Rushden & Diamonds 1 Tamworth 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds were held by 10-men Tamworth at Nene Park. A 25-yard strike by Alan Power midway through the second half had given the Diamonds the lead, but a poor punch by Joe Day allowed Neil McKenzie to stroke home the equaliser with 15 minutes left. Despite much Diamonds pressure they could not force a winning goal.

The Lambs went down to 10 men shortly before the break when Jason Bradley tangled with Luke Prosser and received a red card, with Prosser being replaced by debutant Eddie Oshodi

Justin Edinburgh kept faith with the side that won in Wales last weekend, with new signing Eddie Oshodi on the bench. This meant Michael Corcoran partnered Luke Prosser at the centre of the Diamonds defence, and Gary Mills made his third debut at Nene Park in the defensive midfield role.

Lambs manager Des Lyttle also named an unchanged side after their victory at Eastbourne in midweek, and he included Jervaise Christie on the bench.

The game started with immediate controversy, as Aaron O’Connor had netted within 20 seconds, but was flagged offside, despite appearing to have made ground on the visitors’ defence.

Tamworth had an early chance of their own after 3 minutes, with a long free-kick dropping over Joe Day’s head to present Kyle Perry with a chance that Luke Prosser cleared off the line.

The visitors quickly established they would give referee Hopkins a busy afternoon, with constant appeals for free kicks almost before a tackle had been made, and every decision being challenged. Mr Hopkins managed to keep control of a game that threatened to get away from him, and showed yellow cards following two foul challenges. Gary Mills was impressing on his return to Nene Park, breaking down attacks and creating width with balls fired to the flanks.

Jamie Day saw a powerful shot that looked goal bound deflected away from a corner, and then a long punt by Joe Day was neatly flicked on by Michael Gash into the path of Aaron O’Connor to run at keeper Atkins, but he was forced wide and his left footed effort only found the side netting.

After 42 minutes the Lambs were reduced to 10 men, as a challenge from Jason Bradley felled Luke Prosser, and after consulting his linesman referee Hopkins showed Bradley a red card, followed shortly afterwards by a dismissal of their manager Des Lyttle as the visitors’ showed their dissatisfaction with the decision, as Prosser was helped from the field. The injury meant a Diamonds debut for Eddie Oshodi.

Kyle Perry had been pressuring Mr Hopkins all afternoon, and after the referee turned down his dubious appeal for a penalty during the four mintes of added time he received a yellow card in the final action of the first half.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Tamworth 0

With 45 minutes to play with only 10 men the visitors lined up in a 4-4-1 formation, and quickly afterwards replaced Kyle Perry with Adi Yussuf. As expected, it was the Diamonds who were on the offensive for much of the half, with early chances falling to Aaron O’Connor and Michael Corcoran with an effort cleared off the line, and then an Alan Power shot going just over the bar, and Michael Gash having a free header caught by Atkins.

Keeper Atkins then pulled off a fine save to deny Aaron O’Connor as he got on the end of an excellent cross from Ryan Charles. The Diamonds captain then headed just over from a Power corner, but it looked like a matter of time before the Diamonds took the lead – and so it turned out after 68 minutes when Alan Power received the ball in space a few yards outside the penalty area, and he had time to hit a powerful shot that went in-off the underside of the bar.

Max Porter set substitute Sam Smith up with a shooting chance that was deflected away for one of many Diamonds corners, but the hope that the Diamonds might seal the game were dashed when the visitors won a throw in on their left. Joe Day came a long way out of his goal in an attempt to punch the ball clear, but he was unable to get good contact as he forced his way towards the ball, and it fell straight to Neil Mackenzie who stroked home the equaliser after 75 minutes.

With the visitors content to defend their point the Diamonds were allowed time and space in midfield, but a number of disappointing crosses meant opportunities were wasted.

Jamie Day did will to cut out a clearance from defence and set up Aaron O’Connor towards the left side of the area. The striker showed good control and first touch to engineer what looked enough space for a shot, but he chose to try to wrong foot his marker for a second time and saw his effort blocked.

Matt Johnson joined the action in an attacking midfield role, and had a claim for a penalty shortly afterwards when he was tackled towards the edge of the box, but referee Hopkins waved play on and Michael Gash could have done better with an attempt that flashed across the goal.

Despite late pressure the visitors held out, and were able to celebrate their hard-earned point at the final whistle.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Tamworth 1

The Diamonds will now prepare for the visit of Cambridge United to Nene Park on Tuesday evening.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Luke Prosser (Eddie Oshodi 45), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter (Matt Johnson 81), Alan Power, Gary Mills, Aaron O’Connor (Capt), Michael Gash, Ryan Charles (Sam Smith 65).

