AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-2 Stratford Town

Diamonds fell to a disappointing defeat against third-bottom Stratford on Saturday afternoon.

With five new signings making their debut, Rushden began brightly and almost led inside ten minutes when Conor Tee fired a free-kick just over. However the visitors responded as Callum Ebanks was denied and then scuffed off-target either side of Andre Wright shooting into the side-netting when well placed. Stratford eventually forged ahead when a corner was headed home by defender Carl Dickinson, and they almost doubled their lead only to be stopped by crucial blocks from Evangelos Empochontsif and Sidik Atcha.

Away right-back Daniel Lafferty, who had been booked shortly before half-time, was shown a second yellow card after 57 minutes for a foul on Joel Anker. Diamonds should have levelled from the resulting set-piece as Jenson Cooper was played in behind, but he poked wide of the near post. The visitors then sealed the victory in controversial circumstances as substitute Michael Taylor ran through and went down under keeper Dean Snedker’s challenge. Referee Gareth Davis pointed to the spot despite vehement home protests, and captain Will Grocott coolly rolled in the resulting penalty. Although Rushden came close to pulling one back through Jim Burnside, they couldn’t find a goal against a well-organised backline and were consigned to defeat.

Full match report to follow

Diamonds Player of the Match (chosen by match sponsors Seventy9): Joel Anker

Attendance: 452