AFC Rushden & Diamonds knocked out neighbours Wellingborough Whitworth from the UCL KO Cup with a 5-3 victory after extra time on Tuesday evening at the Dog & Duck.
The Diamonds had taken a 2-0 lead with goals from Jake Newman and Jack Wisniewski, but allowed the Flourmen to fight back to be level by half-time, and then to take the lead with less than 10 minutes left, but a late leveller by Newman took the game into extra-time, where goals from Deven Ellwood and a second from Wisniewski took the Diamonds through to face Wellingborough Town in the next round. The brace of goals for Jake Newman came on the eve of his 21st Birthday.
Mark Starmer had given starts to the five players who had occupied the bench on Saturday, along with Louis Smith. With Sam Brown having picked up a knock, and James Allcock having agreed a move away from the club, the five players who had stepped down from the starting XI were given places on the bench.
Chris Hope was partnered by debutant Jake Gillingwater in central defence, with Aynsley McDonald moving to left back, and Joe Merrill remaining on the right. 18-year-old Louis Smith was occupying the wide-left role in midfield, with Newman and Morgan up-front and Jack Wisniewski on the right. Debutant teenage keeper Ashley Foulger took over between the sticks.
On a chilly evening the Diamonds kicked off towards the Peter De Banke terrace, and after three minutes they were ahead, with Jake Newman netting against his former club after being fed by Ben Morgan before finding time and space on the edge of the area and hitting a looping shot into the far corner.
The Diamonds had been struggling for first half goals in their earlier games, but were 2-0 ahead after 20 minutes as a Merrill throw into the box was flicked on by Newman for Jack Wisniewski to ghost in towards the left side of goal and fire home.
Any thoughts the visitors might crumble were dispelled as they battled to get back into the game, and two goals from Matt Judge brought them level by half-time.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Wellingborough Whitworth 2
Early in the second period there was a major concern for the Diamonds with Aynsley McDonald going down with a knee injury and having to be replaced by Jamie Gilsenan, with Joe Merrill switching to left-back. The Flourmen continued to have the better of the game in the second period, with Ashley Foulger continuing to impress when brought into action, notably one great tackle to clear from Judge outside of his area.
The closest the Diamonds came to restoring their lead was after 69 minutes when Jake Newman fired just wide after excellent work by the stand-in right-back George Cox.
After 81 minutes Whitworths striker Ashley Bradshaw showed fine ball control to bring down a long ball, and although Ashley Foulger made an excellent stop with his first attempt, he could do nothing to prevent the striker slotting home the rebound.
Mark Starmer then made a final change, going to three at the back, with Deven Ellwood replacing George Cox. With a minute left the Diamonds won a free-kick on the left, and the long ball forwards from Merrill was headed back across the area by Chris Hope for Jake Newman to bundle past Foulser with a number of his team-mates following the ball in to force Extra time.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Wellingborough Whitworth 3
With Deven Ellwood taking some abuse from his former supporters and colleagues at Victoria Mill he responded in the best possible way by giving the Diamonds the lead, when he turned and hit a low shot that deceived Foulser, after good work by Wisniewski on the right. As the goal was celebrated attention was drawn to an incident involving Séan McBride and Ashley Bradshaw, who had already been lucky to escape a caution after a late tackle on Joe Merrill near the touch-line. Although the referee signalled he had seen an elbow that left McBride on the floor, he only gave the striker Bradshaw a yellow card, but later reviews showed that Bradshaw had kicked out, and was very lucky to escape a straight red card.
A minute later Ashley Foulger capped a fine performance with an excellent catch under pressure, knowing that Bradshaw would collide with him. McBride was now playing at right back in the restored back four, with Ben Morgan dropping back into midfield.
After 105 Minutes AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Wellingborough Whitworth 3
The Flourmen had lost their discipline once they had seen the Diamonds equalise, and as a result the quality of their performance had significantly degraded. They did get the ball into the net with 10 minutes remaining, but the Diamonds defenders had seen the offside flag well before the ball crossed the line.
With five minutes left the Diamonds made the game safe, as Ben Morgan did some of his best work of the game just outside of the area, turning the ball to Jack Wisniewski who flicked the ball past Folser for the Diamonds fifth. The Flourmen did have one late chance to make the final minutes interesting, but their lack of composure was summed up by the effort from Adam Sharpe, who dragged the ball wide of the goal when it looked easier to hit the target.
Full-Time (AET): AFC Rushden & Diamonds 5 Wellingborough Whitworth 3
The Diamonds now have a few days to assess the impact of such a tough game before the trip to face Rothwell Corinthians at the weekend.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match chosen by Match Sponsor Creation Signs and Displays: Joe Merrill
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Ashley Foulger
2. Joe Merrill
3. Aynsley McDonald
4. Séan McBride
6. Jake Gillingwater
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. George Cox
9. Jake Newman
10. Ben Morgan
11. Louis Smith
12. Deven Ellwood (for Cox 88)
13. Quincy Shorunmu
14. Peter Okechukwu
15. Jamie Gilsenan (for McDonald 54)
16. Alfie Taylor (for Smith 77)
1. Samuel Fousler (GK)
2. David Coales
3. Paul Smith
4. Kris Line (Capt)
5. Matthew Harris
6. Anthony Sharp
7. Luke Raftery
8. Dan Bendon
9. Ashley Bradshaw
10. Matthew Judge
11. Ryan Lovell
12. James Gorman
14. Lee Purser (for Line 90)
15. John Aldridge
16. Niall Belfon (for Bendon 67)
17. Adam Sharpe (for Lovell 63)
Goals: Newman (3, 89), Wisniewski (20, 115), Ellwood (95)
Goal: Judge (24, 30), Bradshaw (81)
Yellow Cards : None
Yellow Cards : Coales (74), Judge (85), Bradshaw (97), Harris (101), Belfon (108), Raftery (114)
Referee: Kevin Seckington
Assistants: Simon Cheney, James Wetherall
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Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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