AFC Rushden & Diamonds slipped to their second home defeat of the season as they lost 3-0 to unbeaten Coalville Town at Hayden Road.
Manager Peaks made six changes to the starting XI that had been emphatically beaten by Bromsgrove last Saturday. Zack Reynolds and Jack Ashton began their respective suspensions for their red cards last time out so Nathan Hicks filled in at right-back, and Liam Dolman returned to the side following his return to fitness. New loan signings Ryan Hughes and Morgan Roberts both started, Niall Cooper began his first league game of the season in goal, and midfielders Ben Farrell and Nat Gosnal-Tyler also returned to the team.
The two sides took to the Hayden Road pitch on an overcast day in Northamptonshire, with the teams having different fortunes of late. Rushden began the contest eighth in the table having not won any of their last five league games, though they had drawn four of those. However, they had only lost three of their last 18 home matches in all competitions in the calendar year. Coalville, nicknamed The Ravens, sat sixth in the table and remained unbeaten so far this season. They hadn’t kept a clean sheet in the campaign so far though, and so an exciting match was expected. After the pre-match formalities were completed, the referee got the match underway.
Diamonds began with a 4-3-3 formation, with Hughes beginning at left-back and Roberts at left-wing. The latter began brightly and almost got a sight of goal in the opening minutes, but Ryan Dove’s return ball to the winger was intercepted and cleared away. Seconds later, Gosnal-Tyler flashed an effort over the bar following a quick break. Ben Acquaye had been floored by visiting defender Jack Duggan earlier in the attack, and the referee was quick to brandish a booking after the move had ended.
The hosts were looking to respond to their setback last week, and that had led to a swift start. In the fifth minute Dove chested down a high ball well, but he couldn’t fully connect with his volley and it ran through for away keeper Saul Deeney to easily collect. Moments later, Coalville created their first opportunity when winger Thomas McGlinchey cut in from the right, but his shot from around 25 yards out was comfortably held by Cooper.
Just over ten minutes had elapsed when the away side received their second yellow card of the game when midfielder Stephen Towers fouled Roberts who was breaking forward dangerously. In the next attack, Dove had a goal ruled out when he and Deeney jumped for a high ball together. The keeper went down and the home striker fired the loose ball home into the unguarded net, but the referee had already blown for a foul.
Both sides then exchanged opportunities as the quick and lively start to the game continued. Firstly, a long drop-kick by Deeney found Luke Shaw who brilliantly brought it down around 30 yards out, and Cooper had already committed to coming out in an attempt to meet the high ball. Shaw attempted a quick shot towards the unguarded net, but the home keeper did well to block the effort away with his legs and the danger was cleared.
Shortly afterwards, Acquaye had a cross blocked behind on the left for a corner. The resultant delivery found Dove at the far post who forced the ball home for seemingly the opening goal of the game, but the referee adjudged the striker to have pushed his marker and the goal was disallowed.
Coalville were looking threatening when breaking forward with pace and numbers, and in the 21st minute a deep cross from the right was headed away by Nathan Hicks. It ran only as far as Towers who shot towards goal, but it bobbled well wide of the post. Another delivery from the right, this time from a corner, ran all the way through for McGlinchey in a promising position, but he shot well wide from just inside the area.
Roberts was impressing in the early stages of his debut with a series of pacey runs forward, and a willingness to take on his marker at all opportunities. Shortly before McGlinchey’s chance, the home winger had a threatening cross headed away and then, after the away chance, Gosnal-Tyler set Roberts away on the left. He shot across goal, and it was deflected millimetres wide of the far post with Deeney beaten. The initial corner was cleared away for another one, and Acquaye drilled the cross in which led to Dove having a shot blocked away.
Just before the half-hour mark, Dove threatened again when he latched onto defensive hesitation to loop a header goalwards, but it dropped onto the roof of the net. Seconds later, Roberts got away down the left before whipping in a dangerous cross that ran past everybody.
The Ravens responded with a good spell of possession and pressure, and it resulted in Alexander Dean finding space to shoot only for a couple of Diamonds men to fly out to block the effort. They kept up the intensity, and a deep cross in by Joe Doyle-Charles reached Shaw whose header came off the back of Collard and dropped for Cooper to collect. Dean then had another chance to shoot from outside the area, but this time the effort flashed wide of the target.
Moments before half-time, Coalville came within inches of taking the lead. A neat move saw Scott McManus fed in space on the left, and his driving shot towards goal was well blocked away by Cooper’s legs. The rebound ran for Kian Taylor, and he shot towards the unguarded net. It seemed for all the world that it would find the back of the net, but Hughes got back in the nick of time to heroically hack it off the line.
