin cross, and then turned provider to make the third for Craig Farrell. Jamie Stuart completed the Diamonds scoring when he flicked home a Tomlin free-kick, but the team failed to keep a clean sheet when Gregg Blundell converted a Wiles cross inside the last 10 minutes.

Justin Edinburgh made just a single change from the team that lost to Workington in midweek, with Rob Wolleaston making his first start since August, with Max Porter replacing him on a bench that also included Sam Smith.

The Barrow management team made just a single change, with new arrival Nick Chadwick replacing Gregg Blundell.

The game started with the Diamonds winning an early corner, which broke to Lee Tomlin, but he was dispossessed, and the ball quickly passed to Carlos Logan, who made a good run down the left. His cross was to new arrival Nick Chadwick, and his first touch for his new team was to set up fellow striker Jason Walker, but his shot was wide to the right of goal.

The Diamonds took the lead after 14 minutes, when Rob Wolleaston picked up the ball near the right touchline, working himself some space before getting in a powerful low cross to the edge of the six-yard box. Barrow defender Robin Hulbert headed the ball against his own bar under pressure from Mark Byrne, and as the players were appealing that the ball had crossed the line Jefferson Louis scrambled it into the net to avoid further controversy.

Craig Farrell went close a few minutes later, as a 20 yard shot appeared to take a deflection before being gathered by Deasy, and the striker also did well to get a powerful header on goal from a Robinson cross that was marginally behind him, but was unfortunate to see the ball hit a defender.

Phil Bolland had been given a torrid time by the Diamonds strikers in the fixture between the teams in Cumbria, and Farrell and Louis were repeating the treatment at Nene Park, but shots from Tomlin, Byrne and Osano were all wide of the mark.

The best chance of the remainder of the first half fell to the visitors, with Paul Rutherford getting past Paul Terry on the right, getting in a cross towards Chadwick, but Dale Roberts was alert to the danger and made a fine same from the striker’s header.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Barrow 0

The Diamonds showed their intent to control the game rather than try to sit on their lead at the start of the second half. The visitors had an initial break when a Carlos Logan cross went across the box without anybody making contact, but then Mark Byrne picked up the ball in central midfield and quickly spread the ball wide to Lee Tomlin, who made a 20 yard run down the left before hitting a cross which keeper Deasey could not cur out, allowing Jefferson Louis to slide in to net his second goal of the game.

Barrow forced Dale Roberts to make a good save when Chadwick was allowed to turn and shoot in the area, and should have got a goal back when Simon Downer faced a four against one break, but Carlos Logan shot wide. Shortly after that the Diamonds made the game safe when Jefferson Louis picked up the ball about 35 yards out, setting off on a good run down the left channel, shrugging off Phil Bolland, before crossing for Craig Farrell to get the goal his performance deserved.

Referee Martin had been making a number of eccentric decisions that had been puzzling the Diamonds fans all afternoon, and he added to this when stopping a promising Diamonds break in which Phil Bolland scythed down Mark Byrne. The Diamonds midfielder had got the ball through to Louis, running on goal in a better position than the one he had in the move that led up to the third goal. The assumption was that Mr Martin had blown his whistle to show Bolland a red card (which the challenge could easily have merited), but he merely showed the yellow card that he could have shown to Bolland after any Diamonds advantage had been taken.

There was similar controversy just after the hour mark, when substitute Mark Boyd tripped Lee Tomlin, in what looked a clear yellow card offence but none was shown. In this case Tomlin made the visitors pay, as his free kick found the head of Jamie Stuart, whose intelligent run had left him clear of any marker, and he was able to flick the ball over Deasy to give the Diamonds a four goal cushion, taking the Diamonds tally against Barrow into double-figures for the season.

Further chances fell to Farrell, Porter and Osano before the visitors got a consolation goal as substitute Wiles hit a cross from the left which was met by Gregg Blundell who fired into the roof of the net. Ironically Simon Downer picked up a yellow card when showing his frustration at losing the "clean-sheet" whereas the earlier trip by Boyd had gone unpunished.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 4 Barrow 1

With an impressive performance sealing the three points fairly early in the second half, the Diamonds will be looking for a repeat performance on Tuesday evening, when Wrexham are the visitors to NenePark.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Rob Wolleaston (Max Porter 68), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Simon Downer, Mark Byrne, Paul Terry, Jefferson Louis (Matt Pattison 81), Craig Farrell, Lee Tomlin (Sam Smith 74)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Michael Corcoran

Barrow: Tim Deasy, Simon Spender, Phil Bolland (Capt), Robin Hulbert, Andrew Bond, Jason Walker (Gregg Blundell 76), Carlos Logan (Mark Boyd 61), Mike Pearson, Paul Rutherford, Gareth Jelleyman (Simon Wiles 61), Nick Chadwick

Subs Not Used: Stuart Tomlinson (GK), Paul Jones

Goals: Louis (14, 1-0), Louis (46, 2-0), Farrell (57, 3-0), Stuart (62, 4-0), Blundell (82, 4-1)

Yellow Cards : Bolland, Downer

Referee: J Adcock

Attendance: 1134 (Away 83)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Edward, Thomas and Laura Bailey: Jefferson Louis

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