AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 – Royston Town 4

AFC Rushden & Diamonds surrendered their unbeaten home record to a superb second half-performance from Royston Town at a very windy Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon the visitors running our 4-1 winners.

Diamonds took the lead in a period where they were definitely getting on top but the goal owed a lot to the conditions. Lewis Leslie’s first goal for the club came from a right wing cross that drifted on the wind and over Royston keeper Ronnie Yates into the far corner.

Royston were superb throughout the second half and took just 2 minutes to get back level. Jack Bradshaw volleying home from the edge of the box. Rhys Hoenes would torment Diamonds throughout the half and notched his first on 67 as he pounced on a loose ball and fired high past hard working Matt Finlay to give Royston the lead. He added his second and Royston’s 3rd just 4 minutes later cutting in from the left and curling home from 15 yards. Diamonds struggled to gain any momentum in a misfiring second half, Lewis Leslie coming closest with a drive from the edge of the box that was deflected wide. But Royston overran an uncharacteristically porous Diamonds defence in the later stages and Hoenes completed his hat-trick on 90 minutes again seizing on a loose ball and firing low past Finlay.

Just one change to the starting line-up for manager Andy Peaks with Brad Harris unavailable Tom Lorraine came into central midfield. He had another very youthful bench though with U18 stars Matt Pinder, James Harvey and Harrison Desborough joining Alex Vitue and Courtney Herbert

The very blustery conditions with regular extremely strong gusts took some adjusting for the players in an opening spell that was full of energy and intensity but little in the way of flowing football and goalmouth action.

The visitors were strong in possession early on though and Rob Mason had the first chance for Royston on 8 minutes working space on the edge of the box and getting a good effort away that was blocked by Delroy Gordon.

Tom Liversedge created a similar chance for himself just a minute later as he turned well on the edge of the box after good work from Tommy Berwick as Diamonds began to pass the ball better, his low rasping effort turned wide at full stretch by Ronnie Yates in the Royston goal.

Sam Brown on his 151st appearance was supporting his forwards well on the left hand side and Claudio Hoban was lively in possession as Diamonds began to shade possession and chances.

Three half chances in quick succession encouraged Diamonds first Tom Liversedge shot low from inside the box after latching onto a Claudio Hoban shot, then Tommy Berwick fired just over from a tight angle after surging into the box onto a Tom Liversedge pass, and Liversedge himself fired hard and low from just outside the box but straight at Yates.

The goal that had started to look likely came with a large helping hand from the conditions on 19. Lewis Leslie picked up the ball wide right  took a touch and swung in a deep cross that was caught by the wind and drifted over Yates in the Royston goal into the far corner.

It certainly settled Diamonds who thought they had a chance for a second on 24 as Tommy Berwick raced onto another through ball and as he was challenged by Yates in the Royston goal he fell sprawling in the box. Penalty appeals were waved away by referee Simon Brown who promptly showed the yellow card to Berwick for simulation.

It seemed to preface a series of decisions that went against Diamonds forwards and frustrated them and the crowd and Diamonds started to struggle to maintain momentum in their play.

Royston responded well though and pressed hard in the later stages of the half creating chances for Bradshaw whose half volley drive from 20 yards had to be batted away by Matt Finlay in the Diamonds goal, and for the impressive Ryan Ingrey who turned superbly deep inside the box firing a first time effort that crashed back off the bar.

Half-time:  AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 – Royston Town 0

Royston’s improvement in the latter stages off the first half was followed by a strong start to the second and an equaliser on 47. A cross from the left caught a retreating Diamonds head, the ball heading wide of goal until Erkan Okay retrieved it by flicking it back over his head where it fell to Jack Bradshaw on the edge of the box to volley home.

Tom Lorraine responded for Diamonds with a trademark surging run into the left hand side of the box his low cross shot evading keeper Yates and the sliding Tommy Berwick on the far post.

It became an isolated threat though as Royston upped the intensity of their play and began to run dangerously at the Diamonds defence.

Ingrey had a dangerous effort deflected wide on 53, Ryan Mason headed a deep free-kick wide when well placed 62, and Ingrey repeated the same move on 64 as the Diamonds back four struggled to handle balls in behind them.

The seemingly inevitable 2nd for the visitors finally came on 67 as the impressive Rhys Hoenes pounced on indecision in the Diamonds back four, surged into the box and fired high past Finlay.

The third came just 4 minutes later as Hoenes again cut inside from the left wing, moved swiftly through the Diamonds defence and curled home hard and low into the far corner.

Diamonds appeared shell-shocked and were unable to gain any momentum in their play due to hesitation, miscontrol and poor pass execution at vital times. There was no lack of effort but it was rapidly turning into one of those days in the face on confident strong fast moving opposition.

Lewis Leslie did have a decent effort on 81 running towards the box turning well and firing in a firm effort that was deflected wide.

After Courtney Herbert’s earlier introduction Matt Pinder and Harrison Desborough were given home debuts but despite some real energy from Pinder in particular it had little impact on the flow of the game.

The closing stages were full of dangerous breaks by Royston against a tiring and uncharacteristically porous Diamonds defence and they finally took one of their chances as Hoenes pounced on more indecision turned well inside the box and fired home for his well-deserved hat-trick and Royston’s 4th.

Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 – Royston Town 4

After a solid first half that Diamonds just edged the second half turnaround was unexpected and dramatic. Last season’s 2nd place finishers Royston really found their form and played with real style and purpose. Diamonds just could not live with them and couldn’t get any momentum in their play. The way the defence in particular tailed off in the later stages will have troubled manager Andy Peaks but they don’t become a bad side overnight and he will be looking for them to bounce back in the three consecutive away games coming up starting with Hanwell Town on Tuesday night.

Reporters Man of the Match: Matt Finlay

Attendance: 427

Match Report by Paul Judd



AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Royston Town

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Ollie Wilkinson

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Edi Appleton

5.   Delroy Gordon

6.   Tom Lorraine

7.   Lewis Leslie

8.   Richard Bunting

9.   Tom Liversedge

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Claudio Hoban


12.  Courtney Herbert (for Bunting 31)

13.  Alex Vitue

14.  Matt Pinder (for Berwick 86)

18.  James Harvey

19.  Harrison Desborough (for Hoban 89)

1.   Ronnie Yates

2.   Dan May

3.   Daniel Braithwaite

4.   Scott Bridges

5.   Joe De La Salle

6.   Liam McDevitt

7.   Erkan Okay

8.   Jack Bradshaw

9.   Rob Mason

10. Ryan Ingrey

11. Rhys Hoenes


12. Chris Watters

14. Rhys Dobson

15. Luke Robins (for De La Salle 57)

16. Ryan Towner

17. Stuart Bridges

Goals: Leslie (19)

Goals: Bradshaw (47), Hoenes (67, 71, 90)

Yellow Cards: Berwick (24), Herbert (90)

Yellow Cards: McDevitt (13), Braithwaite (90)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Simon Brown

Assistants:  Andrew Ellis, Ryan Bryne



Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.

The updated Match Stats, Player Stats and Attendance figures along with league stats are found in the First Team stats area on this website here. You can also find updated fixture lists in the main fixture and results grid.

See here for video highlights and post-match interviews.

Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography (click on the link to access the Diamonds Photo Gallery for more images from this game and ecommerce options). Copyright Mal Swinden ©2015


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