A superb first half header from Diamonds all-time top scorer Tom Lorraine earned this hard fought win. It extended Diamonds unbeaten record to 17 and the clean sheet retained their status as the country’s meanest defence having conceded fewest goals in the top 8 divisions of English football.
Diamonds started brightly with Ben Farrell’s early headed chance deflected over before Chalfont missed a golden chance to take a shock lead when Osubu fired wildly over. Tom Lorraine, Joel Gyasi and Ben Farrell all came close to breaking the pressing and harrying Chalfont defence before the vital goal came on 34. Callum Westwood got away down the right and crossed for Lorraine to head superbly home in front of the delighted home fans.
Chalfont were better going forward second half without creating too many clear chances. Home keeper Ben Heath had a man of the match performance pushing one effort brilliantly onto the post and claiming a number of dangerous balls into the box.
Goal scorer Lorraine was forced off after a tough challenge saw him uncharacteristically stay down, and his replacement John Dean came close to clinching the result on the break. But Diamonds saw the game out though in front of a passionate 529 crowd who left happy to see 3 more points added to the hopeful promotion tally.
On their return to Hayden Road for the first time since January 6th Diamonds started brightly and created an early chance for Ben Farrell. Ben Diamond latched onto Liam Dolman’s through ball to find Ben Farrell with his cross the midfielder seeing his effort deflected over.
Chalfont St. Peter had held Diamonds to a 2-2 draw earlier in the season and they nearly grabbed a shock opening goal on 7 minutes. A speculative cross lopped up and fell onto the top of the bar wrong footing the Diamonds defence allowing Osubu a free shot at goal that he somehow fired over.
Diamonds were shading possession but being pressed at every turn in a contest between two good promotion hunting sides. Tom Lorraine broke free of the press on 15 minutes to cross dangerously the ball falling to Liam Dolman but he was blocked by the hardworking Chalfont defence. Good interplay between Joel Gyasi and Joe Curtis created an opening for Gyasi who was just eased out, and the winger finally got away from his marker on 27 minutes only to fire wide when well placed
After Ben Farrell had a crashing volley turned wide on 30 minutes Diamonds finally made the good possession count on 34 minutes. Callum Westwood got away down the right worked the defender well and hit a pinpoint cross to Tom Lorraine who guided his header past the away keeper.
Chalfont were still in the game but struggled to create chances against the countries meanest defence. They had a late free-kick in a good position after a foul on the edge of the area by Jack but couldn’t get the effort on target.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Chalfont St. Peter 0
In a bright start to the second half Ben Diamond nearly pounced on a Sam Brown through ball for the home side and Jake Cass tested Ben Heath from the edge of the area the Diamonds stopper forced to push the ball onto the post for the away side’s best effort.
Joel Gyasi was a threat all afternoon and after a mazy run on 58 minutes he set up Joe Curtis for a stinging effort that the away keeper Dennison gathered at the second attempt.
Goal scorer Tom Lorraine found himself in the wars on 62 minutes as he was whacked in the box with no foul given. The record goal scorer uncharacteristically stayed down and needed treatment before returning to the fray but he was just too sore and had to be replaced by John Dean.
Sam Brown came close to adding a second for the home side flicking Joel Gyasi’s short corner agonisingly wide. Before Ben Heath was forced into another good save from a 40 yard Chalfont free-kick that had him full of concentration.
In what was becoming a tight contest Ben Diamond remained full of energy for the home side and he ran past two defenders through sheer pace on 76 minutes and was just unable to find John Dean with his cut-back. A minute later the other bundle of energy Joel Gyasi ran at Chalfont and fired in from long range but didn’t trouble Dennison in the away goal.
Ryan Robbins had come on to replace Joe Curtis and he too was full of energy running from the half-way line, muscling his way into the box only to be harshly penalised for his efforts.
Chalfont only trailing by the one goal predictably pressed forward in the last 10 minutes putting Diamonds under quite some pressure but were repelled by the record breaking Diamonds back line. Ben Heath repeatedly handled well, Jack Westbrook intercepted and Liam Dolman cleared.
Diamonds saw it out to grab another clean sheet and the 3 points courtesy of Tom Lorraine’s first half header.
Diamonds made a successful return to Hayden Road after a 6 week break but were put under more late pressure than they have experienced for a long time. They earned the win thanks to enterprising first half play and solid dependable defensive effort in the second half.
Next up another home contest with the visit of Uxbridge to Hayden Road on Tuesday night.
Man of the Match: Ben Heath
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Chalfont St. Peter
13. Ben Heath
2. Callum Westwood
3. Sam Brown
4. Jack Westbrook
5. Liam Dolman (C)
6. Jack Ashton
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Ben Farrell
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ben Diamond
11. Joe Curtis
12. Ben Ford
14. John Dean (for Lorraine 64)
15. Cameron Gilchrist
16. Blaize Punter
18. Ryan Robbins (for Curtis 74)
1. Carl Dennison
2. Remmel Clarke
3. Ryan Haugh
4. George Fenton
5. Alan Hedley
6. Jack Mullan
7. Robert Hastings
8. Frankie Jones
9. Mahiondo Martin
10. Jake Cass
11. Victor Osubu
12. Maxwell Holland
14. Adam Kirby (for Mullan 79)
15. Louis Stead (for Martin 45)
16. Connor Shingleston (for Jones 84)
17. Alexander Lafleur
Goals: Lorraine (34)
Yellow Card: Ashton
Yellow Cards: Hedley
Referee: Andrew Ellis
Assistants: Daniel Stokes, Andrew Genders
Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.
Video highlights and post-match interviews are available here.