AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-3 Chasetown FC

AFC Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a second consecutive league defeat in the Northern Premier League First Division South at home to Chasetown at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening.

The opening half was an end-to-end and highly entertaining affair, with both sides creating a number of opportunities and playing at a quick tempo. Nabil Shariff saw a goalbound shot well blocked away after neat link-up play with Tom Lorraine, but Chasetown went closer to taking the lead when first Nathan Rooney saw a drilled shot from distance tipped over by Finlay, and then the resulting corner fell for Ryan Wynter whose header was somehow smuggled off the line. After Shariff saw two shots saved and Dolman had a curling free-kick tipped over the bar, the Diamonds centre-half gave the hosts the lead in the 36th minute when a long throw was cleared for Bunting to volley at goal, and the ball cannoned off Brad Harris to drop ideally for Dolman to sweep the ball home. However, Chasetown equalised three minutes before the interval when a corner was headed back across goal for captain James Dance to head past a stranded Finlay.

The visitors were quickest out the blocks in the second half as the Diamonds began to look slightly sluggish and lethargic, and after striker Paul Sullivan saw a shot clear the crossbar and then another effort go narrowly wide of the far post, they earnt a penalty when Tom Lorraine was penalised for handling a cross as he attempted to block it. Nathan Rooney stepped up to slam the subsequent kick past Finlay. Lorraine then almost levelled the contest as he met a free-kick but his bundled effort was blocked by the keeper, and moments later The Scholars doubled their advantage when Ryan Wynter met a right-wing cross and looped a header into the far corner of the net. Despite some Rushden pressure Chasetown looked more likely to add to their lead, with Rooney shooting narrowly across goal, Matthias Curley seeing a shot saved and substitute Joshua Ruff hitting an effort that was blocked, but three goals were enough to consign Diamonds to a home defeat.


Diamonds manager Andy Peaks made one solitary change to the starting eleven that had been narrowly defeated by Newcastle Town in the opening league game of the season, with striker Jake Newman being ruled out by injury. Lewis Leslie took his place, and Nic Evangelinos was able to take a place on the bench amongst the other substitutes Taylor Orosz, Joe Haynes, Robbie Parsons and James Harvey.

There was a pleasant warmth and freshness around the ground as the two teams entered the fray, and after both sides had suffered opening day defeats there was a sense of intrigue to how each team would react to their respective setbacks. The home side initially lined up with a diamond formation, with skipper Richard Bunting protecting the back four and Leslie supporting the strike partnership of Nabil Shariff and Tom Lorraine who was making his one hundredth appearance for the club, and Chasetown lined up with Mitchell Piggon as their lone striker with support coming from their midfield ranks.

Referee Richie Watkins got proceedings underway, and Diamonds were on the front foot almost immediately by winning a couple of early corners. These were both cleared though, and it was the visitors who had the first attempt of the contest in the fourth minute when Piggon was found by a left-wing cross, but his flicked header drifted harmlessly wide of the far post. Rushden responded by swiftly moving the ball down the other end and after neat link-up play with Lorraine, Shariff  jinked into a yard of space and hit a goalbound effort that was superbly blocked before it could trouble John Bateman in the Chasetown goal.

The first half would largely be characterised by end-to-end attacking football, and this was clearly in evidence as the Scholars were the next side to create an opportunity. They earnt a free-kick in the midfield area, and as it was cleared by the Diamonds defence it fell for the lurking Nathan Rooney on the edge of the penalty area. He hit a fierce shot that flew goalwards and required Matt Finlay to athletically tip the ball over the crossbar. The resultant inswinging corner found Piggon to nod back across goal for Ryan Wynter in space, and his header was somehow kept out by a combination of Finlay and the covering Aidan Bradshaw on the goal-line, with the ball being hacked to safety. Sam Brown then made a crucial defensive header at the expense of a corner shortly afterwards to stop a cross reaching Wynter, and the set-piece again caused problems but ended up in the arms of Finlay.

Though Chasetown, who finished 7th in the league last season, were proving a strong threat with their direct running and movement of players in between the Rushden defence and midfield, the home side were building some pressure of their own. A corner was cleared and eventually played back to Dolman who instantly flicked a left-footed cross into the box. It seemed perfectly placed for the onrushing Jack Ashton but Lorraine inadvertently flicked the ball away from the Diamonds defender as he tried to force a header goalwards himself. In the 21st minute the dangerous Shariff, having already shown good hold-up play and ability to run at defenders, latched onto a Brown pull-back, and he showed quick feet to swivel onto his left foot and hit a shot that was straight at Bateman.

