Forest Green Rovers 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

 

Rushden & Diamonds snatched a last gasp equaliser to draw 2-2 with Forest Green in Gloucestershire Two first half goals by Curtis Mcdonald gave the hosts a convincing lead at the break, but the Diamonds dominated the second half, getting an early penalty converted by Alan Power, then Aaron O’Connor got the equaliser with 10 seconds of the four minutes of added time left when he fired home after a long throw from Justin Miller wasn’t cleared.

Justin Edinburgh made four enforced changes to the team that lost at home to York City the previous weekend, with Kurt Robinson, Justin Miller, Lewwis Spence and Tim Sills joining the starting line-up in place of the suspended Jamie Day, Curtis Osano and Rene Howe, and the injured Michael Corcoran. A further change was that Craig Farrell started ahead of Ryan Charles.

Forest Green Manager David Hockaday gave new loan signing Steve Guinan a place on the bench, with Liam Enver-Marum restored to the starting line-up.

The match referee Amy Fearn had passed the pitch fit shortly before 1pm, with the conditions a credit to the efforts made by the host club to ensure the game went ahead.

The Diamonds played 4-3-3 with Lewwis Spence joining Porter and Power in midfield, but it was the home side who quickly established complete domination of the half. Early chances for Enver-Marum and Klukowski were followed by a dangerous low ball across the area from Enver-Marum that only needed a touch from Klukowski to open the scoring.

As the end of the first quarter approached Lewwis Spence fouled Wayne Turk in midfield. The Diamonds lined up a five man wall that was positioned just outside the area, but Mike Fowler rolled the freekick diagonally to Curtis McDonald who fired his shot across Joe Day an into the far corner from 20 yards to open the scoring.

Worse was to come five minutes later, as Rovers sliced through the Diamonds defence down the right channel, via a neat 1-2 between Jared Hodgkiss and Yan Klukowski, not helped by a slip from Kurt Robinson, and Klukowski hit a low ball along the edge of the six yard box that was slid home by Curtis McDonald.

It looked like the home side might get the third goal their domination deserved when McDonald broke down the right, and although Justin Miller tried to lean on him to shepherd him away from goal he was too strong and continued his run, only to see Shane Huke slip to the floor, suffering a hamstring strain. This allowed McDonald to run unchallenged along the byline and hit a ball that one of the Rovers strikers should have fired home. The injury to Huke was made more challenging by the fact the Diamonds didn’t have a defender on the bench, but he was replaced by Matt Johnson, which allowed Max Porter to drop to right-back, and Justin Miller moved into the centre of defence.

Other chances fell to Dyer and Quinn, with Joe Day pulling off a couple of smart saves to keep the Diamonds in with a chance of retrieving something from the game.

The half ended with four players colliding with each other going for a loose ball, leaving Max Porter needed attention off the pitch as the whistle went for the break.

Half-Time: Forest Green Rovers 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

After such a poor showing in the first half, no changes were made at the break, but it was quickly clear that the Diamonds players had significantly increased their level of performance, with Rovers struggling to get out of their own half for much of the second period.

Matt Johnson created an early chance for Craig Farrell via his long throw, and then made a run down the right wing before hitting a cross that wasn’t dealt with, and as Craig Farrell went to pick up the loose ball towards the right corner of the penalty area he was tripped by Curtis McDonald, and referee Fearn signalled a spot kick.

With Rene Howe the preferred penalty taker suspended, the responsibility was given to Alan Power, and he made no mistake firing the ball low into the left hand side of goal.

Lewwis Spence was finding space on the left, and had the beating of his marker after a fine ball from Alan Power, producing a cross that Aaron O’Connor narrowly failed to poke home. Spence produced a similar cross moments later, and this one caused a pile-up of bodies on the edge of the six-yard box, with the Forest Green defenders appearing to tumble on top of keeper Bittner, but referee Fearn signalled a Rovers free kick rather than possibly declaring the game should be restarted with a drop-ball so close to goal.

The space down the Diamonds left was also exploited by Sills and O’Connor, and following a Sills flick O’Connor raced into the area and appeared to be knocked off the ball by Luke Jones, but referee Fearn waved away Diamonds claims for a second penalty.

