AFC Rushden & Diamonds hit 9 for the second time in their short history in a crushing win at Northamptonshire neighbours Desborough Town on Saturday afternoon with centre-half Liam Dolman bagging 4.

An unchanged side was impressive in possession all afternoon working Desborough hard in and around the box but took until 28 minutes to bag their first. Liam Dolman firing in an angled header from a Declan Rogers corner. The second came just 2 minutes later Russ Dunkley bundling home after Matt Gearings shot was half-blocked by the Desborough keeper. The third in just 6 minutes came from Dolman again meeting Matt Gearings corner with a firm header from close range. Jack Ashton then get in on the act firmly heading home Declan Rogers corner 3 minutes into the second half. The 5th was greeted with delight and relief by the Diamonds faithful and Tommy Berwick as he powered onto Matt Gearings superb cross to notch his first for Diamonds. The 6th came from another great right-wing cross by Adam Confue, Declan Rogers bundling home. Confue himself added the 7th, possibly the best of the game, sidefooting home from 15 yards after good work by Gearing and Dunkley. As time was running out fans prayers were answered when a penalty was awarded for a foul on Jason Turner giving Liam Dolman the chance to fire home his hat-trick from the spot. He even had time to add his fourth and Diamonds 9th bundling home after a keeper error from a late free-kick. It equals the best ever AFC Rushden & Diamonds result with a similar score line being earnt at Buckingham Town in their first senior season..

Diamonds went with an unchanged side against Desborough with just the one change on the bench, Elliot Lamb-Johnson replacing Scott Joseph. It meant Brad Harris joined the one hundred appearance club alongside recent inductees Sam Brown and Matt Gearing.

On a bright sunny day and an initially firm pitch both sides moved the ball well up to the final third in the initial stages but both defences held firm. Diamonds had more in terms of possession and had some good touches around the box with Dunkley and Berwick working well together and Matt Gearing finding the form Diamonds fans have been longing to see.

The first real chance fell to Tommy Berwick firing in a close range shot from an angle that was deflected into the side netting. Matt Gearing then fired a toe poke style effort just over from the edge of the box on 11, and then Berwick’s squared ball from a Dunkley flick-on was just cleared by a great last ditch clearance as Rogers was poised to open the scoring.

Mark Byrne was always dangerous for Desborough with his young strike partner also prominent and he nearly seized on a Liam Dolman slip to open the scoring on 26 just being unable to gain his balance for a clear shot on goal.

The breakthrough came just two minutes later though on 28 minutes as Liam Dolman showed his positive impact at the other end of the field getting across his marker at a Declan Rogers corner and flicking a header firmly into the roof of the net. At that stage his 7th of the season.

A second was added just 2 minutes later as Matt Gearing danced clear in the box fired in a shot that deflected up off the Desborough keeper allowing Russ Dunkley to force the ball over the line.

Diamonds then added a third in 5 minutes as Liam Dolman again converted from a corner. This time a high delivery from Matt Gearing that he firmly headed home from just 3 yards.

Desborough had a half-chance on 40 minutes as the young striker ran at the Diamonds defence and surged into the box just being denied the chance to fire in his effort by a necessarily well timed challenge from Liam Dolman.

Desborough picked up a 2nd and 3rd booking in the final stages of the half to add to the early booking for a poor challenge on Richard Bunting. This time it was a real crunching challenge on Matt Gearing that had fans wincing, and a second player was later booked for dissent.

Half-time: Desborough Town 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3

Early possession was used well at the start of the second half by Diamonds with Matt Gearing stroking one great pass with the outside of his boot to put Tommy Berwick away on the left. His lobbed effort sailed just wide.

We then had a forwards excuse me as Dunkley, Berwick and Gearing all tried to tee up each other inside the box before an effort was finally fired in but deflected wide. The 4th goal came from the resulting corner though on 48 minutes with Jack Ashton getting in front of his marker to head firmly inside the near post from Declan Rogers delivery for his second diamonds goal.