Subs Not Used: Simon Evans (GK), Craig Farrell,

Tamworth: Ross Atkins, Richard Tait, Tom Marshall, Michael Wylde, Neil MacKenzie, Kyle Perry (Abdillahie Yussuf 55), Danny Thomas (Aaron Mitchell 84), Jake Sheridan (Malvin Kamara 89), Jason Bradley, Daniel Bradley, Scott Barrow

Subs Not Used: Ben Wilkinson, Jervaise Christie

Goals: Power (68, 1-0), MacKenzie (75 1-1)

Yellow Cards: D Bradley, Tait, Perry, Porter

Red Card: J Bradley (42)

Referee: Mr John Hopkins (Essex)

Attendance: 1216 (Away TBA)

Diamonds Man of the Match Sponsored by Andy Lewcock: Gary Mills

Newport County 1 Rushden & Diamonds 3

 

Three excellent goals gave Rushden & Diamonds a well-deserved away win as they defeated Newport County 3-1. The Diamonds took the lead after 19 minutes when excellent work by Ryan Charles allowed him to cross from wide on the right to Aaron O’Connor whose athletic flick back across goal was bundled in by Michael Gash for his first goal for the club. Curtis Osano conceded a penalty six minutes later which was fired home by Danny Rose.

Aaron O’Connor restored the Diamonds lead five minutes before the break when he broke clear and rounded the keeper before firing home. After a solid Diamonds performance in the second half they looked in danger of conceding an equaliser when Luke Prosser was harshly penalised for hand-ball in the area, but Joe Day pulled off a fine save of Rose’s kick. The Diamonds then went up the other end to see Matt Johnson seal the points with a fine finish.

Justin Edinburgh brought in Gary Mills in place of Ollie Thorne, with Michael Corcoran moving to centre back.

The game kicked off after Aaron O’Connor had opted to change ends so that Newport were facing the low sun – albeit with the wind slightly in their favour. The Diamonds fans had been allocated space on a new open terrace area behind the goal the home side defended in the first half – so they too had to face the sun as well as the challenges of viewing over the Athletics track.

The first period belonged to the Diamonds, as they showed no signs of any cautiousness that might be associated with a team that is on a difficult run. All of their early threat came down the right, with Charles and Osano both getting in a decent cross that caused problems to the home defence.

It was thus no surprise when the Diamonds took the lead after 19 minutes when a superb long ball from Mills was brought under control on the right touchline by Ryan Charles. Although quickly closed down Charles executed a neat turn to find the space for a deep cross to the far post. Aaron O’Connor met the cross at a difficult height, but he deftly back-flicked the ball back across goal for Michael Gash to force home.

The goal seemed to spark the home team into life, and for the next 15 minutes the Diamonds defence were put under severe pressure for possibly the only time in the game. Michael Corcoran backheaded the ball into the path of Sam Foley, who fired over, but after 25 minutes Curtis Osano pulled back Craig Reid as he attempted to run towards goal along the left by-line. Although the offence appeared to be outside the area, with Reid rather delaying his fall, a spot-kick was awarded. Danny Rose fired the spotkick high into the right-hand side of goal to level the scores.

Foley then missed another excellent chance when set up by Darryl Knights, claiming he had been fouled as he put the ball over the bar – although Knights had looked well ahead of defence and linesman when the ball was passed to him on the right wing. Joe Day then pulled out a great save to keep the Diamonds on level terms as a Bignot cross was initially blocked but then another Sam Foley attempt looked destined to go just inside the post before Day palmed it wide.

A long free kick saw Matthews head down to Reid whose finishing belied his position in second place in the Conference goalscorers chart as he fired wide.

The Diamonds had weathered this storm though, and Ryan Charles might have got the goal his first half performance deserved when a flick from Aaron O’Connor set him clear, but he fired over.

Five minutes before half-time the Diamonds got in front again, and this time it was Charles who set Aaron O’Connor free, and he neatly sidestepped the keeper, sending a defender to his knees as he fired home to give the Diamonds a half-time lead.

Half Time: Newport County 1 Diamonds 2

With the sun having disappeared the Diamonds were able to keep the home attack in check for much of the second half. Curtis Osano almost scored the goal the Diamonds fans have been waiting from him for some time when he checked inside and hit a powerful left-foot shot that narrowly missed the angle of post and bar.

Michael Corcoran had shown his flexibility to take on the centre-back role, and his partnership with Prosser seemed to improve as the game went on. He executed a well judged back-header to clear a well-hit ball into the box from Kerry Morgan, forcing the ball for a corner. If that defensive work was vital, then so was a clearance off the goal-line from Jamie Day after his namesake Joe was beaten for the only time from open play following an Exiles corner from the right.

Aaron O’Connor was having another excellent game, and led by example, cropping up at the back to get in a vital tackle to preserve the Diamonds lead. Within a minute he was in action at the other end of the pitch as a Mills pass was worked on by Gash and Smith to O’Connor who saw his effort blocked. Sam Smith had replaced Ryan Charles, and he was finding space down the right and got in a dangerous cross that was headed away by Chris Todd to prevent it presenting a simple chance to Michael Gash.

