AFC Rushden & Diamonds scraped a narrow 1-0 victory over Olney Town at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening. Substitute Matt Gearing scored the winning goal after 83 minutes in a match that kicked off 20 minutes late due to power problems.
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer rang the changes both in terms of personnel and formation. Elliot Dent had picked up an injury at the weekend that is expected to keep him out for a couple of weeks, and Jake Gillingwater struggled to complete 90 minutes in that game, so he was rested. Ben Morgan was absent due to illness. Jack Wisniewski was rested to the bench taking into account the hectic fixture list in the next few weeks. In order to give starts to Aaron King and Deven Ellwood the team lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Ellwood supporting Taylor and Newman. With Séan McBride’s ban following his red card not expected to start until 9th March, King was able to line up in a midfield three with him and Brad Harris – with King in a more forward role of the trio. Joe Merrill slotted back into the side at right-back.
After the delay caused by the power issues, the match itself lacked energy for long periods in the first half. Neither goalkeeper was forced to make a really meaningful save during that period, although Quincy Shorunmu handled a number of crosses and long range shot in an assured manner. The closest the Diamonds came to breaking the deadlock was from an Alfie Taylor free-kick that rattled the crossbar.
The Diamonds were struggling to open up the game, although Aaron King’s workrate alongside the equally energetic McBride meant that they controlled midfield without being able to find men in space to receive a defence splitting pass. Both Taylor and Newman also wasted free kick opportunities, and Chris Hope headed a Merrill cross over the bar, and Deven Ellwood also missed the goal with a header.
The best move of the first half saw a ball forward from McBride dissect the Nurserymen defence, but keeper Dorrill was quick off the mark and cleared off the toes of Jake Newman.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Olney Town 0
The second half started in a similar pattern to the first, with the visitors starting to look more and more content to try to hang on to their point. Everything the Diamonds tried seemed unable to test keeper Dorrill, but after 65 minutes the game was changed when Mark Starmer sent on two substitutes in order to revert to a 4-4-2 formation. With Jack Wisniewski having a goal scoring chance with his first kick the game was transformed, and a minute later good work from Merrill on the right using the space opened up by the arrival of Wisniewski found Aaron King whose powerful shot struck the post.
The Diamonds then forced a series of corners and long throw opportunities, but Chris Hope also went close after he raided forward out of defence. Alfie Taylor was also looking far more threatening using the extra space in the new formation, and he forced the best save of the game from Dorrill with 80 minutes on the clock.
After 83 minutes the goal finally came, courtesy of a long throw from Sam Brown on the left, flicked across goal by Chris Hope, falling to Matt Gearing who fired low into the net.
The Diamonds were then able to hold onto their lead fairly comfortably, with Jake Newman going close to doubling the lead as he stretched to reach a mis-hit shot from Taylor.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match: Aaron King
Special thanks must go to all of those involved with sorting out the complex power supply issue so quickly – and to the fans for their patience.
The Diamonds head to Lincolnshire on Saturday to face Bourne Town.
The current UCL Division 1 League Table can be found on the AFC Diamonds website here. Match and Player Stats, including an Attendance Table and Form Guide, are available here. Player Profiles on this site have also been updated.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Chris Hope (Capt)
6. Alex Deakin
7. Aaron King
8. Brad Harris
9. Alfie Taylor
10. Jake Newman
11. Deven Ellwood
12. Matt Gearing (for McBride 65)
13. Ashley Foulger
14. Arron Parkinson
15. Jack Wisniewski (for Ellwood 65)
16. Lance Allen (for Newman 90)
1. Stuart Dorrill
2. Adrian Wright
3. James Pacifici
4. James Fletcher
5. Jason Goldman
6. Sam Parrish (Capt)
7. Dean Torto
8. Ian Lindop
9. Mark Whittle
10. Steve Watson
11. Rob Heaney
12. Craig Gorrie (for Heaney 90)
14. Shaun Winconek
15. Adey Adedeji (for Whittle 88)
16. Fuad Ahmed (for Lindop 86)
Goal: Gearing (83)
Cards : None
Referee: Abdul Kadir
Assistants: Craig Druce, Daniel Johnston
See here for video highlights of the game.
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2013 Malcolm Swinden Photography
Click on an image to use picture viewer