Kettering Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Rushden & Diamonds recorded another victory over local rivals Kettering Town at Rockingham Road. The Diamonds winner was scored just after the half-hour mark when Ashley Westwood headed into his own net. The Diamonds held out for the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Justin Miller was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Both teams were unchanged from Saturday, with the Diamonds keeping the same five players on the bench. With the Diamonds injury problems having escalated following the Wimbledon game, only four of the thirteen outfield players that played in the 3-0 victory over the Poppies in March were on show in this game.

The Diamonds could have taken the lead as early as the first minute, when a Dominic Green cross from the left found its way to Ryan Charles on the edge of the six-yard box, but his effort hit Nathan Abbey.

The Poppies went close when Ashley Westwood headed a long free kick against the Diamonds post with Dale Roberts stranded.

The Diamonds goal came when Ashley Westwood tried to head away a Curtis Osano free kick into the area, from about 12 yards out, but the ball lobbed off the top of his head and over Abbey into the net. Although those in the Press Box had a good view, the Diamonds fans at the far end of the ground took a while to realise that a goal had been scored, as there was no specific celebration by a goalscorer.

Other than those two incidents the first half was fairly uneventful until the last minute, when John Dempster appeared fortunate to escape a red card for a lunge at Rene Howe. At the same time the referee consulted his assistant regarding a challenge by Moses Ashikodi on Kurt Robinson, but no further action was taken. The short period before half time was the only period where the game really lived up to the reputation of a local derby, with things getting rather heated before referee Ross signalled for the break.

Half Time: Kettering Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The second half started in the manner of the first 40 minutes, as the game reverted to being a very tame affair. Dominic Green forced Abbey into a rare save when he latched onto a long clearance from Dale Roberts, and Marcus Kelly could have done better at the other end as he failed to finish after a good run by Jean-Paul Marna. As in recent games the Diamonds struggled to repeat their first-half form in the first part of the second period, but in this game they managed to keep a clean sheet.

Westwood went close to repairing his error in the second half when he headed just wide of goal, but the Diamonds were reduced to 10 men when Justin Miller received a second yellow card for a trip on Marcus Kelly, having picked up a card earlier in the game for a challenge on Makofo. Max Porter moved to right back, with the Diamonds midfield reshuffled to have Jamie Day on the left, Johnson and Spence in the middle, and Charles on the right, leaving Howe as the lone striker.

Tho final 20 minutes brough back memories of the game in 2001 for Diamonds fans as their team held firm with ten men. Although most of this period was spent defending, Curtis Osano made a surging run from defence, and appeared very unlucky to be penalised as he burst past the last line of defence.

Curtis Osano was having a magnificent game for the Diamonds, but he came close to repeating the error made by Westwood in the first half when he got his head on a Kelly freekick, but he diverted the ball just wide of the post as the match entered the final 10 minutes.

In the final minutes ex-Diamond Marcus Kelly managed a shot on target for the hosts – perhaps their only one of the game – but Dale Roberts was as assured as ever as he fielded the ball.

Rene Howe picked up a yellow card inside the last 10 minutes when he failed to stop quickly enough after the referee had blown his whistle, but after he was replaced by Nathan Koranteng the Diamondssuccessfully closed out the game.

Final Score: Kettering Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

After three wins in six days the Diamonds now have a short break before travelling to face York City at the weekend.

Teams

Kettering Town: Nathan Abbey, Luke Graham, Ashley Westwood (Capt), John Dempster, Andre Boucaud (Brett Solkhon 73), Moses Ashikodi (Iyseden Christie 64), Jean-Paul Marna, Greg Taylor, James Dance, Serge Makofo (Marcus Kelly 57), Patrick Noubissie.

