AFC Rushden & Diamonds recorded a 1-0 win over Yaxley on Friday night at the Dog & Duck courtesy of a goal from Scott Joseph. Although the goal had an element of fortune, coming from a mishit shot after 34 minutes, the Diamonds were deserved winners.
Caretaker Manager Andy Peaks made two changes to the side that had been unfortunate to lose to Spalding, with Joe Merrill being rested and Greg Ling unavailable, meaning that Joe Henderson moved to right back and Brad Harris retuned to midfield. Up front Scott Joseph made his first start for the club to partner Tom Lorraine, with Faazel Koriya moving to the wide left role in place of Greg Ling.
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of the Hillsborough disaster.
An early chance for the Diamonds fell to Joe Henderson whose effort flew over the bar, and Tom Lorraine saw a low shot narrowly miss the far post.
What was to prove to be the Cuckoos best chance of the game came at the end of the first quarter, as Luke Hipwell latched onto a long ball and hit a powerful shot that was well saved by Finlay, and he could only head the rebound into the side netting.
At the other end Aaron Butcher was particularly impressive in the Yaxley goal as he saved from Tom Lorraine and Scott Joseph, with Matt Gearing impressing with his runs at the Yaxley defence. Joe Henderson had another chance which Butcher fielded before Scott Joseph broke clear, passing to Lorraine who was tackled before he could lay the ball across goal to Matt Gearing.
After 34 minutes the Diamonds took the lead, and although there was an element of fortune it was deserved on the balance of play. Scott Joseph did well to bring a pass under control towards the right side of goal, and his first touch left him stretching to prod the ball goalwards, so he was unable to get any power, but this lack of power meant it was overrun by both a defender and the keeper, and it rolled into the left-hand side of the net.
The Diamonds were able to hold on to their lead until half-time.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Yaxley 0
Tom Lorraine had been carrying a groin problem, and he was replaced at half-time by the returning Russ Dunkley, who had passed a fitness test just prior to the game.
Matt Gearing continued where he had left off in the first half, with several storming runs down the right. From one of these he saw a shot well saved by Butcher, with Russ Dunkley unable to force home the rebound. Sam Brown was able to forward far more in the second period, and he turned back onto his right foot to find Scott Joseph whose effort flew across goal.
Gearing and Dunkley saw further efforts go close, and Dunkley began to link well with Scott Joseph, but the star performers of the second period were in the Diamonds defence as they preserved their clean sheet which ensured their side moved back into second place in the league. Their next game is on Easter Monday, by which time their rivals for second place will have attempted to get back ahead of them in the table.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Yaxley 0
Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor IronMan Dry Cleaners: Sam Brown
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Matt Finlay
2. Joe Henderson
3. Sam Brown
4. Brad Harris
5. Jack Ashton
6. Jamal Clarke
7. Matt Gearing
8. Richard Bunting (c)
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Scott Joseph
11. Fazel Koriya
12. Russ Dunkley (for Lorraine 46)
13. Adam Whybrow
14. Joe Merrill (for Gearing 83)
15. Ben Morgan (for Joseph 73)
16. Séan McBride
1. Aaron Butcher
2. John-Paul Duncliffe
3. Ollie Gale
4. Andy Coleman
5. Matt Holland
6. Wayne Morris
7. Liam Hook
8. Scott Carter
9. Andy Furnell
10. Ricky Hailstone (c)
11. Luke Hipwell
12. Matt Carter(for Coleman 72)
14. Dan Bucciero (for Hailstone 59)
15. Matt Barber (for Hipwell 79)
16. Andy Harrison
Goal: Joseph (34)
Yellow Cards: None
Yellow Cards: Carter
Referee: Mr Gavin McFarlane
Assistant Referees: Mr Michael Chalkley & Mr Phil Arnold