AFC R&D 1 FootballCV Reds 1 (A)

AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 FootballCV Reds
(Match abandoned after 28 minutes)

AFC Rushden & Diamonds friendly game against FCV Reds ended prematurely, following a serious injury to Diamonds’ skipper Danny Bird. Fortunately the injury turned out to be less serious than was first feared, but the game had to be suspended while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, by which time it was too late to recommence.
The 28 minutes prior to Bird’s injury provided a good workout for the Rushden side, and gave the supporters their first look a new signing James Harrison.

Following a one minute silence for Armistice Day the Diamonds kicked off attacking the A45 end of the ground, and it was they who had the better of the opening stages. With only 2 minutes on the clock James Harrison latched onto a good ball down the right flank, getting away from his marker before hitting a low cross towards Mason Thomas at the far post, but a recovering FCV defender managed to intercept and put the ball out for a corner.

The new look front three of Jeron Thompson, James Harrison and Mason Thomas seemed to have a good understanding right from the off. Harrison fed Thomas after 5 minutes, with the latter skipping past two defenders before being fouled just outside the FCV penalty area. Thomas got up to take the resulting free kick and fired a powerful shot past the wall which was spilt by FCV ‘keeper Ryan Young, but gathered at the second attempt just ahead of the onrushing Harrison. A minute later Conor Bell burst forward from midfield and hit a good effort from 20 yards, but he was denied by Ryan Young who did well to hold onto the ball.

The visitors enjoyed some good spells of possession and were confident in playing the ball out from the back, but struggled to find a way past the solid AFC defence. The Diamonds looked much more threatening going forward, and had gilt edged chance on 11 minutes, when Zaak Moon’s 35 yard free kick found the head of Harrison, but his header was glanced narrowly wide of the post.

Two minutes later though, the visiting side took the lead, and manager Mark Starmer would have been very disappointed in the manor of the goal. Ashley Meeks won back possession for Rushden but then gave the ball away cheaply with an attempted crossfield pass. An FCV striker ran at the Diamonds’ defence, beating two players far too easily before being tripped 25 yards from goal. Mohamud Korane stepped up and hit a powerful strike through the wall and into the bottom corner.
Korane had another free kick opportunity on 15 minutes albeit from slightly further out than his first effort, but this time his shot was straight at Ashley Foulger who made a comfortable save.

Rushden went in search of an equaliser and almost found it on 18 minutes following an excellent move. Bell played a great ball down the left wing to Thomas, who found the run of Harrison with an excellent pass, but with only the ‘keeper to beat the debutant striker tried to switch the ball onto his stronger right foot which allowed the recovering FCV defence to get in a tackle. Two minutes later and Harrison went close again. Meeks’ pass down the right presented Harrison and Ryan Young with a 50-50 battle to reach the ball first, which Harrison just won, with his shot appearing to strike the visiting ‘keeper on the hand well outside his penalty area. The ref waved away the appeals from the home side, with Young clearing the ball for a throw in. The ball was quickly switched to the left flank where it eventually found its way to Bell 20 yards from goal, and his goalbound volley was well saved.

Harrison was no doubt impressing the Rushden supporters with his all round performance, and was desperate to mark his debut with a goal. Moon played him in once more with a great ball through the middle which Harrison again just reached ahead of the onrushing FCV ‘keeper. Young made another good save with the rebound falling kindly for Harrison, but although his shot this time beat the ‘keeper he was denied on the line by a recovering defender. A minute later Harrison turned provider, collecting the ball from deep and playing a great pass through to Thompson, but his shot from the edge of the box went inches wide of the post, with Young well beaten.

The equalising goal finally came on 25 minutes, and it was no surprise that the impressive Harrison was involved. His excellent ball to Thomas saw the latter storm past a defender before taking the ball around the advancing Young, but he was tripped in doing so with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Mason Thomas stepped up to take the spot kick himself, and despatched an excellent penalty low into the right hand corner.

That proved to be almost the last action of the game, as two minutes later came the incident which eventually led to the abandonment. Danny Bird was shepherding the ball back towards his own goal under pressure from FCV striker Toby Sanders. Sanders had already left his foot in on two or three earlier challenges, and on this occasion he took Bird’s legs from beneath him with no attempt at playing the ball. Sanders was promptly booked for the challenge and it quickly became apparent that the injury to Bird was serious one.

An ambulance was called for with the advice being to leave Danny Bird where he was until it arrived. The teams remained on the pitch for a while in the hope that the game could be resumed, but after 50 minutes it was decided that it was not worth continuing. The ambulance finally arrived at 9:45, one and a half hours after the call first went in.

Match Abandoned (28 mins): AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 FootballCV Reds

Acting Chairman Ralph Burditt issued the following statement after the game.

“It is incredibly unfortunate that such a serious incident occurred in what should have been a fun and relatively uneventful night for both teams, but I am happy to report that Danny does not have any broken bones as first feared. He does however have “ligament and tissue damage” and as yet we do not have any information as to how long this will keep him out for.

I would like to apologise to anyone who was upset at how long the things went on before the game was called off. Obviously our first concerns were for Danny’s welfare – we were given specific medical instructions not to move him and also were not aware of how long the ambulance would take to arrive, even being told at one stage that it was five minutes away. Between FootballCV’s Physio, Danny’s College Physio and our own Colin Hodsden, Danny received an excellent level of care and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all three guys for the thoroughly professional assistance that they gave him. I would also like to thank those from Raunds Town FC who helped us, as well as our own volunteers and of course the crowd for their patience.

Once it became apparent that the evening’s football could not continue, having spoken with the referee and with the management team from FootballCV, we moved quickly to inform the crowd of this turn of events and all spectators were offered a refund of their entrance fee, although not one person took up this offer.

Throughout his ordeal Danny remained in good spirits, even laughing and joking with the people around him. His strength of character during what must have been a very cold and uncomfortable lie on the pitch was an example to all and would, I suspect, not have been matched by many much older players in similar circumstances. I know that everyone connected with the club will join me in wishing Danny a speedy return to fitness and we look forward to seeing him back in a Diamonds shirt soon.”

Attendance: 133

Photographs courtesy of Mal Swinden


AFC Rushden & Diamonds

FootballCV Reds

86. Ashley Foulger
2. Ashley Meeks
4. Elliot Ames
5. Danny Bird (c)
18. Riccardo Knight
6. Conor Bell
8. Zaak Moon
13. Louis Smith
10. Jeron Thompson
16. Mason Thomas
15. James Harrison
1. Ryan Young
10. Courtney Duval
8. Sean Iredale
2. Sam Young
9. Toby Snashall
5. James Huxley
11. Mohamud Korane
7. Maher Doumani
4. Mohamad Bilal Ossman
3. Shaakir Chowdhury
6. Toby Sanders
3. Zach Farden
7. Blake Helsdown
9. Levi Freeman
11. Lewi Williams
12. Matti Ellis
14. Ryan Ellmer (for Bird, 28 mins)
17. Alex McDonald
12. Ucizi Mafeni
14. Thomas De La Mare
15. Rajay Banton
17. Ade Adeniyi
18. Kaine Deadman
Thomas (25 mins, pen)
Korane (13 mins)
Sanders (28 mins, foul)
Sent Off:
Sent Off: