Rushden and Diamonds reach semi-finals
RUSHDEN AND DIAMONDS are through to the semi-finals of the Errea South West Challenge Cup after a 3-1 win over Barnstaple Town last night.
Goals from Sam Smith, Craig Farrell and Aaron O'Connor gave the Blue Square Premier outfit a convincing win at Marlborough Park.
ON TARGET: Shane Tolley scored a late freekick.
But battling Barum never let their heads drop and gained a deserved consolation through Shane Tolley in the final minute.
Justin Edinburgh's Diamonds will now meet Grimsby Town at Appledore today (5pm) subject to a pitch inspection.
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Conditions were never favourable for flowing football as the win howled across Ilfracombe's pitch.
And with Barnstaple working hard with Shane Tolley and Tom Rossiter leading the line, Rushden took their time to settle.
Their biggest threat in the first half came from the left-footed corners of James Reid.
One near-post delivery was met by Neil Cousins who saw his clever effort clawed away by Jamie Pow.
The 19-year-old goalkeeper stood strong moments later when Smith eluded the offside trap after a cunning pass from Cousins.
An early shot looked the best option but Smith tried to take the ring-road around Pow, allowing the ball to run too far.
Referee Justin Amey was unimpressed as the tall striker belatedly hit the deck.
Barnstaple's early industry was seen again when midfielder Luke Austen got a toe to the ball as the lively Cousins went to shoot.
Cousins again went close from the resulting corner, drilling into the side-netting as Barum couldn't clear their lines.
The respite didn't last long though and five minutes before the break, from another Reid corner, Smith got free from Jamie Frickleton to plant a header past Pow.
The damage might have been greater as Jamie McGuinness drilled just past the post and Pow saved again from Farrell's header.
Farrell, who later picked up the man of the match award, stamped his mark on the game three minutes into the second half.
Taro Bishop fouled Reid on the edge of the box and the frontman expertly curled a free-kick low into the corner.
With Barum beginning to tire, Farrell picked out Aaron O'Connor with a driven cross, giving the substitute the simple task of turning in the third goal.
O'Connor and Lee Tomlin also let fly with long-range shots against the base of the post.
Further punishment would have been hard on Town after the graft they put in, particularly in the first half.
Frustration was shown by Tolley as he clattered into Farrell, picking up a yellow card for his troubles.
Yet the former Bideford player finally found some reward for his work with a surprise strike in the final minute.
Diamonds' replacement keeper Joe Day was caught dreaming as Tolley smashed a long-range free-kick over his head in spectacular style.
Barnstaple Town: Jamie Pow, Taro Bishop, Kevin Darch (James Galliford ht), Darren Hawkings, Steve Shore (Jake Crush 65), Jamie Frickleton (Joe Crush 73), Matt Deakin (Stan Paxton 54), Luke Austen (Cory Roach 65), Ross Middleton, Shane Tolley, Tom Rossiter. Sub not used: Owen Pickard.
Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts (Joe Day 63), Jamie McGuinness, Kurt Robinson (Jamie Stewart 63), Jake Beecroft, Gavin Hoyte, Michael Corrigan, Neil Cousins (Nicky McNamara 53), Rob Wolleaston (Max Porter 48), Sam Smith (Aaron O'Connor 59), Craig Farrell (Matt Pattison 71), James Reid (Lee Tomlin 47).
Referee: Justin Amey (Bournemouth).