A Miller long throw produced a shooting chance for Craig Farrell, but his powerful goal bound shot hit a number of players and went out for a goal kick. Alan Power then went close with an attempted chip, as the Diamonds brought on Sam Smith and Ryan Charles to try to force the equaliser.

Joe Day was almost a spectator in the second half, although his distribution from free kicks was also causing the home defence some concerns.

Referee Fearn was causing both benches some upset as first she penalised Aaron O’Connor for a challenge that saw his shirt almost pulled off his back, and then allowed a very poor tackle on Max Porter to go unpunished. She then appeared to play advantage after a Rovers player had been fouled, but just as the Rovers forwards seemed to be threatening the Diamonds backline she stopped play to award them the free kick.

The Diamonds pressure continued right until the end of the game, with referee Fearn indicating a minimum of four added minutes, which seemed the minimum for a half with four substitutions and a number of instances where the home side took 30 seconds to get the ball back into play.

During this period the Diamonds had four corners in quick succession, the first three of which had a real threat on goal, but after the four went straight out for a goalkick it looked like the Diamonds might get nothing from their dominance of the half. With seconds left the Diamonds won a throw on their left, just inside the Rovers half, and Justin Miller launched ball diagonally into the area, and it flicked off a defender to Aaron O’Connor who blasted the ball low into the net in front of the visiting fans to clinch a point with 10 seconds to spare.

Full-Time: Forest Green Rovers 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

Although the Diamonds were celebrating the late equaliser, questions will be asked how they had played so poorly in the first half for the second away game running – a performance manager Edinburgh described as "abject", and why they couldn’t produce the sort of performance they showed in the second half for the whole 90 minutes. The team has still to score in the opening period during November, and the last three games have seen first period performances at Fleetwood and Forest Green sandwich the three goals that York scored at Nene Park during that phase.

There will be a chance to answer this question on Tuesday evening when Cambridge United visit Nene Park, although they will be without Shane Huke following his hamstring injury.

Teams:

Forest Green Rovers: James Bittner, Jared Hodgkiss, Luke Jones (Capt), Craig Armstrong, Adam Quinn, Mike Fowler (Gavin Caines 75), Yan Klukowski, Curtis McDonald, Wayne Turk, Liam Enver-Marum (Steve Guinan 71), RossDyer.

Subs Not Used: Scott Bartlett, Chris Stokes, Jon Else.

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day (GK), Justin Miller, Kurt Robinson, Shane Huke (Matt Johnson 33), Jamie Stuart (Capt), Max Porter, Alan Power, Lewwis Spence (Ryan Charles 70), Tim Sills (Sam Smith 80), Craig Farrell, Aaron O’Connor

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

Goals: McDonald (20, 1-0), McDonald (25, 2-0), Power (pen, 51, 2-1), O’Connor (90+4, 2-2)

Yellow Cards: Power, Sills

Referee: Ms A Fearn (Leics)

Attendance: 642 (Away 72)

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Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 4

 

Rushden & Diamonds slipped to their biggest home defeat for five years as they slipped to a 4-0 defeat by York City at Nene Park. The result equalled their worst ever home defeats, against Carlisle in 2005 and Gateshead in 1996. An early goal direct from a free kick by Danny Racchi was followed closely by a red card for Jamie Day, and the Diamonds then conceded two further first half goals to Michael Rankine and Ashley Chambers as they played with three at the back.. After squandering a number of chances in the second half, the visitors completed the scoring in the 86th minute when Neil Barrett tapped home after good work from fellow substitute Peter Till.

As well as the impending suspension for Jamie Day, both Rene Howe and Curtis Osano picked up their fifth booking of the season, and Michael Corcoran left the field early in the game with what was described as a serious groin injury.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the starting line-that faced Fleetwood last weekend, with Joe Keehan replaced by Ryan Charles as they reverted to a 4-3-3 formation from the start of the game. Shane Huke replaced Matt Johnson, with Michael Corcoran moving into midfield, with Huke playing at centre-back. Goalkeeper Dale Roberts was absent due to illness, so Lance Key took a place on the bench.

York manager Gary Mills made two changes to restore Ashley Chambers and Robbie Weir after they were unavailable for their midweek FA Cup victory over Rotherham United.

