Rushden & Diamonds 2 Eastbourne Borough 0

Diamonds crept up into the play-off positions, with a 2 – 0 win over Eastbourne Borough on a cold wintry February evening. Jefferson Louis put Diamonds ahead in first half added time when he headed home a Craig Farrell free kick. Michael Corcoran added a second six minutes into the second half and again it was Farrell’s precise corner kick which found him unmarked at the far post. Diamonds looked comfortable for the remainder of the game with the visitors rarely threatening.

Manager Justin Edinburgh was forced into one change following Lee Tomlin’s 10th booking at Grays on Saturday. Craig Farrell moved up from the bench to join Aaron O’Connor and Jefferson Louis in the forward line.

Eastbourne manager Garry Wilson was without Neil Jenkins following his dismissal on Saturday in their impressive 2-1 against Wrexham. Former Ebbsfleet defender Sacha Opinel had joined on loan from Farnborough on Monday, and went straight into the starting eleven at left back.

Diamonds started strongly, forcing several corners in the opening ten minutes. On each occasion though, Farrell’s ball into the danger area was cleared by the Eastbourne defence. From the fourth effort, the ball came out to Jamie Stuart, who shot wide from the edge of the area.

On 19 minutes, Diamonds had probably one of their best chances when the ball was turned into the area by Mark Byrne. Farrell appeared to hurry his shot however, and cleared the bar with his effort. Moments later, Aaron O’Connor was off target with a shot from the edge of the area. It looked only a matter of time before they went in front as Louis’ shot was deflected to the keeper and a poor first touch from O’Connor saw the ball drift out of his control.

Eastbourne made little impact on the Diamonds goalmouth, with Roberts having little to do in the opening half hour. They played with four at the back and five in midfield leaving just Jamie Taylor up front – supported by Liam Enver-Marum and Joe Benjamin attacking from the midfield. It wasn’t until 31 minutes that there was some concern in the Diamonds defence as the ball bounced around the area after Farrell deflected a cross from the right.

Diamonds continued to press forward, O’Connor’s shot being deflected, Louis forcing keeper Danny Knowles to save at the near post, then Farrell sending another shot wide. As the 4th official indicated just a single minute of added time, O’Connor was upended some 20 yards into the Borough half. Farrell sent the free kick high into the area, and Jefferson Louis rose to nod the ball into the top corner

Half-time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Eastbourne Borough 0

 

It took just six minutes of the second half for Diamonds to increase their lead. Some good movement down the left flank between O’Connor, Louis and Byrne saw the ball blocked for a corner. Farrell picked out Michael Corcoran, unmarked at the far post and his header left Knowles helpless.

Corcoran nearly set up another chance on the hour, O’Connor just being unable to touch the ball past the advancing keeper.

Rob Wolleaston came on in place of the exhausted Mark Byrne on 63 minutes as the visitors continued to pose little threat. Farrell’s set pieces continued to cause problems for the Borough defence and midway through the half, another free-kick found Jamie Stuart who headed just inches wide.

Borough had a brief good spell which culminated on 70 minutes with Gary Elphick heading wide as they tried to get a goal back, but they never really looked like getting back into the game.

In the final fifteen minutes, O’Connor had a shot on target which appeared to hit a defenders hand. Paul Terry, Craig Farrell and substitute Sam Smith (who had replaced O’Connor) all came close to increasing the winning margin, but the two goals were enough to secure the points.

Full Time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Eastbourne Borough 0

 

Diamonds can expect a much tougher test on Saturday when Stevenage Borough visit Nene Park. This result will however further increase their confidence and Mansfield’s loss at Stevenage means they are now in 4th place in the League table.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter (Nicky McNamara 84), Jamie Stuart, Simon Downer, Aaron O’Connor (Sam Smith 76), Craig Farrell, Michael Corcoran, Mark Byrne (Rob Wolleaston 63), Paul Terry, Jefferson Louis.

Subs not used: Joe Day, Matt Pattison.

Eastbourne Borough: Danny Knowles, Darren Baker, Marc Pullen, Paul Armstrong, Liam Enver-Marum, Matt Crabb, Simon Johnson (Matt Smart 62), Jamie Taylor, Sacha Opinel, Joe Benjamin (Nathan Crabb 74), Gary Elphick.

Subs not used: Dean Lightwood, Simon Weatherstone, Ollie Rowe.

Goals: Jefferson Louis 45+1 (1-0), Michael Corcoran 51 (2-0).

Booked: Nil

Sent off: Nil

Referee: Mr Rob Lewis (Shropshire)

Attendance: 1038 (14 away)

Man of the Match sponsored by Pestfree: Jefferson Louis

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