The AFC Rushden & Diamonds Under 21 side are continuing their pre-season campaign ahead of the season commencing on 5th September.

Their most recent game saw them record a 4-1 win over the Corby Town Scholarship side at Steel Park on Wednesday evening.

Andy Keen was able to field a different side in each half of the game as he assembles his squad for the forthcoming season. In the first half he used a 3-5-2 formation with Alex Vitue in goal, centre backs Joe Harris, Alex Harker and Matt Kumar, The wing-backs were Tom Rogers on the left and Pat Tulley on the right, In midfield were Jake Gillingwater, Sam Leeson and Matt Gauntlett, with James Barron and Luke Garner up front.

On a good surface slickened by continual rain the Diamonds started well, against a physically bigger side, keeping the ball and playing the wing backs high causing problems down the flacks. They took the lead after 25 minutes with Luke Garner finishing from close range from a cross from Tom Rogers. Corby equalised 10 minutes later from the penalty spot when Joe Harris was judged to have fouled a home forward on the edge of the box. The Diamonds players kept going forward and a driving run by Tom Rogers down the left ended with him crossing, the keeper spilling the ball, and Luke Garner prodding the ball home.

For the second half Andy Keen changed the team and formation, going 4-3-3 with a back four of Bradley Grundy, Jake Gillingwater, Alex Harker and Chris Knapp, a midfield three of Danny Atkins, Joe Ackroyd and Lewis Fisher, and up front there was a trialist on the left, with Luke Gardner on the right and Luke Garner down the middle.

With the rain now getting worse this revised team proved they could meet the high standards set by their teammates in the first half, with  Jake Gillingwater and Alex Harker looking untroubled at the back, and the two full backs springing forward at every opportunity. Danny Atkins and Joe Ackroyd were sitting in midfield, winning the ball and freeing the wide players. The side looked good going forwards and scored again when Danny Atkins won the ball in midfield freeing Luke Gardner, he drove forward cut in the box and drilled the ball past the keeper.

James Barron replaced Luke Garner up front with 20 minutes remaining before Lewis Fisher laid the ball off to Joe Ackroyd who hit a 45 yard shot which hit the underside of the bar with real venom bounced over the line but the referee rather harshly judged James Barron to be offside. The best goal was saved for last, when Luke Gardner exchanged passes with Lewis Fisher and drove down the right and crossed for the ever dangerous triallist to drill in from 5 yards. 

Andy Keen was very pleased with the display and is looking for it to be carried on at Yaxley on Saturday.

In order U21 news, it has been confirmed that they will be playing in the NFA Lower Junior Cup this season – details of the draw will follow on their fixture list.

 
 
 

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