AFC R&D U18s / MAA 0-1 AFC Sudbury Reds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy succumbed to their second loss in as many games, falling 1-0 to AFC Sudbury Reds. Manager Darren Purse admitted that his hopes of finishing in the top two have ‘pretty much gone’.

The scholars were back to almost full strength with just Matt Pinder, Christy Nginamau and Jacob Kearney missing.

Diamonds started well in the first half and they had plenty of chances to put themselves ahead.

Harrison Desborough produced two great corners which resulted in goal mouth scrambles, however no one could apply the finishing touch.

Desborough and Ashley Hewett were providing many opportunities for the other scholars but they couldn’t convert. Luke Garner missed several chances in the first half too, but the MAA boys were just missing the final touch.

Half Time. AFC R&D U18s / MAA 0-0 AFC Sudbury Reds.

The second half continued in the same vein, the scholars creating many chances.

Hewett had a golden chance to break the deadlock but put his effort wide after being one on one.

Then with just two minutes to go, Joe Ackroyd lost the ball in midfield and fouled his man. The resulting free-kick was put into the penalty area and was attacked well and beat Sam de Boer in the Rushden net to making it 1-0.

Full Time. AFC R&D U18s / MAA 0-1 AFC Sudbury Reds.

After the game I spoke to manager Darren Purse:

“I’m really happy with the performance, sometimes in football, you don’t get what you deserve. It was a case of missed opportunities, we didn’t take our chances. We should have had a bit more quality in the final pass and finishing but other than that, our build up play was good and defended really well.”

The defeat leaves the scholars seven points of the top two, having played two games more. With the top two involved in a play-off at the end of the season, I asked whether his target of finishing in the top two is still within his grasp.

“I think it’s pretty much gone now. I’d never say never, win all of our remaining games and who knows but it’s looking very unlikely at the minute.”

Match Report by Hayden Pott.