A superb strike from Ben Diamond and a close range finish from Jack Bowen won this tight game for Diamonds despite a dramatic late fightback from Hitchin Town.

Diamonds named an unchanged starting 11 against the 21st placed Hitchin Town who have fallen behind in games played due to a fantastic FA Cup run only ended on Sunday in the first round proper. The away side showed no hangover from that heart-breaking exit and largely dominated the opening stages winning the ball regularly in midfield and creating good shooting chances that Ben Heath was forced to block and save.

Diamonds upped their game and improved their passing and movement around the 15 minute mark and created real momentum with a series of chances. Jack Bowen volleyed just over from a great Tom Lorraine cross, Lorraine himself saw a shot from 18 yards cleared off the line, and Nathan Hicks got clean through deep into the box but his effort was smothered by the away keeper. The vital opening goal finally came in spectacular fashion on 25 minutes. Ben Diamond ran at Hitchin again down the left, played it to Sam Brown who neatly fed it back on the edge of the box where Diamond coming in from the left swept it superbly into the far corner.

The rest of the half was fairly uneventful but the opening stages of the second half were anything but. First Ben Heath was forced into a good low save before Nathan Hicks produced an even better save from Michael Johnson in the away goal. His belting effort looked destined for the top corner until Johnson got finger tips to it and tipped it onto the bar. Ben Diamond had another tremendous swerving dipping effort well saved by Johnson before Diamonds struck again. A 52nd minute corner was knocked down at the far post by a clutch of Diamonds players running in and Jack Bowen then got the vital touch to force the ball into the the other corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.

Hitchin were dangerous throughout and they got back into the game on 60 minutes as a Diamonds mistake was pounced on by Isaac Galliford who fed the free Ezra Forde to sweep home past Ben Heath. The travelling fans were buoyed by their sides efforts and cheered their side onto a rousing finish to the game with Diamonds fans in the Peter De Banke responding in kind. Diamonds picked up two yellow cards in quick succession as they tried to halt the away side and Diamonds had to concentrate defensively with Liam Dolman and Jack Ashton prominent in repelling the surging away side. Diamonds did press themselves with Liam Dolman coming close to connecting with a left wing corner, and a cross from wide right fired into the 6 yard box was only just cleared.

In a dramatic finish Hitchin really thought they had the equaliser twice in added on time. First a good move created a shooting chance from 25 yards that was slightly deflected and looked to have beaten Ben Heath but the Diamonds stopper got up superbly to get fingertips to it to somehow tip it over via the bar. After the resulting corner was repelled it was re-cycled by Hitchin and a ball in through the box bounced between everyone and came back off the far post. Ben Heath got across to smother the Hitchin players effort to force the rebound home.

It was an entertaining game with both sides having periods of dominance but it was won by the best pieces of quality of the game with Ben Diamond’s finish and Ben Heath’s late heroics although Michael Johnson in the away goal should also get a special mention for some great saves. Great credit goes to Hitchin for bouncing back after their weekend disappointment but also to Diamonds for creating enough good chances to win the game and defending so well when forced to do so.

Next up another home game for Diamonds who now sit 9th in the table against bottom of the table Bedworth United. It’s sure to be another battle for the points.

Man of the Match: Ben Diamond

Attendance: 362

Match summary: Paul Judd

***Full report  to follow***

 

 

 

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Hitchin Town

13. Ben Heath

2.   Zack Reynolds

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman (C)

6.   Jack Westbrook

7.   Jack Bowen

8.   Ben Farrell

9.   Tom Lorraine

10. Ben Diamond

11. Nathan Hicks

Subs:

12. John Dean (for Diamond 87)

14. Dan Clifton (for Farrell 78)

15. Declan Rogers

16. Patrick Casey

17. Nathan Pickworth

1.   Michael Johnson

2.   Jay Dowie

3.   Noah Chesmain

4.   Josh Bickerstaff

5.   Daniel Webb (C)

6.   Lewis Farrell

7.   Michael Cain

8.   Scott Belgrove

9.   Ezra Forde

10. Isaac Galliford

11. Treymayne Charles

Subs:

12. Kieran Barnes (for Cain 67)

14. Robbie Burns (for Charles 83)

15. Kieran McAffrey

Goals: Diamond (25), Bowen (52)

Goals: Forde (60)

Yellow Card: Ashton, Bowen, Hicks

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Ben Cooke

Assistants: Niall Nestor, Ryan Allison

 

 

 

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

 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 ©2018

 

 

 
 
 

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