AFC Rushden & Diamonds FA Cup dream goes on after a dramatic 95th minute equaliser by 2 goal hero Liam Dolman earnt a 2-2 draw at Northern Premier Side Barwell FC on Saturday afternoon.

After Tommy Berwick had spurned a golden chance for an early goal for Diamonds on 6 minutes putting his free header just wide it was the home side that took the early lead. The excellent Ant Carney sweeping home from the edge of the box on 10 minutes after a clever left wing break. Diamonds created the first equaliser for Liam Dolman on 55. The big centre-half flicked front post header from a corner taking an age to trickle into the opposite corner sparking massive celebrations among the travelling contingent. Barwell regained the lead on 76 minutes as Captain Richard Lavery rose unmarked to head home a right-wing corner from 6 yards. Then in the 95th minute Sam Brown’s long throw was headed on twice into the 6 yard box and two stabs at goal were somehow cleared by desperate Barwell blocks before super hero Liam Dolman smashed the ball home from 2 yards.

Manager Andy Peaks made two changes for this historic cup tie with Delroy Gordon returning at centre half allowing Ollie Wilkinson to move to right-back, Brad Harris dropping to the bench. Claudio Hoban returned out wide replacing cup-tied Andy Hall. U18 & U21 stars Joe Ackroyd and Matt Pinder made the bench.

Diamonds were roared onto the pitch by a fantastic travelling contingent and came close to giving them a spectacular start. Tom Lorraine’s 2nd minute left wing cross shot span high to unmarked Tommy Berwick 6 yards out but he placed his header wide with Liam Castle in the Barwell goal rooted to the line.

In a lively opening spell Claudio Hoban twice spun out of challenges and ran at the Barwell back line and on the second occasion he appeared to be tripped as he went for a clever one two with Tom Lorraine on the edge of the box.

Barwell had a young pacey forward line that constantly troubled the Diamonds back four. Brady Hickey was particularly dangerous and he worked a great shooting opportunity on 5 firing a 20 yard effort wide when he really should have hit the target, and repeated the move a minute later dragging his shot wide from the edge of the box.

Hoban then broke for Diamonds with some trickery on the half way line but fired wildly over from 25 yards out when space was opening up.

But the home side definitely had the early momentum and took a deserved lead on 10 minutes. Full-back Eddie Nisevic nipped the ball off Courtney Herbert and broke down the left superbly cutting inside and laying the ball off to Ant Carney to sweep home from 15 yards.

They came close to adding a second a minute later as Nigel Julian fired wide from the edge of the box after another great left-wing move when everyone in the ground was expecting to see the net bulge.

That pattern was repeated a number of times in the first half as good shooting chances were created but the target not hit as the Diamonds back-four struggled to cope with the home sides pace and trickery around the box.

Diamonds were struggling to create much going forward undermining some good breaks and dangerous positions with under or over hit passes that destroyed momentum.

They did create danger in the final minutes of the half though. Liam Dolman had a fierce free kick in a dangerous position blocked, he then fired a deep cross from another free-kick to Tom Lorraine whose knockdown put Dan Quigley in space in the box only to see the offside flag, and Courtney Herbert was put away down the right and just blocked as he surged into the box.

So Diamonds went into half-time trailing 1-0 but were definitely still in the game.

Half-time:  Barwell 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

Barwell started the second-half with real energy and created two good chances that might have killed the game off in the first 2 minutes. First the dangerous Brady Hickey tricked his way past Sam Brown and fired a low shot from 8 yards out straight at Matt Finlay, and then Declan Towers put a free header from a left wing corner just over.

Diamonds responded well though and had their best spell of game as they searched for the vital equaliser. Roared on by the fans spread round the ground Sam Brown had a fantastic run down the left and into the box after a one two just failing to get his shot away.

