Kidsgrove Athletic hit 5 unanswered goals at the Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon after trailing 2-0 after in the 19th minute to inflict Diamonds biggest ever home defeat 5-2.
Sam Brown opened the scoring for Diamonds after 11 minutes after great interplay between himself and Nabil Shariff got him deep into the box where he took a great touch and swept home from 10 yards. Fazel Koriya added a second for Diamonds as they dominated the opening stages heading home from a seemingly obvious offside position with everyone looking for an offside flag that didn’t come. Ant Malbon pulled one back on 27 as a free kick to the edge of the area was chested into his path for a crisp low finish. Fazel Koriya struck the bar with a dipping volley on 35 as Diamonds continued to shade possession and chances but Dan Skelton headed home a 41st minute free-kick to bring the away side level.
Diamonds had two good chances early in the second half through Nabil Shariff and Robbie Parsons as they looked to react to being pegged back but it was Harry Clayton who finished a quick break for the away side to make it 3-2 on 55 after Matt Finlay made a brilliant save but the ball played back across goal was turned in. Possibly the pivotal moment was a rejected penalty appeal for a challenge on Fazel Koriya inside the box as Diamonds pressed for an equaliser. It was waived away and just minutes later Malbon grabbed his second when finishing another quick break for the away side. Jinking deep into the box he finished neatly over Matt Finlay. Diamonds pressed hard but were unable to connect up in the final third as they had done in the opening stages of the game and as they were all pressing forward another quick break produced a Kidsgrove penalty which Malbon converted well on 79 for his hat-trick goal
Manager Andy Peaks made two changes from the last league line-up against Bedworth with Rory Winters restored to centre defence alongside Liam Dolman allowing Brad Harris to slot into right back in place of Kyal McNulty. Robbie Parsons made his first start since returning to the club and his first since early October in place of Lewis Leslie.
Diamonds made a positive start with Fazel Koriya cutting inside in just the first minute at the end of a good passing move to hit a curling shot from 25 yards just over. Taylor Orosz was enjoying a more central attacking role and broke well into the right side of the box after more good Diamonds passing finally being forced away for a corner.
The goal they had been threatening came on 11 as more impressive build-up play saw Sam Brown and Nabil Shariff show great close control as they interchanged just outside the box before Brown took a great touch inside the box and swept the ball inside the far post. Some say Diamonds get promoted when Sam Brown scores a league goal and the popular full-back’s goal was duly celebrated.
Kidgsrove were neat in possession in the middle third and probing for space between the Diamonds back four and midfield in a ploy that would draw dividends in the second half. But in these early stages they were restricted to long distance shots such as one by Dan Skelton on 13 that flew well over from the 25 yards.
Diamonds have not enjoyed a lead at home that often this season and they extended it to two goals on 19 in remarkable fashion. A flighted ball over the pushing up Kidsgrove defence found Fazel Koriya in so much space that pretty much everyone in the ground stopped for the offside flag including way keeper Chris Martin. Koriya even seemed to just nonchalantly flick his head at the ball but seeing it nestle in the bottom left corner and no offside flag celebrated doubling the Diamonds lead.
Kidsgrove tried to react with that probing for space in front of Diamonds back four with Ant Malbon key to that style of play. He set-up a half chance for Kyle Diskin on 20 which was saved by Matt Finlay but he would be the one to pull one back on 27. A free-kick from deep found the chest of Clayton on the edge of the box and he guided the ball past the falling Liam Dolman into the path of Ant Malbon who took a great touch and swept past Matt Finlay much as Sam Brown had done for the opening goal
The goal came a tad against the run of play to be fair and Diamonds reacted to the set-back well. Fazel Koriya latched onto a superb Ben Farrell through ball on 35 to hit a first time dipping volley that caught the underside of the bar and bounced away.
But Kidsgrove continued to probe and after Clayton had been denied by a crucial Liam Dolman challenge they got the all-important pre-half time equaliser. Another midfield free-kick was hit superbly in behind the retreating Diamonds back four but too far out for Matt Finlay to claim and Dan Skelton got there first to power his header into the roof of the net.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Kidsgrove Athletic 2
Diamonds reacted well to that pre-half time blow of being pegged back from 2-0 up by starting the second half brightly. Nabil Shariff came close to converting a bouncing ball inside the box on 46, and Robbie Parsons forced a near post last ditch clearance as he fired in from an angle as Diamonds pressed.
