AFC Rushden & Diamonds saw UCL Champions Spalding United snatch a late winner at the Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon. After Tom Lorraine had given the Diamonds an early lead, the visitors had quickly equalised in an even first half. The Diamonds had several chances to go ahead in the second period, with Tom Lorraine, Jamal Clarke and Matt Gearing all going close, before the Tulips got the winner in the third minute of added time.
Caretaker Manager Andy Peaks made one change in personnel and one positional change to the side that had won 6-0 at Harborough Town, with Joe Merrill returning at full-back and Joe Henderson stepping forward into midfield at the expense of Brad Harris who dropped to the bench.
The Diamonds welcomed the UCL Champions onto the pitch with a “guard of honour” with the threat of rain receding as the action started. An early chance fell to the Tulips Mark Jones, but he started a trend for putting them over the bar that was to last for much of the afternoon for the visitors.
After nine minutes the Diamonds had taken the lead. Good work from Greg Ling on the left saw him get in a low cross to Tom Lorraine who fired home his debut goal for the club.
The Diamonds lead lasted only three minutes, as after 12 minutes a ball was floated over the head of Sam Brown and into the path of Tulips’ right-winger Lee Beeson. His first time low cross was perfectly placed and Mark Jones was able to side-foot home the equaliser.
Neither goalkeeper was really tested in the remainder of the half, although Roberts had to be alert to cut out a run by Fazel Koriya after 25 minutes, and he fumbled a Bunting free-kick to concede a corner late in the half..
Josh Ford had attracted the attention of referee Bright early in the game with his actions, and he finally picked up a yellow card on the stroke of half-time as the match officials’ patience was tested one step too far – and as a result he was replaced at the interval.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Spalding United 1
After making a change at the interval the visitors were forced into a second change within five minutes of the restart, as captain Jamie Stevens had to be helped from the field.
Tom Lorraine almost had his second goal for the club on the hour mark, as he won possession in the left channel and broke towards the area, but could only find the side-netting at the near-post with keeper Roberts appearing wrong-footed as he anticipated a pass to Koriya at the far post. He was forced to leave the action 10 minutes later as he appeared to be suffering from cramp, allowing Scott Joseph to make his home debut.
Jack Ashton was having another good game and he created a chance for Greg Ling as he won the ball at a corner. Perhaps the best Diamonds chance of a half where they had been creating the better chances came when Fazel Koriya was able to find space on the left. He was able to run towards the by-line and float a perfect cross onto the head of Matt Gearing, but his powerful effort was thwarted by the reflexes of Tom Roberts.
Nathan Stainfield had been having an impressive game in the Tulips’ defence but he had to leave the field for attention, returning with a bandaged head.
At this stage the Diamonds were looking the most likely team to get a winner, and Jamal Clarke capped an impressive performance in defence when he went forward for a free kick and saw an effort blocked.
After the stoppages for the injuries to Stevens and Stainfield it was clear referee Bright would add on four or five minutes, but a draw was still looking the most likely and appropriate result as the game entered the third minute of added time. A Tulip break down the left saw a cross looped into the area, but Matt Finlay was unable to decisively deal with it, resorting to a punch that only reached the edge of the box, and was quickly worked to Dan Cotton who hit a low shot diagonally into the far side of the net.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Spalding United 2
Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Hart Breweries: Tom Lorraine
The Diamonds host Yaxley on Friday evening.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Matt Finlay
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Joe Henderson
5. Jack Ashton
6. Jamal Clarke
7. Matt Gearing
8. Richard Bunting (c)
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Fazel Koriya
11. Greg Ling
12. Ben Morgan
13. Adam Whybrow (GK)
14. Séan McBride
15. Scott Joseph (for Lorraine 71)
16. Brad Harris
1. Tom Roberts
2. Ross Watson
3. Adam Jackson
4. Jamie Stevens (c)
5. Nathan Stainfield
6. Lewis Webb
7. Lee Beeson
8. Chris Hall
9. Josh Ford
10. Mark Jones
11. Dan Cotton
12. Jamie Thurlbourne (for Stevens 50)
14. Jonny Allen (for Ford 46)
15. Danny Hussey
16. Marcus Ebdon
17. Michael Duggan (GK)
Goal: Lorraine (9)
Goals: Jones (12), Cotton (90+3)
Yellow Cards: Bunting
Yellow Cards: Ford
Referee: Mr Wayne Bright
Assistant Referees: Mr Shaun Gray & Mr Stephen Biggs