Diamonds were consigned to a narrow league defeat at Royston Town on Saturday afternoon.

Both sides threatened in a quick start to the game, with the hosts hitting three efforts over the bar when well placed and Jack Bowen down the other end latching onto an Albie Hopkins flick-on to run through on goal only to hit his shot straight at the keeper. Royston drew first blood in the 15th minute when a curling free-kick found the rising Adam Murray to power a header past the helpless Ben Heath and into the back of the net. The rest of the half was also played at a fast and often frenetic pace and tempo, and Diamonds responded to the setback by beginning to dictate possession and territory in their search for an equaliser. The hosts came closest to the next goal though when a neat through-ball found Josh Castiglione running through on goal, but he seemed to think he was offside and so he tamely shot wide to the post much to the relief of the Diamonds with no flag having been raised. Rushden threatened through Bowen seeing a header easily saved by the keeper, a volley from a narrow angle that flew high and wide of the target, and a free-kick deflected away for a corner, but Royston still held the lead at half-time.

Diamonds began the second half largely in control as they pushed for an equalising goal and, after a loose ball almost fell for Lorraine in the opening few seconds of the half and following a Bowen header that drifted wide, they did level on the hour mark. A deep cross from Sam Brown ran for Hopkins to play back to Ben Farrell, and his first-time cross found Jack Bowen. The striker’s initial effort was superbly saved but he gleefully swept home the rebound to level proceedings. However, the hosts retook the lead only a minute later. A long ball forward found Murray running in on the left side of the area, and his poked effort across goal flicked the post before the rebound from Vance Bola was brilliantly kicked away by Heath on the line. It fell for Sam Corcoran whose first strike was magnificently blocked by Liam Dolman, but it sat up again for the home striker to smash the loose ball into the far corner of the net. Rushden came so close to equalising again only moments later when a Hopkins free-kick found the head of Dolman to flick towards the far corner, but the Royston keeper dived and leapt up to tip the effort miraculously around the post. The away pressure intensified as Bowen’s flick-on was met by Tom Lorraine at the far post only for his volley from point-blank range to fly over, but the offside flag was raised. Royston began to have more counter-attacking opportunities with the game becoming more stretched as the time went on, and a couple of efforts required Heath to make saves. Aside from these moments the visitors were the ones dominating possession and territory as they searched for another leveller but, despite a number of crosses into the area and although Bowen threatened with some flick-ons, they couldn’t find a way through the resolute home defence as Royston saw out the rest of the game for the victory. 

Full Match Report to follow

Diamonds Man of the Match: Zack Reynolds 

Attendance: 384

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Video highlights and post-match interviews are available here.
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