After the first six minutes were largely uneventful, the next six had a major bearing on the outcome of the game. Michael Rankine found space on the right hand side of the area for a shot that was deflected for a corner, and although this was cleared the visitors surged back forwards, and with Shane Huke slipping, Rankine was brought down on the edge of the area by Curtis Osano. Danny Racchi stepped up and fired a free kick past the Diamonds wall and Joe Day to give the visitors the opening goal.

A minute later the Diamonds were forced into an early substitution when Michael Corcoran picked up a groin injury and had to be replaced by Matt Johnson. Worse was to come before 12 minutes were on the clock, as Jamie Day went forwards to support Ryan Charles. With the ball getting away from him, Day attempted a low tackle on Djoumin Sangare, and, although the contact appeared minimal, and it looked a genuine challenge for the ball, referee Bratt whipped out his red card without delay.

With one substitution already made, and with Kurt Robinson watching the game from the stand, the Diamonds kept the same 10 men on the field, and decided to keep three men at the back, rather than attempting to contain the game for a period. Curtis Osano moved to the left of the back three, and quickly picked up his fifth booking of the season as he halted a break through the centre by the impressive Ashley Chambers. Chambers had a good chance to score the visitors second goal when he found space on the right hand side of the area to receive a cross from the left, but miscued the ball and ended up in advertising boards behind the goal.

The Diamonds were creating chances, with Alan Power firing over, but after Curtis Osano and Ryan Charles had got in each other’s way and lost possession the ball was worked onto the York left, and a cross from Chambers to Michael Rankine saw him head home on his return to Nene Park after 24 minutes.

Again the Diamonds threatened to open their account as Curtis Osano threaded a ball forward to Rene Howe, and his clever flick set Aaron O’Connor free on the left side of the area. O’Connor was forced to attempt a cross / shot from a narrow angle and the ball went harmlessly across goal.

Chambers was able to find space for runs down either flank, and from one of these he presented David McDermott with a chance that was wasted, and another presented Michael Rankine with a chance to turn inside past the Diamonds defence and hit a low shot that was well saved by Joe Day.

Shane Huke had one of the Diamonds best chances of the half, when a Matt Johnson corner wasn’t cleared properly, but his effort was wide to the right of goal.

The game was effectively settled after 35 minutes when the visitors scored their third goal, and it deservedly went to Ashley Chambers, who latched onto a free kick from keeper Ingham that had been flicked on by Rankine, and neatly chipped the advancing Joe Day.

Aaron O’Connor forced Ingham into a smart save after good work from Max Porter had set him up for a shot. Rene Howe was rather more wayward with a shot that hit the backboard at the top of the AirWair stand. O’Connor went close again, and then Ryan Charles worked well to get past Danny Parslow, but floated a cross just to the right of the far post.

The Minstermen looked to have a chance for a dangerous break when James Meredith broke out of defence, but Michael Rankine made an American Football-style off-the-ball block tackle on Shane Huke to prevent him making a challenge, and appeared very fortunate to escape a card, especially when compared to other challenges that were given yellows later in the game.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 3

Games that are effectively settled by half-time often turn into low tempo contests for the second period, but this game continued to see many chances created at both ends, as the Diamonds stuck with their policy of playing a back-three.

The closest the Diamonds game to getting a return for their battling second half performance was when Matt Johnson rapped the inside of the left hand post with a volley that looked certain to rebound into the net, but instead went straight into the grateful arms of keeper Ingham.

Alan Power also went close with a shot, but at the other end poor finishing was the only reason the visitors didn’t increase their lead, as excellent chances for Weir, Chambers and substitute Constantine were wasted.

Shane Huke picked up a yellow card for what looked a clean tackle on David McDermott, and Rene Howe also picked up his fifth booking of the season later in the half.

Referee Bratt’s controversial performance in the first half was capped in the second when he failed to award what looked a blatant penalty for the Minstermen, when Alan Power appeared to block a powerful goal-bound shot with his arms.

Excellent work by Rene Howe saw him shield an Osano throw past David McGurk and generate a shooting chance that forced a good save from Ingham. The Diamonds were still creating chances, forcing good saves and their corner count reached nine – more than in some games that they have won fairly comfortably.

Joe Day did well to save from Barrett and Peter Till shot wide before the Diamonds saw Johnson hit the post.

