AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy comfortably progressed to the semi-finals of the David Joyce Trophy, with a 7-1 victory at Woodford United on Monday evening.

The quarter-final, which was originally scheduled at The Dog & Duck was switched venue and manager Darren Purse had the comfort of naming 16 players in the squad, with players returning from injury.

Sam de Boer, Thomas Craddock and Harrison Desborough all returned to the starting 11. Whilst Ieuan Ivett, Joe Ackroyd and Christy Nginamau returned to the bench, having all missed the 3-1 victory at Lowestoft last week.

Things didn’t start of well for the Diamonds falling 1-0 behind through an own goal. The scholars gave away a soft free-kick just 16 minutes in. The cross was put in and the defence failed to deal with the first ball, and an attacker sneaked around the back of the defence. He put the ball across the goal and Ashley Hewett couldn’t help putting the ball in his own net.

Going a goal behind kick-started the MAA boys and they kicked into life. As just two minutes later the scholars had a free-kick of their own. Ryan Baird put the ball across and it was cleared only as far as Ben Peaks who guided the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

25 minutes in and Diamonds were in control. Luke Garner drove at the defence and was brought down just outside the area. Hewett stepped up for the free-kick, left-footed and rifled the ball in off the under-side of the bar. Ben Peaks followed up to make sure, but the ball had already crossed the line from Hewett’s free-kick to make it 2-1.

The scholars had another set-piece 31 minutes in. And the ball went all the way in from Hewett’s corner, and over the goalkeeper, making it 3-1.

Just a minute later, Hewett produced a great piece of skill and was brought down by the by-line. Harrison Desborough whipped the ball into the near post area, where Jamie Mastropierro had got infront of his maker and tapped in. 4-1.

Half Time. AFC R&D / MAA 4-1 Woodford United.

The scholars were in a commanding position, thanks to the four goals in reply to going a goal down. But the icing was put on the cake in the second half, as Purse rested some of his players for Wednesday’s game.

The second half started in the way the first ended, Diamonds on top. 58 minutes in, and Ashley Hewett completed his hat-trick, and made it 5-1. He made a strong run down the left and from a narrow angle, beat the goalkeeper at his near post.

Substitute Christy Nginamau soon got in on the act making it 6-1. He produced a little shimmy in the box and slotted it past the goalkeeper in the 73rd minute.

The just two minutes later, under 16 player Lee Goldsborough made it 7-1. He played a one-two with makeshift striker Joe Ackroyd and slotted it past the goalkeeper.

Full Time. AFC R&D / MAA 7-1 Woodford United.

After the game, manager Darren Purse was delighted with the comfortable victory.

We never looked in trouble, they’ll be tougher games ahead and we deserved to win 7-1.

I rotated the squad in the second half because we have a tough game ahead against Football CV Reds. We owe them one because they beat us last time. We’re not in a bad position in the league, we are relying on other teams but it’s still an opportunity for us, but we will have to win every game between now and the end of the season, and that’s the challenge.”

The scholars will now travel to ON Chenecks in the semi-final of the David Joyce Trophy.

Report by Hayden Pott.



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