Subs Not Used: Sol Davis, Niall Cooper (GK)

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Justin Miller, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Alan Power (Lewwis Spence 67), Matt Johnson, Ryan Charles, Rene Howe (Nathan Koranteng 90+1), Dominic Green (Jamie Day 77)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Joe Keehan

Goal: Westwood (own goal – 31 mins, 0-1)

Yellow Cards: Miller, Dempster, Howe

Red Card: Justin Miller (two yellow cards)

Referee: S J Ross

Attendance: 2313 (away 523)

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

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Rushden & Diamonds 4 Grimsby Town 1

Rushden & Diamonds outplayed league newcomers Grimsby Town to record a 4-1 victory. The Diamonds took the lead after 40 minutes when a Green corner from the right was met by a late run into the area by Justin Miller who stooped to head home his debut goal for the club. Grimsby got a goal back through Mark Hudson at the start of the second half, but the Diamonds pressure was rewarded with three goals in the second half, with Ryan Charles and Rene Howe both scoring well-taken goals and then Max Porter completed the scoring from a pass from Dominic Green.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the team that defeated Wimbledon in midweek, with injuries to Michael Corcoran and Shane Huke meaning Justin Miller and Jamie Stuart started the game.

Grimsby manager Neil Woods made three changes to his midweek team.

In similar fashion to the game on Tuesday night, the Diamonds dominated the first half, only allowing the visitors a single chance early in the half when Micky Cummins was first to a corner at the near post, but Dale Roberts saved his flick comfortably.

Dominic Green was causing the Mariners all kinds of problems down the Diamonds left, and he helped to create many of the Diamonds chances in the first half. Ryan Charles workrate also troubled the Mariners defence, including when he chased a loose ball down ahead of Darran Kempson, squared it to Rene Howe, who laid it in the path of Alan Power to hit a low shot that was well saved by Kenny Arthur. Green also had an effort on goal with his left foot which just missed the left-hand angle of post and crossbar and also dinked a couple of ball across the box with his right foot after cutting inside which might have produced more on another day.

The Diamonds dominance continued through the half, with Rene Howe going close when he got his toe to the ball in the corner of the penalty area ahead of the advancing keeper, after Max Porter had worked the ball forwards, but the ball hit the side netting. Howe also went close when he got his head on a Kurt Robinson cross after the Diamonds had spread the ball from right to left.

Good work by Green on the left saw a dangerous cross elude keeper Arthur, forcing Bradley Wood to head out for a corner ahead of Matt Johnson. Green took the corner on the right, and Justin Miller timed his run into the area so he was allowed to stoop and head home unchallenged.

The half ended with the Diamonds continuing to threaten the second goal that their first half domination clearly merited, but they had to be content with the single goal lead at the interval.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Grimsby Town 0

The Diamonds failure to score more than the single goal in the first half was quickly punished by the visitors, as Lee Peacock was able to break and get to the right byline and hit an angled cross that Mark Hudson was able to slot home from the edge of the six yard box.

The visitors then had a short period where it looked like they might be able to compete with their hosts, but Dominic Green went close when he fired a left foot shot from 25 yards just wide of the right hand post. The Mariners defenders had struggled to find their shape for much of the game, and Watt and Samuels became involved in an argument after conceding a corner, before the Diamonds made the game safe on the hour mark.

Visiting keeper Kenny Arthur picked up a knock as he fielded a routine loose ball after a corner, and let team-mate Steven Watt take his goalkicks. Watt scuffed his kick upfield, with Dominic Green winning the ball near the half-way line, heading it forwards to Rene Howe who headed on to Ryan Charles. Charles kept his cool, twisted past his marker Watt, to run into the area and roll the ball past Arthur for his debut Diamonds goal. From the restart the Diamonds quickly won back possession and a long ball forwards from Jamie Stuart dissected gap between the Mariners central defenders Watt and Kempson, who were struggling to cope with the presence of Rene Howe, and he was able to surge past them and slot the ball home from 20 yards for his second goal in successive games.

The Diamonds were not finished, and after 66 minutes they scored their fourth. Substitute Lewwis Spence had moved into left midfield, and he hit a long ball forwards to Rene Howe, who kept the ball despite the attention of two defenders before rolling it back to Spence. Spence hit a low ball across the box. despite pressure from a defender, that Max Porter narrowly failed to connect with, but it reached Dominic Green. Green was now working on the right hand side of the area, and he unselfishly rolled the ball back into the path of Max Porter to score his second goal of the season.

The half also contain a piece of play that few spectators will have seen before, with Dominic Green being penalised for kicking the ball a second time, after his corner hit a post, and bounced back to him without a defender getting close to the ball.

