AFC Rushden & Diamonds slipped to a narrow defeat by a Luton Town XI on Tuesday evening. The final score was 2-1 in favour of the visitors, but the Diamonds came very close to snatching a late equaliser that would have given them a well earned draw.
The visitors went ahead after just two minutes when a 25-yard shot from Ian Rees found the back of Ashley Foulger’s net. After good Diamonds chances for Alfie Taylor, Fazel Koriya and Russ Dunkley they went further behind after 21 minutes when Joe Merrill was left exposed on the Diamonds right and fouled Isaac Galliford as he burst into the area. Although Ashley Foulger pulled off an excellent save of Leeroy Maguraushe’s spot kick, the Hatters’ striker was able to prod home the loose ball.
The Diamonds had been playing with a back three of Merrill, Gillingwater and Clarke, with Koriya and Gearing as wing-backs. The midfield three was McBride, King and Dent, with Taylor and Dunkley up-front.
Elliot Dent struck the bar as the Diamonds fought to get a goal back before half-time, but Ashley Foulger was called upon to make two or three good saves to keep his team in contention despite them having the lion’s share of possession.
In the second half the Diamonds continued promising performance was appreciated by the home crowd, especially that of Koriya who was causing real problems with his runs from deep. Shortly after he and Matt Gearing had received treatment for cramp, and with Gearing still off the field, a long ball forward from Foulger was neatly headed by Dunkley into the path of Koriya, who lashed home with an excellent finish after 68 minutes.
The Diamonds seemed the more likely team to score the next goal, and looked like they would do so in the last few minutes. A thrusting run forward from Nat Liburd down the right was backed up by an overlap from Jack Wisniewski (who was part of the back three at this point), and his first time cross found the head of Russ Dunkley, but the striker’s effort agonisingly just off-target.
Diamonds Team: Ashley Foulger, Joe Merrill, Fazel Koriya, Séan McBride, Jake Gillingwater, Jamal Clarke, Matt Gearing, Aaron King, Russ Dunkley, Alfie Taylor, Elliot Dent. Subs Used: Nat Liburd (for Merrill 64), Lance Allen (for Taylor 70), Ben Morgan (for Koriya 72), Jack Wisniewski (for McBride 76), Louis Smith (for King 76); King and McBride returned after 85mins for Gearing and Dent. Brad Harris and Tom Cross were unused subs.
Luton Town XI: Ben Barnes, Luke Trottman, Lee Hawkes, Ian Rees, Harry Tamplin, Kyle Davison, Arel Amu, Leeroy Maguraushe, Jemale McKanzie-Lowe, Juki Jayale, Isaac Galliford. Subs: Will Wright, Gabriel Oakley, Osamu Allman, Ekene Amadi.