There was drama at the River End of the Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon as first Matt Finlay saved a 35th minute Newcastle penalty to keep the game level and then in the second half Liam Dolman clinched a vital victory with a powerful header on 64.

Diamonds started brightly with real purpose as they looked to bounce back from midweek disappointment. Nabil Shariff was found inside the box a number of times with back to goal turning and shooting on 3 minutes, firing a dangerous cross through the six yard box on 6 minutes that Jack Bowen just couldn’t quite turn home, and earning a corner from which Liam Dolman headed firmly at goal only to see away keeper Harry Pickering tip over on 23. In between Newcastle had looked to break and produce two good saves from Matt Finlay, pushing away a low shot to his near post on 8 minutes and an even better full length save from a superb curled Lee Cropper effort on 9 minutes.

Newcastle started to gain parity in possession as the game ticked passed the half hour mark and had a golden opportunity to gain the lead on 35. A run into the left of the box drew a challenge from Callum Westwood that tangled legs and saw referee Matthew Smith point straight to the spot. The first goal was always going to be vital and as Daniel Cocks waited for Matt Finlay to move and finally chose to hit to his left the Diamonds keeper got down well to smother the effort and leap up to clutch the rebounded ball.

The second half saw Diamonds noticeably up the tempo with Nabil Shariff, Ben Farrell, Shawn Richards and Liam Dolman all test the away keeper. Pressure started to mount and the vital moment came on 64 minutes as a corner was earned from a period of sustained pressure. Liam Dolman got across his marker as he does so well onto Ross Oulton’s corner and flicked a powerful header across goal into the roof off the net.

Diamonds remained strongly on the front foot as they looked to secure a vital 3 points. Nabil Shariff won’t know how he didn’t score on 72 as he pushed the ball past the keeper and while challenged near the line saw the ball go over the bar. Second half sub Taylor Orosz hit two good efforts to test Pickering again, Ross Oulton saw a pile driver just saved and a 25 yard free kick just go over corner of post and bar.

Newcastle kept trying to push forward against strong Diamonds defending in midfield and across the back four and earned two late free-kicks in a dangerous area. The first was a dangerous cross just cleared but the second was in shooting territory. Chris Baker struck it superbly toward the top corner where Matt Finlay at full stretch made yet another vital save somehow pushing it round and not inside the post.

Diamonds manged to see the game out with some sensible game management and were able to celebrate a vital win that pushed them firmly back into the play-off picture.

—–

With Liam Dolman and Brad Harris restored to the Diamonds back four the home side looked much more solid and it allowed Richard Bunting to shepherd fellow midfield workers Dan Quigley and Ben Farrell into forward forays on a regular basis. Jack Bowen was also returned to the starting line-up in a front three with Nabil Shariff and Shawn Richards. Ross Oulton and Tom Lorraine dropped to the bench along with Kyal McNulty, Taylor Orosz and Ben Heath.

Diamonds started brightly with real purpose as they looked to bounce back from midweek disappointment. The Diamonds midfield were moving and passing the ball well and feeding balls into Nabil Shariff inside the box on numerous occasions.  

Shariff turned and fired in a decent effort on 3 minutes and twisted past his man on 6 minutes getting to the by-line to fire a low ball across the 6 yard box that Jack Bowen came close to converting on the far post.

Diamonds were dominating possession in the early stages but Newcastle looked to break quickly and produced two good saves from Matt Finlay in the 9th minute. First Chris Baker fired in low from 15 yards after breaking into the left of the box but Finlay was strong to push his effort wide, and he was even more impressive a minute later as a corner was only half cleared falling to Lee Cropper whose curler looked bound for the bottom corner until Finlay launched himself to tip it round the post.

Diamonds continued to shade possession and probed across the field looking for space for the front three in the box but were unable to create the killer chance. They came close on 23 minutes though as Liam Dolman headed firmly at goal from a right wing corner only to see away keeper Harry Pickering tip over into the Peter De Banke.

Newcastle started to gain parity in possession as the game ticked passed the half hour mark and had a golden opportunity to gain the lead on 35. A run into the left of the box drew a challenge from Callum Westwood that tangled legs and saw referee Matthew Smith point straight to the spot. The first goal was always going to be vital and as Daniel Cocks waited for Matt Finlay to move and finally chose to hit to his left the Diamonds keeper got down well to smother the fairly tame effort and leap up to clutch the rebounded ball.

