Tamworth 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Diamonds were delighted to come away from the Lamb Ground with all three points as they moved into the top three in the League table. It looked like Diamonds might regret a number of missed chances in the first half as Tamworth came back strongly during the second period, but Max Porter’s first goal for Diamonds on 83 minutes secured the win as the defence held out for the remaining time. 

 

Justin Edinburgh was forced to make one change with Nicky McNamara being suspended after his red card against Histon in midweek – Matt Pattison coming into the starting line-up. Rob Wolleaston was still suffering from his hamstring injury, so with only fifteen first team players available, youngster Aynsley McDonald came onto the bench.

 

Tamworth boss Gary Mills kept the same side which beat Gateshead on Tuesday evening, with just one change to the bench which saw reserve keeper Chamberlin Fankem replaced by striker Jay Smith. Both sides played a 4-3-3 formation.

 

Diamonds started well and within the opening two minutes, had carved out a great opportunity as Jefferson Louis, Lee Tomlin and Aaron O’Connor combined well allowing Louis to cross in from the right. O’Connor shot on the turn, but keeper Danny Alcock did well to initially block the shot, before gathering the loose ball before the Diamonds No.7 could follow up his effort.

 

The home side’s first chance came on 10 minutes when former Diamond Tom Shaw was fouled some ten yards outside the area, but Michael Blackwood free kick failed to trouble Dale Roberts.

 

Tomlin was the main instigator as Diamonds tried to push forward. He shot over the bar before sending a free kick straight at the keeper, but on 31 minutes, another free kick found Louis unmarked with a free header, but the on loan striker nodded wide of the post.

 

As the half came to a close, Tomlin, suffering from a foot injury, went down too easily on successive challenges and was consequently booked for diving, but he continued to cause problems for the home side as moments before the break, he set up Matt Pattison on the right flank. Pattison’s cross was inch perfect for Louis, but he was just unable to steer the ball past Alcock.     

 

Half-time: Tamworth 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

 

Tamworth came out some five minutes early for the second half, and when play resumed, they certainly started with more urgency than they had shown during the first period. On 49 minutes, they came close to going in front as Bradley Pritchard played a through ball for Iyseden Christie. The Lambs striker shot towards the far post, but Roberts made a superb one handed blocked, the ball being parried across the goal line. As Seb Lake-Gaskin tried to follow up, Kurt Robinson – making his 50th League appearance for Diamonds – threw himself at the lose ball to clear away the danger. The ball came straight back into the area however, with Christie squandering another great chance, striking the ball over the bar.

 

Captain Michael Corcoran received a yellow card for a challenge on Blackwood on 58 minutes, before another Tomlin free kick found Louis again – his header comfortably saved by the keeper. Tamworth continued to push forward, and Michael Wylde came close, heading wide from a Tom Shaw corner. Diamonds had another scare on 67 minutes when a long ball forward from Blackwood just held up short of the penalty area. Roberts hesitated allowing Christie to steal the ball, but this time, it was Curtis Osano to the rescue as he booted the ball away.

 

Diamonds were lacking any sort of rhythm, and Edinburgh made a couple of changes with Sam Smith replacing Tomlin, and Craig Farrell coming on for Louis as the game entered the final fifteen minutes. The change seemed to do the trick and on 83 minutes, Mark Byrne went down the left flank and pulled the ball back into the middle where Max Porter, some 20 yards out, struck the ball low past the keeper and into the corner of the net.

 

As the clock ticked down, Cliff Akurang replaced Matt Pattison leaving Diamonds with four strikers on the field! In the five minutes of added time, they played the ball towards the corner flag wherever possible, and apart from a Christie effort that was comfortably held by Roberts, held out for the three points.

 

Full Time: Tamworth 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1     

 

Two successive 1-0 away wins has given Diamonds a real chance of a top five finish. The next game should have been against Chester City on Tuesday evening, but with their expulsion from the Conference, the game has been cancelled. Diamonds next game is now at Nene Park against Gateshead next Saturday (13 March), and with both Jamie Stuart and Paul Terry available for selection, Justin Edinburgh will have a headache over which eleven will start the game.

 

Teams:

Tamworth: Danny Alcock, Richard Tait, Michael Blackwood, Chris Smith (c), Michael Wylde, Neil MacKenzie (Jerome Murdock 86), Alex Rodman (Jake Sheridan 74), Bradley Pritchard, Tom Shaw, Seb Lake-Gaskin, Iyseden Christie.

Subs not used: Des Lyttle, Michael Briscoe, Jay Smith.

 

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Simon Downer, Aaron O’Connor, Lee Tomlin (Sam Smith 71), Michael Corcoran (c), Matt Pattison (Cliff Akurang 88), Mark Byrne, Jefferson Louis (Craig Farrell 78).

Subs not used: Joe Day, Aynsley McDonald.

 

Goals:  Max Porter 83 (0-1).

 

Booked: Lee Tomlin 40 (dive), Michael Corcoran 58 (foul)

 

Sent off: Nil.

 

Referee: Mr Wayne Barratt (Worcs)

 

Attendance: 1016 (approx 200 away).

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