AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Rothwell Corinthians
AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ debut game in the Jaymann Shield ended with a narrow victory over an unnecessarily aggressive Rothwell Corinthians side.
The Diamonds had to fight back from a goal down as the visitors dominated much of the first half, but a fortuitous own goal saw the sides go in level at half time. An improved second half performance led to a second Rushden goal, before Corinthians petulance resulted in them finishing the game with ten men.
Mark Starmer fielded a very young side, with four U16s in the starting line-up and a further two on the bench. Among the starters were Harry May and Jake Reynolds who made their competitive debuts for the club following impressive performances in the friendly against Yaxley last week.
Corinthians were much faster out of the blocks than the Diamonds, who seemed almost lethargic in the opening stages. The first chance of the game arrived on 6 minutes when the visitors won a left wing corner, which was curled in towards the near post and headed narrowly over the bar.
Rothwell were clearly out for revenge following their recent League Cup Semi-Final defeat at the hands the Diamonds, and they opened the scoring on 14 minutes. Alex Forward’s long punt was flicked on into the path of Ben Large who outpaced the AFC backline before lobbing the ball over the advancing Ashley Foulger from 25 yards.
The goal was no more than the visitors deserved after their bright start to the game, and they came close to doubling their lead two minutes later. Marvin Hill pounced on a defensive error and carried the ball into the Rushden penalty area, but he overran it slightly going around Foulger and couldn’t quite keep the ball in play.
On 20 minutes Hill again went close, latching onto a great ball down the right flank, turning past Adam Ziolkowski before firing in a shot which beat Foulger but cannoned back off the crossbar.
The first of several unsightly challenges occurred on 21 minutes, as Elliott Morgan slid through the back of Alex McDonald, but to the amazement of the entire ground the referee let it go unpunished. McDonald foolishly responded with a similar challenge on Morgan, and was rightly booked, but Morgan once again escaped punishment after shoving the Rushden midfielder in the chest in retaliation.
McDonald was again on the receiving end two minutes later when Large decided to emulate Morgan’s earlier challenge, but the referee’s patience and now reached its limit and he brandished the yellow card at the Corinthians striker.
The Diamonds had still not got going as the game approached the half hour mark, whilst the visitors at times showed that they are capable of playing some good attacking football when they turn their attentions away from the ugly side to their game. One particular move saw Rothwell again go close to a second goal, as Large picked out Callum Plowright with a great pass into the area, but the midfielder fired well over the bar.
On 32 minutes Hill became the second Corinthians player to count himself fortunate not to be booked, after a late challenge on Ben Roche. From the free kick, Jake Reynolds headed the ball onto Conor Bell who hit a sweetly struck left footed half volley past Forward and into the bottom corner, but his effort was chalked off for offside.
The disallowed goal did seem to wake up the home side however, and they finished the half strongly. With 10 minutes to go before the break, a good ball down the right flank picked out the run of Reynolds who beat his man before hitting a low cross into the box. Bell had to stretch to reach the ball at the near post and managed to turn it towards goal, but couldn’t get sufficient contact on the ball to beat Forward.
The equalising goal arrived on 42 minutes, albeit in very fortuitous circumstances for the Diamonds. Harry May won a corner on the right hand side, and the diminutive winger’s ball into the middle was fumbled into the net by Forward, under pressure from Reynolds, for an own goal.
With their confidence lifted, Rushden almost snatched a second before the half time interval. Bell picked out May with a great ball from midfield, and the latter’s cross found Fred Devereaux at the far post, whose attempted lob just cleared the bar.
HT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Rothwell Corinthians
It was a rejuvenated Rushden side which took to the pitch for the second half. Three minutes after the restart Reynolds had a chance to mark his debut with a goal, when Roche found him in space after a great run from the back, but Forward was quickly off his line to narrow the angle and the Diamonds’ striker prodded the ball just wide from the edge of the box.
Plowright had been trying to get himself booked for most of the game, arguing with the referee over ever decision that went against the visitors, and his efforts finally paid off on 55 minutes.