Any thoughts that the Diamonds goal might survive the significant number of excellent chances created by the visitors were quashed inside the last five minutes when substitute Peter Till made a run down the right, broke into the area and knocked a low ball to the far post for Neil Barrett to fire home.

There was still time for the Diamonds to go close as a 30 yard shot from Craig Farrell just missed the right-hand post.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 York City 4

With three players suspended and the probability of losing Michael Corcoran due to his injury, the Diamonds will be forced into changes for the game at Forest Green next weekend.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Michael Corcoran (Matt Johnson 9), Max Porter, Alan Power, Shane Huke, Ryan Charles (Craig Farrell 79), Rene Howe (Tim Sills 74), Aaron O’Connor.

Subs Not Used: Lance Key(GK), Lewwis Spence

York City: Michael Ingham, James Meredith, David McGurk, Danny Parslow, Chris Smith (Capt), Ashley Chambers, Robbie Weir, Djoumin Sangare (Neil Barrett 55), David McDermott (Peter Till 59), Michael Rankine (Leon Constantine 84), Danny Racchi.

Subs Not Used: Chris Carruthers, Jamal Fyfield

Goals: Racchi (8 mins, 0-1), Rankine (24, 0-2), Chambers (36, 0-3), Barrett (86, 0-4)

Yellow Cards: Osano, Huke, Howe, O’Connor

Red Cards: Jamie Day (12)

Referee: Mr S J Bratt (West Midlands)

Attendance: 1132 (away 133)

Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Greg Johnson: Aaron O’Connor

Fleetwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Rushden & Diamonds recent run of poor results was halted as they fought back to draw 1-1 with Fleetwood Town at Highbury Stadium. The Cod Army took the lead after eight minutes when Anthony Barry fired home from the edge of the area after the Diamonds had failed to deal with a strong run from Wayne Curtis. The Diamonds equaliser came during a much improved second half performance when Aaron O’Connor rounded the home keeper to slot home after 73 minutes.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the team that lost at Kidderminster in midweek, with Lewwis Spence and Tim Sills being replaced by Matt Johnson and Joe Keehan respectively. Curtis Osano was moved to right back, changing places with Michael Corcoran, who played alongside Jamie Stuart in central defence. Joe Keehan made his first league appearance in a narrow four man midfield, behind the strike pairing of O’Connor and Howe.

Fleetwood manager Mickey Mellon was forced into changing the side that drew with Gateshead in midweek due to an injury to Gareth Seddon and the suspension of Shaun Beeley, and he also made several other changes with Ian Craney, Nathan Pond and Adam Warlow dropping out of the side. The changes meant they started the game with five in midfield behind striker Wayne Curtis.

The Diamonds struggled throughout the first half, with the Town midfield dominant, and had to wait until the 43rd minute for their sole shot on target of the half. By this time the hosts had taken the lead, and had wasted several chances to extend that lead.

The goal came after eight minutes when Wayne Curtis picked up the ball and ran at the Diamonds defence, eluding at least three tackles at close range before the ball was half-cleared to Anthony Barry, whose clean strike from the edge of the box gave Day no chance. Apart from his contribution in the build up to the opening goal, Curtis found gaps in the Diamonds defence on several other occasions, and from one of these he forced a Joe Day save, and from another he set up John Miles with what looked a simple chance, clear of the static Diamonds defence, but Day again saved comfortably.

Any Diamonds attacking threat was confidently dealt with by the home side, and despite their compact midfield shape most of the Diamonds moves involved a high ball forwards to their strikers, and these were easily dealt with by Steve McNulty and his fellow defenders.

The Diamonds first half performance was one of their worst showings for several seasons, probably since they lost 4-0 at Forest Green at the end of the 2008-09 season, and clearly a significant improvement was called for in the second half.

Half-Time: Fleetwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The first five minutes or so of the second half were largely stalemate, with neither team looking like taking control of the game. After 53 minutes the Diamonds made a change of both personnel and formation, with Ryan Charles replacing Joe Keehan, and a switch to a more conventional 4-3-3 formation with Charles on the right.

The Diamonds immediately looked a more composed side, and started to pass the ball on the floor, forcing the Fleetwood defence to turn, which put them under pressure for the first time in the game.

