Football: Diamonds Savaged; Oxford Utd 3 Rushden & D 0

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Byline: Paul WILLETS

RUSHDEN'S Division Three title hopes suffered a setback as they slipped to only their third away defeat of the season at Oxford.

Brian Talbot's men lost further ground on leaders Hartlepool as Andy Crosby's penalty and a late David Savage brace maintained Oxford's place in the play-off positions.

The home side were without a win since the previous meeting between the teams on December 28, but they completed the double as Rushden suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.

Oxford manager Ian Atkins made two changes to the side beaten 2-1 at Southend on Tuesday, with Christian Edwards and Roy Hunter replacing David Waterman and Bobby Ford.

Rushden boss Brian Talbot was able to name an unchanged side following last week's 4-1 home victory over Cambridge and it was the Diamonds that made the best start, with Onandi Lowe causing early problems for the Oxford defence.

He fired a free-kick over from 30 yards and almost opened the scoring when his left-foot shot was blocked by Oxford goalkeeper Andy Woodman.

David Bell then shot over the crossbar as the hosts struggled to find their feet, but Rushden keeper Billy Turley was called into action just after the quarter hour to keep out Steve Basham's header from an Andrew Scott cross. …