Kidgsrove continued to hit on the break though and benefited from the referee’s intervention on 53 as he neatly cut-out (!) Ben Farrell’s midfield pass allowing Clayton to break clear and have an effort on goal. And just two minutes later they took a surprise 3-2 lead as another quick break saw Ant Malbon again run through the Diamonds midfield to fire a great effort that drew a full length save from Matt Finlay. The rebound was picked up to the right of goal and fed back into the centre where Harry Clayton gleefully turned home for the away side.
Diamonds again reacted well to the blow by continuing to press forward and create pressure but Kidgsrove were able to sit deeper at this point and soak it up. Fazel Koriya nearly danced his way into the box after great interplay with Ben Farrell on 57 and Rory Winters hooked the ball across goal on 61 that just evaded Koriya on the far post.
The possibly pivotal moment in the game came on 64 as Fazel Koriya again danced through the Kidsgrove defence into the box and was felled to loud penalty appeals that were waved away. They then suffered the classic sucker punch on 67 as Ant Malbon broke away again, jinked his way past two defenders deep into the box and lifted the ball cleverly over the advancing Matt Finlay. It was a superb finish and pretty much clinched the game for the enterprising away side.
Substitutions were made introducing Joe Curtis, Lewis Leslie and Tom Lorraine all of whom would have been hoping for a starting berth today but the pattern of the game seemed set and Diamonds struggled to create much in the way of late momentum. Lewis Leslie nearly found Fazel Koriya at the post of 74 but it was an increasingly confident Kisdgrove who would have the final say.
Another quick break saw a Diamonds side who had been pushing forward en-mass broken apart as Ant Malbon again broke deep into the box, was initially repelled but the flying Marc Grocott was tripped to award the away side a penalty. That man Ant Malbon stepped up to convert a neat penalty for his well-deserved hat-trick, but it was a harsh 5th against Diamonds.
The game had been an entertaining spectacle but played out quietly from this point to finish in a 5-2 win for the away side. It was Diamonds biggest home defeat that took some absorbing by the home faithful.
Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Kidsgrove Athletic 5
The score-line was as unexpected for Diamonds as it possibly was for Kidsgrove. The away side hit 5 unanswered goals after Diamonds had lead 2-0 after 19 minutes. Diamonds have played worse and won but saw a Kidsgrove side who were clinical up front with Ant Malbon very impressive. Diamonds probably shaded possession but after that initial 2 goal burst were unable to build up consistent pressure and real chances.
They don’t become a bad side overnight and while it will be disappointing to Andy Peaks to surrender the 19 game unbeaten run in that way, it wasn’t the worst performance in that period by a long way.
With players from the whole squad pushing for chances in the starting line-up there is reason for optimism as they take on Rugby Town on Tuesday night at the Dog & Duck. The last time Diamonds conceded 5 they went unbeaten for the rest of the season and achieved promotion… who knows!!
Diamonds Man of the Match: Sam Brown
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Matt Finlay
2. Brad Harris
3. Sam Brown
4. Rory Winters
5. Liam Dolman
6. Ben Farrell
7. Nabil Shariff
8. Fazel Koriya
9. Taylor Orosz
10. Richard Bunting
11. Robbie Parsons
12. Kyal McNulty
13. Ben Heath
14. Lewis Leslie
15. Tom Lorraine
16. Joe Curtis
1. Chris Martin
2. Leon Ashman
3. Lewis Bergin
4. Ross Davidson
5. Ryan Austin
6. Dan Skelton
7. Kyle Diskin
8. Marc Grocott
9. Harry Clayton
10. Ant Malbon
11. Lee Pickerill
12. Aaron Johns
14. Chris Birchall
15. Ash Hodgkinson
16. Dylan Bath
Goals: Brown (6), Koriya (19)
Goals: Malbon (27, 67, 79 Pen), Skelton (41), Clayton (55)
Yellow Card: Farrell
Referee: Robert Hathaway
Assistants: Paul Wainman, Thomas Wainman
Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.
Click here for video highlights of this game and post-match interviews.