Diamonds fine unbeaten run came to an end on Tuesday night at the hands of Needham Market winning 2-1 at Hayden Road for the second time this season.
Needham deservedly lead after 15 minutes through a tremendous Callum Page strike but Diamonds levelled on 36 minutes through a Ben Farrell penalty in their best spell of the game. The winner came on 57 as a Joe Marsden corner swung in through the box to find its way in off the vacant far post. Diamonds struggled in a disappointing second half and Needham deservedly held on for the win.
Diamonds were not at their best in the early stages and Needham played with real quality and could have lead after just 30 seconds. Callum Page not for the first time on the night hit a great effort that Ben Heath did well to save. He went one better on 15 minutes as a corner was headed out by Pat Casey and Page collected and struck an unstoppable effort to give the Marketmen a deserved lead.
Needham continued to dominate and a Joe Marsden corner whizzed across goal just a yard out but couldn’t be tapped home and the same player shot just wide on 21 minutes. Just a minute later he also saw a dangerous cross just cleared over the bar by Sam Brown.
Diamonds regained their attacking momentum around the half hour mark and had their best spell of the game running into half time. A corner created havoc on 31 minutes nearly being flicked in at the near post before the return ball was headed over at the far post. 3 minutes later another corner was just stopped from going straight in by the away keeper Shorten, which would be omen for later in the game.
The equaliser duly came on 36 minutes as a surging run from Jesse Akubuine earned a penalty in front of the Peter De Banke terrace. Ben Farrell had earned the win on Saturday with a 90th minute penalty and he showed nerves of steel again with a rising centrally hit shot that gave Shorten no chance.
Nabil Shariff then had an acrobatic overhead kick tipped over by Shorten as Diamonds had their best spell of the game. More danger was created from a corner right on half-time as a far post effort was cleared off the line and the rebound flashed over the bar.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Needham Market 1
Diamonds weren’t able to continue that momentum in what was a disappointing second half as Needham worked hard to deny them space and time and passed the ball better and created the better chances. On 50 minutes they got away down the right cutting inside to fire straight at Ben Heath when well placed.
The winning goal came after the build up to a corner could possibly have been defended better by Diamonds and they would pay the price. Joe Marsden swung the ball in high through the area and in off a vacant far post.
Diamonds had a chance to equalise again just a minute later as corner whipped to the far post was flicked towards goal by Nabil Shariff but well saved by Shorten again. It was fleeting moment for Diamonds who never really looked like getting back into the game again despite a great record for late goals this season.
Nat Gosnal-Tyler was introduced and combined well with Greg Kazaboni but his shot was deflected over. A shot from the left side of the box went well over the bar, a dangerous space at the near post created by a great cross in was closed down by an away defender as Needham continued to shut down Diamonds fleeting moments of promise.
Needham stayed dangerous on the break and Mills twice got through one on one only to be denied by Ben Heath and Hunt shot well on the turn but just over the bar.
Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Needham Market 2
This was a disappointing way for the unbeaten run to end after such a hard won 3 points at Nuneaton on Saturday. Bar a promising 15 minutes just before half-time Diamonds were nullified by a well organised Needham Market who deserved the points. Diamonds have a chance to bounce back on Saturday against Duane Darby’s struggling Redditch United who have lost every game since gathering 9 points in the first month of the season but Diamonds will need to improve to ensure that run continues.
Man of the Match: Jesse Akubuine
Match Report: Paul Judd
Line-ups to follow…