Diamonds were finding plenty of space in between Chasetown’s back four and midfield five as the frenetic and attacking style of the game left gaps for both teams to exploit, and one such gap was illegally shut off by a Scholars midfielder as a free-kick was awarded to Rushden 30 yards from goal. Dolman trotted forward to take the kick, and similarly to his goals against Deeping and Wellingborough in pre-season he curled the ball over the wall, but Bateman was equal to the effort and tipped it one-handed over the bar. Brown and Shariff were then able to link again down the left channel as the striker was found by the advancing full-back, but the end result was the same as before and Bateman was able to save the subsequent attempt.

As the game ticked to the half-hour mark the pace and tempo slowed slightly, though both sides were still looking dangerous when they reached their respective attacking thirds. Paul Sullivan for the visitors did well to drive in from the left byline away from Bradshaw and hit a skimming shot that forced Finlay into a tidy save to his right-hand side. Down the opposite end of the pitch Leslie neatly laid the ball off to the nearby Kyal McNulty, but his shot was charged down, and he then received a yellow card moments later as he was penalised for handball in the Chasetown half.

In the next attack of the game the Diamonds were to forge into the lead. A throw-in was earnt near to the left corner flag, and Brown hurled the ball into the middle only to see it headed away. It only fell as far as Bunting though, and his left-footed volley was going wide until Brad Harris stuck a foot out and directed the ball to Liam Dolman who confidently swept it into the corner of the net first time.

Chasetown didn’t let that setback affect them though, and they continued to push forward in search of an equaliser prior to the half-time whistle. It appeared that the Diamonds were going to able to see out the building pressure, but in the 42nd minute the Scholars had their leveller. Brown was again forced to be aware to put a ball into the box out for a corner on the right, and the tempting delivery found Piggon to head across for captain James Dance to glance a header past the helpless Finlay and into the back of the net.

There was still enough time for one last chance of the opening period, and it fell for the home side. A long Dolman clearance downfield released the ever-willing Shariff down the right flank, and he powered past his marker before slipping the ball back for the arriving Bunting to steer a shot straight at the Chasetown goalkeeper. A couple of minutes later the referee called time on a very lively and evenly contested first half that was still very much in the balance as the two sets of players made their way off the pitch.

Half Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Chasetown FC

The two sides re-emerged for the second period as the sun was beginning to set, and there was a keen sense of intrigue as to who would set the pace and grasp control in the early exchanges of the half. 

Diamonds, just like in the opening forty five minutes, were straight onto the attack and earnt a throw-in very much in “Sam Brown territory”. The full-back pitched the subsequent throw into the heart of the area, and a rising Ashton stretched to loop a header onto the roof of the net. A nice move on the edge of the box by the hosts then almost saw Harris tiptoe into space beyond the defence, but he was robbed of possession and the ball was quickly moved downfield for Wynter to drive a shot right across the face of the Rushden area and out for a goal-kick.

This period of play initially seemed that it may be a continuation of the end-to-end first period, but instead it signalled the beginning of Chasetown domination and control. They were quick in the tackle, efficient in possession and swift in the attack, and the Diamonds defence and midfield were kept busy in attempting to stop their forays forward. Sullivan picked up the ball just short of the halfway line in the 53rd minute and drove up the pitch, and with no-one closing the Scholars’ attacker down he unleashed a driven shot that flashed over the crossbar. 

Diamonds were starting to become slightly wasteful in possession in the second half, and one instance saw Bradshaw hit a poor clearance straight to a Chasetown midfielder. The ball was swiftly switched to Sullivan in the space where Bradshaw was trying to get back to, but the visitors’ number 10 still found time to curl a right-footed effort that whipped inches wide of Finlay’s far post. 

Peaks responded to this building of Chasetown pressure by introducing Nic Evangelinos into the action for his league debut at the expense of McNulty. The tricky winger was immediately into the action as he seized possession of a loose ball, tricked his way forward into some space and smacked a fierce effort from 25 yards out that fortunately for the visitors was straight at Bateman.

