AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3-0 Northampton ON Chenecks
AFC Rushden & Diamonds made it back to back victories over ON Chenecks, with another emphatic win at Kiln Park. Conditions couldn’t have been more different than the previous game four weeks ago but the outcome was just the same, as the Diamonds once again showed how far they have progressed this season with a commanding, and at times dominant performance.
The game got off to a bright start, with Rushden almost creating a golden opportunity inside the opening minutes. James Harrison peeled out to the right wing, beat his marker before picking out Alex McDonald with a low cross into the penalty area. The ball bobbled right in front of McDonald however, preventing him from getting it under control, and allowing Chenecks to clear the danger.
After this early scare, the visitors settled down and began to look the more threatening side. Their first chance of the match fell to Seb Thompson, who latched onto a driven cross from the right wing by Elliot Ruff, but couldn’t direct his difficult volley on target.
Two minutes later and another cross from the right presented Chenecks with a second half chance. Reece McLachlin’s high, looping cross deceived Ashley Meeks who completely missed his header, allowing Elliot Roberts a shooting chance from the edge of the box, but he too blazed the ball high over the bar.
It was perhaps slightly against the run of play that the Diamonds took the lead on 21 minutes, in what was their first real attack since the opening minutes. Meeks broke down the right flank and picked out Jeron Thompson with an inch perfect cross. Thompson’s header cannoned back off the post, but Louis Smith was on hand to tap home his first league goal for the club.
Rushden clearly took confidence from the opening goal and went on to dominate the remainder of the first half. Within a minute it should have been 2-0, as Harrison had his first of many scoring chances. A long ball from the back cleared the Chenecks defence, with Harrison reaching the ball just ahead of the onrushing Luke Greer. His instinctive header looped over the Chenecks ‘keeper but fell just the wrong side of the post.
Two minutes later another dangerous cross from Meeks saw Greer drop the ball inside a crowded penalty area, but the Diamonds couldn’t force the ball home in the ensuing scramble, and the visitors eventually cleared the danger. The ball was back with Meeks almost immediately however, and his low cross this time found Zach Farden unmarked at the far post, but with only Greer to beat he dragged his shot well wide. McDonald was next to threaten the Chenecks goal, picking up a loose ball 20 yards out and hitting a decent effort which was well held by Greer.
On 29 minutes the Diamonds won a free kick on the left wing, some 35 yards from goal. Danny Bird curled in a dangerous ball towards the head of Harrison, who was clearly pushed in the back as he went to challenge for the ball, with referee Shaun Wills adamantine in his decision to point to the penalty spot. After a 2 minute delay while the referee booked McLachlin and spoke to Seb Thompson, Zaak Moon confidently stepped forward and sent Greer the wrong way to net his first competitive goal in an AFC shirt.
The Diamonds continued to keep the pressure on, and Jeron Thompson was almost presented with a clear opening following a delightfully cushioned header from Moon, but Greer was quick off his line to smother the ball. They did have the ball in the back of the net again on 37 minutes as Harrison raced onto a superb through ball from McDonald before slotting it past Greer, but the assistant referee flagged for offside and goal was disallowed.
The final 5 minutes of the first half saw Harrison presented with three separate scoring opportunities. The first came from a long ball from the back by Bird, with Harrison outmuscling Alex Marlow but slotting just wide of the post with only Greer to beat. The striker was through on goal again just 30 seconds later, but Greer this time made an excellent save as Harrison tried to slide the ball through his legs. A minute later the third chance arrived following a superb free kick delivery from Smith, but Harrison couldn’t direct his powerful header on target, with the ball just clearing the crossbar.
HT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-0 Northampton ON Chenecks
The opening minutes of the second half saw the home side continue where they had left off in the first. Jeron Thompson set Harrison up for yet another chance with a ball down the right flank, and the latter’s attempted lob beat Greer but also cleared the crossbar as well.
Chenecks weren’t beaten yet though, with both sides well aware that the next goal was crucial. On 52 minutes a good move down the left wing saw the visitors win a corner, which was drilled right across the face of goal by Ben Diamond with none of his teammates able to get the telling touch which surely would have resulted in a goal.
