Histon 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds returned to winning ways with a hard fought victory on the road, this time in Cambridgeshire over Histon FC. The win was courtesy of a 10th minute penalty from Lee Tomlin after Aaron O’Connor was felled in the box. The Diamonds played over 50 minutes with 10 men after Nicky McNamara was shown a red card for a high challenge.

Justin Edinburgh brought in Michael Corcoran as captain to replace Jamie Stuart, moving Curtis Osano to centre back. Nicky McNamara replaced Paul Terry with Rob Wolleaston still unavailable due to injury. The ex-Stutes striker Cliff Akurang had to be content with a place on the bench.

Stutes manager Alan Lewer left out keeper Danny Naisbitt after he failed to agree contract terms. Striker Andy Pugh had joined on loan from Gillingham in the past week, and he was given a place on the bench. Referee David Coote was officiating at his third Diamonds game this season, having previously been in charge for the games against York and Tamworth at Nene Park.

The half started with a wave of Histon attacking in the first five minutes as the Diamonds struggled to adjust to their new formation and personnel, but the next five minutes firmly belonged to the visitors, as several dangerous attacks on the home goal narrowly failed to gain any return, with Nicky McNamara heading wide from a good position. A great move was started by Mark Byrne winning the ball in midfield, with the ball zipping between Jefferson Louis and Aaron O’Connor back to Byrne who passed to Lee Tomlin, but his return pass was cut out. Nine minutes were on the clock when a ball in from the left found Aaron O’Connor, who flicked the ball to the side of his marker before being clearly tripped by Adam Tann, and referee Coote had no option but to point to the spot. Lee Tomlin was the chosen penalty taker despite recent misses, and he hit the ball high to the keeper’s left, although Knight did get a hand to the ball.

Although it had initially looked like the home side were planning to play more football than in previous games, going a goal behind meant that they started to rely on the long ball, long throw and long free-kick game again. The Diamonds defence held firm, and although Histon had more of the possession, it was the Diamonds attacks that had the greater thrust. Max Porter went close on the end of an excellent Diamonds passing move after 17 minutes, with captain Corcoran providing the key pass.

As the game approached half-time, Nicky McNamara went in for a challenge on Lee Smith, and although he won the ball, his follow through was rather high, sparking loud protests from the home bench and the sparse home crowd who were gathered in that area. Referee Coote produced a red card, and the unfortunate McNamara had to leave the pitch on his return to action.

The Diamonds defence had to redouble their efforts to maintain a clean sheet up until half-time, with the home side winning a number of corners, and referee Coote offering little protection for the back five as they were held down, pushed or obstructed during the set piece moves.

Half Time: Histon 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Justin Edinburgh made a tactical change at half-time, replacing Aaron O’Connor with Matt Pattison, allowing a switch to a 4-4-1 formation for the 10 men, with Tomlin and Pattison playing on the left and right midfield respectively.

The half saw the home side have much of the territorial advantage, as the Diamonds were content to play the ball up to Jefferson Louis, who was winning most of the aerial challenges against Langston and Tann, despite their reputation for aerial dominance.

Despite this advantage the Stutes struggled to create clear-cut chances, with Charlie Sheringham failing to take advantage of a couple of half-chances, and late substitute .

Lee Tomlin made a couple of runs that threatened, with one pass narrowly failing to find Mark Byrne, and another seeing a shot curl just wide of the right hand post, but his class came to the fore when he brought a long clearance from Dale Roberts under control with a deft touch, flicking it inside his marker before shooting just wide of the right hand post.

Matt Pattison joined Jefferson Louis in picking up yellow cards during the second half, with both committing fouls just in front of the home bench and the concentration of the small number of home fans – the same area that McNamara made his challenge in the first half.

From the resultant free kick the Stutes had perhaps their best chance of the game, as a Gwillim free kick found its way to Matt Langston, but their captain capped a disappointing evening on a personal level by hitting a shot that was gathered by Dale Roberts.

Referee Coote signalled 5 additional minutes despite the fact neither trainer had entered the field of play during the second half, but the Diamonds held firm, with Craig Farrell showing his maturity by keeping the ball in the home side half for an extended period.

Full Time: Histon 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Trips to Histon are never associated with attractive flowing football, and this game was no exception, but the 200 or so Diamonds fans will have gone home happy with the three points and the solid rearguard action with 10 men, despite the lion’s-share of the 50/50 decisions seeming to go to the home side.

They now have two days to prepare for the trip to Tamworth on Saturday.

Teams:

Histon: David Knight, Erkan Okay (Andrew Tidswell 84), Matt Langston (Capt), Adam Tann, Gareth Gwillim, Bradley Hudson-Odoi, Glen Southam, Lee Smith, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Danny Wright, Charlie Sheringham (Andy Pugh 68)

Subs Not Used: Joe Welsh (GK), Callum Stewart, Max York

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran (Capt), Kurt Robinson, Curtis Osano, Simon Downer, Mark Byrne, Max Porter, Nicky McNamara, Aaron O’Connor (Matt Pattison H/T), Jefferson Louis (Cliff Akurang 81), Lee Tomlin (Craig Farrell 84)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Sam Smith

Goal: Lee Tomlin (Pen, 10)

Red Card : McNamara

Yellow Cards : Louis, Hudson-Odoi, Robinson, Pattison

Referee: David Coote (Newark)

Attendance: 583 (away 190)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Michael Corcoran

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