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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