Aldershot Town 2 - 1 Rushden & Diamonds

They put in a good, but ultimately fruitless, performance against Blue Square Conference Premier leaders Aldershot and earned the respect of all who watched.

The manager, players and supporters at The Recreation Ground all knew full well they had been tested out.

Indeed the quality of the football indicated this was a match between two top-six sides.

However, while Aldershot maintained their place at the top, Diamonds are desperately trying to catch up with the leading lights of the non-League game.

They were unfortunate not to get something from this encounter, though.
Had they not been so wasteful in front of goal they would have done.

Simeon Jackson continued his remarkable scoring run. He has now found the net in nine of his last 10 league games and has scored 13 in 11 in all competitions.

However he should have had two as he fired over - horribly - when played through one-on-one with the keeper by Andy Burgess.

Indeed Diamonds should have scored at least once in the first period as Tomlin also failed with a couple of good chances.

One, an athletic attempt at the back post after a cross from Burgess, was blocked on the line. Another, when Marcus Kelly returned a half-cleared corner, was volleyed just wide.

Burgess, Martin Foster and Jackson all had long-range efforts comfortably gathered by Nikki Bull.

The visitors were certainly the better side early on. However, such frittering of chances was always likely to be punished by a team who had won 13 of their 18 games.

A warning came when a very well-worked move involving the tricky Joel Grant and Jonny Dixon resulted in John Grant being played in. His first-time effort beat Paul Nicholls, hit the inside of the post and bounced straight back to the grateful goalkeeper.

The warning, however, was not heeded. When Dean Howell's poor clearance from a corner only found Joel Grant, his cross went over a poorly-organised defensive line and found John Grant arriving unmarked at the back post.

The striker headed, via his own knee, over Nicholls and into the net.

The statistics backed up the fact Diamonds were unlucky to trail at the break.

They had nine shots on goal to their hosts' four. But it is all about making them count.

Five minutes after half-time Aldershot had their second attempt on target and got their second goal.

Anthony Straker was was allowed to get a cross in too easily and he picked out Ben Harding who hit a lovely volley past Nicholls.

Jackson pulled one back with a little under half-an-hour to go when he kept his composure after a nice pass through by Jon Challinor.

More chances came and went. Curtis Woodhouse made his return from injury while Lee Hales was handed his debut.

Chasing an equaliser Phil Gulliver was replaced by Michael Rankine in a 3-4-3 formation.

But it was all to no avail. For all the huff and puff at the end Aldershot always looked fairly comfortable.

They will certainly take some stopping. But Diamonds must take heart from this.

It was always an encounter that would give them an indication of how far they have developed. The answer is they have done well.

Unfortunately they were mis-firing when the chances arrived. With a more ruthless touch in front of goal they would have surprised the leaders.

Reporter: Jim Lyon