Struggling Saints fell at the first qualifying round hurdle when being beaten 2-1 by fellow Southern League Premier Division Central side AFC Rushden & Diamonds. It was a fifth successive defeat in all competitions for Ricky Marheinekes men and one which followed a familiar pattern with Saints lack of firepower being magnified by the concession of sloppy goals at the other end. Marheineke was unhappy with the manner in which both Diamonds goals were scored as the game changed dramatically in the space of eight minutes either side of the interval. Weve not played that badly at all during this run, said Marheineke. That was the case again but it is clear we lack a cutting edge in goal. When thats the case we certainly cant afford to self-destruct defensively. Conceding to a counter-attack just before half-time and then gifting Diamonds their second goal from a horrendous mix-up just after the break completely changed the game. We created chances again but our lack of goals means we are always finding ourselves chasing games rather than being on the front foot. The two teams battled out a goalless league stalemate at Hayden Road a month earlier and it took until the final minute of their first half of their latest meeting for a breakthrough to arrive. It was a somewhat gift-wrapped goal as well with Saints seeing one of their own attacks provide the springboard for their hosts opener. Diamonds keeper Ben Heath clutched a cross from Ben Seymour-Shove and quickly sent the ball forward to Jack Bowen, who was able to pick out Tom Lorraine to finish a ruthless counter-attacking raid. It was harsh on Saints who had matched their hosts in the opening period and they were close to a leveller within a minute of the second half starting as Seymour-Shove fired into the side-netting. But their deficit soon double as a mix-up between goalkeeper Sam Wilson and defender Charlie DeAth allowed Ben Diamond to pounce. Saints reacted well and Seymour-Shove fluffed another fine opportunity when steering a free header straight at Heath after being picked out by a Joe Hood cross and his running battle with the Diamonds goalkeeper continued when seeing another shot kept out. Heath also kept out substitute Danny Kelly before another of Saints replacements, Ollie Snaith, succeeded in halving their arrears with three minutes to go when converting at the second attempt after his initial effort had been saved. But Marheinekes side couldnt find the net again as their losing run continued.