AFC Rushden & Diamonds got back to goal scoring form in the Southern League Central Division as tthey beat strugglers Barton Rovers 4-0 on Tuesday night to move up to 4th in the table.

After a superb start to the game by new signing Jack Bowen saw him come close in the first minute with a volleyed effort after he latched onto Jon Stevenson’s neat through ball, and have a close range header from an Andy Hall corner just tipped over Diamonds took a deserved lead on 23. Brad Harris and Lewis Leslie combined in midfield allowing Claudiu Hoban to run in towards the area and strike a low left foot shot into the near post from the edge of the box.

The second came just 6 minutes later as a sweeping move from right to left appeared to have broken down on the edge of the area but Jon Stevenson seized on the loose ball and although his shot appeared well saved by Barton keeper Forster it squirmed from his grasp and trickled into the net as Andy Hall closed in.

The third came right on half-time as Lewis Leslie got onto another Andy Hall corner only to see Jason Lee prod the ball home from close range. After more early second half chances for Jack Bowen he finally got the debut goal he deserved. Latching onto Claudiu Hoban’s excellent ball after a run from half way he took a good first touch and fired home from the edge of the box.

 

Manager Andy Peaks sprang a surprise in his staring eleven with the inclusion of dual registration signing Jack Bowen of Cogenhoe United up front. Signed a few weeks back before the deadline he came in up front in place of injured Eliot Sandy. Lewis Leslie retained the centre midfield slot alongside Bard Harris with James Jepson on the bench with Shawn Richards, Robbie Parsons, Dan Quigley and Tom Liversedge. 

As people around the ground were asking about the name Jack Bowen on the team sheet he was showing them what he was all about on the pitch. In the first minute he latched onto Jon Stevenson’s neat through ball and surged into the area only to see his volleyed effort from 15 yards blocked by Barton keeper Kyle Forster. Just 3 minutes later he rose superbly to head a left wing corner firmly at goal only to see Forster tip it over the bar at full stretch.

A youthful looking Barton side stayed positive throughout and George Ironton was their most potent threat and got space on his marker on 6 minutes to hook a ball in from a short throw move just over from 15 yards.

But after Lewis Leslie had a close range header brilliantly palmed away by the busy Forster, and Bowen had put another flying header just wide from 8 yard Diamonds finally took the lead they threatened on 23. Claudiu Hoban seized on great play by Brad Harris and Lewis Leslie to run at the Barton defence, cut onto his left foot and fire home superbly from the edge of the box.

Warren Plowright then had a snap shot from just outside the box on 26 as a good build up by Barton saw the ball fall to him but it was only a short respite as Diamonds added a second on 29. A sweeping move from right to left involving most of the midfield and forward players appeared to break down on the edge of the box. But Jon Stevenson seized on the loose ball and fired a low shot from 18 yards that Forster looked to have saved comfortably only for the ball to squirm from his grasp and trickle over the line.

Barton responded well to the double blow with the impressive George Ironton having a shot blocked when in space 20 yards out, and Jordan Davis getting a boot on an Ironton fizzed in cross but seeing his hooked effort well held by Matt Finlay.

The killer third for Diamonds who had looked dynamic in possession all evening came right on half-time as Lewis Leslie headed an Andy Hall corner towards goal where it was forced over the line by Jason Lee with Bowen close by.

Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Barton Rovers 0

The second half was ultimately comfortable for Diamonds who nearly doubled their 3 goal tally in the first 5 minutes with all 3 chances falling to the impressive Jack Bowen.

First he cut in from the left and hit a low shot from the edge of the box straight at Forster on 46. Next he slightly mishit a first time volley from a superb Andy Hall chipped cross on 49 again straight at Forster. And he came close to converting a header from another great left wing cross this time but just couldn’t quite control it onto the target. 

Just when it looked like he wouldn’t have the debut goal he deserved he saw Claudiu Hoban break cleverly from half-way on 57 and feed him superbly on the edge of the box. He took a great first touch and as defenders closed in fired hard and low past Forster to the delight of the impressive 451 crowd.

Barton who made the play-offs last season continued to press and be enterprising for their manager with Ironton sweeping another good effort over the angle of post and bar on 61 and Aston Grant getting close to breaking away from midfield after a good run but being closed down by a Diamonds defence keen to keep another clean sheet.

A series of substitutions by both side slightly disrupted the pattern of play but Barton sub George Brinkman turned a hard cross-shot up over the corner of bar and post again. As Diamonds looked to close out the game Robbie Parsons looked particularly lively as he was flagged offside as he chased onto another great Claudiu Hoban through ball, and there was one more shooting chance for Jack Bowen as he latched onto yet another Hoban through ball to fire over.

Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Barton Rovers 0

This was a morale boosting 3rd win in 4 for Diamonds as they looked impressive all over the pitch and gave fans good heart that the play-offs are still achievable at the end of this first Southern League Central Division season. They are now pretty much guaranteed to finish no lower than 6th and 4 more points from the two games remaining would as good as guarantee a play-off berth.

It won’t be easy as Diamonds travel to league leaders Egham Town on Saturday and then take on a Godalming Town side who were the first side to beat the UCL Premier Champions this season. The feeling in the group and around the ground was so much more positive on Tuesday evening and there is the real chance of an exciting end to this topsy turvey season.

Follow the team to Egham on Saturday or tune in to Radio Diamonds and follow the twitter feed for the latest nerve jangling excitement.

 

Man of the Match: Claudiu Hoban chosen by Match Sponsor Miele

Attendance: 451

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Barton Rovers

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Connor Kennedy

3.   Jason Lee

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Brad Harris

7.   Andy Hall

8.   Jon Stevenson

9.   Lewis Leslie

10. Jack Bowen

11. Claudiu Hoban

Subs

12.  Shawn Richards (for Hall 71)

13.  Robbie Parsons (for Stevenson 79)

14.  Dan Quigley (for Leslie 75)

15.  James Jepson

16.  Tom Liversedge

1.   Kyle Forrester

2.   Jack Keating

3.   Lucas Perry

4.   Joe Reynolds

5.   Paul Andrews

6.   Warren Plowright

7.   James Bishop

8.   Aston Grant

9.   Jordan Davis

10. Alex O’Brien

11. George Ironton

Subs

12. Kev Kilroy (for Ironton 69)

14. George Brinkman (for Davis 59)

15. Erico Cardoso

16. Matt Nolan (for Grant 78)

Goals: Hoban (23), Stevenson (29), Lee (45), Bowen (57)

Goals:

Yellow Card:

Yellow Cards: O’Brien (87)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Rob Cairns

Assistants:  William Ottaway, Richard Curtis

 

 

Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.
 
The updated Match Stats, Player Stats and Attendance figures along with league stats are found in the First Team stats area on this website here. You can also find updated fixture lists in the main fixture and results grid, as well as on the Fixture News page, where there is a downloadable version.
 
For video highlights and post-match interviews see here.
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 ©2016

 

 
 
 

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