The game entered the final few minutes with the Diamonds holding on to their lead, but the action was far from over. Craig Reid burst towards the six yard box to get on the end of a Matthews flick, and flicked the ball upwards whilst alongside Luke Prosser, with the ball striking the unsuspecting Prosser’s arm, on the blind-side of referee Barratt, but the man-in-black signalled it was an intentional hand-ball, with a penalty awarded, and showed Prosser a yellow card.

Just as the Diamonds fans behind that goal were thinking that their team would be denied the victory their performance deserved, Danny Rose hit the penalty to the same side as the he had in the first half and Joe Day pulled off a great save, knocking the ball back into play. It was then quickly worked downfield, with Aaron O’Connor on the right working the ball inside to Matt Johnson, who held off one defender then coolly took a side step past another before slotting home the clinching goal, right on the stroke of 90 minutes.

After five minutes of added time referee Barratt signalled the Diamonds first victory since he had also blown the final whistle on the Diamonds last victory over Barrow.

Full Time: Newport County 1 Diamonds 3

The Diamonds now have a clear week before the visit of Tamworth next Saturday, but attention will be on Oakwell on Wednesday when the Youth team play in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup for the first time.

Teams

Newport County: Glyn Thompson, Paul Bignot, Chris Todd, Mike Fowler (Kerry Morgan 63), Andrew Hughes (Eddie Odhiambo HT), Darryl Knights (Graeme Montgomery 76), Jamie Collins (Capt), Danny Rose, Sam Foley, Robbie Matthews, Craig Reid

Subs Not Used: Glyn Garner, Curtis McDonald

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Luke Prosser, Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Alan Power (Matt Johnson 81), Gary Mills, Aaron O’Connor (Capt) (Craig Farrell 90+1), Michael Gash, Ryan Charles (Sam Smith 60)

Subs Not Used: Simon Evans (GK), Ollie Thorne.

Goals: Gash (0-1, 19 mins), Rose (pen) (1-1, 26 mins), O’Connor (1-2, 40 mins), Johnson (1-3, 89 mins)

Yellow Cards: Charles, Power, Bignot, Prosser

Referee: Wayne Barratt (Worcestershire)

Attendance 1743 (Away approx 75)

Hayes & Yeading United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 3

 

Rushden & Diamonds staged a stunning recovery to snatch a 3-3 draw with Hayes and Yeading United at Church Road after going three goals behind. Two first half goals by Elliott Buchanan had given the hosts a clear lead at the interval and he added a third early in the second half, but the introduction of Sam Smith and Gary Mills changed the game for the Diamonds, and after Smith scored the Diamonds first two goals – his first brace for the club – it was Luke Prosser who fired home the equaliser after 86 minutes.

Justin Edinburgh gave a place on the bench to new signings Gary Mills and Simon Evans, with Michael Corcoran joining Alan Power and Max Porter in midfield.

United manager Gary Haylock made a single change to the side that defeated Tamworth in their last game, with Lewis Ferrell preferred to Nathan Webb.

Elliott Buchanan scored the opener after 5 minutes when a ball from Jamie Hand dissected the Diamonds defence to allow him to run clear and slot low past Joe Day. Although the Diamonds had seen plenty of possession they struggled to create clear-cut chances and a simple header forwards from the centre circle by Charlie Wassmer set Ben Wright free, but the striker failed to convert the one-on-one with Joe Day. The second United goal came after 43 minutes when Max Porter saw a crossfield pass across the front of the area deflected to Ben Wright who was forced wide by Joe Day, but he then set up Elliott Buchanan to run clear on goal, seeing his initial effort tipped onto the post by Day, but he followed up and fired home from an acute angle, despite a desperate attempt to clear from the Diamonds defenders on the line that may have helped the ball into the net.

The Diamonds were having more than their fair share of possession in the first half, but were not really putting Lee Harrison under any pressure, other than forcing a couple of regulation catches.

Half-Time: Hayes & Yeading Utd 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

As expected, the Diamonds came out for the second half with a much improved attacking threat, starting when Alan Power set Aaron O’Connor free on goal, but keeper Lee Harrison was quick off his line to block. Michael Gash then forced the first meaningful save of the game from Harrison when he got his head to a Ryan Charles cross.

However, the hosts might have increased their lead when Ben Wright latched onto a long ball after getting away from his marker, and made space for a shot, but could only shoot wide.

Sam Smith was introduced into the action after 58 minutes, but within seconds the Diamonds had fallen three goals behind. Lewis Ferrell made a penetrating run down the United right, and fired in a powerful low cross that Elliott Buchanan flicked into the net from just in front of the near post for his hat-trick.

Despite the promising signs at the start of the half, there may not have been too many Diamonds fans who believed their team might get something out of the game, especially as Rushden have not made up a three goal deficit many times – in fact it may never have happened before in the club’s history! However, the final half-hour may prove to be the start of the Diamonds finding a way to end their current run of results.

After Luke Prosser went close with a header from a corner after 62 minutes, Gary Mills then joined the action. Mills replaced Ollie Thorne, which meant that Michael Corcoran gave up the holding midfield role to Mills and moved back to partner Luke Prosser in defence.

