A Ben Farrell 67th minute close range strike earned Diamonds the points in this hard fought New Years Day derby.
Diamonds were without Liam Dolman through illness and Blaze Punter due to a delayed journey to the game so had a new look back three with Jack Ashton making his return. A goalless first half saw Luke Fairlamb, Joel Gyasi and Joe Curtis all have long range efforts and Tom Lorraine come close to converting headers from dangerous crosses. Bedford tested Ben Heath with long range efforts of their own in an even first half.
Bedford had a strong penalty claim turned down early in the second half but it was Diamonds who gradually built pressure. Luke Fairlamb had a pair of efforts than flew just wide, Tom Lorraine just headed over before the vital breakthrough on 67. Joel Gyasi fired into the 6 yard box where Ben Farrell bundled home. Bedford responded with two further long range efforts and then saw Sam Brown clear off the line as Heath was beaten.
Luke Fairlamb and Joel Gyasi might have added a second in the final stages as Diamonds managed the last few minutes well to ensure a hard fought New Years Day win.
Manager Andy Peaks was forced into changes to his very successful first choice back three with Liam Dolman unavailable due to illness and Blaize Punter delayed on his journey to the game meaning he couldn’t be named in the starting line-up. Cameron Gilchrist came into the side along with Jack Ashton starting for the first time since his long injury lay-off.
It was a fairly quiet start to the game on a heavy pitch that had survived sustained lunchtime rain. Diamonds were positive in the early stages with a Joel Gyasi run and shot and a period of pressure resulting from a free-kick, corner and long throw that Bedford defended well.
Bedford were working hard to close Diamonds at every opportunity as the away side shaded possession but they lacked their recent fluid style and early chances were limited.
Luke Fairlamb was as tricky to handle as ever though and got away on 15 minutes to whip a dangerous cross that just evaded Tom Lorraine.
As the balance of play evened out Bedford worked some pressure around the 20 minute mark winning two free-kicks and a corner all whipped into the Diamonds box but all defended well.
A pair of long range efforts from Diamonds didn’t test the home keeper as first Joe Curtis fired in a 25 yard effort with a well-controlled volley that went wide and Joel Gyasi fired over from a 25 yard free-kick.
More pressure from Diamonds around the half-hour mark saw Ben Farrell denied from the edge of the box following a corner, and the resultant long throw just cleared under pressure.
The pitch was cutting up a little at this stage making fluid football difficult for both sides who understandably resorted to longer balls forward. Bedford profited on 35 minutes as David Moli latched onto a through ball to fire just over, and then cut inside to test Ben Heath at his near post.
After an even period of play Diamonds came closest to a first half-goal on 42 minutes Luke Fairlamb hit a superb cross that Tom Lorraine couldn’t quite guide on target from a good position.
Then right on half-time the two number 8’s picked up yellow cards after a foul on Farrell saw a coming together of the two midfielders and a lecture and pair of cards were issued.
Half-time: Bedford Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
The home side were forced into an early second-half substitution with Tommy Hill finally forced off after picking up another knock and they had a very good penalty shout turned down on 50 minutes. The referee judged it ball to hand by Luke Fairlamb and accidental to the frustration of the home side.
Diamonds then earned a pair of free-kicks in dangerous positions but couldn’t fashion an effort on goal from them as they tried to kick-start their performance. Luke Fairlamb was fouled again on 57 allowing Joel Gyasi to swing the ball right to Tom Lorraine to head just over.
Ryan Robbins then picked up a yellow card as his frustration started to show before Luke Fairlamb cut inside to fire in a low effort which was well held by the home keeper. As Diamonds built up the pressure Fairlamb again cut in from the left to fire superbly but just wide again.
The pressure finally told on 67 minutes as Diamonds made the vital breakthrough. Joel Gyasi hit a hard low ball into the 6 yard box where Ben Farrell bundled home to the delight of the travelling faithful.
Bedford responded well to the blow and came close twice in quick succession as they pressured the Diamonds defence Cameron Gilchrist and then Ben Heath saving the away side.
Luke Fairlamb then missed a great chance to clinch the points as he ran past his man, cut into the box but blazed over when well placed. He had another effort minutes later cleared off the line and Ben Diamond saw his effort tipped over as Diamonds pressed.
Bedford were temporarily down to 10 men as Ollie Swain received treatment after all three substitutions had been used. Richard Bunting then replaced Ben Farrell for the final 7 minutes for Diamonds.
Bedford thought they had a hard earned equaliser on 85 minutes as Ben Heath got caught under the ball and Sam Brown cleared off the line as the home side claimed the ball had crossed the line.
Diamonds pressed again in the final stages with a series of throw-ins and corners keeping the ball in the Bedford half and there was a great final effort from Joel Gyasi from the edge of them box which just flew over.
Full time: Bedford Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
This wasn’t the prettiest performance from Diamonds but they worked hard for the victory on a heavy pitch. Ben Farrell scored the only goal but Luke Fairlamb had the most efforts at goal and Tom Lorraine came close with two headers. Bedford had their chances testing Ben Heath a few times, were denied a strong penalty claim and saw Sam Brown clear one off the line in the later stages. Diamonds were far from their best but deserved the win against a hard working Bedford Town side.
Next up for Diamonds a return to Hayden Road for the visit of Marlow FC on Saturday.
Man of the match: Luke Fairlamb
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Kyle Forster
2. Dean Dummett
3. Mayo Balogun
4. Tommy Hill
5. Ollie Swain
6. James Peters (C)
7. David Moli
8. Callum Donnelly
9. Lee Roache
10. Leroy Griffiths
11. Brad Woods-Garness
12. Ryan Auger
14. Ashton Grant (for Roache 78)
15. Josh Oyibo (for Hill 48)
16. David Manu (for Moli 58)
17. Michael Gyasi
13. Ben Heath
2. Jack Ashton
3. Sam Brown (C)
4. Jack Westbrook
5. Cameron Gilchrist
6. Joe Curtis
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Ben Farrell
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ryan Robbins
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Callum Westwood
14. Blaize Punter
15. Richard Bunting (for Farrell 83)
16. Ben Diamond (for Robbins 66)
17. Adam North
Goals: Farrell (67)
Yellow cards: Donnelly (45+1), Peters (69), Manu (80)
Yellow cards: Farrell (45+1), Robbins (59)
Referee: Mr M Gospel
Assistants: Mr A Kadir, Mr M Paul
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