Ten-man Diamonds hit another late home winner to defeat winless St Ives.
On a very hot and sunny day in Northamptonshire, chances were at a premium in the opening 15 minutes. The visitors created the first clear opening when striker Jack Snelus found himself through on goal, but Ben Heath made a terrific save to his right to parry the shot behind. Diamonds then had a goal ruled out for offside when Ben Acquaye powered forward into the area before hitting an effort across goal that was touched home by Massiah McDonald, but the celebrations were curtailed by the linesman’s flag. Acquaye soon threatened again with a blocked shot from just inside the area, and down the other end Ben Seymour-Shove fired wide after being played through on goal. The Ives winger was involved again when his cross looked perfect for an away striker to get a shot off at goal, but Liam Dolman made a vital sliding challenge to stop the danger. The hosts went close from a couple of set-pieces and an Ives strike from 25 yards out went just over, but the score remained goalless at the break.
The opening moments of the second half were also quiet but keenly-contested, and the first piece of action saw Jack Ashton receive his marching orders. Following a yellow card towards the end of the first period, he upended Seymour-Shove on the edge of the area to halt a promising break for the visitors. The referee had no hesitation to issue a second caution and a red card, and suddenly Diamonds were down to ten men. They reverted immediately to a 4-4-1 formation, but they still carried attacking threat and a number of crosses had to be well dealt with by the Ives defence. The visitors themselves then started to push forward more and, after Dan Clifton had a shot held from range, substitute Andrew Osei-Bonsu sidefooted wide from close-range following an inviting cross from the right. The striker then hit the target a minute later only for Heath to block the effort away, and then Diamonds came agonisingly close to taking the lead when Acquaye slammed an effort off the inside of the post. Despite another half-chance for either side, it appeared that the match would finish goalless just like the two league fixtures between the sides last campaign. However, there was to be late drama when substitute Lorraine won a free-kick on the left. Ben Farrell whipped in a delivery to the back post, and Alex Collard rose highest to guide a header into the far corner of the net with the aid of a deflection. St Ives were soon reduced to ten men too when Robert Parker was issued a second yellow card. Rushden then saw out the remaining minutes of stoppage time to maintain their 100% home record so far this season, and to claim their fourth win in five matches.
Manager Peaks made five changes to the starting XI that had lost at Stratford on Saturday afternoon. Alex Collard returned in place of Zack Reynolds, Joe Curtis and Ben Farrell came into the side, and Ryan Dove and Massiah McDonald made up the strike partnership.
The two sides stepped out onto the Hayden Road pitch on a scorching bank holiday Monday, and both sides had experienced different starts to the campaign. Diamonds, despite the last loss, had won their three opening matches and sat third in the table. Contrastingly, St Ives were third from bottom and had lost three consecutive matches without scoring in their winless start to the season. Both league encounters between the teams last season finished goalless, but goals were hoped for in this clash as the referee Ryan Williams got the game underway.
The early exchanges were relatively quiet, with both sides settling into the stifling weather conditions. The first opportunity came in the third minute for Diamonds when McDonald picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area, but his curling shot flew well wide of the target. A couple of set-piece opportunities, one for either side, then came but were both well cleared away by the respective defences.
In the 13th minute away defender Danny Kely took it upon himself to step forward, and he glided past a few challenges towards the edge of the area before hitting a low effort that Ben Heath easily collected to his left-hand side. Two minutes later, the visitors should have scored. Ben Acquaye was unable to clear just outside his own box, and it bobbled through for striker Jack Snelus to run in goal. He was about 14 yards out in a central position to strike, but Heath stood tall and athletically dived to his right to tip it round the post.
Moments later, Nat Gosnal-Tyler was booked for the hosts before Charlie De’Ath was issued the same punishment for a separate foul. Rushden then thought they had taken the lead when Gosnal-Tyler did well halfway inside his own half to break past a challenge, and he released Acquaye ahead of him. The speedy attacking midfielder darted forward before reaching the area, and his low effort across goal found McDonald to tap home at the far post. The celebrations began, but the linseman’s flag had gone up for offside against McDonald immediately and the goal was ruled out.