The new formation immediately started to pay dividends, with Mills spotting the runs of Osano and Day down the flanks, and it was a determined run from Osano that saw him pressurise Adam Green before getting in a low cross that Sam Smith forced home via his knee. Smith’s rather muted goal celebration signalled his intent to look for further opportunities to get something out of the game for the Diamonds.

Three minutes later a Power free kick was knocked back across the area by Michael Gash and Sam Smith set up Michael Corcoran for a shot that was blocked.

After 78 minutes the deficit was reduced even further, when Michael Gash showed similar determination to that shown by Curtis Osano for the first goal as he won the ball back off Wassmer and forced his way to the byline on the right before crossing to Sam Smith who slotted home.

Four minutes later it looked like the Diamonds recovery might be complete when Sam Smith made a run into the penalty box with only keeper Harrison to beat. The keeper clearly made contact with Smith, but the striker’s initial attempt to keep his feet before going down led referee Atkin to consult his linesman before issuing Smith with a yellow card.

That injustice might have upset the Diamonds recovery, but their team spirit meant they continued to press forwards and a Jamie Day cross presented Smith with a great chance for his hat-trick, but he couldn’t get a clean contact. With Day and Osano getting down the flanks it meant the Diamonds had more presence in the centre of the box to latch onto their crosses – whereas when they had relied on O’Connor and Charles to make those runs in the first half there was often only a single striker to get on the end of any cross.

Aaron O’Connor was leading by example, making several thrusting runs into the area, and from one of these won a corner on the right, which Harrison fumbled allowing Luke Prosser to fire home the equaliser, sending the Diamonds fans behind the goal wild.

Apart from a late scare from an Adam Green shot the Diamonds tried to push for the winner but had to settle for a point.

Full-Time: Hayes & Yeading Utd 3 Rushden & Diamonds 3

The result was certainly a stirring fightback, and the Jekyll and Hyde performance was reminiscent of the 1-1 draw at Fleetwood and the 2-2 draw at Forest Green. Justin Edinburgh will be focussing on improving the Diamonds defence before they face high-flying Newport County on Saturday, with manager Justin Edinburgh praising the spirit and togetherness of the players.

Teams:

Hayes & Yeading United: Lee Harrison, Adam Green, Tom Cadmore, Adam Bygrave, Peter Holmes (Capt) (Phil Appiah 76), Ben Wright, Elliott Buchanan (Jake Hyde 84), Jamie Hand, Bradley Pritchard, Charlie Wassmer, Lewis Ferrell.

Subs Not Used: Andy Yiadom, Delroy Preddie, Nathan Webb.

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Luke Prosser, Ollie Thorne (Gary Mills 62), Max Porter, Alan Power (Matt Johnson 90+3), Michael Corcoran, Aaron O’Connor (Capt), Michael Gash, Ryan Charles (Sam Smith 58)

Subs Not Used: Simon Evans (GK), Craig Farrell.

Goals: Buchanan (1-0, 5 mins; 2-0, 43 mins; 3-0, 58 mins), Smith (3-1, 68 mins; 3-2, 78 mins), Prosser (3-3, 86 mins)

Yellow Cards: Hand, Holmes, Charles, Smith, Mills

Referee: Mr Warren Atkin (Sussex)

Attendance: 307 (Away approx 50)

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brackley Town 2

Northants Hillier Senior Cup Quarter Final

A youthful Rushden & Diamonds side went out of the Hillier Cup to Brackley Town at Nene Park on Wednesday evening. A headed goal after 20 minutes from Anthony Thomas gave the visitors a 1-0 half-time lead. Tom Winters doubled the lead on the hour when he volleyed home a Thomas cross at the far post.

Paul Driver took charge of affairs, and he gave a start to Simon Evans, who had been with Dorchester Town, and Ryan Leonard who is on the books at Plymouth Argyle. Ollie Thorne and Luke Prosser played at centre back, with Leonard at right back and Aynsley McDonald at left back. In midfield were the returning Joe Keehan, Lewwis Spence and Aaron King with Liam Read, Jake Woolley and Michael Gash pushed forwards. Jake Woolley was making his first appearance at this level – he is with the first year group of Youth Team Players.

After a couple of early shots from Tom Winters that Evans gathered cleanly the game settled down until the 13th minute when Ryan Leonard made a good run down the right and was disappointed to see a well hit cross elude Gash and Woolley. Two minutes later Aaron King forced a good save from Turley when he took a pass from Michael Gash on his hip and then volleyed at goal.

After 20 minutes the visitors took the lead. A break down the right involving Magunda and Story appeared to have a hint of offside about it, but a deep cross was met by the head of Anthony Thomas who found space between Thorne and Leonard to loop a header over Evans for the opening goal.