A series of corners built pressure on the home defence and it was from a Claudio Hoban in swinger on the right that Diamonds got their equaliser on 55. Liam Dolman’s near post glancing header seeming to take an age to fall into the far corner as he peeled away to celebrate with the travelling fans.

As former Diamond favourite Russ Dunkley was spotted in the crowd his former team mates tried to press their advantage. Tom Lorraine played in Courtney Herbert who ran in on goal only to be blocked by Barwell keeper Liam Castle, the winger penalised with a yellow card for his challenge. Then Claudio Hoban taunted the Barwell back four only to be felled right on the edge of the box. Tommy Berwick curled the resulting free-kick just over the bar.

Barwell continued to threaten though and started to dominate the flow of the game around the 75 minute mark. Liam Dolman was left exposed by a great through ball for Hickey and felled the young winger and was fortunate not to pick up a yellow card. The resulting free-kick from Alex Tomkinson was arrowing into the far corner before Matt Finlay at full stretch pushed it round the post. But the pressure told as the resulting right wing corner was headed powerfully home by Barwell captain Richard Lavery to the delight of the home fans.

Barwell seemed to manage the game well in the closing stages keeping Diamonds pegged back in their own half, creating danger themselves, and denying Diamonds possession and the momentum to get back into the game.

As the game moved into added on time with Diamonds cup dreams on the line they finally broke out of the Barwell pressure and started to throw everything at their Northern Premier League opponents. Tom Lorraine had a vicious shot from a tight angle tipped away by Castle in the Barwell goal and a Sam Brown long through created danger but was cleared by the home defence.

And then came the most incredible finish that will long in the memory of Diamonds fans. Another Sam Brown long through was flicked on by Tom Lorraine, flicked on again as Barwell desperately tried to clear. It was stabbed at goal twice only to be blocked before finally falling to Liam Dolman to smash the ball home from 2 yards. He peeled away again to be engulfed by his team mates and the jubilant Diamonds fans behind the goal and Matt Finlay who ran 100 yards to join in.

Truly amazing scenes repeated at the final whistle as Diamonds incredibly kept their FA Cup dreams alive.

Final Score: Barwell 2 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

Diamonds had to come from behind twice in this hard fought contest to stay in the FA Cup. They weren’t at their best against pacey direct opponents who will feel hard done by Liam Dolman’s late late equaliser. Diamonds struggled to maintain forward momentum in the game through uncharacteristic poor passing at times, and were pressured by three quick, mobile forwards from the home side. But their never say die attitude and the danger they can always create in the final third got them through this pulsating cup tie.

Barwell and Diamonds will be ball number 54 in the FA Cup 1st round draw on Monday which will be live on BBC TV, before they meet again at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening.

Man of the Match: Liam Dolman

Attendance: 819

Match Report by Paul Judd



AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1.   Liam Castle

2.   Callum Woodward

3.   Eddie Nisevic

4.   Liam Kay

5.   Declan Towers

6.   Richard Lavery

7.   Alex Tomlinson

8.   Nigel Julian

9.   Dominic Brennan

10. Brady Hickey

11. Ant Carney


12. Iyseden Christie (Brennan 75)

13. Scott Lower

14. Daniel Gaunt

15. Jack Hartopp (for Hickey 86)

16. Jordan Wakeling

17. Blaise Punter


17. Matt Finlay

2.   Ollie Wilkinson

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Delroy Gordon

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Dan Quigley

7.   Courtney Herbert

8.   Richard Bunting

9.   Tom Lorraine

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Claudio Hoban


12.  Brad Harris

13.  Alex Vitue

14.  Scott Joseph (for Herbert 83)

15.  Charlie Butt

16.  Joe Ackroyd

18.  Matt Pinder

Goals: Carney (10), Lavery (76)

Goals: Dolman (55, 90+4)

Yellow Cards: Kay (26), Towers (41),

Yellow Cards: Herbert (61),

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee: Amy Fearn

Assistants: Robbie Dadley, Tom Reeves



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