Diamonds put in a hard working performance to be beaten by just the one goal in their second pre-season friendly against Football League side Leyton Orient. A minutes applause was held before kick-off in memory of Justin Edinburgh and a collection for the JE3 Foundation set-up in his name raised over £800 on the night.
Manager Andy Peaks again selected a strong starting back 5 – Ben Heath, Zack Reynolds, Sam Brown, Liam Dolman, Alex Collard – with three trialists further forward alongside Nathan Hicks, Ben Acquaye and Tom Lorraine. Jack Ashton, Joe Curtis, Sam Johnson, Jack Bowen, Ben Farrell, and Patrick Casey were on the bench with 3 more trialists.
The newly promoted football league side showed their undoubted class on an excellent surface with some slick passing and good movement to dominate possession. Diamonds were competitive throughout though and had an early opportunity on the break with Tom Lorraine and Nathan Hicks combining well before Hicks screwed his shot wide.
Orient threatened whenever they put passes together in the final third and duly took the lead when Gorman slotted past Ben Heath to finish off some excellent build-up play.
Diamonds had a penalty shout minutes later after Tom Lorraine came down when through on goal but it didn’t interest the referee. Angol then went close for the visitors lifting his effort wide when played through.
Diamonds then had two decent half chances as first a trialist whipped a ball across the 6 yard box just evading two onrushing Diamonds and then a trailist saw an effort cleared off the line with the keeper beaten. Orient bounced back with Wilkinson twisting and turning in the box before seeing Ben Heath save his low effort.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 1
After an entertaining and competitive first-half the second became a more sedate affair with Orient controlling the game with good passing and movement and Diamonds working hard to keep a good defensive shape and trying to break forward when they could.
There was little in the way of goal mouth action and Diamonds introduced almost a completely new side on the hour with Ben Farrell, Patrick Casey, Jack Ashton, Sam Johnson, Joe Curtis and Jack Bowen and three more trialists joining the action.
The strength of the whole squad was demonstrated with no let-up in organisation and performance against a strong football league side. Liam Dolman played the full 90 minutes and showed his commitment with a superb saving tackle to deny Orient a 2nd.
Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Leyton Orient 1
This was another good workout for the Diamonds squad against probably the best opposition they will face in pre-season. The first half was a story of a dominant Orient taking their good chance but a hard working Diamonds not taking their half-chances. The second half saw the whole squad working hard to contain an good Orient side who will surely challenge on their return to League 2 this season. Some good performances from the trialists will give manager Andy Peaks food for thought, but he will be pleased with the togetherness, fitness and commitment of his existing squad.
Next-up for Diamonds a trip to Oxford City on Saturday afternoon.
Match Report: Paul Judd