Aaron King had to leave the field after 33 minutes after an accidental clash of heads, and he was replaced by 16-year old Jerry Nash, another first year Youth Team player making his first appearance at this level. Apart from a couple of powerful but wayward efforts from Lewwis Spence, and another that was blocked, the Diamonds didn’t really threaten again to get back on level terms before the break.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brackley Town 1

The Diamonds started the second half with increased attacking threat, and Lewwis Spence linked with Aynsley McDonald on the left, and McDonald’s dangerous looking cross was scrambled away for a corner. From the resultant corner Liam Read had two attempts on goal, the second of which drew a fine save from Billy Turley.

The game then settled back into a similar rhythm to the first half, with the visitors getting their second goal on the hour. Owen Story picked up the ball in midfield and appeared to be fouled by Lewwis Spence, but referee Knowles waved play on, allowing Anthony Thomas to break down the right and hit a deep cross that was met at the far post by Tom Winters. Although Winters was at a narrow angle to goal he was still able to fire past Evans and into the net.

The highlight of the last quarter was the introduction of Diamonds legend Darren Collins onto the Nene Park pitch he had graced a decade ago. Ollie Thorne showed little respect for Collins’ reputation with a crunching tackle soon after he joined the action, but was quick to apologise and referee Knowles took no further action.

The game ended shortly after substitute Lewis Wilson had headed over Diamonds final chance.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brackley Town 2

Brackley progress to the semi-final stage of the competition. The Diamonds now have six days to prepare for the trip to Hayes and Yeading United on Tuesday.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: Simon Evans, Ryan Leonard, Aynsley McDonald (Morgan Phillips 86), Lewwis Spence, Ollie Thorne, Luke Prosser, Liam Read, Aaron King (Jerry Nash 33), Michael Gash, Joe Keehan, Jake Woolley (Lewis Wilson 65)

Subs Not Used: Callum Earls, James Broadbent (GK)

Brackley Town: Billy Turley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Gould, Barry Quinn, Josh Green, Tom Kemp, Owen Story (Darren Collins 80), Paul Dempsey, Anthony Thomas, Michael Blackwood, Tom Winters (Jamie Clifton 67).

Subs Not Used: Stuart Dorrill, Jack Hartley, Jon Brady.

Goals: Thomas (20, 0-1), Winters (60, 0-2)

Yellow Cards : None

Referee: Mr C Knowles

Attendance: 149

Eastwood Town 4 Rushden & Diamonds 3 (after extra time)

Rushden & Diamonds lost 4-3 to Eastwood Town at Coronation Park after extra time the FA Carlsberg Trophy. Alan Power missed a penalty with the last kick of the game with a chance to take the game to penalties. The Diamonds had taken the lead just after the half-hour mark when an Aaron O’Connor shot was flicked past the keeper by Craig Farrell. The hosts equalised on the stroke of half-time when Adam Muller broke down the right from what looked like a clear offside position, but he was allowed to run on and cross for Lee Stevenson to slot home. Stevenson added two further goals in the second half to complete his hattrick and make the score 3-1, but the Diamonds fought back bravely, and two goals from Ryan Charles sent the game into extra time. Early in extra time Matt Rhead scored the Badgers fourth goal, when he tapped in a low cross, but the Diamonds had a chance to take the game to penalties when Aaron O’Connor was felled in the area with seconds left on the clock – but Alan Power skied the spot-kick.

Justin Edinburgh made three changes to the starting line-that faced Altrincham at the weekend, with the three recent loanees being ineligible he brought in Ryan Charles, Matt Johnson and Justin Miller.

Eastwood manager Paul Cox fielded made just a single change to the team that played in the original tie.

Before the game there was minute’s silence in memory of both Richard Butcher and Dale Roberts.

The Diamonds were playing Curtis Osano at centre back, alongside Michael Corcoran, with Justin Miller at right back for this game.

After the Bedgers had the better of the first ten minutes, the Diamonds dominated much of the first period.The hosts were forced into an early change with the dangerous Lindon Meikle having to leave the action, but his replacement Adam Muller immediately presented a threat, as he, Lee Stevenson and Andy Todd were always eager to get forwards to support Matt Rhead.

Craig Farrell was involved in much of the action, alongside skipper Aaron O’Connor, starting with an excellent turn and shot saw a fine save from keeper Danby after 15 minutes. Craig Farrell then put the Diamonds ahead when he flicked an Aaron O’Connor shot past Danby after 32 minutes, following good work by Jamie Day to find O’Connor with a cross. Shortly after his goal Farrell made a run from inside his own half, breaking clear of the defence, but a bobbling ball took his shot over the bar. He then hit the bar from a narrow angle as the Diamonds threatened to increase their lead.

As half-time approached it looked like Diamonds would be ahead at the break, but substitute Muller made a break down the right despite looking two yards offside, and was allowed to cross to present midfielder Lee Stevenson with a simple tap-in for the equaliser.

Half-Time: Eastwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds were forced to being on Aaron King at the break, as Michael Corcoran had picked up a knee injury. The change meant that King took Max Porter’s place in midfield, with Porter dropping to right back, and Justin Miller moving to Centre Back.