Two minutes later Acquaye was threatening again. Dove flicked a header onto McDonald, and he neatly flicked it around the corner to Acquaye. He broke into the left-side of the area before seeing his shot blocked behind, and the referee blew up for a foul by Diamonds when the resulting corner was delivered.
The game had livened up, and soon St Ives had broken forward to create another chance. A neat ball played in behind the home defence found the run of Ben Seymour-Shove, and he fizzed an effort towards the far post only for it to fly wide of the target.
A drinks break was then signalled by the referee, the first of two that would be had in the game. When play resumed Diamomds continued to edge possession and territory without truly working Martin Conway in the St Ives goal, and the visitors were still looking to break forward in numbers when the opportunity arose. One such moment saw a Diamonds corner cleared, and Ives sprang forward for Seymour-Shove to receive the ball on the right. He dashed to the byline and cleverly pulled it across for a free attacker at the far post, but Liam Dolman got back and timed his sliding tackle to perfection in playing it out for a corner.
A minute later Diamonds had a big appeal for a penalty when McDonald appeared to be having his shirt pulled and held as he tried to get onto a ball over the top. His eventual effort was blocked behind for a corner, and the referee dismissed any appeals for a spot-kick. The resulting set-piece saw Collard win a header that was blocked, and his rebound was also charged down and away to safety.
Jack Ashton was then booked for a foul on the touchline as he attempted to retrieve possession, and shortly afterwards Sam Brown launched a long-throw into the area that was cleared out to Ben Farrell. He played it back in where Collard rose to head down, and Conway dropped the ball right at the feet of the nearby Dolman. His attempt was blocked by a host of bodies though, and the danger was hacked away.
One final half-chance remained when, in stoppage-time, a strike from 25 yards out by Ives flew just over the bar. Moments later, Williams blew the whistle to call time on a half that had seen chances for both sides, and one that still lay very much in the balance.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-0 St Ives Town
The attendance was announced as 525 during the interval and, shortly afterwards, both sets of players returned to the field of play. The strong sun still beat down onto the pitch, and the referee soon got the match back underway.
The hardworking McDonald won a free-kick on the right within three minutes of the restart, and Acquaye’s delivery found Ashton at the back post whose header drifted straight into Conway’s grasp.
Five minutes later, Ashton would play no further part in the match. A quick break saw Seymour-Shove get the better of the defender just short of the area, and the defender dragged him down in a threatening position. Williams blew for a free-kick and showed no hesitation in giving Ashton a second yellow card followed by a red card. The resulting free-kick went harmlessly over the bar.
Peaks reacted to the sending-off and introduced Reynolds in place of McDonald. This resulted in a change of shape from 3-5-2 to a 4-4-1, with Gosnal-Tyler being deployed as the closest man and support to lone-striker Dove.
The visitors tried to make the most of the numerical advantage straight away. Just after the hour mark, Snelus picked up possession halfway inside his attacking half before running forward into space and hitting a strike from distance that Heath held well. A minute later, they made an attacking change as Andrew Osei-Bonsu was introduced.
Rushden were still trying to attack, and a Brown long-throw was well headed away before Curtis won a free-kick. It was played quickly to Acquaye on the left, and he dashed past the full-back to flash a low ball across the area that nobody was able to get onto. Reynolds won a corner on the right moments later, and Dolman retrieved the long delivery to feed Collard who in turn jinked to the byline before seeing his low ball in cleared away.
The second drinks break then took place, which also gave both managers and coaching staff the chance to issue some instructions for the final twenty minutes. Play got underway again, and Ives understandably began to have more of the ball as they probed for the opening goal. Ex-Diamonds man Dan Clifton had a strike from distance, but Heath got down to hold onto the effort.
