AFC Dunstable U18 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA U18 2


Late goals from Matthew Pinder and Chris Knapp gave AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA U18 victory in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup on Thursday evening. In their first competitive game in this new guise, they went behind in the first half against AFC Dunstable U18 at Creasey Park, but equalised after 83 minutes through Pinder, before Knapp netted the winner well into added time.

Purse named a strong side for his first game in management, including Matt Pinder, who scored in the first team’s pre-season match away to AFC Wulfrunian’s. His team, full of mainly first year scholars (16 and 17 year-olds) came up against a physical OD’s side, many of whom were second years and therefore a year older. A couple of the 18 year-olds missed out as they had missed a couple of training sessions.

Diamonds fell behind after ten minutes. A tame free-kick took a wicked deflection which left ‘keeper Redding wrong footed and with no chance to keep the ball out.

However Diamonds didn’t cave in or sit back. They were always on the front foot. Centre half Kearney came close with a header from a corner, which shortly followed with Hewett going close after a swift counter attack.

The Diamonds wingers were constantly a threat and always looked dangerous. Leeson tricked his way on the wing past his full back but his cross just evaded Pinder.

Purse’s boys were always wary of the counter attack from Dunstable. Redding smartly saved at his near post following a counter attack. But then Diamonds had a chance again to equalise before the break. In probably their best chance of the half, Ackroyd troubled again down the wing, who found Pinder on the volley, but he scuffed his volley.

Half Time. AFC Dunstable U18 1-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18.

After the break, Diamonds continued to press looking for that equaliser. A cross-cum-shot from Ackroyd was cleared of the line, and then shortly after, Kirk had a chance outside the box, however his shot was easy for the home ‘keeper.

Diamonds almost fell further behind. At a crucial time in the match, a strong shot was deflected and heading towards the goal, however Redding managed to get to it to deny an own-goal.

But then Diamonds’ equaliser finally came in the 83rd minute. Ackroyd had a shot from 20 yards, his shot was parried by the goalkeeper but thankfully Pinder was on hand to tap in the rebound. Then Diamonds pressed for a winner, with less than ten minutes remaining. Ackroyd had another chance, however his volley was agonizingly wide.

Finally, Diamonds second half dominance paid off once again. In the second minute of added time, a corner was half cleared by the Dunstable defence, and it fell to Knapp outside the area. He smashed the ball into the top corner to send Diamonds into the next round of the FA Youth Cup.

Full Time. AFC Dunstable U18 1-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18.


Manager Darren Purse said: “Everyone impressed me, all the boys played really well. We looked the fitter side throughout the game. At half-time, I was fed up but I never doubted we’d score. I still didn’t doubt in the 80th minute, I knew we’d score because we created a lot of chances.”

The young side will now travel to face Bugbrooke St Michael U18 in the First Qualifying Round of the competition on Thursday. Purse added: “We’ve got to look to produce the same level of performance to give us a good chance of advancing through. It’ll be a good local derby and hopefully we can put together a good set of results to go on a good run.”

He also thinks one of two of his team are capable of stepping up to the first team; “We’ve had a couple of lads play for the U21s already such as Ackroyd and Garner and obviously Pinder played for the firsts in pre-season. Don’t be surprised if he gets another chance and also if Ackroyd steps up. He’s physically good and both of those boys wouldn’t look out of place in men’s football.”

Team: Redding, Peaks, Kearney, Knapp, Yusuf, Ivett, Kirk (c), Akroyd, Hewett, Leeson, Pinder.

Subs: Desborough (Hewett 80), Ramsey (Leeson 70), Barnes, Garner, Grundy.

Goals: Pinder 83, Knapp 90+2.





AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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