AFC Rushden & Diamonds came out on top of a pulsating and event-filled match against fellow high-flying Aylesbury FC in the Southern Football League Division One Central on Saturday afternoon.

Diamonds opened the scoring in the 7th minute as striker Tom Lorraine fired home in the penalty area after Brad Harris’ shot had been blocked. The home side completely dominated the opening 40 minutes, with Tommy Berwick hitting the post, Liam Dolman seeing a free-kick well saved and the whole team looking energetic and lively. Goalkeeper Matt Finlay was forced into two good saves to deny Lynton Goss and James Dobson close to half-time, but Rushden went into the interval slightly disappointed that they weren’t more than one goal ahead.

The second half was naturally less eventful after the barnstorming nature of the opening period, though man of the match Claudiu Hoban saw two goalbound efforts parried away by visiting goalkeeper James Weatherill. Aylesbury came more into the contest as the game wore on and the margin between the sides remained at one, but aside from a Terry Dixon shot being saved and Diamonds’ Ollie Wilkinson producing an important tackle to deny Brian Haule a shot at goal, the Diamonds held out with relative comfort to maintain their unbeaten start to the new season.

Manager Andy Peaks named the same starting XI that defeated Bedfont & Feltham in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round last Saturday, with Tom Lorraine again partnering Tommy Berwick up front and Elliot Lamb-Johnson along with Claudiu Hoban operating on the wings. Richard Bunting made a welcome return to the substitutes bench as did Scott Joseph after they both were unavailable last weekend.

 After the sluggish start that was seen in the last league outing away at North Greenford, and the fact that Aylesbury lied in third place prior to the game, it was imperative the Diamonds made a quick start. Inside the opening minute Tom Lorraine ran onto a loose ball, powered into the right side of the box and unleashed a fierce shot at the near post which was parried into the side netting by Aylesbury stopper James Weatherill. The resultant inswinging corner by Claudiu Hoban saw the keeper miss his punch, but thankfully for him the ball flew past everyone and out for a goal-kick.

Sam Brown’s long throws have proved to be a very dangerous weapon for Diamonds in their opening fixtures, and another one of these in the fifth minute was flicked on by Lorraine towards Berwick. The ball dropped to the Rushden number 10 via a touch by a visiting defender, but his shot was pulled wide of the near post. 

However, the hosts didn’t have long to wait for the opening goal as they took the lead after seven minutes. Elliot Lamb-Johnson crossed the ball in from the right for Berwick to flick an effort that was well saved by Weatherill, though the ball was redistributed out to the left side in Hoban who did brilliantly to accelerate away from two Aylesbury players. His cross to the back post was headed up by Daniel Murphy, and Berwick was able to head down to Brad Harris whose shot was blocked. Tom Lorraine latched onto the ball, turned and fired a clinical effort into the middle of the goal past a helpless goalkeeper. 

Aside from an Aylesbury free-kick which Ollie Wilkinson luckily put behind for a corner and Ryan O’Toole charging down a Liam Dolman clearance which flew over the bar, the Diamonds were wholly dominant in the early exchanges. They were first to every second ball, applying strong pressure in every area of the pitch and looking pacy and inventive when they attacked. The lead should have been doubled in the 19th minute after an away goal-kick was headed back with interest for Berwick to run onto, but after cutting inside full-back Lamar Simpson his rolled shot trickled onto the left post and was eventually cleared away from danger. 

Claudiu Hoban then embarked on a typical jinking run which resulted in him being blocked and fouled by visiting captain Davis Haule. Dolman stepped up, while Hoban was off the pitch receiving treatment, and surprised many in the stadium by curling the ball rather than a standard ‘Bully Blast’. It whipped over the four man wall and required Weatherill to shovel the ball unconvincingly round the post for a corner. 

Although the game then entered a slightly quieter period, the home side were still on top and dictating the tempo of the game. The midfield two of Dan Quigley and Brad Harris especially were the catalyst for many attacks by stepping in to win possession, and the pace the Diamonds possessed down the two flanks was always going to trouble the away side. Hoban received a couple of poor challenges, the first leading to a yellow card and Terry Dixon perhaps considering himself fortunate not to pick up a second yellow in the second tackle.

Lamb-Johnson collected a Lorraine sprayed ball eight minutes before the break, jinked to the right touchline and crossed the ball which was well dealt with by Kyle Anthony. The winger was again involved two minutes before the interval, but his left-footed shot cleared the bar with a pass out wide to Hoban perhaps the better option. 

Aylesbury then had a flurry of chances right at the end of the half which could easily have resulted in a leveller. Firstly Lynton Goss collected a pass from Simpson and curled a shot which Finlay held to his right, and then a free-kick in the centre of the pitch which O’Toole curled in saw Anthony rise highest to loop a header over the goal. Then another free-kick about 30 yards from goal resulted in James Dobson curling the dead ball which Finlay did extremely well to hold, especially considering the ball bounced just before the Diamonds stopper. 