Just after the hour mark the new approach looked to have paid off when Howe found space on the left and worked the ball inside to O’Connor. Although O’Connor’s acceleration looked to have the beating of his marker, and he fell under a challenge in the area, referee Mohareb deemed he had dived and awarded O’Connor a yellow card rather than a spot-kick. This seemed to galvanise O’Connor to put right an injustice, as he, Howe and Charles made the Diamonds look much the more likely side to score.

A long ball from Curtis Osano was brought under control by O’Connor, whose run forced a corner, and from that kick the ball fell to Ryan Charles whose effort was cleared off the line. Rene Howe then turned past Steve McNulty and hit a dangerous low cross from the left, before Charles did the same from the right.

After 73 minutes the resurgent Diamonds equalised. Alan Power found space on the left to dissect the Town defence for Aaron O’Connor to run onto, neatly move the ball to one side of the advancing keeper and fire home.

For a while it looked like the Diamonds might push on to try to win the game, but after seeing the home side create two good chances for Nathan Pond, the second of which was a glaring miss, they seemed to settle for the draw.

Full-Time: Fleetwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds now have a free week before they face York City at Nene Park next weekend – although, for those who want to see match action before then. the Diamonds Youth team will face Wycombe Wanderers Youth team in the FA Youth Cup at Nene Park on Tuesday evening (stadium pitch).

 

Teams:

Fleetwood Town : Scott Davies, Sean Clancy (Nathan Pond 63), Steve McNulty (Capt), Peter Cavanagh, Anthony Barry, Jamie McGuire, Louis Horne, James Mullan, Sean Gregan, John Miles (Lee Thorpe 86), Wayne Curtis (Adam Warlow 82).

Subs Not Used: Craig Dootson (GK), Nick Rogan.

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Michael Corcoran, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Max Porter, Alan Power (Lewwis Spence 90+2), Matt Johnson, Joe Keehan (Ryan Charles 53), Rene Howe, Aaron O’Connor (Tim Sills 89)

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts (GK), Craig Farrell.

Goals: Barry (1-0, 8 mins), O’Connor (1-1, 73mins)

Yellow Cards: Corcoran, O’Connor, Pond

Referee: Mr D Mohareb (Cheshire)

Attendance: 1,429 (75 away (approx))

Kidderminster Harriers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a 1-0 defeat by Kidderminster Harriers courtesy of a16th minutes penalty from Chris McPhee, after Michael Corcoran was penalised for a trip on Dave Hankin. Although the Diamonds created a number of chances, especially in the first half, some poor finishing meant they were unable to get on level terms.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the starting line-up that were beaten so controversially in the FA Cup at the weekend, with Tim Sills returning in place of Ryan Charles, and Jamie Stuart returning after suspension in place of the injured Shane Huke.

With three players suspended and a number of other injuries Steve Burr had to make a number of changes to his Kidderminster line-up.

Kidderminster played with the wind at their backs on a chilly November evening in the first half, and for the first five minutes they looked like they might give the Diamonds defence a busy evening as both strikers ran at their markers, and a Lee Morris cross caused problems for Joe Day who had to punch clear, and the ball was finally cleared for a corner.

At the other end Tim Sills had the first of several good chances created for him during the half by good work down the Diamonds left by Rene Howe, some neat footwork from Aaron O’Connor, but the first chance was stabbed wide of the left post, and an even better chance for Sills saw him blaze over

Kidderminster had a great chance at the other end, when a low cross from Keith Briggs skimmed across the area without the final touch needed from one of the strikers.

After 16 minutes the Diamonds defence again got into problems, partly of their own making, when they first conceded an unnecessary throw in, and then conceded a corner from that throw. The quickly taken corner was not closed down well, allowing a cross to reach Dave Hankin in space on the right hand side of the box. Michael Corcoran went across to try to cover, but Hankin pushed the ball towards the byline, and then continued his run across Corcoran’s outstretched leg, leaving referee Ross with little alternative to award a penalty, however soft it was. Chris McPhee duly slotted home the spot kick.

The Diamonds then went on to dominate the remainder of the first half, with Sills missing another chance set up by Howe, then both Howe and Sills failed to get onto the end of an inviting cross from the left from Lewwis Spence, with Howe appearing to try to backhell the ball goalwards. Alan Power blazed over the bar, as did Lewwis Spence with the Diamonds creating many chances yet not forcing home keeper Daniel Lewis to deal with very much. After Rene Howe had seen more of the chances he created wasted by teammates, he tried his own luck with a shot that Lewis did well to tip over the bar.  Aaron O’Connor was running Howe close for the most creative Diamonds player of the first half, but he too was guilty of missing the target with a header shortly before the break.

