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

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