A minute later, they missed a clear opportunity to take the lead. An inviting ball in from the right found Osei-Bonsu in the middle of the area and in space, but he scuffed his sidefooted attempt and it dribbled wide of the post. The substitute was then involved again as he jinked into the right sidd of the area before poking an effort goalwards, but Heath blocked it away and the danger was cleared.
Play swung down the other end, and Diamonds came within inches of scoring themselves. Farrell released Dove in down the right, and he played a low ball in towards the near post. A covering defender was unable to clear, and Acquaye seized onto the loose ball to spin and hit an effort towards the far corner. It seemed destined for the net, but instead it smacked off the post and across goal before being cleared.
The game entered the final ten minutes, and all three results were still a distinct possibility. Both sides made substitution – Lorraine came on for Dove for Diamonds – as they looked to snatch a goal that would surely prove to be the winner.
Seymour-Shove had proved a handful for large parts of the game, and he came close again when his cross-shot from the right was deflected only for it to run kindly for Heath to save. Gosnal-Tyler then had an opportunity down the other end as he neatly controlled a dropping ball before finding space to shoot, but Conway got down to his left to make the save.
Alex Collard was then announced as man of the match and, moments later, Lorraine won a free-kick on the left touchline. Farrell moved across to take the kick, and only three Diamonds men were in the area. The referee blew his whistle, and the midfielder’s delivery towards the far post found the man of the match. His towering leap resulted in a header goalwards that nicked off an Ives head, and it seemed to take an age to drop into the corner of the net out of Conway’s reach. However, it did, and celebrations coursed around the ground for another late, great goal.
The defender’s second goal of the season came in the 91st minute, but time still remained. The visitors attempted an attack straight away, but they were soon reduced to ten men as well. Captain Robert Parker was adjudged to have committed a foul on the halfway line, and Williams issued a second yellow card to the midfielder.
Moments later, the full-time whistle was blown to confirm Diamonds’ third straight home win, and to move them up to second in the league table.
Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-0 St Ives Town
Both of Diamonds’ last two games had featured a late goal, and another one secured an important victory here. Despite the numerical disadvantage, the character and togetherness of the squad was clear to see in defending stoically whilst battling till the very end and grabbing the stoppage-time winner. Ives will feel aggrieved not to have got at least a point from a display where they threatened and worked Heath into some crucial saves, but Diamonds took their chance and continued their largely positive start to the season. After the two games in quick succession, they now have a few days off before they travel to take on Redditch on Saturday afternoon (31 August, 3pm kick-off).
Diamonds Man of the Match: Alex Collard
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
St Ives Town
13. Ben Heath
2. Nat Gosnal-Tyler
3. Sam Brown
4. Jack Ashton
5. Liam Dolman (C)
6. Alex Collard
7. Ben Acquaye
8. Ben Farrell
9. Ryan Dove
10. Massiah McDonald
11. Joe Curtis
12. Sam Johnson
14. Jack Bowen
15. Tom Lorraine (for Dove 83)
16. Zack Reynolds (for McDonald 57)
17. Niall Cooper
1. Martin Conway
2. Ben Jackson
3. Ty Ward
4. Jarvis Wilson
5. Danny Kelly
6. Charlie De’Ath
7. Daniel Clifton
8. Robert Parker (C)
9. George Bailey
10. Jack Snelus
11. Ben Seymour-Shove
12. Charlie Johnson
14. Jefferson Woodward (for Jackson 82)
15. Thomas Wood (for Clifton 90)
16. Oliver Snaith
17. Andrew Osei-Bonsu (for Bailey 62)
Goals: Collard (90+1)
Yellow cards: Gosnal-Tyler (17), Ashton (42, 53)
Yellow cards: De’Ath (18), Parker (55, 90+3)
Red cards: Ashton (53)
Red cards: Parker (90+3)
Referee: Ryan Williams
Assistants: Mitchell Cartwright, Ian Croston