Although the visitors defence had looked in complete disarray after the fourth goal, the Diamonds did not further capitalise on these frailties, and the scoreline remained unchanged for the last 20 minutes, with Dominic Green coming closest to getting a goal that his performance would have merited. Mark Hudson also went close with a 35 yard shot that went inches from the left hand post. Jamie Day was able to join the action late on to make his belated Diamonds debut.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 4 Grimsby Town 1

The Diamonds now have to quickly prepare for the short trip up the A6 on Monday to face their local rivals as they look to pick up their first away points of the season.

Teams :

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Justin Miller, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Alan Power, Matt Johnson (Lewwis Spence 63), Ryan Charles (Nathan Koranteng 79), Rene Howe, Dominic Green (Jamie Day 88)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Joe Keehan

Grimsby Town, , Kenny Arthur, Bradley Wood, Steven Watt, Darran Kempson, Dwayne Samuels, Lewis Gobern (Tom Corner 75), Mark Hudson, Michael Cummins, Robert Eagle (Charles Ademeno 65), Alan Connell, Lee Peacock (Capt)

Subs Not Used: Scott Garner, Josh Fuller, Andi Thanoj

Goals: Miller (40, 1-0), Hudson (47, 1-1), Charles (59, 2-1), Howe (60, 3-1), Porter (66, 4-1)

Referee: R Whitton

Attendance: 1575 (away 541)

Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Pizzeria Venezia: Rene Howe.

For video highlights click here

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

Rushden & Diamonds 1 AFC Wimbledon 0

Rushden & Diamonds recorded a superb first win of the season when they outclassed joint league-leaders AFC Wimbledon at Nene Park. An excellent solo goal from man-of-the-match Rene Howe after 65 minutes gave the dominant Diamonds their first victory in seven games.

The Diamonds performance and domination of possession would have left neutral viewers wondering how they had started the game at the bottom of the division, and the Howe goal was worthy of being the first the Dons had conceded this season.

Justin Edinburgh made a single change to the team that faced Barrow at the weekend, with the enforced absence of Jamie Stuart meaning a starting place for Shane Huke at centre back – and also meant that Huke would be the oldest member of the starting Xi – aged just 24. New signing Nathan Koranteng took a place on the bench, as did Jamie Day.

AFC Wimbledon manager Terry Brown also made a single change, with Rashud Yussuff replacing Ricky Wellard.

The Diamonds first half performance was certainly their best of the season, although the visitors really should have taken the lead with only four minutes on the clock when a Hatton cross was met by a powerful header by Ismail Yakubu, forcing a great save from Dale Roberts – but Luke Moore should have knocked home the rebound, but his effort landed on the top of the net.

The Diamonds then dominated play for the remainder of the half, with the best chance falling to Ryan Charles on the stroke of half-time, when he beat the Dons offside trap to run clear, but his attempted chip was caught by keeper Brown. Dominic Green had the other shot that forced Brown into a save after he cut in from the left, but his right-foot shot lacked power. Charles did almost set up Matt Johnson with a great chance, as he beat Hatton on the left and saw his cross shave the head of Andre Blackman to deny Johnson.

The Diamonds midfield was taking advantage of the space their runs were creating and at times the Diamonds passing game was the best seen for some time. Both Porter and Power also took opportunties to get forwards, and Power was unfortunate to slip when trying to get a shot away. Power also narrowly missed setting up Dominic Green when he contolled an incisive pass from Curtis Osano, and chose to try to dissect the space between the Dons defence for Green to run onto, rather then directing it straight at Green. 

Max Porter was felled by Yakubu on the edge of the area, but the free kick was a repeat of the three similar ones seen on Saturday as Dominic Green chipped it over the bar. On his home debut Green was causing the Dons defence almost as many problems as Rene Howe, with his marker Sam Hatton (who had had such a torrid time against Lee Tomlin at Kingsmeadow last season) replaced by Ryan Jackson before half-time after picking up a knock.

At the back for the Diamonds Shane Huke and Curtis Osano were keeping the Dons attack quiet, assisted by Corcoran and Robinson, and Osano even had time to make a forward run and hit a rasping shot from almost 40 yards that flew just wide of the right-hand post.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 AFC Wimbledon 0

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first half, with the Diamonds continuing their dominance. The Dons made a further change at half-time, bringing on the pacey Christian Jolley on the left, but although he worked hard, there was little goal threat from the visitors.

