AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-0 Needham Market FC

Diamonds got back to winning ways on Tuesday night with a solid 2-0 victory over Needham Market.

Alex Collard headed home AJ George’s cross in the first half and he turned provider in the second with a cross that Ty Deacon superbly volleyed home.

Needham Market are a good passing side and they had the lion’s share of possession on a difficult pitch but struggled to create real chances against a solid Diamonds defence.

Diamonds were decent in possession themselves but most dangerous from set pieces. They took the lead on 10 minutes as Ben Diamond got his head on a corner, Liam Dolman fired the rebound at goal and Ravi Shamsi played the resultant loose ball to AJ George who picked out Alex Collard for a thumping headed finish.

Needham’s best chance came as Ben Fowkes smashed in a 20 yard effort that Dean Snedker pushed away but they couldn’t turn the bulk of possession and some good passing into decent chances.

Half Time: Diamonds 1 Needham Market 0

Diamonds started the second half strongly and doubled their lead on 53 minutes. Another set piece was recycled with Ravi Shamsi’s free-kick from 40 yards this time coming out to Sam Warburton who floated the ball across to Alex Collard out wide. He struck an excellent early cross towards Ty Deacon who volleyed home superbly.

Diamonds were relatively untroubled from that point with the good passing Needham Market restricted to long distance shots that were well held by Dean Snedker. A couple of good balls to the far post nearly found substitute Hans Mpongo but he couldn’t quite connect.

Nathan Tshikuna had Diamonds best chance to add a third with a rasping effort that went just wide but Diamonds were to run out comfortable winners.

Full Time: Diamonds 2 Needham Market 0

This was a solid Diamonds performance against a buoyant Needham Market side, fresh from FA Trophy heroics, who passed the ball well and shaded possession. The Diamonds defence was impressive as ever and deserved the cleansheet with Man of the Match Alex Collard adding a goal and an assist to a superb display.

Next up is a real play-off contest as 6th place Diamonds travel to 5th place Alvechurch. Whoever wins the contest will feel like favourites for the final play-off berth.

Man of the Match: Alex Collard
Attendance: 307
Match Report: Paul Judd