Lee Stevenson scored his second goal six minutes into the half, when a cross from the right by Andy Todd saw Joe Day challenging for the high ball with Adam Muller, and Muller was able to flick the ball to the left of goal where Stevenson slotted home with the Diamonds appealing for a foul on Day.

Lee Stevenson then netted his hattrick five minutes later, and once again it was a simple build up down the Badgers’ right with a low ball across the box from Anton Foster that was not cut out by the Diamonds defence, flicked on by Matt Rhead, and Stevenson netted from close range.

The Diamonds might have let their heads drop at this point, but to their credit they kept battling, and were rewarded with their second goal four minutes later when Max Porter went on a raid down the right, crossing for Craig Farrell to flick back across the box over his head to Ryan Charles who volleyed home to make the score 3-2.

Farrell was then replaced by Sam Smith, and he immediately gave the tiring defenders problems with his pace and power. However, at the other end Matt Rhead looked to have made the game safe with a fourth goal for the Badgers, but his powerful shot hit the inside of the post, but bounced away to safety.

Aaron O’Connor then beat three men in a great run into the centre of the area, but his shot was well saved by Danby.

A minute later the Diamonds were level. They won a free kick about 30 yards out, and the impressive Sam Smith took over free kick duties from Day and Power on this occasion, and his effort was only parried by Danby, and Ryan Charles was on hand to volley home.

With just under 15 minutes left it looked like the Diamonds might go on and force a winner, but despite some excellent runs from Smith and Charles they ended up with efforts going wide or over the bar. Other opportunities from free kicks and corners also produced little to threaten the home goal.

After 90 minutes: Eastwood Town 3 Rushden & Diamonds 3

With it being a non-segregated game, the Diamonds fans were getting plenty of exercise as they swapped ends twice more at Coronation Park, after the game paused for a few minutes for the managers to issue instructions prior to the two periods of extra time.

The Badgers got the winner through Matt Rhead early in extra time when he tapped home a cross from Sam Duncum. The Diamonds looked to have equalised when Aaron O’Connor appeared to break clear, but a controversial offside flag from the linesman halted play.

The Diamonds then had a number of chances from corners, free kicks or from Justin Miller long throws to force an equaliser, but Power and Day failed to find the target on several occasions, and the Badgers defence won the aerial battle in defending the Miller long throws.

After Chris Shaw was sent off in the last minute of extra-time for bringing down Aaron O’Connor as he chased an excellent through ball from Sam Smith – with Shaw also appearing to handle the ball as he fell in the challenge. It was left to Alan Power to take the vital penalty – and he blazed over with literally the last kick of the game.

Final Score: Eastwood Town 4 Rushden & Diamonds 3

Eastwood will now meet AFC Telford United on Saturday, whilst the Diamonds have a County Cup game on Wednesday evening before their trip to Hayes and Yeading next Tuesday.

Teams:

Eastwood Town: John Danby, Adrian Hawes (Jonathan D’laryea 84), Chris Shaw, Michael Simpson, Mat Bailey, David Haggerty, Anton Foster (Sam Duncun 88), Lee Stevenson, Matt Rhead, Lindon Meikle (Adam Muller 11), Andy Todd

Subs Not Used: Paul Riley, Joe Ward

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Justin Miller, Michael Corcoran (Aaron King 45), Max Porter (Lewwis Spence 117), Alan Power, Matt Johnson, Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell (Sam Smith 60), Ryan Charles.

Subs Not Used: James Broadbent (GK), Morgan Phillips,

Goals: Farrell(31, 0-1), Stevenson (44, 1-1), Stevenson (51, 2-1), Stevenson (56, 3-1), Charles (60, 3-2), Charles (76, 3-3), Rhead (93, 4-3)

Yellow Cards: Corcoran, Foster, Muller

Red Card: Shaw (120+1)

Referee: Mr P Hodskinson

Attendance: 314 (away approx 60)

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 2

 

Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a 2-1 defeat by Altrincham at Nene Park. The Diamonds had opened the scoring through Aaron O’Connor midway through the first half, but allowed the visitors to equalise shortly before the interval when Damian Reeves beat their offside trap to run through and score. In the second half the Robins scored again through Andy Milne after a mistake by Jamie Day. Some excellent goalkeeping by Stuart Coburn kept the Diamonds at bay as they pressed for an equaliser.

Justin Edinburgh made several changes to the team that lost to Kettering five days earlier, with the departure of Jamie Stuart meaning a chance for new loan signings Luke Prosser and Ollie Thorne to establish a centre-back partnership, with Justin Miller taking a place on the bench. Craig Farrell was preferred to Ryan Charles. Young Goalkeeper James Broadbent was given a place on the bench for the first time in a league game.

Altrincham manager Ken McKenna was only able to name four substitutes as his squad had been hit by illness and injury.

The Diamonds lined up with Curtis Osano at right-back, Prosser and Thorne at Centre Back, and Jamie Day left back. Michael Corcoran was retained in the holding midfield role he had played against Kettering. Max Porter was playing despite his problems with injury alongside Alan Power. Up front were Farrell, Gash and O’Connor.