The decisive period of the game came around the hour mark. Despite the Diamonds being in control of the game, the Dons did create one chance when Jolley evaded a tackle on the left edge of the box and crossed for Sammy Moore, but his effort was well saved by the impressive Dale Roberts. At the other end Rene Howe was showing his abilities in setting up his team-mates, and just after the hour mark a Howe cross from the left seemed to present Ryan Charles with an easy chance but he seemed to stumble and the ball carried on across the area and to safety,

The disappointment that the second gilt-edged chance of the game for the Diamonds having been spurned didn’t last long, as within three minutes they were ahead, and it was a magnificent solo effort from Rene Howe as he picked up a ball forwards from Dominic Green, ran at his marker before making space to rifle a powerful shot that went in-off the crossbar.

To their credit Rushden continued to press, and Matt Johnson almost got on the scoresheet when his long throw was headed out to him, but his shot was deflected for a corner. Other efforts from Power (long range shot), Howe (header and shot), Porter (shot) and substitute Lewwis Spence almost gave the Diamonds some breathing space, and at the other end Huke and Osano continue to quell any danger.

Nathan Koranteng came on for his Diamonds debut shortly before the end of the game as the visitors were reduced to appealing for decisions to go their way from referee Martin who had been consistent throughout the game.

The only negative on a memorable night was the third booking of the season for Michael Corcoran – a card picked up during some confusion about whether he was to be substituted following an injury he collected in the penalty area.

The referee extended the added time to over five minutes following the Corcoran incident and a late booking for Ryan Jackson, but the Diamonds held firm, with Dale Roberts confirming his clean sheet with some confident handling of anything played into the area.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 AFC Wimbledon 0

After picking up their first win of the season the Diamonds will be looking to build upon this with the visit of Grimsby Town on Saturday afternoon.

Teams :

Rushden & Diamonds : Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran (Capt) (Justin Miller 90+1), Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Shane Huke, Curtis Osano, Alan Power, Matt Johnson, Ryan Charles (Nathan Koranteng 82), Rene Howe, Dominic Green (Lewwis Spence 79)

Subs Not Used: Jamie Day, Joe Day (GK)

AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Samuel Hatton (Ryan Jackson 22), Andre Blackman, Steven Gregory, Ismail Yakubu, Brett Johnson, Sammy Moore, Rashid Yussuff (Reece Jones 79), Danny Kedwell, Jon Main (Christian Jolley 45), Luke Moore

Subs Not Used: Jack Turner, Fraser Franks

Goal: Rene Howe (64)

Yellow Cards: Yakubu, Blackman, Corcoran. Jackson.

Referee: S Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 1365

Diamonds Man of the Match (Chosen by Moore-Stephens): Rene Howe

Barrow 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Rushden & Diamonds paid the price for some poor finishing as they saw Jason Walker score two second half goals to give Barrow victory at Holker Street on a breezy summer afternoon in Cumbria. The second Walker goal was a penalty after he fell under a challenge from Jamie Stuart that saw the Diamonds skipper shown a red card. The first Walker goal was a quality goal, as he received the ball on the edge of the box from Simon Spender, jinked both ways in front of Curtis Osano before lobbing a shot over Dale Roberts that went in-off the underside of the bar.

The Diamonds had numerous chances in either half, but struggled to force the Bluebirds keeper into significant action, other than when a Rene Howe effort hit the angle of post and bar early in the second half, and a long range shot from Lewwis Spence. The game also saw seven yellow cards – with Osano, Robinson and Corcoran picking up those cards for the Diamonds

Justin Edinburgh made three changes in personnel from the team that lost at Bath City, with Kurt Robinson returning to left back in place of Justin Miller (allowing Michael Corcoran to switch to right back). Matt Johnson replaced Lewwis Spence to play in right midfield, and Ryan Charles started up front in place of the injured Craig Farrell as the Diamonds switched to a 4-4-2 formation. Both Johnson and Charles were making their full debuts for the club in the game where Jamie Stuart reached 50 appearances for the club.

Barrow joint managers Darren Sheridan and Dave Bayliss made several changes, with 42-years old Sheridan starting the game himself in midfield, and there was a place for the returning Paul Edwards as they changed to a 4-5-1 formation with Jason Walker their lone striker.

