Rushden & Diamonds 0 Crawley Town 1

Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a narrow defeat by big-spending Crawley Town at Nene Park. The visitors took the lead in first half injury time when Matt Tubbs slotted home a Dean Howell cross. The Diamonds battled away in the second half, but struggled to create more than one or two real chances, although they had claims for a penalty turned down late in the game.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the team that defeated Histon in midweek with Rene Howe replacing the injured Craig Farrell, and new signing Tim Sills replacing Ryan Charles.

Crawley made several changes to the side beaten by AFC Wimbledon in midweek with Michel Kuipers returning after suspension, and new loan signing Dannie Bulman starting along with Ben Smith.

The first half started brightly, with both sides creating several half-chances. Alan Power volleyed over when a Justin Miller long throw was headed out to him, and then a Jamie Day cross from the left was fired over by Rene Howe.

The visitors almost went ahead when Curtis Osano missed a high bouncing ball and Matt Tubbs hit his left-foot shot wide of the right-hand post. They had a further chance a minute later when Kyle McFadzean won the ball in the air from a free kick, but this time it was Sergio Torres who fired wide.

Tim Sills was winning his share of ball, and his flick found Rene Howe in the left channel, who flicked on to Aaron O’Connor, but the striker’s shot was wide. A second dangerous cross from Jamie Day came when he latched onto a flick from Rene Howe, but Max Porter couldn’t take advantage and missed the target.

Yellow Cards for Alan Power and Rene Howe were both surprise decisions by Mr Amphlett, with Power cautioned for continuing with play and firing over the bar a fraction of a second after the referee had blown for a free kick. Howe then appeared to be in a 50-50 challenge with McFadzean and Howell, but also saw yellow.

The Diamonds best move of the first half came when Howe flicked on to Tim Sills in the right channel, and he let the ball run to the byline and hit the ball low across the area towards Aaron O’Connor but Glenn Wilson did well to cut out the danger.

One minute of added time had been signalled when the Diamonds lost the ball in their left midfield, and the ball was quickly worked to the Crawley left where Dean Howell was in plenty of space to run and hit a low cross which was knocked home by Matt Tubbs.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Crawley Town 1

After receiving such a blow right at the interval, the Diamonds needed to react to the setback as well as adjusting to their opponents’ tactics once ahead in the game.

Crawley adjusted their play to tighten things up in midfield, with one of their strikers taking it in turns to drop back and supplement the midfield four.

With a number of changes made, and the introduction of Matt Johnson and Dominic Green, the Diamonds pushed Jamie Day forwards in an attempt to try a 3-4-3 formation, keeping the threat up front, whilst bolstering a midfield that had struggled to provide a decent service to the strikers.

Although the Diamonds had more of the possession in the second half, the number of times they threatened the equaliser was very limited. Max Porter had a good chance after 71 minutes when he received a throw from Justin Miller, played a 1-2 with Aaron O’Connor to burst to the end of the penalty area, but the chance to shoot came with the ball on his left foot, and he scooped the ball over the bar. Free kicks from Jamie Day on the left were presenting some danger – with Tim Sills showing that he will give the Diamonds an aerial threat should he get the service. One of these chances saw the ball run loose in the area after Sills and McAllister had clashed heads, but only the prone Sills was near the loose ball, so the danger was cleared.

As the game enter the last five minutes Dominic Green put in one of the better Diamonds corners, and as Rene Howe turned towards the edge of the area to try to collect the ball he appeared to be pushed from behind, but referee Amphlett chose to ignore his claims.

Although the Diamonds managed to force a number of corners, as well as opportunities for the long throws of Johnson and Miller, most of these opportunities provided keeper Kuipers with fairly straightforward catches. Kuipers was warned for time-wasting by referee Amphlett, as his team-mates ensured that the maximum time possible was taken for each substitution. Both Sills and McAllister received treatment during the half, and three further yellow cards were handed out, but only three minutes of time were added before the referee brought the game to a close.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Crawley Town 1

The Diamonds now have to prepare for two trips in the next seven days – to Eastbourne on Wednesday, and Altrincham on Saturday.

Teams: Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Justin Miller, Jamie Day, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Max Porter, Alan Power (Matt Johnson 62), Shane Huke (Dominic Green 77), Aaron O’Connor, Rene Howe, Tim Sills (Ryan Charles 85)

Subs Not Used: Lance Key (GK), Kurt Robinson

Crawley Town: Michel Kuipers, Ben Smith (Danny Hall 87), Glenn Wilson, Dean Howell, Kyle McFadzean, Sergio Torres, Dannie Bulman, Pablo Mills, Scott Neilson, Matt Tubbs (Ben Wright 80), Richard Brodie (Craig McAllister 70)

Subs Not Used: Nick Jordan (GK), Steven Masterton

Goal: Tubbs (45+1)

Yellow Cards: Power, Howe, O’Connor, Huke, McFadzean

Referee: Marvyn Amphlett (Kidderminster)

Attendance: 1162 (away 80)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Jamie Day

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