AFC Rushden & Diamonds clinched the UCL double with a 3-0 win against Potton United in the UCL KO Cup Final at Yaxley’s In2itive Park on Monday afternoon.

In front of a superb 768 crowd the two sides put on an entertaining spectacle particularly in the first half with an end to end start with Tom Lorraine denied three times, and Gary Angell-Carter and Joe Jordan coming close for Potton. Diamonds finally took the lead right on half-time with Matt Gearing’s in swinging corner not quite touched by Jack Ashton and going straight in despite attempts to clear it off the line and Tom Lorraine finally forcing it into the roof of the net. Lorraine then broke Potton hearts with a 2nd for the UCL Champions just 22 seconds into the second half, firing under keeper Lewis and off the post for his 19th of the season. Diamonds killed the game completely on 59 minutes when Scott Joseph smashed home from 8 yards after Lorraine’s header had been cleared off the line.

Manager Andy Peaks picked a strong cup final line-up but with a makeshift back line due to the absence of Liam Dolman and Sam Brown. Elliott Lamb-Johnson slotted in on the left with Brad Harris alongside Jack Ashton and Joe Merrill. The bench was full of young Diamonds talent with Charlie Butt and Rhys Redding joined by Sam Donohoe, Joe Ackroyd and Oliver Lee.

A healthy 768 crowd spread all around the ground roared the sides onto the pitch and gave the game a real cup final feel and were rewarded by a really positive opening by both sides.

Tom Lorraine was again the focal point of Diamonds early attacking play coming close to stabbing in Elliott Lamb-Johnson’s cross on 2 minutes, seeing a header from a Gearing cross saved on 4 minutes, and having a fierce volley saved by Potton keeper Craig Lewis at close range on 5 minutes.

Potton were bright in what was a breathless first 10 minutes. Chris Reeves had a fierce 25 yard free-kick held by Matt Finlay in the Diamonds goal on 6 minutes, Gary Ansell-Carter came close to connecting with a dangerous corner on 8, and after Scott Joseph had had another flying volley well saved for Diamonds, Ansell-Carter had a close range volley just blocked by Brad Harris before probably the best chance of the opening stages fell to Joe Jordan who headed agonisingly wide when unmarked in the centre of the penalty area on 11 minutes.

The middle period of the half settled into a pattern of Diamonds pressing and probing particularly down either wing with Tommy Berwick, Scott Joseph and Tom Lorraine all pulling out wide into spaces. Potton were hitting more on the break moving the ball well through the midfield and getting 31 goal top scorer Ansell-Carter on the ball at every opportunity.

The opening goal was incredibly close to coming on 30 minutes as Joe Merrill got clear on the overlap down the right and his cross was first turned towards goal from close range by Matt Gearing, then Tom Lorraine, and finally Tommy Berwick who was denied by an incredible block.

After Joe Jordan had a good volleyed effort on 36 minutes for Potton they had another close escape as the ball was hacked away off the line after Scott Joseph had tried to force a Diamonds opener whilst appearing to be impeded in the 6 yard box.

After a series of corners built pressure for Diamonds at the end of the half the opening goal finally came on 44 minutes. Matt Gearing swung in another excellent corner which Jack Ashton attacked on the near post but he just failed to make contact and the ball went through the box and straight in despite Potton efforts on the line to clear it. Tom Lorraine forced it over the line to make absolutely sure of Diamonds first half lead.

Half-time: Potton United 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1

The second half really started with a bang as Diamonds put one hand firmly on the trophy with a goal after just 22 seconds. Matt Gearing put Tom Lorraine away in the left-hand side of the box in the first move of the half and as the keeper closed the angle he superbly slid the ball under him and in off the far post to the delight of the Diamond faithful.

Potton weren’t giving up lightly though and came right back at Diamonds firstly through Steve Muggridge whose header from 10 yards was well held by Matt Finlay, and then through Joe Jordan who stabbed a low cross just wide. They had a period of possession around the Diamonds box but were blocked and repelled by the aggressive mobile Diamonds defending that had been a feature of this side all season.

