Diamonds were beaten 2-0 by Witton Albion for the second time in a month on Tuesday night but were much closer to their high-flying opponents on this occasion.

Hampered by a poor goal to concede after just 6 minutes – Ben Heath’s poor clearance punished by William Jones – Diamonds went on to share possession and half chances but came up against a very solid defensive unit. Nabil Shariff had a good effort on the turn from close in and Shawn Richards ran at Witton to great effect on more than one occasion but Witton were lightning on the break and always dangerous but Diamonds defended solidly all night.

The second half saw more Diamonds pressure and a series of corners and free-kicks not quite fall to the right players. Nabil Shariff saw a close range effort deflected into the side netting and had another close range effort cleared off the line and Brad Harris connected with a corner only to see it saved on the line by the home keeper.

Witton doubled their lead in harsh circumstances. Dan Quigley was about to be substituted but fell awkwardly and saw Witton play on to earn a corner. The replacement was duly made but from the corner Anthony Brown fired home from close range.

Diamonds pressed for at least a consolation in the game but superb defending kept them at bay and Witton threatened what would have been a very harsh 3rd on the break.

Witton are closing in on Shaw Lane at the top of the table now while Diamonds will look to get back to winning ways against Northwich Victoria at the Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon.

———

Manager Andy Peaks was able to bring Brad Harris back in to play centre-half alongside Liam Dolman with Dan Quigley moved up into midfield with Taylor Orosz missing out altogether. Tom Lorraine also started in place of Jack Bowen who moved to the bench alongside Ross Oulton, Ben Ford, Ollie Brown-Hill and Fazel Koriya.

Diamonds started confidently and with good energy but early mistakes in possession invited pressure from a very good home side. Dan Quigley mishit a midfield pass to invite Albion on and then on 6 minutes a poor clearance by Ben Heath allowed Steven Tames to run in on goal to play in William Jones who struck high over Ben Heath.

Witton created more shooting chances as Diamonds were working hard to contain their high flying opposition in these early stages. Ben Heath was forced into a decent save on 7 minutes, and was able to watch a fierce effort from Bradley Bourses from the edge of the box just clear the bar on 10 minutes.

Diamonds continued to play with energy and purpose though and started to create half chances around the quarter hour mark. Callum Westwood swung in a dangerous free-kick that was just cleared for a corner with Tom Lorraine closing in. Shaun Richards then ran with purpose to hit another dangerous cross that was just cleared and then the same player turned inside the area and fired in a snapshot that was deflected wide on 18 minutes.

An entertaining game saw Witton again test Ben Heath from distance before Nabil Shariff ran with purpose to challenge the home defence. Dan Quigley and Brown then picked up yellow cards for robust challenges as the game became very competitive.

Diamonds were clearly not intimidated by their high-flying opponents and pushed forward with purpose creating a half chance for Tom Lorraine closing on a far post cross that was just cleared for a corner, and then a great run by Shawn Richards saw a low cross fired at goal by Nabil Shariff cleared off the line.

The home side nearly scored a spectacular goal on 35 after a quick break saw a deep cross to Prince Haywood who attempted a spectacular first time volley that went well wide.

Diamonds finished the half strongly though and had a penalty appeal for challenge on Nabil Shariff turned down at the expense of a corner. The corner was swung in dangerously but just cleared only for a free-kick to be won out wide. It was again swung in dangerously and again just cleared off a Diamonds player for a goal-kick

Half-time: Witton Albion 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

Diamonds started the second half brightly putting pressure on around the box but it was the home side who would have the first chance of the half. A characteristic quick break saw a great ball into the box that was headed towards goal from close in where a combination of Liam Dolman and Shawn Richards just managed to see it clear.

Diamonds then broke with purpose themselves as Tom Lorraine latched onto a Ben Heath long clearance and ran at goal to earn a corner. Another dangerous ball in had Witton at full stretch to clear before Witton themselves earned a corner after a superb last ditch Liam Dolman clearance. The corner was well defended again.

Both sides were being pressured across their back four but great positioning and well timed challenges from both defences and midfields were keeping chances to a minimum. Witton had their own penalty appeal on 61 minutes as a whipped in cross hit Brad Harris hand but it would have been a harsh decision, and then Nabil Shariff ran clear for Diamonds but great cover defending denied him a clear shot at goal.

Ross Oulton was introduced for Dan Quigley on 68. Quigley was injured just prior to the substitution but Witton had broken away to earn a corner. Once the replacement had been made the corner was swung in a fired home by Anthony Brown from close range for a harsh 2-0 lead.

Diamonds nearly bounced straight back though as a pacey Nabil Shariff break won a corner that was again dangerously swung in but just cleared again by the home defence. Then just a minute later great set-up play by Ross Oulton got Nabil Shariff away whose low shot was deflected into the side netting. This time Brad Harris connected with the corner but the home keeper held the ball on the line.

Witton continued to be pacey and direct on the break and drew a yellow card for Callum Westwood on 80 minutes as his challenge was deemed excessive on the flying Prince Haywood. The resultant free-kick drew a great save by Ben Heath to tip the ball wide.

After Jack Bowen was introduced for Tom Lorraine, Ollie Brown-Hill was then introduced for Richard Bunting and nearly created the chance Diamonds craved. Dancing between defenders and drawing a corner as his cross was knocked wide. Again the ball in was dangerous and pinged around the box but again Witton were up to the challenge and cleared Ross Oulton’s fired in effort.

Diamonds continued to press as Witton slowed the game down but just couldn’t create the momentum and the consolation goal they definitely deserved. Witton defended superbly and attacked on the break with real skill and purpose and despite decent pressure they saw the game out comfortably.

Final Score: Witton Albion 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

This was the same score line as at the Dog & Duck recently with Witton running out 2-0 winners. Diamonds were much closer to their high-flying opponents this time and despite being hampered by conceding such a poor early goal there was little between the sides.

The game had relatively few chances and Diamonds were unable to force home the few opportunities they had. The performance of all 14 players taking part will be encouraging for the vital games coming up where more realistic chances of picking up points are anticipated.

Next up the visit of Northwich Victoria to the Dog and Duck on Saturday afternoon.

Man of the Match: Sam Brown

Attendance: 296

Match report by: Paul Judd

 

Witton Albion

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1.  Danny Roberts

2.  Scott Lycett

3.  D Mckenna

4.  Michael Wilson

5.  Anthony Brown

6.  Paul Williams (C)

7.  Prince Haywood

8.  Thomas Owens

9.  William Jones

10. Steven Tames

11. Bradley Bauress

Subs

12. K Noon

14. Robert Hopley

15. Ryan Hickman (for Owen 90)

16. Tolana Omotola

17. Calvin Hare

17. Ben Heath

2.   Callum Westwood

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Brad Harris

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Ben Farrell

7.   Shawn Richards

8.   Dan Quigley

9.   Tom Lorraine

10. Nabil Shariff

11. Richard Bunting (C)

Subs

12.  Jack Bowen (for Lorraine 76)

13.  Ben Ford

14.  Ross Oulton (for Quigley 69)

15.  Ollie Brown-Hill (for Bunting 80)

16.  Fazel Koriya

Goals: Jones (6), Brown (70)

 

Goals:

Yellow Card:  Brown

Yellow Cards: Quigley, Westwood

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:

Assistants:

 

 

 

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