The first half started with the Diamonds playing into the wind, and as early as the third minute the hosts used the elements to their advantage when Mark Boyd played a free kick forward to Jason Walker who jinked his way into the area and hit a shot that Dale Roberts did well to palm away, but it fell to Paul Jones who squared to Marc Goodfellow whose left foot shot hit the right hand post before referee Bristow called play to a half as the linesman was flagging for an infringement.

The Diamonds started to use the conditions to their advantage with a number of through balls that were held up by the wind, and they were awarded a number of free kicks in good positions just outside the area, but Green (twice) and Porter could only find the roof of the net with each chance.

The Diamonds also created two chances in the first half for Matt Johnson in the right hand side of the area. For the first one a well judged ball from Howe put the ball into space ahead of Ryan Charles, and his cross from the left byline went over the keeper and defender Edwards to Johnson, but the defender was able to turn and block Johnson’s effort. The second chance came in first half injury time, when Simon Spender tried to shield a ball that appeared to be running for a goal-kick, but Ryan Charles was able to rob him and Dominic Green’s cross found Johnson in space. Johnson quickly squared to Rene Howe, but he was closed down on the edge of the six yard box.

The hosts created a number of chances for lone striker Jason Walker on the break during the half, but the Diamonds defence dealt well with Walker and supporting runs from Goodfellow and Boyd. Play was halted for a short period in the half as referee Bristow realised his oversight in allowing Bluebirds keeper Martin to wear the same yellow shorts and socks as the Diamonds, so he had to make a quick shorts swap.

The home side saw three players booked in the first half, but Curtis Osano was clearly being targeted by the home side, and after he had picked up a yellow card the home side were looking for a second in first half injury time, after he won the ball from Mark Boyd, but his follow through caught Boyd rather high. Boyd went gingerly off the pitch looking like he might not be able to return – but quickly recovered and returned to the action.

Half-Time: Barrow 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The second half saw the Diamonds with the advantage of the wind at their backs, but they almost went behind within seconds of the restart, when Marc Goodfellow took a pass from Simon Spender on the right and hit a powerful low cross that Jamie Stuart tried to head behind, but only succeeded in directing it at goal, with Dale Roberts pulling off a good save. The Diamonds then had a chance at the other end when Ryan Charles laid the ball into the box but Rene Howe fired wide.

Good chasing down by Howe and Charles caused Paul Jones to hit a poor pass to Paul Edwards, who in turn hit a poor ball across his own area that Phil Bolland did well to clear away as Rene Howe closed on a clear chance.

Ten minutes into the half the Diamonds could have taken the lead when good work by Green and Howe on the left saw Howe lay the ball into space just outside the "D" for Max Porter, but he hit his shot over the bar. A minute later saw Howe outmuscling Bolland to latch onto a long ball, but his effort hit the crossbar. It was then Ryan Charles turn for an effort on goal as he squeezed between Bolland and Jones to get his head onto a long kick from Dale Roberts, but his header was easily fielded by Martin.

Darren Sheridan was extremely lucky to escape a red card as he committed the worst foul of the game on Kurt Robinson, right in front of his own fans – and the unfortunate Robinson then picked up a yellow for an innocuous foul on substitute Wiles.

With all the Diamonds pressure it was important they converted it into a goal, but as often happens, the home side took the lead against the run of play with a fine finish from Jason Walker. Receiving the ball from Spender on the right, he shielded it from Curtis Osano with his back to goal, jinked both ways and then turned and hit a shot from 20 yards that dipped in-off the crossbar to open the scoring.

To their credit, the Diamonds could have equalised within a minute as good vision from Rene Howe found Matt Johnson in space on the right, but his shot from a narrow angle flew over. After Goodfellow had fired wide at the other end, Howe then had a chance himself as he collected a long ball from Jamie Stuart, turning in front of Jones to create room for a shot, but this was pulled wide. A long range shot from Lewwis Spence then forced Martin to pull off his best save of the afternoon.

Once again the Diamonds pressure needed to deliver an end product, and when this wasn’t forthcoming it was the home side who got on the scoresheet – for a second time. A good ball forwards from Goodfellow was cushioned by the wind and found Walker rnnning into the penalty box challenged by Jamie Stuart. As often happens with such a 50-50 race, the first contact results in a penalty when the striker anticipates the challenge, and referee Bristow pointed to the spot, and brandished a red card to Stuart.