Half-Time: Kidderminster H 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds fans would have been hoping for the same level of attacking commitment in the second half as their team played towards them, and initially it looked like this might be so, as a Lewwis Spence shot deflected off Rene Howe and onto the crossbar. Shortly afterwards a Corcoran cross from the right was just missed by Sills, but reached Alan Power who fired wide. A Spence corner also caused problems, with Aaron O’Connor narrowly missing the target.

As the half wore on, the supply to the Diamonds strikeforce started to dry up, and the home team started to cause a threat on goal, although one of the biggest issues came when a Corcoran back-pass to Joe Day saw the Diamonds keeper skew his clearance such that it hit Lee Morris, and Day was grateful to see it rebound back into his arms. Day also did well to gather a dangerous low cross from Matty Blair, and suddenly the Harriers full-backs were starting to get forwards, after being pinned in their own half for much of the first period.

With the Diamonds midfield struggling to provide service to the front three, Justin Edinburgh took off Alan Power in favour of Ryan Charles, initially playing Charles on the right in what was at times a 4-2-4 formation. Craig Farrell then replaced Tim Sills, and the final change saw Matt Johnson replace Lewwis Spence, with Charles being switched to a wide-left role. Although these changes didn’t seem to resolve the issue, one great chance did fall to Craig Farrell, when he latched onto a low cross from Charles, took an initial touch that made space for a shot, but pulled that shot wide to the left of the post.

Full-Time: Kidderminster H 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

The Diamonds second defeat in four days was disappointing in a different way, in that they looked to have the ability to create enough chances to win the game comfortably in the first half, but somehow lost their way in the second. They will now be looking for a good return from their trip to Fleetwood at the weekend.

Teams:

Kidderminster Harriers: Danny Lewis, Lee Vaughan, Mike Williams, Dave Hankin (Tom Shaw 65), Lee Morris (Nick Wright 65), Keith Briggs (Capt) (Callum Gittings 87), Chris McPhee, Tom Sharpe, Michael Briscoe, Matty Blair, Marc Williams.

Subs Not Used: Andrew Stevens (GK), Robert Thompson-Brown

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Michael Corcoran, Jamie Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Max Porter, Alan Power (Ryan Charles 65), Lewwis Spence (Matt Johnson 83), Tim Sills (Craig Farrell 71), Rene Howe, Aaron O’Connor.

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts (GK), Justin Miller

Goal: McPhee (pen) (16 mins, 1-0)

Yellow Cards: Tim Sills, Jamie Day, Lee Vaughan

Referee: S J Ross (Lincolnshire)

Attendance: 1225 (away 115)

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Yeovil Town 1

Rushden & Diamonds were controversially knocked out of the FA Cup by Yeovil Town at Nene Park in the FA Cup sponsored by eon. A late goal by Andy Williams was originally disallowed by the match officials, but referee Brown changed his mind after consulting a linesman who appeared to be flagging for offside. Joe Day had pulled off a great save from Dean Bowditch, but the ball broke to Williams who rolled the ball into the corner of the net whilst Bowditch was standing in front of Day, in an offside position, and who made a dummy play for the ball at it went past him, to allow what otherwise would have required a routine save from Day, to roll into the net. This decision denied the Diamonds what would have been a deserved replay.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the starting line-up that defeated Barrow last weekend, with the ineligible Tim Sills replaced by the returning Rene Howe, and Lewwis Spence returning in place of Matt Johnson.

Yeovil manager Terry Skiverton replaced the ineligible Gavin Williams with Andy Williams, and Andy Welsh also started in place of Luke Ayling.

Both side created good chances to open the scoring in the first half. It was the Diamonds who had the best early chance, after 9 minutes, when a free kick was half-cleared to Shane Huke, who got to the right by-line and crossed for Ryan Charles to hit a snapshot that brought off an excellent save by Glovers keeper John Sullivan. That proved to be Huke’s last contribution to the game, as he was forced off with injury to be replaced by Justin Miller after just 18 minutes. Michael Corcoran moved to Centre-back, with Miller slotting in at right back.