That was the final action of an entertaining half as the referee blew his whistle to signal the half-time interval.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-0 Coalville Town
During the break, the attendance was confirmed as 558. The players soon returned to the pitch and, following a quick count of both teams, the referee got the match back underway.
Only minutes had elapsed in the half when Acquaye attempted to thread a ball through to Dove, but Duggan did well to intercept in the nick of time. Seconds later, the defender was required to make another interception after a swift break down the left by Roberts.
Coalville responded in what was a relatively quiet start to the second period, especially in comparison to the often frantic nature of the first half. In the 52nd minute Taylor cut in from the right before hitting a low strike straight at Cooper, and shortly afterwards Collard produced a superb block to stop Dean’s goalbound effort.
However, it didn’t take the visitors much longer to take the lead. Taylor was played in behind on the left of the area, and he ran forward before hitting a low shot across goal. Cooper did well to save it with his legs, but the rebound cannoned off the nearby Liam Dolman and flew into the unguarded net for an own goal.
It was an important breakthrough in what had been a pretty tight game and, after Acquaye was booked, it got even better for Coalville. Matthew Slinn won a high ball around 30 yards from his own goal, but the loose ball dropped for Thomas McGlinchey. He controlled the bouncing ball on his thigh before striking a half-volley goalwards, and it seemed to catch Cooper unaware as it bounced past his dive and into the corner of the net.
The two strikes, which had come in the space of four minutes, had put the visitors in a very commanding position, and it looked like a difficult situation for the Diamonds to recover from. They struggled to break down a well-marshalled away defence, though they did come close when Dove headed a free-kick just over the bar. Acquaye then had a free-kick from around 30 yards out charged down.
The visitors could, and should, have sealed the game in the 78th minute when they broke forward quickly, and a goalbound effort from close-range was blocked away. Moments later, Peaks made a double switch as Tom Lorraine and Jack Bowen came on for Gosnal-Tyler and Dove, and moments later Patrick Casey was introduced in place of Slinn. He went straight to right-back, with Hicks moving back into centre midfield.
Rushden were still looking unlikely to get back into the contest as everything they tried was repelled by the Coalville defence. It was the away side who looked the most likely to score the next goal if anybody, with substitute Kalern Thomas firing narrowly wide of the far post before McGlinchey had an effort held by Cooper.
Four minutes of additional time was indicated and, in the third of these, Coalville put the contest beyond any doubt. Diamonds had a free-kick cleared away, and the visitors quickly broke forward. A long ball forward found the onrushing Taylor in behind the home defence, and he neatly slipped it across to the free Luke Shaw. He took a touch to cut inside Casey, and then he steered a precise effort past Cooper and in via a flick off the post.
The final minute of stoppage time passed without any further action, and the referee blew to confirm Diamonds second consecutive home defeat.
Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-3 Coalville Town
This was an intriguing game that was well in the balance until the hour mark. Either side could have forged ahead in a first half that wasn’t short of action and attacking play, but Coalville emerged the stronger in the second period. They went forward with pace and with continuous threat, and they never looked back following the fortuitous opener. Diamonds can take heart from the performance of Roberts, who looked a real danger throughout, and the way in which they fought until the very end, but the tough games keep coming. Their next outing sees them make the trip to Staffordshire to take on Tamworth on Tuesday night (October 15th, 7.45pm kick-off), a team who are in the play-off places.
Diamonds Man of the Match: Morgan Roberts
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Niall Cooper
2. Nathan Hicks
3. Ryan Hughes
4. Matthew Slinn
5. Liam Dolman (C)
6. Alex Collard
7. Ben Acquaye
8. Ben Farrell
9. Ryan Dove
10. Nat Gosnal-Tyler
11. Morgan Roberts
12. Patrick Casey (for Slinn 85)
13. Ben Heath
14. Jesse Akubuine
15. Tom Lorraine (for Dove 80)
16. Jack Bowen (for Gosnal-Tyler 80)
1. Saul Deeney
2. Stuart Pierpoint
3. Scott McManus
4. Stephen Towers (C)
5. Jack Duggan
6. Joe Doyle-Charles
7. Alexander Dean
8. Luke Shaw
9. Kian Taylor
10. Timothy Berridge
11. Thomas McGlinchey
12. Adam McGurk (for Berridge 80)
14. Kalern Thomas (for Dean 73)
15. Ellis Storey (for McGlinchey 89)
16. Leandro Browne
17. Charlie Jemson
Goals: Dolman OG (60), McGlinchey (64), Shaw (90+3)
Yellow cards: Acquaye (62)
Yellow cards: Duggan (3), Towers (11)
Referee: Alistair Nelson