Richard Bunting had been influential as ever in the Diamonds midfield but suffered an unfortunate injury on 42 as he stretched into a challenge and stayed down clutching his thigh. Despite extensive treatment he was unable to continue and Manager Andy Peaks brought Ross Oulton into the fray in that central midfield role.

There was just time for one further scare for Diamonds involving Matt Finlay as he was injured coming out to intercept a bouncing through ball with Newcastle playing on and nearly converting from close range with Brad Harris and Sam Brown to Diamonds rescue.

Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Newcastle Town 0

The second half saw Diamonds noticeably up the tempo from a fairly flat ending to the first half and they largely dominated the whole period. Nabil Shariff was key again being found inside the box with back to goal just a minute inside the half turning and firing superbly only to see Pickering dive to push it wide.

Ben Farrell was having another strong game for Diamonds supporting the front three constantly from midfield and he had a good shooting chance on 51 minutes as the ball fell to him as Newcastle tried to clear their lines and he struck a first time curler that had Pickering at full stretch again. It was Liam Dolman’s turn to try and test Pickering on 56 minutes as he struck a superb 25 yard free-kick that he whipped across in front of the away keeper but it fell agonisingly wide.

The pressure was starting to build on Newcastle as a series of probing attacks and corners had the away side at full stretch defensively and it finally produced the vital moment in the game. It was Liam Dolman again as he got away from his marker at a Ross Oulton corner and flicked a powerful header across goal into the roof off the net to the delight of most of the 564 crowd.

Massive celebrations by Dolman his teammates and the crowd showed how important that moment was, and Diamonds remained strongly on the front foot as they looked to secure a vital 3 points. Nabil Shariff won’t know how he didn’t score on 72 minutes as he pushed the ball past the keeper and while challenged near the line saw the ball go over the bar. Second half sub Taylor Orosz hit two good efforts to test Pickering again, Ross Oulton saw a pile driver just saved and a 25 yard free kick just go over corner of post and bar.

Newcastle kept trying to push forward against strong Diamonds defending in midfield and across the back four and earned two late free-kicks in a dangerous area. The first was a dangerous cross just cleared but the second was in shooting territory. Chris Baker struck it superbly toward the top corner where Matt Finlay at full stretch made yet another vital save somehow pushing it round and not inside the post.

Diamonds managed to see the game out with some sensible game management and were able to celebrate a vital win that pushed them firmly back into the play-off picture.

Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Newcastle Town 0

Diamonds deserved this hard fought victory thanks a front-foot dominant performance especially in a second half that started to turn good attacking play into proper chances and finally the winning goal.

Newcastle defended well and were impressive on the break especially in the first half but found Matt Finlay in superb form to deny them with two outstanding full length saves and a pivotal penalty save on 35th minute.

Diamonds move back into the play-off places with just two games to go and have the chance to make a big stride towards extending their season with a trip to Stamford on Bank Holiday Monday.

Man of the Match: Liam Dolman

Attendance: 564

Report by Paul Judd

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Newcastle Town

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Callum Westwood

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Brad Harris

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Ben Farrell

7.   Shawn Richards

8.   Dan Quigley

9.   Jack Bowen

10. Nabil Shariff

11. Richard Bunting

Subs

12.  Kyal McNulty

13.  Ben Heath

14.  Tom Lorraine (for Bowen 60)

15.  Ross Oulton (for Bunting 42)

16.  Taylor Orosz (for Richards 73)

1.   Harry Pickering

2.   Tim Sanders

3.   Niall Green

4.   Richard Smith

5.   James Askey

6.   Luke Askey                                

7.   Thomas Urwin

8.   Kyle Blake

9.   Lee Cropper

10. Chris Baker

11. Daniel Cocks

Subs

12. Sam Bradbury

14. Leigh Skellern (for Smith 77)

15. Jordan Cole (for Urwin 60)

16. Ricky Bridge (for Green 60)

17. David Parton

Goals: Dolman 64

Goals:

Yellow Card: Oulton

Yellow Cards: Cole, Blake

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Matthew Smith

Assistants: Robert Cairns, James Watkins

 

 

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

Match Gallery courtesy of Stephanie Webb Photography Copyright Stephanie Webb Photography ©2017

 
 
 

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