Eastbourne Borough 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Rushden & Diamonds recorded a 2-0 victory over Eastbourne Borough in Sussex at a very wet Priory Lane. They took the lead after 27 minutes when a Justin Miller throw on the right was flicked on by Tim Sills for Rene Howe to slot home. Miller got the second goal when he headed home a Matt Johnson corner after 36 minutes.

The Diamonds were able to control the remainder of the game, with Joe Day and his back four earning a deserved clean sheet.

Justin Edinburgh made a single change in from the team that lost at home to Crawley Town with Matt Johnson replacing the rested Alan Power, meaning that Lewwis Spence took his place on the bench.

It was clear from the first whistle that this would be an open game, with the hosts already ready to work the ball forwards quickly. One such move saw Curtis Osano pick up an early yellow card when he fouled Jamie Taylor. Osano and Jamie Day then collided on their edge of their own area, with Day needing attention from Harry Scott-Stackman. The best chance in the first quarter fell to Max Porter, when he attempted a long range lob towards goal, after keeper Banks had rushed out to close down the run of Matt Johnson down the right channel – but Porter’s attempt was dealt with by a covering defender.

The Diamonds seemed to have assessed the threat from their opponents in the first quarter, and stepped up a gear from then on. After 27 minutes good work by Johnson and Porter earned the Diamonds a throw on the right, and Justin Miller used his long throw to hurl the ball deep into the area, where Tim Sills flicked the ball on for Rene Howe to run onto and fire into the left hand side of the goal with his left foot.

All three Diamonds strikers were always willing to do the running to support their midfielders, and Tim Sills showed his creative abilities several times, including when he turned and hit a sublime reverse pass from will inside his own half across the field to set Aaron O’Connor clear on goal, but the Diamonds striker saw his effort fended away.

As well as one of his best performances in the Diamonds midfield, Matt Johnson was also causing problems with his long throws on the left, and from one of these the Diamonds forced a corner on the left. Johnson took the kick, and his low flat ball went to the far post where Justin Miller ghosted in to head home home his third goal of the season – joining Rene Howe as the Diamonds top scorer.

The hosts had little in reply to the Diamonds two goals – the only real danger to Joe Day’s goal in the first half came when referee Powell awarded the Sports a rather soft free kick for what looked a fair challenge by Curtis Osano, but the Weatherstone free-kick from 25 yards was always going over the bar.

Half-Time: Eastbourne Borough 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

After seeing a quick response from opponents in the second half in earlier away games this season, it was important the Diamonds did not concede a goal early in the half, and they coped comfortably with any threat from the Sports. Jamie Day was forced to leave the field five minutes into the half, with Kurt Robinson his replacement. The nearest the Sports came all game was when Matt Crabb got on the end of a cross from the left, heading powerfully into the ground, but Joe Day leapt to tip the bouncing ball over the bar.

Although the hosts continued to try to push forwards, they were met by a well organised Diamonds defence, with Joe Day catching or punching clear any loose balls. Kurt Robinson quickly slotted back into the left back role, and he did well to clear at the far post ahead of an onrushing forward.

The Diamonds really should have wrapped the game up, as they created three excellent chances during the half. From the first, after 64 minutes, Tim Sills judged a looping ball better than his marker Neil Jenkins, dropping back to make space and then turned and hit a shot that deserved to find the net, but keeper Banks pulled off a fine save. The second after 75 minutes saw Aaron O’Connor burst forwards down the left channel and hit a powerful shot that Banks could only parry, but Rene Howe blasted the loose ball well over the bar. The third, three minutes later, saw a Justin Miller throw on the right helped on by Rene Howe to Tim Sills, whose header was well saved by Banks. Sills also went close with a fine scissors kick on the turn which angled across the goal, but went just wide.

The excellent saves from Banks earned him the home man-of-the-match award, and indicated how much more threatening the Diamonds were looking up-front.

Full-Time: Eastbourne Borough 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

The Diamonds now have only two clear days to prepare for another away trip – to Cheshire on Saturday to face Altrincham.

Teams:

Eastbourne Borough: Rikki Banks, Darren Baker (Ben Austin 69), Steve Cook, Yado Mambo, Simon Johnson, Matt Crabb, Simon Weatherstone (Matt Smart 76), Nathan Crabb, Neil Jenkins, Jamie Taylor, Richard Pacquette (Andy Atkin 69)

Subs Not Used: Dan Brown, Steve Brinkhurst

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day (GK), Justin Miller, Jamie Day (Kurt Robinson 52), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Max Porter, Matt Johnson (Lewwis Spence 82), Shane Huke, Aaron O’Connor (Ryan Charles 88), Rene Howe, Tim Sills

Subs Not Used: Lance Key (GK), Dominic Green.

Goals: Howe (27, 0-1), Miller (36, 0-2)

Yellow Cards: Osano, Cook, Robinson, Spence

Referee: Mr C Powell (Dorset)

Attendance: 802 (away approx 50)

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