Louis Smith had been unusually subdued in the Rushden midfield, but he started to come to life as the game approached the hour mark. Bell raced onto a pass down the right flank and played the ball infield to Smith, who took a touch before hitting a powerful strike from 20 yards, but his effort was too close to Forward who saved comfortably. Two minutes later, Reynolds tried his luck from similar range after cutting in from the left wing, but his shot was just wide of the upright.
Rothwell had offered little attacking threat in the second half, but were gifted a great chance to retake the lead on 62 minutes. Foulger made a rare error in the Rushden goal, fumbling a left wing cross under pressure from Hill with the ball falling straight to the feet of Large, but the Corinthians’ scorer showed far less composure than he had in the first half and blazed the ball high over the bar.
The Diamonds very quickly made the visitors pay for their profligacy, as they took the lead on 66 minutes. A long kick forward from Foulger was inadvertently flicked on by a Rothwell defender into the path of May who had gambled on the ball beating the defence. May adroitly lifted the ball over the advancing Forward and Reynolds stole in at the far post to smash home a thoroughly deserved debut goal from close range.
The home side now had an element of control over the game, and looked to put the result beyond doubt. Two minutes after the goal Devereaux went close to adding a third with a snap shot from 20 yards which flew narrowly wide of Forward’s right hand post. Aidan Smith then became the third visiting player to enter the referee’s notebook following an off the ball incident.
With 15 minutes remaining Reynolds went close to adding a second debut goal as he quickly latched onto a weak kick by Forward, but after shrugging off a defender and racing into the penalty area he fired inches wide of the post with Forward well beaten. A minute later Roche again burst forward from defence before picking out Devereaux 20 yards from goal, but his shot flew high over the bar.
The visitors were still struggling to make any impact on the AFC defence in the second half, and as the game entered the final five minutes it was the Diamonds who looked the most likely to score again. May teed up Bell on 86 minutes, who turned well and fired a 20 yard shot at goal, but his effort was straight down the throat of Forward.
The last action of the game saw Plowright sent off for a second bookable offence. The Corinthians midfielder won his side a free kick after he was fouled by Devereaux, but he stupidly reacted by sticking out a leg in an attempt to trip the AFC player, leaving the referee no option but to show him his second yellow card, promptly followed by a red.
FT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Rothwell Corinthians
Mark Starmer told AFCRDTV that he was pleased with the victory and the second half performance, and especially the way that his side had kept their discipline for the most part, despite the provocation from their opponents. Click HERE for the Jaymann Shield group standings and future fixture details.
The Diamonds are in action again next week as they take on Olney Town in the final league fixture of their debut season. The game will be the last played at Raunds Town’s Kiln Park ground, and gives the club a chance to say a proper goodbye to the Shopmates, and to thank them for their invaluable support this season. Click HERE for the match preview.
Man of the Match: Jake Reynolds
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|86. Ashley Foulger
2. Ben Roche
4. Elliot Ames (c)
15. Adam Ziolkowski
7. Harry May
6. Alex McDonald
8. Zaak Moon
10. Louis Smith
9. Fred Devereaux
16. Conor Bell
17. Jake Reynolds
|1. Alex Forward
2. Joe Pelley
3. Cameron Knox
4. Aidan Smith (c)
5. Kalon Peniasko
6. Callum McNichol
7. Callum Plowright
8. Elliott Morgan
9. Marvin Hill
10. Ben Large
11. Tom McLaren
3. Ashley Meeks (for Ziolkowski, 64 mins)
12. Matti Ellis (for L. Smith, 85 mins)
13. Anthony Ottaway (for Moon, 66 mins)
14. Noah Bryant
24. Mozza Roberts
12. Luke Richardson
14. Taylor Woods (for Morgan, 46 mins)
15. Adam Kerfoot (for McLaren, 73 mins)
17. Andy Coxon (for Knox, 53 mins)
Forward (o.g., 42 mins)
Reynolds (66 mins)
Large (14 mins)
McDonald (21 mins, foul)
Large (23 mins, foul)
Plowright (55 mins, dissent)
A. Smith (68 mins, unsporting conduct)
Plowright (90+3 mins, unsporting conduct)
Plowright (90+3 mins, second booking)
Match Highlights are available Here
All Photograpghs courtesy of Mal Swindon