AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Northampton Town XI 2 – Maunsell Cup Final

Diamonds were cruelly beaten in their second Maunsell Cup final by a 90th Northampton Town winner having equalised just 6 minutes earlier and looking like the side that would go on to win.

This was an excellent all round performance against a strong Northampton Town development side who took the lead on 20 minutes through a close range finish from Caleb Chukwuemeka. The Cobblers side dominated possession in the first half forcing then trialist and now new signing Niall Cooper who would take Man of the Match into a series of great saves. He pushed one superbly wide from a close range effort, another just round the left post when scrambling across his goal and the best an amazing full length effort from a fizzer that looked destined for the top corner. Jack Bowen probably came closest for Diamonds lifting the ball over the bar from close range while stretching to connect with a Jack Ashton header across goal. Trialist and now new signing Nat Gosnal-Tyler lead a tremendous break and saw his effort saved by the keeper’s legs when clean through on the right side of the box and a series of dangerous crosses were cleared away under pressure as Diamonds played a full part in the entertainment.

The second half saw Diamonds grow in confidence against their young opponents and put together some driving movement that started to pressure the Cobblers defence. 2nd half substitutions including Ben Farrell, Sam Johnson and Tom Lorraine enhanced the feeling that Diamonds would get back into the game. Patrick Casey saw a header from a corner blocked early in the half but it was the last 20 minutes when the pressure started to ramp up on the away defence. Jack Ashton was clattered in the box at a corner as he tried to exert pressure, away keeper Bradley Cashley made a Niall Cooper style save to deny Tom Lorraine right up in the top corner, and a double chance saw Tom Lorraine set-up fast running trialist sub for an effort from 15 yards that was blocked by Cashley before Lorraine himself seized on the rebound and fired it agonisingly wide.

The pressure finally tolled on 84 minutes as more good play was halted by the retreating Cobblers defence earning a free-kick wide left. It was swung in superbly for Jack Ashton falling at the feet of defenders all around him to head low into the bottom corner. Diamonds were in the ascendency at that point and Cobblers escaped twice in quick succession in the last minute. First a looped header saw Cashley forced to push the ball up and away at the second attempt from just under the bar and the ball played back in and over him just clipped the top of the bar.

You have to give credit to the young Cobblers side though who stayed bright and energetic right to the end and they got their reward in the 90th minute. A good quick passing break saw the ball fall to Ethan Johnstone just inside the box to curl superbly over Ben Heath.

It was harsh on Diamonds who had performed well throughout and really looked like the side that would go on to win the trophy. Cobblers probably deserved the win over the full 90 minutes and happily lifted the Maunsell Cup after the game. They were an impressive group of players who were pushed all the way by a Diamonds side growing in confidence as the pre-season progresses.

Next-up the final pre-season game at Daventry Town away on Saturday afternoon.

Man of the Match: Niall Cooper (Trialist 13)

Attendance: 319

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Northampton Town X1

13. Trialist (Niall Cooper)

2.   Trialist (Nat Gosnal-Tyler)

3.   Trialist

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Patrick Casey

7.   Declan Rogers

8.   Trialist (Matt Slinn)

9.   Ryan Dove

10. Jack Bowen

11. Jesse Akubuine

Subs:

12. Sam Brown (for Akubine 45)

14. Ben Farrell (for Rogers 65)

15. Tom Lorraine (for Dove 65)

16. Trialist (for Trialist 8 65)

17. Ben Heath (for Trialist 73 )

18. Massiah McDonald

19. Sam Johnson (for Trialist 3 60)

 

1.   Bradley Lashley

2.   Richie Bailey

3.   Ryan Hughes

4.   Scott Pollock

5.   Jay Williams

6.   Josh Flanagan

7.   Morgan Roberts

14. Ryan Smith

9.   Billy Walters

19. Michael Harding

11. Caleb Chukwuemeka

Subs:

12. Will Patching

17. Will Bates

21. Ewan Clark

22. Ethan Johnstone (for Chukwuemeka 68)

24. Tom Scott (for Roberts 72)

Goals: Ashton (84)

Goals: Chukwuemeka (20), Johnstone (90)

Yellow Card:

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Andy Humphries

Assistants: Shaun Barry, Joe Woolmer

Fourth Official: Martyn Gospel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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