EVO-STIK South - East Division: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Cambridge City 0
Despite a spirited and attacking performance, City came away from Rushden with nothing to show for their efforts. The game ends a run of four matches against promotion rivals that has seen City pick up only four points.
Early pressure from the home side tested City, but the visiting rearguard held their ground while the forwards always looked dangerous on the break. Diamonds almost got though when Luke Fairlamb broke away, but City responded with a swift attack and only a last ditch challenge from Liam Dolman prevented a chance from presenting itself.
Diamonds came close to breaking the deadlock on 13 minutes when a free-kick was floated to the far post and Tom Lorraine found space to power a downward header on goal, forcing Niall Conroy to grab the ball at the foot of his post.
Rushden were still making most of the running when City created their first real chance of the half just before the half hour mark. Breaking at pace, Salim Relizani burst into the box and was only denied by a fine Joel Gyasi challenge. City went close again moments later when Ryan Sharman saw his header blocked then hacked away by the home defence.
Gyasi blasted a volley narrowly wide before City had Conroy to thank for preserving the status quo, brilliantly turning Lorraine’s flick over the bar. Lorraine wasn’t to be denied though and with two minutes of the half remaining, he got on the end of a free-kick to plant a header past Conroy.
A series of corners early in the second half came to nothing for the home side as they again pressed City, however it was the visitors who were looking dangerous creating two good shooting opportunities, only to see both efforts blocked and smuggled clear by the home defence.
As the half progressed, Rushden looked increasingly threatening. Conroy had to be at his best to turn away a Ryan Robbins effort as the home side turned the screw. City went close on 69 minutes when a Sharman header just failed to find the mark, but soon after, Rushden doubled their lead when Gyasi broke upfield before calmly slotting the ball past Conroy. Two minutes later it was almost three, but Robbins’ drive flew narrowly over the bar.
City were not out of the game and continued to threaten and excellent work saw Relizani into a good shooting position, but his effort went wide. Former Lilywhite Ben Farrell forced Conroy into a good save with a fine half volley as the game moved to it’s conclusion. However, City still kept pressing for something to show for their efforts, Dolman producing some good defensive work late on to thwart their efforts.
Soon after, the referees whistle brought to an end a high quality and entertaining game, that saw Rushden move to the top of the table, while City remain in fifth.
Click to hear Manager, Robbie Nightingale's views on the game
1. Niall Conroy
2. Ben Robinson
3. Mark Coulson
4. Ross Paterson
5. Jordan Gent (booked)
6. Adam Capel
7. Salim Relizani
8. Ryan Towner
9. Nathan Olukanmi
12.Mason Spence (9-79)
15.Ollie Snaith (11-68)
AFC Rushden & Diamonds: 13.Ben Heath, 2.Joel Gyasi (goal 70), 3.Sam Brown, 4.Blaize Punter, 5.Liam Dolman, 6.Ben Farrell, 7.Joe Curtis, 8.Richard Bunting (booked), 9.Tom Lorraine (goal 43), 10.Ryan Robbins, 11.Luke Fairlamb (booked)
Subs: 12.Jack Westbrook (7-81), 14.Ben Diamond (9-77), 15.Cameron Gilchrist, 16.Ben Ford, 17.Kyle Swailes
Referee: Andrew Ellis
Assistants: Simon Kavanagh and William Ottaway
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