Desborough continued to battle hard but struggled to maintain possession and it became pretty much one way traffic from here on in.

Richard Bunting had a free-kick from 20 yards just deflected wide for diamonds, and Tommy Berwick still searching for that first goal was played in on the left hand side not for the first time and fired just over.

The joy of that first goal finally came for Berwick on 64 minutes and how he enjoyed it. Matt Gearing surged past his marker on the right and put in a great cross which Berwick forced his way onto and fired a trademark striker’s header into the corner of the net.

Just 5 minutes later Declan Rogers got in on the act converting a deep low cross from the returning to form Adam Confue wide out on the right.

Confue himself added the 7th just 2 minutes later, possibly the goal of the game, side footing home superbly from just inside the box after good work from Dunkley and Gearing.

Both strikers then left the field to tremendous applause from visiting fans allowing the clubs leading scorers Jason Turner and Tom Lorraine the final 15 minutes.

The young Desborough striker was still trying to work the Diamonds defence and had two decent chances in the dying stages. First he got free on the right hand edge of the box and fired in a shot that Finlay held comfortably, but then he got through one on one on Finlay and slid the ball past him but saw it go agonisingly wide.

Just as some Diamonds fans were speculating if Dolman would get to take any penalty they were given to complete his hat-trick, Jason Turner got free of his marker and was brought down in the box on 90 minutes. Dolman was quickly running forward to grab the ball as the penalty was awarded and he fired coolly into the bottom corner. His celebration and holding of the ball aloft like cricket bowlers who take 5 wickets was a joy to behold.

There was still time for an unsavoury incident as Tom Lorraine was brought down on the edge of the box and in the resulting tussle appeared to be stamped on. His reaction was fierce and he received a yellow card while his challenger was given a straight red. The incident was well handled by the referee who was consistently good all afternoon letting play go for challenges by both sides that might have needlessly held up the game.

There was still time for Liam Dolman to add an incredible 4th to take him to 10 goals for the season. The Desborough keeper couldn’t handle the deep free-kick resulting from the sending off incident and Dolman was there to force the ball over the line.

Final Score: Desborough Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 9

A dominant performance from Diamonds and a timely boost to goal difference as title rivals have been rattling in the goals too. It took 28 minutes to break a resolute Desborough down and a combination of quick clever passing around the box and good corners and deep crosses won the game. Manager Andy Peaks will be pleased with the intensity of diamonds play, their desire to get onto good crosses and a first goal for Tommy Berwick.

But the game will be remembered for a Liam Dolman masterclass. Defensive challenges, great wing play….headers from corners and a cool penalty. Thoroughly deserved hero status and man of the match.

Man of the Match: Liam Dolman

Attendance: 333

Match Report by Paul Judd


AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Desborough Town

17. Matt Finlay

2. Brad Harris

3. Sam Brown

4. Jack Ashton

5. Liam Dolman

6. Adam Confue

7. Matt Gearing

8. Richard Bunting

9. Russ Dunkley

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Declan Rogers


12. Tom Lorraine (for Berwick 74)

13. Rhys Redding

14. Elliot Lamb-Johnson

15. Charlie Butt (for Bunting 72)

16. Jason Turner (for Dunkley 74)

Leo Adams

Jake Bettles

Michael Boyle-Chong

Michael Byrne

Luke Cummins

Aaron Davies

Lewis Jackson

Troy Johnson

Richard Lavin

Ben Sunderland

Daniel Wells


Liam Boath (for Johnson 60)

David Glass (for Wells 60)

Shaun Goodall


Goals: Dolman (28, 33, 90, 90+5), Dunkley (30), Ashton (48), Berwick (64), Rogers (69), Confue (71)


Yellow Cards: Lorraine (90+3)

Yellow Cards: Sunderland (40)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards: Davies (90+3)

Referee: Junior Jones-Eyre

Assistants: Paul Dobbs, Cliff Mills



 Updated player stats are in their individual profiles.

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Match Gallery courtesy of Stephanie Webb Photography Copyright Stephanie Webb Photography ©2015

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