Diamonds' striker Tom Lorraine had a shot cleared off the line, Cameron Gregory made a comfortable save from Chris Wreh as the home side put early pressure on the Pitmen. It paid off in the 16th minute when Wreh hit the post and Jesse Akubuine was harshly judged to have been tripped. Lorrell Smith obliged from the penalty spot to put Rushden into the lead.
The Pitmen were denied twice by the woodwork as Taylor Allen's strike came back off the post before Louis Dodds' hit the crossbar. Smith hit the deck late in the half, but a second penalty for the hosts was rightly not forthcoming.
Alex Collard headed over from a freekick, before Pitmen keeper Gregory did well to deny firstly Smith, then Wreh in one on one situations. At the other end, Dan Sweeney saw an effort blocked at the far post by Patrick Casey. Diamonds eventually found the second goal through an excellent strike from Luke Fairlamb into the top corner of the net.
Sweeney did set up the Pitmen for a fight back in the 76th minute beating home keeper Richard Walton with a superb effort. Despite almost five minutes of added time the Pitmen were unable to capitalise on the goal as AFC Rushden & Diamonds held on for all three points.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds; Walton, Reynolds, Hughes, Casey, Bell-Toxtle, Collard, Fairlamb, Akubuine (Oulton 60), Lorraine, Smith (Slinn 73), Wreh (Mustswunga 84). Subs not used; Heath, Gyasi.
Hednesford Town; Gregory, Griffiths, Allen, Bailey, Mendez-Jones, Hallahan, Sweeney, Thompson (Flanagan 60), Glover (Lycett 72), Dodds (Cater 74), Turner. Subs not used; Rowley, Veiga.