AFC Rushden & Diamonds played out a hard fought 0-0 draw in their second game of the 2015/2016 pre-season at a rainy Kingsthorpe Mill against Northampton Spencer on Tuesday night.

It was another good workout for Andy Peaks squad who again all got game time against United Counties League Premier Division opposition. They shaded possession in a decent first half with Dan Quigley prominent in centre midfield and Steve Spriggs working great positions to fire in a series of dangerous crosses. Courtney Herbert was on the verge of breaking through a resolute Spencer defence a number of times but chances were at a minimum.

Half-time substitutions didn’t improve Diamonds especially in the final third and Spencer pushed further up the field and put their Southern League opponents under more pressure. There were half-chances for Diamonds from more good work from Steve Spriggs before his 59th minute substitution, and second half-substitute Tommy Berwick worked all across the front line trying to make something happen. Kieran Fitzgerald had a skimming shot deflected wide and Dom Lawless flicked on a near post free-kick just wide. Spencer had a far post header fall straight into Matt Finlay’s hands, and 2 late corners and a free-kick well marshalled by late substitute in the Diamonds goal Rhys Redding.

Final score 0-0. Next up Enfield Town away on Saturday.

Full Report

Manager Andy Peaks made 4 changes to his line up from Saturday’s trip to Rushden & Higham. Joe Merrill came straight into the side for his first pre-season start, Liam Dolman, Jason Kilbride and Courtney Herbert came in from the bench with Ollie Wilkinson, Richard Bunting, Tommy Berwick and Elliott Lamb-Johnson starting on the bench this time.

Courtney Herbert nearly got Diamonds off to a flying start. Chasing down Jason Kilbride’s deep through ball twisting and turning in the box and firing wide when in a great position.

With Diamonds dominating position in the early stages Steve Spriggs hit a deep free-kick that Jack Ashton headed high towards goal only to see Courtney Herbert’s challenge on the keeper near his line punished for a free-kick.

The home side were strong and trying to get the ball forward quickly and won a free kick 35 yards out that was struck firmly and low but watched wide by Matt Finlay.

Diamonds probed across the pitch for an opening and a couple of trademark Liam Dolman 40 yard diagonal passes found Steve Spriggs controlling brilliantly and running at his defender to fire in dangerous crosses.

Jason Kilbride was pushing inside from the other wing and had a penalty appeal on 19 minutes as he was caught as he attempted to block a clearance but it was waved away

Dan Quigley and Brad Harris were winning the ball back regularly in midfield and starting attacks  for Diamonds often down the right where Steve Spriggs was having an excellent gam, turning his full-back inside out and firing in excellent crosses. Courtney Herbert controlled one on the near post and fired over, Dan Quigley just failed to connect at the near post to another, and Jason Kilbride had the ball nicked off his head at the far post by a retreating defender.

Right on half-time Spencer had a pair of dangerous corners the second of which was just headed wide.

Half-time: Northampton Spencer 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

Just the 4 half-time substitutions this time with Wilkinson, Berwick, Lawless and Lamb-Johnson on for Merrill, Ashton, Kilbride and Herbert.

The changes didn’t improve Diamonds as they had done on Saturday and Spencer notably upped their tempo and pushed further up the field to put more pressure on the visitors. Two early breaks from midfield earned them dangerous positions on the edge of the box but they were unable to convert into shooting chances.

Tommy Berwick was immediately linking with Steven Spriggs and twice the pair came close to fashioning the breakthrough. First Spriggs latched onto Merrill’s neat ball sliding the ball into Berwick’s path before he was blocked out by defenders, and then Spriggs fed Berwick out wide and his dangerous cross was just taken by the Spencer keeper at the feet of Dom Lawless.

Spriggs was replaced by Kieran Fitzgerald on 59 and the young winger came onto a loose ball just outside the box on 67 firing in a firm low shot that was deflected wide.

Daniel Quigley has quickly shown himself a danger at corners with runs across the front post and came close to getting the opening goal from the resulting corner only to see his flicked header blocked near the line.

Spencer made a number of changes on 70 minutes and it certainly energised them as Diamonds came under some late pressure. They worked a number of quick breaks after dispossessing Diamonds in midfield but were denied by excellent retreating defence and last ditch challenges.

A deep free-kick also found a Spencer head when well-placed but the ball fell straight into the hands of a grateful Matt Finlay

They came closest as a shooting position was worked outside the right hand edge of the box and it was struck powerfully with the outside of the boot and swerved dramatically with Finlay rooted in the Diamonds goals but just fell onto the roof of the net.

Two further changes were made for Diamonds on 80 with Tom Lorraine replacing Dan Quigley, and Rhys Redding getting a welcome run out in place of Matt Finlay.

After a melee following a midfield challenge which resulted in a caution for Elliott Lamb-Johnson and Spencer player, it was Spencer who finished stronger as Diamonds struggled to make an impact  in the final third.

Diamonds did fashion a late chance for Dom Lawless from a free-kick, his flicked header just going wide, but Spencer worked up some pressure with a pair of dangerous corners cleared by Diamonds hard working back four, the second of which resulted in a fierce follow-up shot from 25 yards that Redding held confidently.

Final Score: Northampton Spencer 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

It was another good workout for the Diamonds squad against stronger opposition who defended well and denied Diamonds much in the way of clear chances. Spriggs and Herbert were the biggest threats with Quigley and Harris strong in midfield and the back four solid and confident as ever. There was a lack of penetration the second half although no lack of effort and a draw was a fair result in what was another competitive pre-season game as Spencer had the better of the later stages.

There is another step-up in the quality of opposition for Diamonds next game, the trip to Isthmian League Premier side Enfield Town on Saturday.

Reporters Man of the Match: Steven Spriggs

Attendance: Est. 120

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

Rushden & Higham United

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1.  Not Confirmed……

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Subs

12.

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17. Matt Finlay

2.   Joe Merrill

3.   Sam Brown

20. Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Brad Harris

7.   Steve Spriggs

8.   Dan Quigley

9.   Courtney Herbert

10. Tom Lorraine (for Quigley 80)

11. Jason Kilbride

Subs

4.   Tommy Berwick (for Herbert 45)

12. Kieran Fitzgerald (for Spriggs 45)

13. Rhys Redding (for Finlay 80)

14. Elliott Lamb-Johnson (for Kilbride 45)

15. Richard Bunting

18. Dominic Lawless (for Lorraine 45)

19. Ollie Wilkinson (for Ashton 45)

Goals:

Goals:

Yellow Cards:

Yellow Cards: Lamb-Johnson (78)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:

Assistants:

 

 

 
 
 

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