AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy bounced back from their English Schools Trophy cup exit, just 24 hours ago to secure a 4-2 win against Boston United.

The scholars were knocked out of a cup competition just a day before their next match. Also, the evening of their cup exit, two academy strikers were involved in First Team action. Luke Garner and Matt Pinder travelled to London for the Evo-Stick Southern League Central Division game at Hanwell Town.

The Youth Team are down to the bare bones as it is with 2nd year scholars, Ieuan Ivett, Joe Ackroyd, Jacob Kearney and Harrison Desborough all in the treatment room.

So it was a remarkable result to bounce back from their cup exit with a starting XI of just three 2nd year scholars.

The game started off brightly for the Diamonds, eager to put behind the disappointing performance from the day before and just ten minutes in, they were ahead.

Thomas Craddock was filling the void left by Harrison Desborough on the right-wing and he took his chance by scoring a great goal. He came inside onto his left foot and bended the ball into the top right corner to give the scholars a 1-0 lead.

Just four minutes later, the scholars doubled their lead. Luke Garner ran in the channels well and got past the defender. He got around the onrushing goalkeeper and was brought down for a penalty. He confidently stepped up and scored to make it 2-0 from the spot.

With the scholars playing well and in free-scoring mood. They added a third, 20 minutes in. Ashley Hewett delivered an in-swinging corner. Garner flicked the ball on at the near post and Paolo Dyrmishi was on hand to tap in from a few yards out.

But the action for the first half wasn’t finished there. With three minutes to go before half time, Boston pulled a goal back. It was another in-swinging corner, which the Boston striker towered above everybody, to play a one-two with the crossbar and tap in to make it 3-1.

Half Time. AFC R&D U18s / MAA 3-1 Boston United Youth.

The second half was comfortable for the scholars but hadn’t troubled to Boston keeper as much after the 20th minute, apart from two glorious chances to kill the game off. First of all, Thomas Craddock had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper and the winger tried to chip the ball over him, but the ‘keeper stayed tall to deny him. And then Ryan Baird had an attempt, he tried to put it to the side of the goalkeeper but it went just wide.

The away side pull another goal back in the 68th minutes. The right back played a long ball down the centre of the Rushden defence, and with the wind with them in the second half, the ball travelled all the way to the left winger and he slotted into the bottom corner to bring the score to a nervy 3-2.

It was a nervy few minutes for the time that followed as Boston had more and more of the possession until the MAA boys made the game comfortable 73 minutes in. Ashely Hewett was taken down unpleasantly by the Boston defender, and Craddock delivered the resulting free-kick into a good area. The ball was bouncing around and it was unfortunate that the last touch came off of a Boston player to make it 4-2.

Full Time. AFC R&D U18s / MAA 4-2 Boston United Youth.

And after the game, I caught up with manager Darren Purse to get his reaction.

“It was a brilliant performance – complete contrast to yesterday. We started brightly and that was perhaps due to the words that was said to them after the cup defeat. The most pleasing thing for me was that we only had three second year scholars playing today for various reasons and all the first years stepped up to the plate for me and they produced a really good performance.

Matty Pinder played 90 minutes for us yesterday in the cup game, travelled with the first team and came on as a substitute and was involved with us again today. Luke Garner is the same, he put in a shift for me today.

To play two games in two days is enough, but to be involved in the first team as well, it’s a great effort for them. Their attitude has always been spot on, Luke and Matt are great lads, Harrison (Desborough) and Joe (Ackroyd) as well, who’s been involved more with the 1st team. They deserve their chance and the opportunities they’ve been getting. We’ve got a great group of players and it’s amazing how much they improve just by training every day and playing every day. They’ve came on leaps and bounds of the last 12-18 months.”

Next up for the scholars is a league game against Braintree Town on Monday before David Joyce Cup Quarter-Final action against Woodford on Wednesday.

Report by Hayden Pott.

 
 
 

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