Rushden & Diamonds 2 Cambridge United 1

Rushden & Diamonds sealed a win over Cambridge United with an 89th minute goal on Tuesday evening at Nene Park. The late header from Craig Farrell sealed the victory, after Sam Smith had got the Diamonds back on terms midway through the second half. Cambridge had taken the lead after just three minutes when Danny Wright ran onto a long ball and slotted past Joe Day..

With Martin Ling having left their club during the day, the U’s were led by Jez George with the assistance of Paul Carden.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes tothe side that drew with Tamworth at the weekend, with new signing Eddie Oshodi replacing the injured Luke Prosser, and Sam Smith starting in place of Ryan Charles. Justin Miller returned to the bench. Oshodi would be making his first start in a professional league game.

With just three minutes on the clock the U’s took the lead. Keeper Brown initially had a problem getting the ball clear, but it fell to Josh Coulson who hit a long ball upfield. Danny Wright ran between Corcoran and Oshodi and slotted the ball low into the right hand side of the goal.

Although the Diamonds had plenty of possession in the remainder of the half, they struggled against the U’s 4-5-1 formation that at times saw nine outfielders in the Cambridge defensive zone. The Diamonds had kept the same 4-3-3 formation as on Saturday, and once again Gary Mills was influential in his holding role in midfield.

The two best chance in the 40 minutes after the opening goal fell to the U’s, firstly when a curling shot from Simon Russell just before the half-hour mark forced Joe Day into a save, and then a break down the right after 43 minutes saw Patrick and Wright interchange passes and a dangerous cross almost elude the Diamonds defence.

As half-time approached it looked like the Diamonds had finally unlocked the Cambridge defensive barriers as a ball over the top set Michael Gash free on goal. As he broke into the area he chose to square the ball to Sam Smith rather than shooting, and the ball was hit too hard for Smith to make contact – and there was also a suggestion Smith would have been offside had he netted.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Cambridge United 1

After seeing a much improved performance in the second half of several recent games, the Diamonds fanbase were hoping for a repeat, and so it proved, as the Diamonds took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second period.

At first it looked like it might be another tale of bad luck, good goalkeeping and less than clinical finishing as the U’s goal seemed to lead a charmed life in the third quarter of the game. Sam Smith saw a cross slide off the crossbar before a long ball from Eddie Oshodi was flicked on by Gash to Aaron O’Connor whose shot was blocked before Max Porter saw his follow-up effort cleared off the line by Josh Coulson, with a suggestion it might have hit his arm. Another Porter effort hit the leg of Coulson as it began to look like the Diamonds luck had run out.

Ryan Charles replaced Michael Gash, and he started to cause problems on the left, with one quick break down the left and into the area forcing a save from Brown, with the loose ball going just behind Aaron O’Connor who would have had a tap-in.

Sam Smith was giving Darryl Coakley a difficult time, and he forced a great save from Simon Brown after receiving a pinpoint pass from Aaron O’Connor and striking a shot from a narrow angle that looked destined for the top corner at the near post.

Finally the Diamonds got the equaliser, when Jamie Day controlled the ball well just outside the left side of the area, checking back and crossing with his right foot to Sam Smith. Smith controlled the ball on his thigh before turning and hitting a goal bound shot that took a slight deflection before it went past keeper Brown.

The goal came after 74 minutes, meaning there were 15 minutes or so for the Diamonds to push for a winner, but initially it was the visitors who looked the most likely to get a winner as they created their best chances of the half, with Luke Berry seeing a shot saved and then a Conal Platt free-kick from the left narrowly eluding Liam Hughes.

Craig Farrell replaced Sam Smith with seven minutes left, and this allowed Ryan Charles to switch to the right. With 89 minutes on the clock, Charles took on Coakley towards the corner flag, and with a neat move, similar to the one he used to create the first goal at Newport, he made space for an accurate cross that allowed Craig Farrell to jump and head home his first league goal of the season.

The Diamonds held on through the five minutes of added time to claim a valuable home victory.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Cambridge United 1

The two teams will meet again on Saturday, when the U’s will have a couple of players back from suspension to face the Diamonds at the Abbey Stadium.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Eddie Oshodi (Justin Miller 81), Michael Corcoran, Max Porter, Alan Power, Gary Mills, Aaron O’Connor (Capt), Michael Gash (Ryan Charles 63), Sam Smith (Craig Farrell 83)

Subs Not Used: Simon Evans (GK), Matt Johnson

Cambridge United: Simon Brown, Rory McAuley, Kevin Roberts, Josh Coulson, James Jennings (Darryl Coakley 51), Simon Russell (Luke Berry 69), Sam Ives, Paul Carden (Capt), Conal Platt, Danny Wright (Liam Hughes 79), Jordan Patrick

Subs Not Used: Daryl Clare, Adam Marriott

Goals: Wright (3mins, 0-1), Smith (74, 1-1), Farrell (89, 2-1)

Yellow Cards: Power, Berry, Charles

Referee: Mr Stephen Martin (Staffs)

Attendance: 1279

Diamonds Man of The Match Sponsored by Moore Stephens: Curtis Osano

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