After a slow start it was the visitors who had the lion’s share of the early play, with the Diamonds struggling to get out of their own half in a ten minute period, but they then started to take control of the game, with Craig Farrell almost running clear but being halted by the offside flag.

After 22 minutes the Diamonds took the lead when the ball was swept out to Curtis Osano on the right, and his powerful cross found the head of Aaron O’Connor who nodded into the centre of goal with keeper Coburn only able to palm the ball into the top of the net.

The Diamonds period of dominance continued, and it looked like they had scored a second when Michael Corcoran headed home a Jamie Day corner, but referee Long signalled there had been an infringement in the box, although it wasn’t clear if Corcoran was deemed to have fouled his man to get in the header.

An excellent Diamonds move involving a run through the middle by Aaron O’Connor before Power and Porter worked the ball to Michael Gash on the edge of the area. An excellent turn by the on-loan striker saw him slot the ball through to Craig Farrell, but the linesman quickly flagged that Farrell was offside.

It was beginning to look like the Diamonds were fairly comfortable with their lead, but the last five minutes of the half proved otherwise. The Robins equalised after 40 minutes when a ball was slotted forwards that dissected the Diamonds Centre Backs and saw Damian Reeves run on to beat the offside trap and slot past the advancing Joe Day.

Within two minutes there was a similar move which saw debutant centre back Ollie Thorne foul Mark Beesley as he ran at the defence. There was some concern Thorne might have been deemed the last man and receive a red card, but he was only shown yellow.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 1

After some initial Diamonds pressure in the second half, their rhythm was broken when Michael Gash picked up a knock in a challenge and had to be replaced by Ryan Charles

Shortly afterwards it was the Robins who scored the crucial third goal of the game. A crossfield ball caught Jamie Day in two minds whether to head or hook clear, and as the ball cleared him Andy Milne picked it up, raced towards the area and hit a shot that rebounded off Luke Prosser, allowing him a second attempt which Joe Day got his hands to, but could not prevent the ball squirming across the line.

The Diamonds were forced into a further change when the limping Aaron O’Connor was replaced by Matt Johnson after 71 minutes, and as they pushed for the equaliser Michael Corcoran was pushed into a centre back role between Prosser and Thorne in a back three, with Day and Osano pushed forwards.

This formation change energised the Diamonds and they began to create chances and win corners at which Corcoran, Thorne and Prosser all looked dangerous – and Corcoran forced the first of a whole series of excellent saves from Coburn as he got his head on a Jamie Day corner.

Max Porter was the final Diamonds player to be replaced, and he too had been struggling with the injury that had affected him recently. Justin Miller joined the action, allowing Corcoran to move back into midfield.

Robins’ keeper Coburn then produced a virtuoso display of goalkeeping as he first kept out a Jamie Day shot, and then saved a Prosser shot and a Johnson volley that followed. He then made a multiple sequence of saves including an effort from Ryan Charles, helped by a goalline clearance as he preserved the visitors lead.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 2

The Diamonds now have to prepare for their FA Trophy replay on Tuesday evening, with none of their recent signings being eligible for this game as they were signed after the initial game was played.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Luke Prosser, Ollie Thorne, Max Porter (Justin Miller 81), Alan Power, Michael Corcoran, Craig Farrell, Michael Gash (Ryan Charles 53), Aaron O’Connor (Matt Johnson 71)

Subs Not Used: James Broadbent (GK), Aaron King.

Altrincham: Stuart Coburn, Marc Joseph, Robbie Williams, Ryan Brown, Wes Baynes, Andrew Milne, Shaun Densmore, Robbie Lawton (Capt) (Michael Welch 88), Mark Beesley (Sam Hewson 79), Matthew Somner, Damian Reeves (Michael Twiss 83)

Subs Not Used: James Coates (GK)

Goals: O’Connor (22, 1-0), Reeves (40, 1-1), Milne (55, 1-2)

Yellow Cards: Thorne, Osano, Baynes

Referee: Mr Simon Long (Suffolk)

Attendance: 1024 (Away 72)

Diamonds Man of the Match Sponsored by Sports Programmes: Curtis Osano

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Kettering Town 2

 

Rushden & Diamonds lost to Kettering Town in their first home game of 2011, The Diamonds were hoping to record a victory in their first game of the New Year at Nene Park, but two goals from Iyseden Christie gave the Poppies victory. Christie’s first goal after 6 minutes was a simple finish after Nick McKoy had won a header from a Kelly free kick. The Diamonds battled hard and scored an equaliser through Jamie Stuart just after the hour mark after a Jamie Day free kick wasn’t cleared, but Christie scored again after being set clear by Jean-Paul Marna with 10 minutes left.

Justin Edinburgh made several changes to the team that lost at Luton on New Years’ Day. Rene Howe had returned to Peterborough United after his loan period had ended. Shane Huke picked up an injury at Kenilworth Road, but Max Porter had recovered from his knock to return to the starting line-up. He was also able to welcome back Jamie Day after he finally completed his 3 game ban for his dismissal back in November. New loan signing Michael Gash made his home debut for the Diamonds.

