AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Buckingham Athletic 0


AFC Rushden & Diamonds successful pre-season continued as they sealed a 2-0 victory over Buckingham Athletic at the Dog and Duck. An early solo goal from Ben Morgan was followed by a second-half strike from Alfie Taylor in one of the Diamonds toughest games to date. Two late stops by Quincy Shorunmu to foil one-on-one opportunities preserved the clean sheet once again.

With a number of the first team squad having played the previous evening, this was a chance for Mark Starmer to use a traditional starting XI plus five substitutes on the bench. He chose an attacking line-up once more, with Ben Morgan and Jack Wisniewski pushed forward to support Alfie Taylor and Deven Ellwood up front. Elliot Dent and George Cox worked together in central midfield in front of a back four of Chris Hope and Aynsley McDonald at centre back alongside Joe Merrill and James Allcock. James Broadbent started between the sticks.

As expected there was a smaller crowd in attendance than for the first game against Peterborough United, but there were still 214 fans preferring the Dog and Duck to Olympics action.

The Diamonds kicked off towards the river end, and within 3 minutes they were ahead, as Ben Morgan took a long ball into his stride down the right, leaving his marker flatfooted before curling a well-hit shot into the net.

The visitors then started to get their offside trap organised, and it was this that thwarted a couple of excellent looking Diamonds breaks, although quality finishes by Taylor and Morgan once again promised much for the season ahead. Chris Hope made amends for firing over when presented with a good chance by heading clear at the other end during a rare first-half raid by the visitors. Alfie Taylor forced a good save, and Joe Merrill did well when breaking forwards from full-back to almost find Alfie Taylor with a low cross.

Although the action was rather sporadic, there were flashes of quality, notably a pass from Elliot Dent with such vision and precision it would not be out of place in a much higher standard of football. Dent also saw a powerful shot blocked as the Diamonds were unable to extend their lead before half-time.

Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Buckingham Athletic 0

Although the visitors hadn’t threatened much in the first half, their improvement early in the second half meant the Diamonds defence was the more busy for that period. When the home side built slowly in midfield their attacks tended to be thwarted by the Athletic offside trap, but there were two or three quick-fire attacks that promised much, although didn’t quite present a Diamonds player with a clear-cut chance.

Luke Pritchard joined the action shortly after the hour mark, and came close with his first touch when he found space on the right in a quick break, but his well-hit effort was tipped over. The set of substitutions had injected new life into the game with Pritchard finding space on the right, but it was a quick-fire move through the centre that saw Ben Morgan surge towards the penalty area before he was tripped right on the edge of the box. Alfie Taylor stepped up and drilled a low shot past the wall and into the net for the second Diamonds goal.

Any thought this might end the game as a spectacle were dispelled by the increased effort from the visitors, and twice they capitalised on rather sloppy defending to engineer one-on-one situations with the Diamonds keeper, Quincy Shorunmu – but on both occasions it was Shorunmu who came away with the ball.

An indication of the level of commitment shown by the Diamonds players was demonstrated by Jack Wisniewski when he chased an overhit cross that looked certain to go out for a throw-in, but only appeared to have tee’d the ball up for a defender to clear as he crashed into the advertising boards, but he got up and showed lighting pace to challenge the defender and win a throw-in. It was this sort of commitment that helped the Diamonds seal their victory.

Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Buckingham Athletic 0

The Diamonds will look to continue their good work in pre-season when a Luton Town XI are the last visitors to the Dog and Duck on Friday evening before the season proper begins on August 18th.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Elliot Dent

Attendance: 214

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Buckingham Athletic

13. James Broadbent

2. Joe Merrill

5. Chris Hope

6. Aynsley McDonald (Capt)

3. James Allcock

7. George Cox

4. Elliot Dent

8. Jack Wisniewski

21. Ben Morgan

9. Alfie Taylor

10. Deven Ellwood



17. Quincy Shorunmu for Broadbent (62)

20 Luke Pritchard for Ellwood (62)

18. Jake Gillingwater for Merrill (62)

22. Lee Gotch for Allcock (62)

19. Troy Johnston for Cox (63)

2. Joe Merrill returned for Wisniewski (90+4)




Goals: Morgan (3mins), Taylor (78mins)

Goals: None

Cards : None

Cards : None



 Images courtesy of Mal Swinden