Diamonds were beaten 2-0 by an impressive Witton Albion side at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night despite an improved second half performance.

After an early one on one chance for Jack Bowen was well saved Witton took the lead through Steven Tames close range volley. They could have added more in the first period as Bradley Bauress was denied close in by Ben Heath, William Jones couldn’t convert a loose ball from 6 yards, and Bauress saw his effort come back off the inside of the post. Tom Lorraine had a half chance for Diamonds from inside the box but they went in 1 down at half-time.

Diamonds improved in the second half and Liam Dolman saw a header brilliantly pushed over the bar and Taylor Orosz was unlucky to see a great effort crash back off the inside of the post. Witton struck a hammer blow on 66 minutes as Robert Hopley converted from close range for the dangerous breaking away side and Diamonds were unable to fashion the killer chances that would get them back in the game. They had a strong penalty appeal for handball turned down and saw the away keeper push another effort up onto the bar and possibly over the line but difficult to see it was brilliantly batted clear by Calvin Hare.

 

Manager Andy Peaks made a number of changes to his starting line-up after back to back defeats bringing in new signings Dan Quigley and Jack Bowen and giving Ben Heath a first start in goal since November. Jamie Tank might also have started but his late absence meant Quigley had to start at centre half alongside Liam Dolman with Brad Harris and Sam Brown at full-back. Richard Bunting was injured in the warm up meaning Joe Curtis came in to play centre midfield with Ben Farrell. Ben Ford and Taylor Orosz played out wide of Tom Lorraine and returning play-off hero Jack Bowen up front. Matt Finlay and Ollie Brown-Hill dropped to the bench and were joined by Nabil Shariff, the returning Callum Westwood and nominally Richard Bunting.

Diamonds started brightly in a competitive opening with an early Jack Bowen run from half-way creating a great chance as he ran in one on one with the keeper from an angle but saw his shot blocked by the keeper’s legs.

A strong Witton side were passing the ball quickly and accurately and started to exert consistent pressure on the Diamonds back four and they took the lead from their first real chance on 16 minutes. Ben Heath made an excellent low save at the near post after Dan Quigley had felt he had been fouled in the build-up but the ball spiralled high in the air dropping to Steven Tames to prod home from 8 yards.

Diamonds were forced to defend strongly to keep the high flying visitors at bay in this period with great last ditch saving tackles from Sam Brown twice and Dan Quigley saving the day. Ben Heath also made a great smothering challenge in the 6 yard box to deny Bauress and then William Jones should have added a second on 37 minutes as he somehow failed to convert a ball driven in by Tames from 6 yards.

Diamonds showed more width than in recent games with their 4-4-2 formation and worked hard to get a foothold in the game but struggled to maintain periods of possession against combative opposition. Sam Brown long throws and whipped in crosses were the biggest danger although Tom Lorraine had a decent half chance just before half-time digging out an effort from just inside the box that went well over.

Late in the half a series of decision seem to run against the home side with Liam Dolman picking up a yellow card for handball on the edge of the box when he seemed to have been poorly challenged, and Tom Lorraine was penalised in midfield when he seemed to have been whacked on the shin.

Witton then came close to the second goal they had threatened with a neat ball finding Bauress inside the left of the box where he struck past Ben Heath….but the ball came back off the far post to save the home side.

Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Witton Albion 1

Diamonds showed great energy at the start of the second half and started to pressure their confident opponents and deserved an equaliser in this period of the game. A Liam Dolman header from a corner was brilliantly tipped over by away keeper Calvin Hare on 47 minutes, and Taylor Orosz smashed in an effort from just inside the box on 53 minutes that looked in all the way but crashed off the inside of the right-hand post.

As the pressure started to mount Diamonds were running and passing quickly and fired in three great through balls through the Witton defence in quick succession that seemed to get strikers through on goal only to just overrun for Hare to collect or a defender to last ditch clear.

It was a real hammer blow on 66 minutes then when Witton doubled their lead. They had continued to look dangerous when going forward and a good run down the right by Paul Moore saw him whip in a cross to the sadly unmarked Robert Hopley with time to control and smash into the roof of the net from 6 yards.

A double substitution by Andy Peaks tried to up the home side’s tempo with Nabil Shariff and Ollie Brown-Hill introduced and pressure was created but repelled at every turn by the strong away side.

Neat passing and good running around the box was tracked down and long throws and corners dropping into the danger area were vigorously defended. Diamonds had a very strong penalty appeal on 75 minutes after a clear looking handball at a corner after pressure had been building was waved away. Dan Quigley picked up a yellow card as the home side’s frustration with the officials grew.

Witton continued to break well with Tames having a great effort from the left side of the box just tipped away by Ben Heath, and the home keeper forced to collect another dangerous ball in under pressure.

Diamonds kept pressing though and came closest when keeper Hare palmed a back header up under the bar seemingly close to being over the line but the ball came clear and there is never goal line technology when you need it.

In the final minutes Taylor Orosz looked to have capped a good game with a late consolation for the home side but his well struck volley deflected wide despite curling back toward goal as it flew through the area.

Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Witton Albion 2

This was an improved performance by a much changed Diamonds line-up against a very good side and with the new signings and players to return from injury must encourage manager Andy Peaks. Witton were the best side Diamonds have played this season and deserved their win but pushing them so well with a much changed side was an encouraging sign.

It was a third defeat on the trot though and a 5th this year after that 19 game unbeaten run came to an end but 5 wins in 2017 have kept Diamonds in the play-off hunt. They will look to take the confidence from a good second half-performance against a very good side into the game at Northwich Victoria on Saturday.

 Man of the Match:  Ben Farrell

Attendance: 435

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Witton Albion

17. Ben Heath

2.   Brad Harris

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Dan Quigley

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Ben Farrell

7.   Ben Ford

8.   Taylor Orosz

9.   Tom Lorraine

10. Jack Bowen

14. Joe Curtis

Subs

12.  Nabil Shariff (for Lorraine 73)

13.  Matt Finlay

11.  Richard Bunting

15.  Ollie Brown-Hill (for Curtis 73)

16.  Callum Westwood

1.   Calvin Hare

2.   Anthony Gardner

3.   Matthew Devine

4.   Scott Lycett

5.   Michael Wilson

6.   Paul Williams

7.   Steven Tames

8.   Thomas Owens

9.   Robert Hopley

10. William Jones

11. Bradley Bauress

Subs

12. Anthony Brown

14. Tolani Omotola

17. Paul Moore (for Devine 66)

 

Goals:

 

Goals: Tames (16), Hopley (66)

Yellow Card: Dolman, Quigley

Yellow Cards: Bauress, Gardner

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Matthew Law

Assistants: Aidan Murphy, Simon Fradley

 

 

Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.

 Click here for video highlights of this game and post-match interviews.

 Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography . Copyright Mal Swinden ©2017

 
 
 

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