Jason Walker fired home the spotkick with 75 minutes on the clock, with the Diamonds bringing on Shane Huke to play in the back four. The final 15 minutes saw the 10 men Diamonds fail to create many opportunities to reduce the arrears, and the Bluebirds held on for their win.

Full-Time: Barrow 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

With the defeat meaning the Diamonds slipped to the bottom of the Blue Square Bet Premier they have an ideal opportunity to kick-start their season on Tuesday evening when high-flying AFC Wimbledon visit Nene Park.

Teams :

Barrow: Alan Martin, Simon Spender, Paul Edwards, Phil Bolland, Paul Jones (Capt), Paul Rutherford, Marc Goodfellow (Danny Forrest 87), James Owen, Mark Boyd (Simon Wiles 51), Jason Walker (Andy Cook 84), Darren Sheridan

Subs Not Used: Mike Pearson, Andy Milne

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Michael Corcoran, Kurt Robinson, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Alan Power (Lewwis Spence 71), Matt Johnson, Ryan Charles (Donovan Simmonds 83), Rene Howe, Dominic Green (Shane Huke 76)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Justin Miller

Goals: Walker (69, 76(pen))

Yellow Cards: Goodfellow, Osano, Sheridan, Rutherford, Robinson, Owen, Corcoran

Red Card: Jamie Stuart (75)

Referee: Matt Bristow (Manchester)

Attendance: 1145

Bath City 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds lost 2-1 to Bath City at Twerton Park on Tuesday evening. The Diamonds took the lead after 6 minutes when Max Porter slotted home a low cross from Rene Howe from the left. After a dominant first-half performance the old cliché of “needing a second goal” was never more appropriate when the home side got a goal back from Adam Connelly 30 seconds into the second half. Darren Edwards then scored the winner for City when heading home unmarked from a free-kick just before the hour mark. Although the Diamonds pressured the home goal for the final half-hour the equaliser was not forthcoming.

Justin Edinburgh made one change from the team that drew with Fleetwood Town on Saturday, with new loan signing Dominic Green replacing Donovan Simmonds. The change allowed Rene How to be switched to the central striking role, with Craig Farrell mostly on the right and Green on the left.

The Diamonds first half performance was far more fluid than that at Nene Park on Saturday, with the midfielders having outlets via the strength and power of Rene Howe, or the pace of Green and hold-up play of Farrell. Justin Miller and Michael Corcoran were providing width when necessary, and the home side produced little to trouble the Diamonds in the first period. The second half was to prove rather different.

With six minutes on the clock Dale Roberts executed a quick throw to Michael Corcoran, whose ball forwards went down the left touchline, forcing Sekani Simpson to concede a throw. Corcoran took a quick throw to Rene Howe, with Dominic Green making a decoy run, and Howe’s pace took him to the byline, and his neat low cross was slotted home by Max Porter.

The Diamonds came close on several other occasions in the half, most notably in injury time when Rene Howe outmuscled his marker to claim a long ball inside the penalty area, but he chose to blast a shot which flew over, when perhaps there was an option to square to the supporting Farrell or Green. This was one of the few times Howe blotted his copybook in the first half, as his running and hold up play were causing the home defence real problems. Unfortunately, despite being on the receiving end of many niggly challenges, and on the wrong end of 50/50 decisions regarding committed challenges, it was Howe that found himself on the receiving end of a yellow card shortly before the break – thus stunting his abilities to make such challenges for the remainder of the game.

Alan Power also saw a goal-bound shot blocked, and another dangerous cross from Howe was cut out just in front of an unmarked Craig Farrell. The Diamonds were spreading the ball across the full width of the pitch, and were also finding the front men with well hit balls into space, with both Corcoran and Osano hitting pinpoint passes forward. Osano followed one of his passes forwards, but hit a long range shot over the bar.

As well as the Howe chance, the Diamonds had two other good chances to double their lead in first-half injury time, but their efforts were in vain.

The home side’s only goal threat in the half came from a low cross from Lewis Hogg that Dale Roberts was forced to save low down as it tracked across the area.

