AFC Rushden & Diamonds defeated Rothwell Corinthians 2-1 at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening. In a lack-lustre performance the Diamonds built a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals in either half from Jack Wisniewski and Lance Allen, but the visitors got a goal back to make a nervous final few minutes. The Diamonds ended the game with 10 men after Sam Brown was forced from the field by a challenge that incensed the Diamonds bench.
Although the result means the Diamonds move to the top of the UCL1 table ahead of Northampton Sileby Rangers, who play on Wednesday evening, it was not done in the style that might have been hoped.
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer rang the changes in preparation for the visit of Oadby Town on Saturday, with Jake Gillingwater and Matt Gearing rested to the bench allowing Joe Merrill and Lance Allen to start. Quincy Shorunmu was absent due to injury and Alex Deakin to illness, meaning a start for Ashley Foulger and a return for Club Captain Chris Hope. Young keeper Alex Vitue took a place on the Diamonds bench for the first time.
Sterling work from the Diamonds’ volunteers, along with excellent support by those from Wellingborough Town, had allowed the game to go ahead despite the awful weather over the weekend – although the temperature seemed more like mid-December then the end of March.
The pattern of the first half was centred around the Diamonds having the lion’s share of the attacking play, but failing to really test visiting keeper Wilson, who comfortably blocked a number of efforts, notably four from Alfie Taylor which he got his body behind.
The visitors looked to challenge on the break, and Ashley Foulger had to produce an excellent save to deny Phil Cox.
After 32 minutes the Diamonds finally made their pressure pay, and it took an effort from Jack Wisniewski from 20 yards that went in-off the right-hand post after he had been found by a neat pass from Sam Brown, who had received the ball back from Alfie Taylor following a throw in. The goal was shortly after the two wide players had switched flanks to allow Wisniewski to find room inside in the left channel.
Wisniewski really should have put the Diamonds two goals ahead at the interval when Chris Hope directed a header to him from an Alfie Taylor corner, but he could only head over. Jake Newman had been struggling throughout the first half to get onto the ball in dangerous areas, but when he did so just before the break he could only fire wide, and then a few minutes later he broke clear with only the keeper to beat, and Alfie Taylor free in space to his right, but rather than a first time chip or pass to Taylor he took a touch that allowed keeper Wilson to cap his excellent first half-performance by blocking an attempted shot from the Diamonds striker.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Rothwell Corinthians 0
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with the Diamonds thwarted by saves from Wilson, notably a Chris Hope header from a free-kick, and the visitors looking dangerous on the break especially when a hurried backpass from Parkinson was almost intercepted before Foulger came out to clear.
The Diamonds clearly needed a second goal, and it came from Lance Allen after 55 minutes when he headed home a cross from the right from Joe Merrill.
With chances to make the game safe with a third goal falling to Taylor, King and Newman, the Diamonds were to regret their poor finishing after 74 minutes when Jim Whitmore forced home after one of the visitors’ many corners was not properly cleared. Almost immediately the Diamonds could have restored their two goal lead when Deven Ellwood broke clear, but he couldn’t get his effort past Wilson, and neither could fellow substitute Gearing shortly afterwards.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Sam Brown was felled by a high lunge at the ball, and had to leave the field, with referee Wills taking no action to the consternation of the Diamonds bench, as this was shortly after he had shown a yellow card to Aaron King for an accumulation of fouls.
The Corinths were having their best spell of the game against the 10 men, forcing a save from Foulger, and seeing Matt Gearing head another chance off the line, but referee Wills brought the game to a close to the relief of the impressive turn-out of Diamonds fans.
The final whistle signalled the end of a game that will only be remembered for the three points and the tackle on Sam Brown, plus the fact the Diamonds unbeaten run is now up to 13 games as they head towards the final five weeks of the season.
The Diamonds have perhaps their biggest game of the season to date on Saturday when Oadby Town visit the Dog & Duck.
Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Henry Steele: Jack Wisniewski
The current UCL League Table can be found on the AFC Diamonds website here, and the updated Match Stats, Player Stats, Form Guide and Attendance figures are found in the summary stats area here. Updated player profiles are also available.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Ashley Foulger
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Aaron King
5. Chris Hope (Capt)
6. Arron Parkinson
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. Brad Harris
9. Alfie Taylor
10. Jake Newman
11. Lance Allen
12. Jake Gillingwater
14. Deven Ellwood (for Taylor 62)
15. Matt Gearing (for Wisniewski 77)
16. Ben Morgan (for Newman 70)
17. Alex Vitue
1. Brad Wilson
2. Ben Johnson
3. Luke Phillips
4. Jim Whitmore
5. Tom Judge
6. Luke Bewers
7. Tom Scarratt
8. Phil Cox
9. Shane Goddard
10. Tom Johnson
11. Calum McNichol
14. Chris Plummer (for MacNichol 57)
15. Chris Torrence (for Goddard 84)
16. Jason Singh (for Bewers 70)
Goal: Wisniewski (32), Allen (55)
Goal: Whitmore (74)
Cards : King
Referee: Shaun Wills
Assistants: Kevan Atkins, Kira Abbott
Match highlights and post-match interviews are available here.
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2013 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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