AFC Rushden & Diamonds will need to replay their FA Carlsberg Vase tie against AFC Dunstable after the two sides could not be separated after 120 minutes at Creasey Park on Saturday afternoon. The replay will be at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday (10th September) KO 7:45pm.
The hosts took the lead in the first half after Chris Francis pierced the centre of the Diamonds defence with 30 minutes on the clock. The Diamonds equalised after 58 minutes when Russ Dunkley’s back header from a Fazel Koriya free-kick found the back of the net. Koriya had just replaced Matt Gearing, who had been stretchered off after landing awkwardly, but initial reports are the injury is not as bad as first feared.
Although the Diamonds looked the more likely to win the game in normal time, it was the hosts who had the better of the 30 minute extra-time period, but the Diamonds held out for the replay.
Mark Starmer was planning a single change to the line-up that had won at Northwood in the FA Cup the previous weekend, with the unavailable Jack Wisniewski replaced by Nat Liburd in right midfield. However he was forced to make a further change shortly before the game when it was decided Sam Brown should not be risked after he had picked up an injury recently. This meant that Jake Gillingwater was restored to the right-back role that he had occupied for the latter part of last season, with Joe Merrill switching to left back. On his return from his travels Fazel Koriya took a place on the Diamonds bench, that was reduced to four with Brown’s late withdrawal.
On a blustery afternoon with an autumnal feel a strong showing from the Diamonds fans saw their side make initial inroads down the right, with Nat Liburd causing early problems backed up by Jake Gillingwater. This combination created a chance for Alfie Taylor, but his effort was saved by keeper Darby with his feet. Midway through the half Liburd once again got past his marker and into the area, and this time Taylor fired the chance over the bar. Five minutes later he created a chance for Russ Dunkley, but he too could not find the target.
The hosts were playing with five players in midfield, with the tall, pacey Chris Francis up-front, and after 30 minutes he shrugged off the challenge of Alex Deakin as he burst through the centre of the Diamonds defence before firing low into the left side of goal.
A further good home chance fell to Richard Harker after a cross from the right cleared everyone but he fired over.
Shortly before the break a short-corner routine from the Diamonds saw a Dent cross find the head of Jamal Clarke but he headed over the bar.
Half-Time: AFC Dunstable 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
If the first half had been fairly even, with attractive football from both sides, it was the Diamonds who dominated the second period. Matt Gearing had an early chance after good work from Dunkley and Taylor, but saw his shot blocked. That was to be Gearing’s last contribution as he was stretchered off after falling awkwardly when challenging for the ball. Fazel Koriya took his place on the left, and the Diamonds immediately made a move down that side, with Russ Dunkley being awarded a free-kick after an unfair challenge. Koriya took the kick from near the left touchline, and it was straight on the head of Russ Dunkley whose neat back header looped into the net for a deserved equaliser.
Koriya started to cause all kinds of problems on the left, and twice he found space at the end of a run into the area, and hit a shot that appeared it would curl into the right of the net, only for a defender to intercept the effort.
Koriya also created a great chance for fellow substitute Aaron King after the two had combined, but King curled a shot to the right of the goal. Joe Merrill was having an excellent game, and he made a great run as Koriya served as a decoy, only to see his shot fly just wide. Late chances fell to Taylor and Koriya to settle the tie, but after 90 minutes the scores finished level.
Full-Time: AFC Dunstable 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
After the Diamonds had looked the most likely to get the winner in normal time, it was the hosts who had much the better of extra-time. The first 15 minute period was rather quiet, although Tom Cross did well to smother a Chris Francis effort after the home striker found space for a shot. For the second period the Diamonds brought on Séan McBride and switched to a 4-3-3 formation, but the result was that the Diamonds lost their shape, with several players visibly tiring unlike their counterparts in blue.
A break down the right involving Chris Francis and Courtney Massey saw a great chance for Jonathon Barnett with his first touch, but he was unable to convert the chance. One final chance for the Diamonds saw Fazel Koriya dance into the area and past keeper Darby but as he was then to the right of goal near the by-line he tried to angle the ball back to Alfie Taylor who would have had a tap-in had Darby not pounced on the pass.
The hosts then had a shout for a late penalty, but referee Matt Filipiak waved away their claims, and then brought the game to a conclusion shortly afterwards.
After Extra Time: AFC Dunstable 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Diamonds Man of the Match: Joe Merrill
The Diamonds will now replay against AFC Dunstable at the Dog and Duck on Tuesday evening (10th September KO 7:45) before they travel to face Cockfosters in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round on 14th September.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Ryan Darby
2. Courtney Massey
3. Kyle Lincoln
4. James Baldry (Capt)
5. Dan Ryan
6. Gareth Harnaman
7. Jonathan Cooper
8. Craig Butler
9. Chris Francis
10. Dale Turney
11. Richard Harker
12. Jack Lauder
14. Jonathan Barnett (for Turney 92)
15. Carl Ibbotson (for Harker 105)
16. George Higley
17. James Bishop (for Quinn 66)
17. Tom Cross
2. Joe Merrill
3. Jake Gillingwater
4. Brad Harris
5. Alex Deakin
6. Jamal Clarke
7. Nat Liburd
8. Elliot Dent
9. Russ Dunkley (Capt)
10. Alfie Taylor
11. Matt Gearing
12. Aaron King (for Dent 65)
13. Quincy Shorunmu
15. Séan McBride (for Liburd 105)
18. Fazel Koriya (for Gearing 56)
Goals: Francis (30)
Goals: Dunkley (58)
Yellow Cards: Cooper, Baldry
Yellow Cards: Dunkley, Deakin
Referee: Matt Filipiak
Assistants: Neil Hughes, Robert MacDonald
For video highlights of the game see here.