AFC Rushden & Diamonds stormed to a convincing 5-0 victory over visitors Harrowby United on Saturday afternoon at a cold and chilly Dog & Duck stadium.

After a keen and closely fought opening 20 minutes, Diamonds took the lead through a Jason Turner penalty after Elliot Lamb-Johnson was pulled to ground in the penalty area. Tom Lorraine quickly followed up with a goal of his own right on the cusp of a one minute applause for Dale Roberts, and two goals in two minutes just before half time by Lamb-Johnson and Adam Confue put the game beyond the reach of Harrowby. A quieter second half followed, but substitute Fazel Koriya was able to add further gloss to the already heavy scoreline in the final minute of the game.

Manager Andy Peaks made two changes to the side that defeated Boston Town last Saturday, with Arron Parkinson replacing the suspended Jack Ashton, and Elliot Lamb-Johnson starting ahead of Fazel Koriya. Brad Harris returned from suspension to take his place on a strong substitutes bench alongside Russ Dunkley, Scott Joseph and Koriya himself. 

The opening 10 minutes of the match proved to be very quiet and lacking in action, with both teams guilty of giving the ball away in promising positions and the two midfields engaging in many skirmishes for possession in the middle of the park. The first chance fell to the Diamonds in the tenth minute, as a Matt Gearing cross from the left was cleared to Richard Bunting on the edge of the box. He slid the ball out to Elliot Lamb-Johnson who stood up a pinpoint delivery to the back post, but striker Jason Turner contrived to place a free header wide of the right hand post. 

After this let-off, the visitors came close on a couple of occasions themselves. Firstly, captain Martin Wormall created space for himself 20 yards from goal, and cracked a goalbound effort that was well charged down by Diamonds skipper Arron Parkinson. Then shortly after in the 19th minute, a free kick into the Rushden box was held up expertly by Wormall, with winger Scott Webb taking the ball to the byline and cutting the ball back for Simon Bolland to blaze over the bar from inside the six yard box. 

However, less than a minute later, Diamonds took the lead. A long, diagonal ball from Liam Dolman was brilliantly controlled on the run by Lamb-Johnson, and as he advanced into the penalty area, he was hauled to the ground by Harrowby full-back Lewis Watson. Despite initial hesitation from referee Mary Harmer to award the spot kick, the linesman confirmed that a foul had occurred, and the penalty was duly awarded. Jason Turner stepped up and just as he did against Long Buckby two weeks ago, dispatched the ball into the bottom right hand corner past the despairing dive of Jack Drury in the visitors’ goal.

This marked the start of a hectic couple of minutes, as Harrowby came very close to levelling the scores immediately after the opening goal. Wormall again made room for himself on the edge of the Diamonds box and saw a curling effort parried away by Matt Finlay. Fortunately for the home side, the rebound from Luke Peberdy was slammed into the side netting. 

Then in the 23rd minute, and two minutes after Turner’s goal, the Diamonds doubled their advantage. A Gearing ball over the top was headed clear by Billy Stubbs, but the loose ball was collected by Tom Lorraine. He took advantage of a slip in the visitors defence to run through on goal, and though his initial effort was well saved by Drury, he was on hand to knock the rebound around the keeper and then slot the ball into the empty net. 

The goal was almost perfect timing, as the planned one minute applause for the never to be forgotten Dale Roberts took place right after the goal. All the Diamonds players, management and fans joined in the applause, and it represented a fitting tribute to the ex-RDFC goalkeeper.

It was clear to see how much of a lift the two goals had given the entire Diamonds team, and they collectively began to press the ball higher up the pitch in an attempt to increase their lead. They almost did this on 26 minutes, when another Dolman diagonal found Lamb-Johnson; he in turn fed Adam Confue, and his attempted cross to the back post cannoned back off the upright, falling for Lamb-Johnson to hammer an effort on the bounce over the crossbar. 

Although Harrowby did look dangerous whenever Worrall or Lee Shaw were running at the Diamonds back four, the home side did look the more likely side to score as the clock ticked close to the halftime break. Turner and Lorraine combined once more to almost deadly effect in the 40th minute, as the ex-Wellingborough man’s dinked ball from the left found Lorraine, though a slightly heavy touch forced him wider of goal than he would have liked, and Drury was able to smother his shot.

Rushden didn’t have long to wait till they added a third goal though, as a perfectly timed through ball from Confue put Elliot Lamb-Johnson clear on goal, and he rounded Drury, who had attempted to come and clear the ball, before stroking the ball into the unguarded net. 

Then on the stroke of half time, Diamonds made the scoreline even more comprehensive. A Turner cross was deflected behind for a corner, and Lamb-Johnson’s set piece found Adam Confue all alone in the middle of the penalty area to bury his header down and past the helpless Harrowby goalkeeper.

The referee blew the whistle moments later to signal the end of a very clinical first period for the Diamonds.

Half Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4-0 Harrowby United 

As the air around the stadium began to grow colder at the start of the second half, the barnstorming end to the opening period looked to be the game changer, as Diamonds could now monopolise the ball and dictate the tempo of the game as they saw fit. 

