AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy put their recent league form aside to reach their second David Joyce Cup final in as many years.

The scholars overcame Northampton ON Chenecks 1-0 thanks to a second half Ryan Baird goal to set up another final clash with Peterborough United U18s.

The first half was dominated by the Diamonds as they had good possession with the only threat from The Chens coming from a pacey striker. But Caley McTeggart and Ben Peaks kept him quiet all evening.

The best chance for the MAA boys to take the lead in the first half, was a ball played down the right towards striker Matt Pinder, who beat his man and pulled the ball back to Ieuan Ivett on the edge of the box. However the defender just nipped in at the right time.

Ryan Baird and Ashley Hewitt were working well and creating opportunities on the left hand side and Thomas Craddock had a few chances from outside the box which tested the goalkeeper.

However there weren’t any clear cut chances, and both sides went into the break goalless.

Half Time. Northampton ON Chenecks 0-0 AFC R&D U18s / MAA.

The scholars started the second half a lot brighter. Manager Darren Purse made a half time change introducing Harrison Desborough for Ieuan Ivett as a tactical change.

And Desborough’s introduction paid off almost straight away. In the 48th minute, Chenecks had a corner which was cleared away well to the edge of the area. From here, Desborough collected the ball and ran almost the full length of the pitch, before beating his full back and striking at goal. The goalkeeper could only parry the ball into the path of Ryan Baird to tap the ball in to make it 0-1 to Diamonds.

Thomas Craddock was withdrawn in the second half with a hamstring injury. Luke Garner replaced him to bring even more pace and power in the final third.

Chens had a chance to draw level later on in the second half. A player was unmarked from a corner and had a free header at goal, and after a goal mouth scramble, was eventually cleared away.

The game did end on a sour note. For a game which was played largely in good spirits, Diamonds were running the clock down in the corner and an awful challenge on Luke Garner in the corner was met with a deserving red card for a Chenecks defender.  

Full Time. Northampton ON Chenecks 0-1 AFC R&D U18s / MAA.

After the game, I caught up with manager Darren Purse who was pleased with his side’s performance.

We played well tonight, it was a good all round, solid performance and not at once did I think we would lose the game. I spoke after the last game about trying to sign on a couple of U16s, I wanted to do so, but I couldn’t complete their registration in time. It would have freshened us up, but it was a strong side that I put out and they did the business to be fair.

I’m pleased for the club, obviously the first team is involved in a final and now we are too.”

Looking ahead to the final, Purse played down that it was a chance for payback following the final defeat last season.

We’re not looking for payback. They’re a side that should beat us but if we go out and play like we did last year, then we will give them a very good go again. Last year, they had that little bit of quality that told – the lad that made the difference, a 16-year-old, is involved in their 1st Team. Look we’ll see, we’re a good side on our day and it needs to be our day against Peterborough, and if we’re not, then it’ll be a tough game for us.”

Match Report by Hayden Pott.

Details of the season to date for the U18 side can be found on their fixture and results list here.

An overview of the NFA David Joyce U18 Cup can be found here.

 

 
 
 

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