This proved to be only a temporary respite for the hosts though as Chasetown moved back onto the front foot, and Dolman received a yellow card as he shoved an away midfielder in the back as they looked to build a move down the right wing. Moments later, in the 62nd minute, they earnt a penalty. A neat pass from central midfield set left-back Matthias Curley away down the flank, and Tom Lorraine, who was now operating from the right side, tracked back with the Chasetown man. However, in his attempts to block the cross referee Watkins deemed that Lorraine handled the ball, and so signalled a penalty for the visitors. Nathan Rooney stepped up and slammed the ball into the net to Finlay’s right, with the keeper guessing the correct way but having little chance of stopping the powerful effort.

Rushden knew they had to raise the tempo and strive quickly to get back into the game, and they were close to finding an equalising goal when a free-kick was flicked onto Lorraine at the back post, but he was falling over as he tried to hit the ball and so the effort was scruffily hit into the keeper’s chest before the rebound was cleared.

In an attempt to inject some pace into the Diamonds attack Robbie Parsons began to get stripped and ready to come on, but before the substitution could take place Chasetown extended their lead. A quick throw-in found Sullivan on the right, and he floated in a cross to the back post where Ryan Wynter was able to leap highest and loop a header back up and over Finlay into the far corner of the goal. 

Parsons came on immediately after the goal for Bunting, and he went straight to the right side allowing Lorraine to move up alongside Shariff as the Diamonds adopted a more conventional 4-4-2 system. Despite this though, and aside from Shariff playing a ball just out of reach of Parsons and Lorraine in a promising position and then having a spin-and-shot blocked, the home side struggled to create chances to get back into the game. Chasetown defended strongly when required and were quick to sprint onto the counter-attack, and one case ten minutes before full-time saw Rooney shoot narrowly across and wide of goal as it looked certain that the ball would nestle in the net.

Taylor Orosz was introduced for Lorraine in one last throw of the dice for Rushden, but it had little effect as Chasetown continued to look the most likely to score the next goal in the contest. Curley galloped forward from defence and slipped away from Ashton before curling a shot that required Finlay to dive low to his right to save and collect, and substitute Joshua Ruff then embarked on a quick and direct run at the heart of the Diamonds defence that culminated in him having a shot blocked. In between these two chances Parsons delivered a teasing free-kick into a dangerous area, but Ashton was just unable to reach the ball and it ran out for a goal-kick. 

After two minutes of additional time the whistle was sounded to confirm Rushden’s loss and give Chasetown their first league win of the season.

Full Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-3 Chasetown FC

This represented a disappointing defeat for the Diamonds, with the way that Chasetown were able to assume the ascendancy in the second period a particular problem, but positives can be taken from the way Rushden were able to match their opponents throughout the first half and create a number of chances. The season is still very much in its infancy and the returns of Joe Curtis, Ross Oulton and Jake Newman in the forthcoming weeks will only help to bolster and improve the squad depth. There is a break from league action on Saturday (August 20th) as Diamonds entertain UCL Premier side Sileby Rangers at the Dog & Duck in the Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Nabil Shariff

Attendance: 461

Match Report by Ollie Mortimer 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Chasetown FC

17. Matt Finlay

2. Aidan Bradshaw

3. Sam Brown

4. Jack Ashton

5. Liam Dolman

6. Brad Harris

7. Lewis Leslie

8. Kyal McNulty

9. Tom Lorraine

10. Nabil Shariff

11. Richard Bunting (C)



12. Taylor Orosz (for Lorraine 82)

13. Joe Haynes

14. Robbie Parsons (for Bunting 72)

15. Nic Evangelinos (for McNulty 58)

16. James Harvey

1. John Bateman

2. Peter Till

3. Matthias Curley

4. Chris Slater

5. Leon Ashman

6. James Dance (C)

7. Nathan Rooney

8. Jack Langston

9. Mitchell Piggon

10. Paul Sullivan

11. Ryan Wynter



12. Joshua Ruff (for Wynter 82)

14. Pierce Kiembi (for Piggon 79)

15. Jonathan Haynes (for Till 87)

16. Robbie Banks

Goals: Dolman (36)

Goals: Dance (42), Rooney (pen 63), Wynter (71)

Yellow Cards: McNulty (35), Dolman (61), Shariff (90)

Yellow Cards: Wynter (69), Slater (90)

Referee: Richie Watkins

Assistants: William Ottaway, Ian Croston



Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.

The updated Match Stats, Player Stats and Attendance figures along with league stats are found in the First Team stats area on this website here. You can also find updated fixture lists in the main fixture and results grid, as well as on the Fixture News page, where there is a downloadable version.

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Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography (click on the link to access the Diamonds Photo Gallery for more images from this game and ecommerce options). Copyright Mal Swinden ©2016


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