Harrowby, in an attempt to at least get themselves on the score sheet, still looked dangerous in advanced positions, and Bolland was unfortunate to see a rasping goalbound drive from 25 yards out blocked by his fellow teammate Scott Webb.

The home side, although clearly not playing at full gear, still remained a threat, and a long ball over the Harrowby defence from Charlie Butt in the 55th minute found Lamb-Johnson who skipped past Stubbs, shoulder-barged Watson to the ground, and played the ball across for Lorraine to hit a rising effort that clipped the bar and went behind.

Diamonds hit the woodwork for the third time after 67 minutes, and it was Lorraine who was the unlucky man again. After a Bunting free-kick from 35 yards had been deflected just past the post for a corner, Lamb-Johnson had the ball returned to him from the initially cleared set piece, and his cross was flicked towards goal by the Diamonds frontman, but the ball hit the apex of crossbar and post and bounced away to safety.

The away side were struggling to create many clear-cut opportunities, as the Diamonds defence and central midfield were doing well to deny them any sights at goal. The closest they came was when they broke from a Rushden corner, and Shaw played a crossfield ball to Webb on the left flank, but as the ball sat up invitingly for him to hit, he hit an effort that dipped over the top of Finlay’s goal.

Richard Bunting had been having a solid game in the middle of the park, filling in whenever Confue made a forward run and always seeming to find space in the often congested midfield area, and it was he who set up the next Diamonds opportunity in the 75th minute. He won the ball back from a Harrowby midfielder, and faced with a five on four situation ahead of him, he slipped the ball out wide to the ever dangerous Lamb-Johnson. He partially over-ran the ball, but still managed to find Lorraine to shoot wide of Drury’s left-hand post.

Fazel Koriya had entered the fray as a replacement for the hobbling Gearing, and he came very close to adding to his 11 goal tally so far this season for the Diamonds. Dolman played a ball across to Lamb-Johnson, and he in turn released Koriya over the top of the Harrowby defence, but he didn’t get enough loft on his attempted lob over the backpedalling Drury, and he was able to claim the ball.

With clean sheets often at a premium for the home side this season, a key priority in the closing stages was for the Diamonds to ensure that Harrowby did not find the back of the net. They had Sam Brown to thank for preserving this, as a corner from the left found Wormall in acres of space at the back post; he brought the ball under his control and fired a shot at goal that was saved at point-blank range by a diving Finlay. The ball ran for Shaw four yards from goal, and with a goal seemingly inevitable, Brown got his body in the way of the shot right on the goal line, and the ball was somehow smuggled to safety. 

In the third minute of stoppage time signalled at the end of the match, Fazel Koriya did manage to get his goal. Dolman dinked a ball into fellow substitute Scott Joseph, who protected the ball well for Lorraine to slip a ball in behind the full-back for Lamb-Johnson to run onto. He looked up and picked out a sumptuous driven ball across the face of goal for the Diamonds winger to sweep home gleefully at the far post.

Full Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 5-0 Harrowby United

This game represented another well earnt three points for the Diamonds, and the incisiveness and ruthlessness displayed in front of the goal in the first half will provide Diamonds fans with plenty of optimism as they head into the busy Christmas schedule. With Yaxley going down to a 2-0 defeat at AFC Kempston Rovers, Rushden find themselves 10 points clear at the top of the UCL Premier table as they head into their next fixture away at Thurnby Nirvana on Saturday December 20.  

Diamonds Man of the Match: Elliot Lamb-Johnson

Attendance: 428

Match Report by Ollie Mortimer

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Harrowby United

17. Matt Finlay

2. Charlie Butt

3. Sam Brown

4. Arron Parkinson (C)

5. Liam Dolman

6. Adam Confue

7. Elliot Lamb-Johnson

8. Richard Bunting

9. Tom Lorraine

10. Jason Turner

11. Matt Gearing

 

Substitutes:

13. Rhys Redding

14. Scott Joseph (for Turner 68)

15. Fazel Koriya (for Gearing 53)

16. Brad Harris (for Bunting 83)

19. Russ Dunkley

1. Jack Drury

2. Sam Weatherstone

3. Lewis Watson

4. Sam Hill

5. Billy Stubbs

6. Simon Bolland

7. Scott Webb

8. Liam Harper

9. Lee Shaw

10. Martin Wormall (C)

11. Luke Peberdy

 

Substitutes:

12. Joe Clarke

14. Tom Potts (for Bolland 58)

15. Tom Parker (for Peberdy 68)

16. Shaun Daykin (for Hill 70)

17. Aiden Hotchin

Goals: Turner (pen 21), Lorraine (23), Lamb-Johnson (44), Confue (45), Koriya (90+3)

Goals:

Yellow Cards: None

Yellow Cards: Bolland (28)

Referee: Mary Harmer

Assistants: Stephen Briggs, Kevan Atkins

 

 

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The updated Match Stats, Player Stats, Form Guide and Attendance figures 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.
Click here for video highlights of this game and post-match interviews.

Pre-Match Gallery courtesy of Craig Whyley of Harrowby United

Match Gallery courtesy of Stephanie Webb Photography Copyright Stephanie Webb Photography ©2014

 

 
 
 

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