Adam Confue was back to his dynamic best for the UCL Champions and raided forward on 54 minutes attempting a clever chip from 30 yards that keeper Lewis just tipped over. Tom Lorraine got to the resultant corner first just heading over.

As Diamonds started to regain control of the game Confue again fired in a waist high volley from 25 yards on 57 minutes that went just wide before the clinching third goal came.

A deep cross was cleared only as far as Tom Lorraine 12 yards out on 59 minutes. He headed toward the seemingly empty net only to see the ball cleared off the line but Scott Joseph was there just 5 yards out to smash the loose ball home.

It was Diamonds 399th goal as a senior club and killed the game as a contest and although they pushed for the 400th against a hard working but tiring Potton side it wasn’t to come.

Tommy Berwick had a fantastic opportunity to get the goal his play deserved on 66 but his bad luck in front of goal continued as clear through on the left-hand side of the box he saw his careful side footed effort just blocked by Lewis in the Potton goal.

Manager Andy Peaks took the chance to give cup final game time to Sam Donohoe and Joe Ackroyd and both looked good in possession and slotted in well alongside Richard Bunting in midfield. Donohoe had a half-chance on 84 as Scott Joseph fed him on the edge of the box but the ball fell awkwardly and he couldn’t get it out of his feet as the Potton defence recovered.

Just 2 minutes from the end Ackroyd was the subject of an awful late unnecessary challenge by Joe Aris out of keeping with the rest of the game and he was rightly show a straight red card by referee Martyn Gospel.

The youngster showed a good attitude unlike his challenger and picked himself up and had time to make a late run into the box that nearly saw him get onto a cross on from the left.

The final whistle was greeted with loud cheers around the ground in the late afternoon sun as Diamonds clinched the UCL KO Cup with a fine 3-0 victory.

Final Score: Potton United 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3

The game was a credit to the United Counties League with Division 1 3rd place side Potton United playing excellent attacking football throughout and both sides putting on a great show for the healthy 768 crowd. Potton had chances to get the vital first goal but it was goals either side of half-time that clinched it for Diamonds and they went on to make it 399 goals as senior club and dominate the second half.

It was a fitting end to Diamonds 3 year UCL experience as they lifted their second trophy in 2 weeks and finished as the first side to complete the UCL double in 23 years.

Man of the Match: Richard Bunting

Attendance: 768

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

Potton United

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1.   Craig Lewis

2.   Callum Forster

3.   Ash Yeomans

4.   Shaun Faulkener

5.   Max Harradine

6.   Chris Reeves

7.   Steve Muggridge

8.   Joe Aris

9.   Gary Ansell-Carter

10. Joe Jordan

11. Jamie Berryman

Subs

12. Adam Marsh (for Muggridge 78)

14. Jamie Risebrow

15. Mark Ansell-Carter (for Reeves 73)

16. Sam Kelly (for Faulkener 59)

17. Sam Sabey

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Joe Merrill

3.   Brad Harris

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Adam Confue

6.   Tom Lorraine

7.   Matt Gearing

8.   Richard Bunting

9.   Scott Joseph

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Elliot Lamb-Johnson

Subs

12. Charlie Butt (for Lamb-Johnson 87)

13. Rhys Redding

14. Joe Ackroyd (for Confue 85)

15. Sam Donohoe (for Gearing 81)

19. Oliver Lee

Goals:

Goals: Gearing (44), Lorraine (46), Joseph (59)

Yellow Cards: Berryman (40), Jordan (75)

Yellow Cards: Ashton (4), Elliot Lamb-Johnson (80)

Red Cards: Aris (88)

 Red Cards:

Referee: Martyn Gospel

Assistants: William Hardie, Joshua Crofts

4th Official: Wayne Bright

 

 

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