Liam Dolman’s 48th minute penalty was enough for Diamonds to win this feisty cup tie against 9 man St. Neots Town.
A goalless first half was shaded by St. Neots who created good shooting chances for Luke Knight and Dave Bridges and saw Luke Knight fire the best chances wide left when free just inside the box.
Diamonds took the vital lead 3 minutes into the second half after Chris Dillon went through on goal and was bundled over by Tom Wood. Wood saw a red card for his troubles and Liam Dolman slotted home a cool penalty in front of the Peter De Banke.
After a brief St. Neots rally which produced one brilliant Matt Finlay save Diamonds started to make the extra man count and created chances for Farrell, Bell-Toxtle, Smith and Dillon before a second red card for the away side. Ronayne Marsh-Brown saw red after a melee in the home net with Chris Dillon who saw yellow.
Diamonds saw the game out comfortably and go into the next round which will also be regionalised.
Manager Andy Peaks picked a strong looking side for this league cup clash against higher opposition. The back four was the same as Saturday with Matt Finlay behind them. Ben Farrell and Darryl Smith were in the middle 4 with the promising Harry Henbury and Fernando Bell-Toxtle. Chris Dillon and Tom Lorraine were paired up front. Joe Curtis. Joel Gyasi, Ben Heath, Nabil Shariff and Chief Boateng were on the bench.
Both sides were noticeably noisy and energetic in their warm-ups and took that feisty attitude into the game. Robust challenges and some impressive closing down saw little time on the ball and little goalmouth action but plenty of commitment.
St Neots settled into some impressive quick movement of the ball but were held to some good shooting positions by a solid Diamonds defence. Luke Knight fired an effort that Matt Finlay held comfortably, and Dave Bridges a more testing volley from 18 yards that Finlay got down to well to his left.
Diamonds were dangerous from wide positions with free-kicks and corners the most danger. From one deep ball away keeper Mike Emery spilt the ball and then fired a clearance off Tom Lorraine and just wide of the empty net.
Yellow cards were finally doled out for some robust challenges with Scott Sinclair and Luke Knight finally penalised, and Ben Ford after a challenge on Sinclair. The St. Neots wide man had the best chance of the half in added on time wriggling free in the area and firing wide left when he really should have hit the target.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 St. Neots Town 0
Diamonds were right on it in the early moments of the second-half and earned a penalty just 3 minutes in. Chris Dillon was played through on goal but hauled down by away defender Tom Wood. Wood was dismissed and Liam Dolman laid hit Diamonds first penalty in 3 coolly into the right corner sending Emery the wrong way.
St. Neots rallied after that double set-back and forced a quite brilliant full length save from Matt Finlay to deny a 35 yard free-kick that was arrowing into the top corner. Harry O’Malley then had a half-chance on the turn just inside the area that he fired just wide.
Diamonds regained control of the game and pretty much pressed for the remainder of the contest. A sweeping move started by Fernando Bell-Toxtle and involving Darryl Smith and Tom Lorraine saw Ben Farrell’s fierce volley blocked, Darryl Smith fired over after another slick move, and Bell-Toxtle struck a superb half-volley drive just inside the post from 25 yards only to see Emery just push it round the post on 81 minutes.
A minute later St. Neots were down to 9 men after a strange mêlée broke out in the net after a corner had been cleared. Chris Dillon received a yellow card for Diamonds but Ronayne Marsh-Brown saw red for St.Neots. There was one last chance for Diamonds as they saw the game out Darryl Smith seeing his close range effort blocked away for a corner.
Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 St. Neots 0
So Diamonds progress in this completion and look to two more home cup ties in the next week with Kidsgrove Athletic in the Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday and Wellingborough Whitworths in the NFA Hillier Cup next Tuesday.
Man of the Match: Fernando Bell-Toxtle
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
St Neots Town
13. Matt Finlay
2. Callum Westwood
3. Ben Ford
4. Sam Brown
5. Liam Dolman
6. Ben Farrell
7. Harry Henbury
8. Fernando Bell-Toxtle
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Chris Dillon
11. Darryl Smith
12. Joe Curtis
13. Ben Heath
14. Joel Gyasi
15. Nabil Shariff
16. Chief Boateng (for Henbury 81)
1. Mike Emery
2. Jack Bradshaw
3. Jordan Lee
4. Luke Knight (C)
5. Tom Wood
6. Ronayne Marsh-Brown
7. Scott Sinclair
8. Harry O’Malley
9. Josh Davidson
10. Dave Bridges
11. Dylan Williams
12. Taylor Parr
14. Andrew Williams (for Sinclair 45)
15. Ryan Horne (for Dylan Williams 53)
16. Johnny Herd
17. Dion Semble-Ferris (for Davidson 60)
Goals: Dolman 48
Yellow Card: Ford, Dillon, Westwood
Yellow Cards: Sinclair, Knight, Marsh-Brown
Red Cards: Marsh-Brown, Wood
Referee: Paul Buck
Assistants: Ryan Kelly, Adam Brierley-Lewis