The visitors then saw two attempts hit the woodwork, with their first coming in controversial circumstances when Dean Bowditch broke clear despite looking several yards offside, and he set up a chance for Sam Williams that struck the post. Paul Huntington then saw an effort flick off post and bar and away to safety as he latched onto a cross from Bowditch following a free kick from Kalala. Bowditch could have done better when a mistake by Curtis Osano set him free on goal, but his shot was smothered by Joe Day.

It was the Diamonds who finished the half the stronger, with Lewwis Spence rapping the crossbar with a dipping shot after 38 minutes following a long throw from Justin Miller.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Yeovil Town 0

After an even first half, it was the visitors who started the second half brighter, with Welsh having a shot blocked by Jamie Day, but Justin Edinburgh was able to revert to a 4-4-2 formation after bringing on Kurt Robinson to assist Jamie Day on the left, with Aaron O’Connor dropping back into right midfield, leaving Howe and Farrell up front.

As in the first half, the Glovers best chances fell to Bowditch, and again he was wasteful, as twice he got into shooting positions but either shot wide or hit a shot that was fielded by Day. Sam William also went close, but saw his shot go into the side netting.

As the game moved into the last quarter the Diamonds went close when Craig Farrell was fouled just outside the box shortly after coming on, but Jamie Day’s powerful freekick was just wide.

After 72 minutes the Diamonds had two good chances in a minute, when first Alan Power was set up by Jamie Day, but saw his shot deflect wide, and then Craig Farrell found space in the area from the resultant corner, but his low shot was saved on the bounce.

The Diamonds changes looked to have stabilised things at the back, and the game looked destined for a replay at Huish Park when the whole complexion of the game changed after 83 minutes. Sam Williams picked out the run of Dean Bowditch, and the Glovers striker hit a low shot that was well saved by Joe Day with his feet. The ball rebounded out to Andy Williams, and he made space before poking the ball goalwards without a great deal of power. Joe Day would surely have saved this effort, but he was obstructed by Bowditch standing in an offside position in front of him. Bowditch dummied to divert the ball, but missed it, and the ball went past the impeded Day into the net.

 

Referee Brown at first appeared to have disallowed the goal, with the linesman flagging for offside, and with Bowditch clearly accepting he was involved as he raised his arms to try to convince the officials he wasn’t. The Yeovil players appeared to make a half-hearted appeal for him to consult the linesman, but the referee decided he would do so, and then reversed his decision and allowed the goal. Those who watch a lot of football can only be totally bemused by the decision, as the Glovers player was clearly involved in the action, and without him being there the shot would easily have been saved.

The closest the Diamonds came to getting the equaliser they deserved was when Michael Corcoran tried an overhead kick in the area, and was unlucky to see it fly straight into Sullivan’s arms.

To add further  to the Diamonds’ disappointment in his performance, referee Brown blew for full time some 20 seconds before the "minimum four minutes" he had signalled had elapsed – at a time when the Diamonds were preparing a Justin Miller long throw level with the front of the Yeovil penalty area

Final Score: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Yeovil Town 1

The Diamonds management decided to decline the opportunity to comment on the controversial decision that decided this game, but they will have to ensure all at the club are ready for the trip to Kidderminster on Tuesday evening.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Michael Corcoran, Jamie Day, Curtis Osano, Shane Huke (Justin Miller 18), Max Porter, Alan Power, Lewwis Spence (Kurt Robinson 70), Ryan Charles (Craig Farrell 58), Rene Howe, Aaron O’Connor (Capt).

Subs Not Used: Dale Roberts (GK), Joe Keehan, Matt Johnson, Dominic Green

Yeovil Town: John Sullivan, Nathan Jones, Paul Huntington (Capt), Adam Virgo, Andy Williams, Owain Tudur-Jones, Jean-Paul Kalala, Andy Welsh, Shaun MacDonald, Sam Williams, Dean Bowditch.

Subs Not Used: Ben Roberts (GK), Rhys Baggridge, Ed Upson, Billy Gibson, Luke Freeman, Craig Calver,

Goal: Andy Williams (83)

Yellow Card: Jamie Day

Referee: Mark Brown (Yorkshire)

Attendance: 1666 (Away 336)

Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by EACS: Alan Power

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