Half Time Bath City 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

After a such a dominant performance in the first half the Diamonds found themselves level within 30 seconds of the restart. With the teams lined up as if the kick-off was likely to be played down the Bath left, the ball was played to Sekani Simpson on the right, and although Michael Corcoran covered across to concede a throw, the quickly taken throw went to Adam Connolly who lashed a shot in-off the woodwork from the edge of the area that gave Dale Roberts no chance.

For the first time in the game the home side appeared energised, and they enjoyed their best period of the game. As the hour mark approached, Sido Jombati set off on a forward run, and although his pass was intercepted, the ball was knocked forwards into space with Jombati and Osano running towards the left corner. Although it appeared Osano would win the race, Jombati bumped into him and went down, and referee Berry awarded a free kick. If the award was harsh, the Diamonds only had themselves to blame for what happened next, as the kick from Lewis Hogg went into the area, and Darren Edwards ran unchallenged to head home past a bemused Diamonds defence. Osano’s evening didn’t improve when he suffered a broken nose from a challenge later in the half.

The match then returned to the earlier state where the Diamonds did most of the pressing. Craig Farrell appeared to pick up an injury before being replaced by Ryan Charles, and Matt Johnson took over midfield duties from Lewwis Spence. After Kurt Robinson replaced Justin Miller the Diamonds formation changed, with Corcoran moving to right back, supporting Johnson down the right, with Robinson doing the same with Green on the left, leaving Howe and Charles in the middle, supported by the central midfielders.

Rene Howe continued to make some fully committed challenges, despite his earlier yellow card, such that there was some concern that he might pick up a second card, and he was also encouraging his fellow strikers as the Diamonds battled for an equaliser. His left-foot shot on the turn after 85 minutes flew over the bar, as it began to look like the Diamonds would not be able to force the equaliser.

Several of the Diamonds best chances fell to Alan Power, but several of his efforts were blocked, and at least two others flew over the target. Matt Johnson had taken over long-throw duties from Justin Miller, and one of these caused real problems for the home defence, but the ball squirmed wide of goal for a corner. Dominic Green had taken over duties with free kicks and corners, and one free kick was deflected narrowly wide, and his well-hit corners were well dealt with by the home side, although Michael Corcoran went close on one occasion to repeating his late goal scored on Saturday.

Referee Berry signalled six minutes of added time, but the Diamonds could not get the equalising goal, although Jamie Stuart picked up a late yellow card as home keeper Robinson’s methods to use up the remaining time proved frustrating.

Full Time Bath City 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

There was a lot to encourage the travelling fans in this game, especially in the first half performance, but the two goals conceded were a disappointment, and the Diamonds will look to eradicate these errors during their trip to Barrow at the weekend.

Teams

Bath City: Ryan Robinson, Sekani Simpson, Sido Jombati, Gethin Jones, Danny Webb, Darren Edwards (Jake Reid 70), Adam Connolly, Adie Harris , Lewis Hogg (Capt), Marc Canham, Lee Phillips (Jim Rollo 88)

Subs Not Used: Hector Mackie, Callum Hart, Matt Coupe

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Justin Miller (Kurt Robinson 73), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Alan Power, Lewwis Spence (Matt Johnson 64),, Craig Farrell (Ryan Charles 64), Rene Howe, Dominic Green

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Shane Huke

Goals: Porter (0-1, 6mins), Connolly (1-1, 46), Edwards (2-1, 58)

Yellow Cards: Adam Connolly, Rene Howe, Max Porter, Jamie Stuart

Referee: Carl Berry (Cheam)

Attendance: 876 (away approx 110)

Match Gallery Pictures courtesy of Mal Swinden

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Fleetwood Town 1

The Diamonds scored a very late equaliser to snatch a draw with newcomers Fleetwood Town in the opening game of the Blue Square Bet Premier season. An opening goal at Conference level for Fleetwood was scored by Magno Viera midway through the first half. It took until the third minute of injury time for the Diamonds to get their goal when Michael Corcoran headed home a Craig Farrell corner. The Diamonds missed a penalty in the first half, but the visitors would have been the most disappointed to drop two points.

