Rushden & Diamonds 5 Barrow 0

Rushden & Diamonds overwhelmed Barrow at Nene Park with a 5-0 win. The Diamonds took the lead after seven minutes when a Matt Johnson throw from the right was flicked home by Ryan Charles. O’Connor ran onto a Sills flick to slot home the second midway through the half, and on the stroke of half-time Charles got his second when a Max Porter shot was blocked and he slotted home the loose ball. Second half goals from Max Porter and Michael Corcoran completed the scoring in an emphatic victory.

The Diamonds managed to score 10 goals in the two fixtures between the sides last season, but having drawn a blank at Holker Street in August, they went some way to matching that statistic with their five goals in this game.

Justin Edinburgh made three changes to the same starting line-up that defeated local rivals Kettering Town in the FA last weekend, with Michael Corcoran returning to the side in place of suspended captain Jamie Stuart. Tim Sills returned to the side to replace the suspended Lewwis Spence, and Ryan Charles took the place of the injured Rene Howe. Curtis Osano was fit to start after an injury-hit week in training, and he started alongside Shane Huke in the centre of defence, with Corcoran playing right back. Aaron O’Connor was given the captain’s armband in Stuart’s absence.

Bluebirds managers Darren Sheridan and Dave Bayliss included loan signings Craig Clay and Tendayi Darikwa who had joined from Chesterfield (managed by Darren Sheridan’s brother John). James Owen returned from suspension, but Simon Wiles and Danny Forrest had not recovered from recent injuries.

The Diamonds kicked off towards the Peter De Banke terrace, although the autumn sun that might have affected Joe Day and his back four in the first half had been replaced by cloud and early in the game a rain shower made the pitch slippery underfoot.

After a quiet first five minutes the game burst into life when Tim Sills burst towards the right by-line and fired a cross into the six-yard box that was hastily cleared for a throw near the right corner flag. Matt Johnson went over and hurled a long throw into the box, with Ryan Charles finding space to flick the ball into the net with his head to give the Diamonds the lead with 7 minutes on the clock.

Matt Johnson linked up with Aaron O’Connor on the left, and showed composure in the penalty box to wrong-foot two defenders before sliding the ball to Ryan Charles whose shot was blocked.

The Diamonds were playing a free format formation at times, with Sills, O’Connor and Charles all prepared to help out in midfield, and Alan Power pushed well forwards in the role he had success with at Tamworth. A long kick from Joe Day was flicked on by Sills to Charles who in turn set up Power, but his effort was blocked.

The Diamonds defence had a couple of early scares as the visitors were prepared to push Clay alongside Walker, and a free kick from Spender saw the Diamonds defence allowing Clay too much space in the area, but Huke did well to block the danger. Clay was very fortunate to escape a yellow card on two occasions via challenges with studs showing, but the Diamonds players sportingly didn’t make a big issue of them.

After 23 minutes the Diamonds increased their lead. Tim Sills appeared to be fouled by Paul Jones on the edge of the area as they challenged for a long ball, but referee Barratt waved play on, and the ball was cleared, but won by Max Porter, who fed Jamie Day who in turn quickly laid the ball forwards to Sills, who flicked it for Aaron O’Connor to run onto, draw the keeper and coolly slot into the left-hand side of the net.

The Diamonds looked to have created another clear opening to break on goal shortly before the break, but referee Barratt stopped play for Phil Bolland to receive attention. The Diamonds had given Bolland and Jones a torrid time last season, and once again their strikeforce were winning the majority of the challenges. Despite the first goal having come from a long throw, the Diamonds appeared reluctant to use that tactic again, preferring to try to find space for a cross.

Two goals would have been a decent return for the Diamonds first-half domination, but they got a third during added time when a corner from the right was met by Tim Sills’ head, but was cleared off the line by Clay for another corner. This time the corner from the left was headed out to Max Porter in acres of space just outside the area, and although his shot hit a defender, it fell to Ryan Charles who coolly slotted home.


Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 3 Barrow 0

The Autumn sun had returned during the interval, so Barrow captain Paul Jones must have regretted his decision to change end, as he and his defenders had to cope with a low sun in their eyes for the first 20 minutes of the half.

Aaron O’Connor continued where he had left off as he tormented the visitors defence with his control, turns and runs, and in one of these he wrong-footed two defenders before hitting a sublime pass to Ryan Charles who was running into the left side of the area. Although Charles was “on a hat trick”, he was unselfish enough to take the ball to the by-line before squaring it low across the box for Max Porter to sidefoot home and make it 4-0 just before the hour mark.

Kurt Robinson replaced Matt Johnson before the Diamonds got their fifth goal on 65 minutes. A throw-in near the right corner flag allowed Michael Corcoran to pass to Ryan Charles in the right-hand side of the area, and he took a return pass from Charles before curling a perfectly placed shot from the right edge of the area into the left hand corner of the net.

The remainder of the game became rather scrappy, with both sides making their full quote of substitutions, including Curtis Osano being replaced for the first time this season by Justin Miller. Both sides had a goal disallowed due to offside – with Ryan Charles being denied his hat trick by a tight margin, when he tapped home a Craig Farrell shot that was going wide.

Shane Huke picked up the sole yellow card of the game with a challenge that looked rather tame compared to a couple seen in the first half, but the loud scream from Nick Chadwick may have influenced referee Barratt’s decision – although he did not require treatment.

Possibly the best move of the game came in injury time with some slick passing between Sills, Power and Farrell seeing Farrell reach the left by-line and square a cross that looked a simple chance for Jamie Day or Max Porter to score the sixth goal, but they got in each other’s way and the chance was lost.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 5 Barrow 0

The margin of victory meant that the Diamonds moved ahead of Fleetwood into the playoff zone because they have scored one more goal. They now have a week to prepare for the visit of Yeovil Town in the FA Cup sponsored by eon.

Teams :

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano (Justin Miller 71), Jamie Day, Michael Corcoran, Shane Huke, Max Porter, Alan Power, Matt Johnson (Kurt Robinson 61), Ryan Charles, Tim Sills, Aaron O’Connor(Capt) (Craig Farrell 74).

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts (GK), Joe Keehan

Barrow: Shaun Pearson, Simon Spender, Mike Pearson, Phil Bolland, Paul Jones (Capt), Tendayi Darikwa (Paul Rutherford 52), Ciaran Donnelly, James Owen, Neil Wainwright (Marc Goodfellow 77), Jason Walker, Craig Clay (Nick Chadwick 56)

Subs Not Used: Mark Boyd, Gregg Blundell.

Goals: Charles (7mins, 1-0), O’Connor (23, 2-0), Charles (45+1, 3-0), Porter (58, 4-0), Corcoran (65, 5-0)

Yellow Card: Huke

Referee: Wayne Barratt (Worcestershire)

Attendance: 1107 (away 54)

Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Luke Suggs and Family: Aaron O’Connor

Click here for video highlights.


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