Southern League Premier Division Central
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Nathan Tshikuna 16, (pen) 81, Ty Deacon 17, Jesse Akubuine 38
St Ives Town
🟥 Callum Milne 63
St Ives stunned by first-half blitz as 2022 begins with defeat at Rushden
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
St Ives Town saw their mini revival come to an emphatic end as they lost heavily away to AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
They had come into the game on the back of two successive wins which had catapulted them into the relative safety of mid-table.
However, a poor start left them always playing catch-up and it ended in a 4-0 loss, a defeat compounded by the sending off of Callum Milne in the second half.
Three of the four goals came in the first period, two of them in a little more than a minute.
Nathan Tshikuna and Ty Deacon had already gone close for the hosts when the former put them in front on 16 minutes, striding forward from 35 yards before planting a shot low past the left hand of the diving Lewis Patching, the goalkeeper brought in on dual registration from Hemel Hempstead Town just a few days earlier.
That advantage was doubled mere moments later as a long ball out of defence by Liam Dolman was misjudged in the air by the usually reliable Brett Solkhon, leaving Deacon clear to slot past the exposed Patching from just inside the box.
Number three came with seven minutes of the half remaining, Jesse Akubuine getting on the end of a AJ George cross to fire home at the back post.
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Ives tried to rally either side of the third. Dylan Williams pulled an effort wide and Nabil Shariff was stopped by Dean Snedker in the Rushden goal, but at the same time Diamonds were still a threat, Tshikuna's prompting bringing further chances for George and Deacon.
The visitors had a couple of chances after break with their best opportunity coming from a scramble after a Ben Toseland corner.
Snedker denied the first two efforts, the best block from Ethan Johnston, before Michael Richens effort was scrambled off the line.
But any faint hopes Ives had were ended with Milne's dismissal, given for a push on George.
The penalty from Tshikuna was saved by Patching but he had a second chance from 12 yards after the keeper hauled him down.
This time he made no mistake.
St Ives are back on the road on Tuesday when they go to relegation rivals Nuneaton Borough.