Justin Edinburgh had to make further change to his defensive line-up with Michael Corcoran starting at left back. Up-front new loan signing Rene Howe lined up alongside Donovan Simmonds and Craig Farrell. In addition to Howe and Simmonds there were Diamonds league debuts for Alan Power. Lewwis Spence and Justin Miller in the starting line-up, with Matt Johnson and Ryan Charles on the bench.

Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon included a number of his summer signings in his starting line-up, including Ian Craney, Magno Viera and Wayne Curtis.

The visitors had the best of the first half, and deservedly took the lead after 23 minutes when a poor header by Curtis Osano went straight to Magno Viera, who volleyed into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Viera had another chance after a mistake from Power which was blocked, and both Curtis and Craney were giving the Diamonds defence problems as they threatened a second goal. A major concern for the Diamonds defence were the set piece moves from the visitors, with midfielder Nathan Pond finding space to have a free header on goal on several occasions.

With five minutes left of a half where they had created few chances the Diamonds had a chance to equalise,. Good work from Lewwis Spence, and a 1-2 with Donovan Simmonds saw him find Alan Power with his back to goal, and he was clearly fouled by Paul Linwood to give Diamonds an opening day penalty for the third season running. Craig Farrell struck the penalty with power, but it was in the centre of goal and Fleetwood keeper Hurst stretched up an arm to deflect the ball over the bar.

Michael Corcoran picked a yellow card early in the game for a late tackle, and was followed into the book by Beeley and Linwood.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Fleetwood Town 1

The second half started in a similar fashion to the way the first half had ended, with both sides struggling for fluency, but the Diamonds did at least start to generate some attacking threat.

Donovan Simmonds managed to link up with Justin Miller in a neat move down the right before lashing the ball towards goal, with Hurst forced to palm the ball away from danger. This proved to be Simmonds last contribution to the game, as the Diamonds began a series of substitutions by firstly introducing Ryan Charles for his debut.

Fleetwood continued to threaten from corners, and one of these from the left, taken by Ian Craney saw Dale Roberts do well to smother an effort by Magno Viera. In contrast Craig Farrell was trying a free kick that could best be described as a “grubber kick”, but his attempt in both halves produced little danger. An Osano free kick wasn’t properly cleared, and a chance fell to Alan Power but his effort was lashed wildly over the scoreboard.

The impressive Nathan Pond was than penalised for a tackle on Max Porter in the centre circle after 68 minutes, and the Curtis Osano free kick was neatly deflected into the path of Craig Farrell by Michael Corcoran towards the left corner. Farrell made a run to the near post, but his flick only found the side netting.

Shane Huke then replaced Max Porter in midfield before Matt Johnson made his first appearance in place of Lewwis Spence. These changes energised the Diamonds, and the last 15 minutes were the Diamonds only real period of dominance in the game. As the game entered injury time Matt Johnson showed good control to force a corner that was cleared, but a minute late Rene Howe broek down the left and won the second corner in quick succession with the game in the third minute of injury time. Craig Farrell hit a powerful low corner across the box, and Michael Corcoran rose to head home the last gasp equaliser.

Referee Long brought the game to and end shortly afterwards, with the visitors leaving the pitch to deserved applause after impressing in their first game in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Fleetwood Town 1

The Diamonds have three days to prepare for the trip to Bath in midweek, although Justin Edinburgh is more confident that Jamie Day, Sam Smith and Aaron O’Connor may be available for selection for the following game at Barrow.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Justin Miller, Michael Corcoran, Max Porter (Shane Huke 72), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Alan Power, Lewwis Spence (Matt Johnson 80), Craig Farrell, Rene Howe, Donovan Simmonds (Ryan Charles 57)

Subs Not Used: Joe Day (GK), Kurt Robinson,

Fleetwood Town: Danny Hurst, Shaun Beeley, Anthony Barry, Steve McNulty (Capt), Nathan Pond, Ian Craney, Magno Vieira (Mark Beesley 72), Simon Grand, Jamie McGuire, Paul Linwood, Wayne Curtis

Subs Not Used: Lee Thorpe, Scott Davies (GK), Gareth Seddon, Peter Cavanagh.

Goals: Viera (23, 0-1), Corcoran (90+3, 1-1)

Yellow Cards: Corcoran, Beeley, Linwood

Referee : Simon Long

Diamonds Man of the Match: Dale Roberts

Attendance: 1248 (away 155)

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

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