Poppies manager Marcus Law brought back ex-Poppy keeper Nick Bussey as the loan deal for Kelvin Jack expired on New Years’ Day and also made several other changes to his line-up, including giving a debut to central defender Tom Flanaghan who had just signed on loan from MK Dons.

The changes meant that the Diamonds lined up with O’Connor, Gash and Charles up front, with Porter, Power and Corcoran in midfield in front of a back four with Justin Miller at Centre Back and Curtis Osano at right back.

There was a fitting tribute to Dale Roberts before the game, with both sets of fans joining in the minute’s applause, and both sets of fans chanting Dale’s name during that time.

The game kicked off with the visitors looking threatening, and Brett Solkon made a run down the right that forced an excellent clearance from Jamie Stuart. With 6 minutes on the clock the returning Jamie Day made an ill-timed lunge at Serge Makofo and picked up a yellow card. With Makofo still on the sidelines Marcus Kelly whipped a free-kick diagonally to the left hand side of the area, where Nick McKoy rose well above the Diamonds defence to head down to present Iyseden Christie with a simple chance which he duly slotted home.

The goal seemed to shake the Diamonds into action, and Max Porter fired over the bar after Ryan Charles broke down the left and into the area before squaring to Aaron O’Connor on the edge of the six yard box, but the Diamonds striker was forced into two touches and his effort was forced away to Porter.

Much of the rest of the first half was then a rather turgid affair, with yellow cards for Marna and Charles before McKoy forced Joe Day into an excellent diving save, and after the Diamonds won the first corner of the game after 38 minutes they saw a Michael Gash header tipped over by Bussey. Gash then headed wide from another Day corner.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kettering Town 1

The Diamonds needed to step up the pace in the second period, and they did this right from the start of the half, with Ryan Charles switched to the right, and he immediately started to find more space.

After 53 minutes the Diamonds appeared to have an excellent claim for a penalty when Ian Roper bundled over Aaron O’Connor, but as the referee waved away the appeals the ball fell to Alan Power whose powerful shot hit the right hand post and narrowly missed falling to Ryan Charles. The Poppies fans had just seen a penalty appeal of their own turned down when Curtis Osano appeared to foul Marna, but the offence was clearly outside the area, and referee Merchant waved play on.

Justin Miller was also taking opportunities to get forwards, and his low cross from the right narrowly eluded Charles and Gash, and then another of his crosses was headed over by O’Connor.

Jamie Day had a shot blocked, an Alan Power effort hit Bussey and looped away for a corner and a Miller effort following a corner flew low across the area without a Diamonds striker able to get on the end of it.

Finally, after 66 minutes a Jamie Day freekick was flicked across the area where Aaron O’Connor nodded into the path of Jamie Stuart who fired home.

It then looked like the Diamonds might force a second goal, with two excellent chances falling to Aaron O’Connor, the first being a shooting opportunity which Bussey parried over the bar, and then from a corner where he headed over. Michael Gash saw an effort saved by Bussey after he worked a 1-2 with the impressive Alan Power.

Although the Poppies had appeared content to settle for a draw, they worked the ball forwards to Jean-Paul Marna about 25 yards about, and he juggled the ball with his feet to elude challenges from the Diamonds defenders before flicking it into the path of Iyseden Christie, and the ex-Diamonds triallist fired home his second goal of the game.

There were further chances for Gash and O’Connor to get an equaliser, but Kettering had another penalty claim turned down, and Joe Day had to be alert to reach the ball first after Marna ran clear, with the two players colliding in the 50-50 collision, before the referee signalled the Poppies had beaten their local rivals for only the second time.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 1 Kettering Town 2

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Justin Miller, Jamie Day, Jamie Stuart (Capt), Curtis Osano, Max Porter, Alan Power, Michael Corcoran, Ryan Charles (Craig Farrell 57), Michael Gash, Aaron O’Connor.

Subs Not Used: Lance Key (GK), Lewwis Spence, Aaron King, Matt Johnson.

Kettering Town: Nick Bussey, Ian Roper, Jean-Paul Marna (Charlie Collins 84), Marcus Kelly, Nick Green, Serge Makofo (Liam McDonald 78), Brett Solkhon, Iyseden Christie (James Dance 90+2), Tom Flanaghan, Nick McKoy , Patrick Noubissie (Capt)

Subs Not Used: Jamie Towers, Luke Graham.

Goals: Christie (7 mins, 0-1), Stuart (66, 1-1), Christie (79, 1-2)

Yellow Cards: Jamie Day, Jean-Paul Marna, Ryan Charles, Brett Solkhon.

Referee: Mr Rob Merchant (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 2216 (Away 658)

Diamonds Man of The Match Sponsored by Moore Stephens: Alan Power

Note that the 50/50 draw prize was not claimed on Monday – the winning ticket number is 11498, sold in the Kimblerley Suite, and the £260 must be claimed before kick off in the Altrincham game on Saturday 8th January 2011.

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