AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-3 Histon
AFC Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a 3-1 defeat to Histon on Saturday morning, in a friendly game played on the astroturf pitch at the Hunts Post Community Stadium, home of St Neots Town.
With a few players missing due to work and other playing commitments, Mark Starmer took the opportunity to give starts to some of those players who haven’t featured much in the first team squad recently. There was good news in defence, as Adam Ziolkowski had recovered from a back injury picked up in the pre-match warm-up for Thursday’s victory over Bugbrooke.
Histon fielded a strong side, including many of their regular Football Conference Youth Alliance players.
The game got off to a cagey start, with Histon perhaps looking slightly more comfortable in possession in the opening stages. The Rushden defence were looking solid however, and limited them to only a couple of long range efforts which failed to trouble Ashley Foulger. The first shot of note came from the Diamonds on 14 minutes, as Louis Smith cut in from the left wing and fired a powerful 20 yard strike narrowly over the bar.
Histon went close two minutes later when a striker drifted out wide before cutting back inside and hitting a shot from a very tight angle which just cleared Foulger’s crossbar.
On 19 minutes Fred Devereaux picked out Lewi Williams on the right flank with a great pass from midfield. Williams brought the ball under control before noticing that Histon ‘keeper Jack Hayden was some way off his line, but the striker’s 25 yard lob landed just wide of the post.
The following 10 minutes saw little goalmouth action at either end of the pitch, but on 31 minutes Histon took the lead. An excellent free kick delivery from just inside the Rushden half found the feet of Harry Henbury who slotted the ball past Foulger from close range.
Histon were starting to stamp their authority on the game now, but the Diamonds were competing well and played some good football of their own in spells. On 36 minutes Mason Thomas fed Devereaux with an excellent pass down the right wing, and the latter knocked in a terrific cross that was crying out for a teammate to tap home, but the Histon defence reached the ball first, clearing it behind for a corner.
Despite some good flowing football the Stutes were still struggling to create any clear cut chances, with a wayward 20 yard shot the best they could muster as have time approached. A minute later, Williams shot well wide from a similar distance at the opposite end.
In the first minute of stoppage time the Diamonds were dealt a blow as joint leading scorer Mason Thomas picked up a knee injury going in for a tackle, and had to be replaced. Blake Helsdown was the player to enter the fray. The severity of his injury is not yet known, but with no game next week he has plenty of time to recover before the cup tie against ON Chenecks.
Histon managed to fashion a decent chance with almost the last kick of the half as a cross into the area wasn’t dealt with, but the ensuing shot was well saved by the feet of Foulger.
HT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-1 Histon
Some quick thinking from Lewi Williams almost saw the Diamonds equalise within seconds of the restart. Spotting Hayden off his line, the Rushden striker tried his luck straight from the kick off, but although he beat the Histon ‘keeper the ball sailed wide of the goal.
Histon should have doubled their lead two minutes later when a right wing corner found an unmarked player 10 yards from goal, but his header was glanced well wide. They went close again minutes later when another ball in from the right appeared to present a striker with a simple tap in, but Foulger dived bravely at his feet to deny a certain second goal.
Two minutes later, however, Histon did make it 2-0. Some sloppy defending allowed a Histon winger to cut in from the right flank and square the ball to Caspar Irso-Coombes who was allowed plenty of time to bring the ball under control before slotting it past a helpless Foulger.
Mark Starmer’s response was to bring on Zach Farden and Zaak Moon for Dan Paterson and Alex McDonald respectively. Seven minutes later Rushden got themselves back into the game by pulling a goal back, although there was a great deal of fortune involved. A foul just inside the Histon half gave the Diamonds a chance to whip the ball into the opposition penalty area. Louis Smith stepped up to take the free kick, curling it in towards goal, where Hayden appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball, fumbling it in to the back of the net.
Ashley Foulger had to depart on 64 minutes due to a prior commitment, with Danny Bird filling in between the sticks in the absence of a substitute goalkeeper. Within a minute he was forced to retrieve the ball from the back of the net as Histon regained their two goal advantage. The AFC defence were guilty of overplaying the ball, allowing the Stutes to rob possession before setting up Harry Henbury who fired home an excellent 15 yard shot for his second goal of the game.
With the pressure relieved once more, Histon began to play with more fluidity and dominated possession for the remainder of the game. The Rushden defence continued to battle well however, and limited them to few clear cut chances. A shot from the right hand side of the area with 10 minutes remaining forced Bird into his first save after replacing Foulger in goal. Then in injury time the Stutes should have netted their fourth goal of the game. A free kick near the left hand corner was whipped into the middle and found the head of an unmarked Histon player, but his header sailed high over the bar.
FT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-3 Histon
Despite the defeat the Diamonds can take heart from their performance against a very good Histon side, who currently sit above Football League sides Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon in the FCYA table.
The club are back at the Hunts Post Community Stadium on Sunday, when a Mark Starmer’s Ex-Diamonds XI take on a St Neots Town XI in the main stadium. Click HERE for details of this match.
The next competitive game is the League Cup tie against ON Chenecks, which has moved from its original date and venue, and will now be played at Kiln Park on Thursday 26th January, details HERE.
Attendance: Approximately 60
Man of the Match: Fred Devereaux
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|86. Ashley Foulger
4. Mark Rust
5. Danny Bird (c)
15. Adam Ziolkowski
19. Dan Paterson
9. Fred Devereaux
6. Alex McDonald
10. Conor Bell
13. Louis Smith
11. Lewi Williams
16. Mason Thomas
Lewis McDonald(Histon didn’t use shirt numbers and rotated substitutes)
2. Ashley Meeks (for Bird, 46 mins)
3. Zach Farden (for Paterson, 55 mins)
7. Blake Helsdown (for Thomas, 45+1 mins)
8. Zaak Moon (for McDonald, 55 mins)
Smith (62 mins)
Henbury (31 mins)
Irso-Coombes (55 mins)
Henbury (65 mins)