Four minutes later Jack Goodman hit a sweetly stuck effort from 25 yards which looked to be heading towards the top corner, but the ball struck the unfortunate Roberts and bounced out of play for a goal kick. The Diamonds replied on the hour mark with Jeron Thompson latching onto a ball down the right, but his shot to the far post was well saved by Greer. Goodman then tried his luck again from outside the box, but his delicate chip just cleared the bar with Ashley Foulger well beaten.
On 66 minutes Harrison set off on a great run down the right flank, beating two defenders before crossing low to the near post, but the Chenecks’ defence cut out the ball just ahead of Jeron Thompson who would have been left with a simple tap in. The resulting corner was cleared with the visitors counterattacking down the left wing through Luke Adams. His excellent cross picked out Seb Thompson at the far post, but the striker was stretching to reach the ball and was unable to get a decent contact on his volley.
With 20 minutes remaining Rushden were awarded a free kick on the right flank, which was delivered to the far post by Meeks. Bird met the ball on the volley but couldn’t direct it on target, with the visiting defence clearing behind for a corner. Meeks’ ball in found the head of Smith whose effort deflected off a defender, flying just wide of the post and behind for another corner. Meeks again took the set piece, and this time his low cross found the feet of Harrison who struck a powerful volley inches wide of the far post.
Two minutes later and Harrison again tried his luck, this time with a half chance from 20 yards which drew the save of the game from Greer, who superbly tipped the ball around the post. Mark Starmer then made his first change of the night, adding some fresh legs to the midfield with McDonald making way for Conor Bell.
On 74 minutes a dangerous free kick delivery from Adams looked to have presented Enzo Russo with a great chance to pull back a goal for the visitors, but having lost his marker the Chenecks’ substitute couldn’t quite get a touch on the ball, and it sailed behind for a goal kick, much to the relief of the home side.
On 79 minutes the Diamonds made their second substitution, with Lewi Williams replacing Zach Farden on the left. Williams almost made an immediate impact, using his pace to reach a ball down the left ahead of the defence, before cutting inside and hitting a shot from a tight angle which flew narrowly wide of the goal.
Two minutes later, Rushden made the game safe with their third goal, and it was some brilliant quick thinking from Williams to set it up. The Diamonds were awarded a free kick in the middle of the Chenecks’ half, with Williams catching out the defence with a quick ball into Harrison on the edge of the box. Harrison showed great upper body strength to roll his marker before finally getting his finish right with a sublime lob over the advancing Greer.
The Diamonds almost added a fourth shortly after, when Williams latched onto a great through ball before being tripped on the edge of the area. The referee played a good advantage allowing Harrison to run onto the loose ball, but his shot was straight at Greer who saved with his legs.
FT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3-0 Northampton ON Chenecks
The victory sees AFC R&D edge away from the teams below them in the NSYL Western Division table, and close to within one point of ON Chenecks, although the teams around the Diamonds all have games in hand.
The team only have 4 days to wait before their next game; the eagerly anticipated NSYL KO Cup Semi-Final at Rothwell Corinthians on Monday night. Click HERE for the match preview.
Man of the Match: Ben Roche
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|24. Ashley Foulger
4. Elliot Ames
5. Danny Bird (c)
18. Ben Roche
2. Ashley Meeks
6. Alex McDonald
8. Zaak Moon
21. Louis Smith
3. Zach Farden
9. James Harrison
10. Jeron Thompson
|1. Luke Greer
2. Elliot Ruff
3. Imad Abassi
4. Luke Adams
5. Reece McLachlin
6. Alex Marlow
7. Jack White
8. Elliot Roberts
9. Ben Diamond
10. Seb Thompson
11. Jack Goodman (c)
11. Lewi Williams (for Farden, 79 mins)
12. Matti Ellis
14. Conor Bell (for McDonald, 71 mins)
15. Adam Ziolkowski
20. Fred Devereaux
12. Enzo Russo (for Abassi, 39 mins)
Smith (21 mins)
Moon (31 mins, pen)
Harrison (81 mins)
McLachlin (29 mins, foul)
Match Highlights available Here
All Photographs courtesy of Mal Swinden