Referee Akil Howson then called time on a half full of action, passion and chances, with the Diamonds aiming for more of the same in the second half.

Half Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-0 Aylesbury FC

Rushden, and Lorraine in particular, almost commenced the second period as they did the first with a goal as Berwick’s flick-on from Dolman’s chipped ball found the Diamonds number 9, but he was eased off the ball as he attempted to power into the box.

Hoban then produced a sumptuous flick over his shoulder on the left wing to help him run past Simpson who brought him down by the left byline. Lamb-Johnson sent over the free-kick and Ashton making a well-timed run to the near post got a touch on the ball, but unfortunately for the Diamonds the ball went across goal and was cleared upfield away from danger.

It was Hoban who was looking the most dangerous outlet for the home side every time he received the ball, and after another weaving run down the left channel, he smacked a shot goalwards which Weatherill parried away to his left side. 

Although Aylesbury still weren’t creating a huge amount in terms of chances at goal, they always represented a threat going forward and with the scoreline still only at 1-0, the game was still very much in the balance. One worrying moment for the home side saw Dixon run to the edge of the penalty area and create a little space to hit an effort straight at Finlay. 

There was then another concern for Diamonds twenty minutes from time as captain Liam Dolman appeared to tweak a muscle when playing a backpass to Finlay. He limped off to be replaced by Delroy Gordon, and coupled with two attacking substitutions for Aylesbury, this seemed to be the trigger for the away side to increase their pressure.

76 minutes had elapsed when Dobson chipped a ball over Wilkinson for overlapping full-back Murphy to latch onto. His ball across the box seemed destined to reach substitute Brian Haule, but Finlay was able to dive and claim the ball just ahead of the tall front-man. Despite the third-placed visitors now operating with three up front, the entire home back four were able to quash much of Aylesbury’s attacking intentions with sensible defending.

Hoban, who had a terrific second half, almost settled the contest when he collected a weak clearance by Jeanmal Prosper, sprinted almost half the length of the pitch and fizzed a shot goalwards, though Weatherill again pulled off a save and eventually collected the ball after initially parrying it. Play swept back up the other end and there emerged a two-on-two situation as Ashton was beaten to the bounce on the right touchline. The ball was pulled back for Haule to have an inevitable chance at goal some 14 yards out, but Wilkinson read the danger expertly and stole the ball away.

After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee signalled the end of a match where the Diamonds deserved the victory and made it five consecutive Southern League wins.

Full Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-0 Aylesbury FC

This was another impressive success for Rushden against one of the higher sides in the division, especially when you take into account Aylesbury finishing third in the league last season also, and the amount of chances that were created in the opening half reflected the positive, pacy and purposeful nature of the home side’s play. Two clean sheets in the last two home games is yet another pleasing aspect to take from the game, though Chalfont St Peter winning 4-0 at Aylesbury United does see the Diamonds slip down to second in the Southern Football League Division One Central table due to goals scored. Next up is a trip to Market Deeping to face Deeping Rangers in the Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round on Saturday September 26.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Claudiu Hoban

Attendance: 522

Match Report by Ollie Mortimer

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Aylesbury FC

17. Matt Finlay

2. Ollie Wilkinson

3. Sam Brown

4. Jack Ashton

5. Liam Dolman (C)

6. Brad Harris

7. Elliot Lamb-Johnson

8. Dan Quigley

9. Tom Lorraine

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Claudiu Hoban

 

Substitutes:

12. Charlie Butt (for Lamb-Johnson 81)

13. Alex Vitue

14. Scott Joseph (for Berwick 70)

15. Richard Bunting

16. Delroy Gordon (for Dolman 70)

1. James Weatherill

12. Lamar Simpson

3. Daniel Murphy

4. Rob Tomlin

5. Kyle Anthony

6. Jeanmal Prosper

7. Lynton Goss

8. Davis Haule (C)

9. Terry Dixon

10. Ryan O’Toole

11. James Dobson

 

Substitutes:

13. David Lynn

14. Ken Feyi (for Dobson 80)

16. Jamie Rudd (for Goss 67)

18. Adam Logie

19. Brian Haule (for Dixon 70)

Goals: Lorraine (7)

Goals: None

Yellow Cards: Dolman (45+1), Brown (90)

Yellow Cards: Dixon (17), Dobson (32)

Referee: Akil Howson

Assistants: Aidan Murphy, Naji Naji

 

 

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

Click here for video highlights and post-match interviews.

Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography (click on the link to access the Diamonds Photo Gallery for more images from this game and ecommerce options). Copyright Mal Swinden ©2015

 
 
 

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