Corby Town U19 2 v 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18

Corby Town 2-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

NFA Dave Joyce U18 Cup

AFC Rushden & Diamonds bowed out of the NFA Dave Joyce U18s cup at the first round with a defeat to Corby Town at Steel Park, venue of last season’s outstanding NSYL KO Cup triumph. In an interesting twist to the game, Corby’s squad contained no fewer than 5 current Rushden U18s, as well as James Harrison who spent much of last season with the Diamonds.

On paper, Rushden looked to be in for a difficult evening with so many important members of the squad playing for the opposition, and it seemed like that would translate to the pitch in the opening stages. One of the ‘Corby Diamonds’, Matt Smith, went close to opening the scoring after 7 minutes with a 25 yard strike which was deflected inches wide of the post.

Rushden had some good possession in the opening stages, but struggled to make an impact on the home defence. Their best chance of the half fell to Blake Helsdown on 12 minutes but he could only head over from Dan Bevis’ excellent cross.

Corby should probably have opened the scoring 2 minutes later, as Harrison latched onto a defence splitting pass, but with only Alex Vitue to beat he fired narrowly wide of the upright. The same player had another chance shortly after, but fired over from 25 yards.

Rushden managed to find a way past the resolute home defence on 30 minutes, as Conor Bell raced onto a great ball from Helsdown, but his 10 yard shot was brilliantly blocked by a recovering defender.

Smith went close again for the Steelmen on 37 minutes with a header from a corner which was well held by Vitue. Alex McDonald then had a similar chance for the visitors three minutes later, but glanced his effort wide of the goal.

Just as it was beginning to look like the sides would go in level at half time, the host opened the scoring through the ever impressive Harrison. A ball through the Rushden defence allowed Jonny Joyce to race clear and take the ball around Vitue, but although Bond recovered well to force him wide, Joyce managed to lay it off to Harrison who smashed the ball home from a difficult angle.

There was just enough time for Rushden to register another shot, this time Bell trying his luck from 25 yards, but narrowly missing the target.

HT: Corby Town 1-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

The Rushden fans that had made the journey to Corby would have been pleased with how well their side had coped with so many players missing, and they would have been delighted with their response after the half time interval. The second half was just 4 minutes old when Luke Fathers picked out Bell with a great pass over the Corby defence, and the striker controlled the ball well before lobbing it over the advancing ‘keeper, only to see it clip the top of the bar.

Connor Collins, a new signing from Mark Walsh’s college side, was having a really impressive debut, and he forced a good save from ‘keeper Dan Farrell on 51 minutes, after a strong run from midfield.

Rushden were now dominating the play, but the hosts had a chance on the break on 54 minutes as Joyce raced forward before hitting a low shot from the edge of the box, but the visitors were relieved to see his goalbound effort deflected just wide of the post. Another quick break three minutes later saw a shooting chance for Jake Reynolds, but his effort was too close to Vitue who saved comfortably.

Omar Ghavami replaced a tiring Helsdown just before the hour mark, and had been on the pitch only a couple of minutes before heading towards goal from a right wing corner, but his effort was too close to Farrell who made a routine save. The Diamonds were dealt a blow on 70 minutes, as the excellent Collins was forced off following a foul by Smith, with Savvas Hamp taking his place in the centre of midfield.

On 72 minutes the visitors had a great chance to equalise as Bell ran onto a great through ball, but his effort was superbly saved by Farrell, with Ghavami’s follow up shot deflected inches wide. Bell had another great chance two minutes later with a free header from a quickly taken corner, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target. Rushden kept piling on the pressure, and Zach Farden fired a 25 yard free kick over the bar with 15 minutes remaining.

With the final whistle approaching and the Diamonds still looking the most likely side to score, Corby sealed the victory with a quick breakaway goal. The ball was played upfield to substitute Ollie Esuruoso whose 25 yard shot took a wicked deflection which looped the ball up and over a helpless Vitue.

Still the visitors kept on pressing, and they should have scored a richly deserved goal in injury time, but after racing onto a through ball and taking the ball around Farrell, Ghavami lost his footing at the crucial moment and couldn’t turn the ball into the empty net.

FT: Corby Town 2-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Attendance: Approx. 50

Man of the Match: Connor Collins

Match Highlights available here


Corby Town

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1. Dan Farrell
2. Sevgi Neptune
3. Connor Shrimpton
4. Zak Moon
5. Cameron Watson
6. Connor Lenghan
7. Connor Dauven
8. Matt Smith
9. James Harrison (c)
10. Jake Reynolds
11. Jonny Joyce

24. Alex Vitue
2. Liam Bond
5. Adam Ziolkowski
6. Alex McDonald
3. Ben Roche
4. Dan Bevis
7. Luke Fathers
9. Zach Farden
12. Connor Collins
8. Conor Bell
11. Blake Helsdown

12. Bleu McNeill (for Dauven, 75 mins)
14. Ollie Esuruoso (for Reynolds, 80 mins)
15. Tim Sanderson
18. Harry Phillips
20. Noah Bryant (for Joyce, 60 mins)

14. Wes Kirkton (for Fathers, 82 mins)
15. Savvas Hamp (for Collins, 70 mins)
16. Omar Ghavami (for Helsdown, 59 mins)

Harrison (42 mins)
Esuruoso (89 mins)



Bond (35 mins, foul)

Sent Off:

Sent Off:


AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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