AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 – St. Ives Town 0

AFC Rushden & Diamonds pushed onto 64 points for the season with an excellent 2-0 victory over top 5 rivals St. Ives Town at the Dog & Duck Stadium on Tuesday night.

Diamonds were on the front foot throughout the game creating two early chances through great Tom Lorraine runs. The first when he fed Stevenson and Quigley who were denied at close range, and the second when he fired a shot across goal himself after surging into the box. St. Ives were neat in possession and pressed themselves but found the Diamonds back four in dominant form. Claudiu Hoban worked hard defensively early on but his attacking threat grew throughout the half and he fired across goal after one great run, hit the post after another, and created mayhem with two dangerous crosses late on, one which might have been a penalty for handball and another that created a goalmouth scramble that Diamonds just couldn’t force home.

The pattern continued in the second half with Hoban smashing a superb effort off the bar, and having a second saved after controlling a great through ball. The vital opening goal finally came on 53 as another threatening cross was only half-cleared to Tom Lorraine who swivelled and struck first time from 18 yards into the bottom corner. St. Ives made substitutions and pressed forward in the first dominant period for them but apart from a good chance on the volley from 15 yards that was sliced over and a series of corners that had Diamonds working hard to clear they were repelled by Diamonds who continued to break dangerously. Man of the Match Claudiu Hoban finally grabbed the second goal on 80. He swung in a curling free-kick from wide on the right that deceived keeper Trebbs and fell over him into the net in front of an ecstatic Peter de Banke Terrace.

 

Manager Andy Peaks changed both his full-backs from the side that earned a hard fought draw on Saturday with Ollie Wilkinson unavailable Delroy Gordon came in on the right side, and Luke Hipwell came in for Connor Kennedy on the left. New signing Robbie Parsons came onto the bench along with Kennedy, Shawn Richards, Lewis Leslie and Alex Vitue.

Diamonds started this game solidly on the front foot and ran hard at their 3rd place opponents from the off. Tom Lorraine featured twice in the early stages creating half-chances with trademark runs into the right channel. On 3 minutes he beat his man and cut his cross back to Jon Stevenson whose effort was blocked bravely by St. Ives keeper Tim Trebbs, the rebound fired over under pressure by Dan Quigley. On 11 the big striker latched onto a great turn and through ball by Jon Stevenson surged into the box and fired hard and low and past keeper Trebbs but also past the far post.

St. Ives were compact defensively and trying to brake quickly with Louis Viera their danger man. He broke past Luke Hipwell into the right hand-side of the area on 20 and fired in a low cross along the 6 yard line only to see Diamonds defensive rock Liam Dolman head clear.

Claudiu Hoban had been working hard defensively in the early stages to the appreciation of the home crowd but started to extend an influence going forward as the half wore on. He controlled a long ball superbly on 25, jinked in and out of the area before firing a low shot dangerously across goal.

St. Ives attempts to press forward with neat passing and good movement were repeated repelled by strong defending across the Diamonds back four but they did earn a number of free-kicks which threatened but didn’t result in clear efforts on goal.

Jon Stevenson was picking the ball up around the penalty area and working hard to evade tight marking on a number of occasions, getting a fierce shot away on 29 after a mazy dribble that unfortunately he fired well over.

Hoban then came closest of all for Diamonds as he again collected in midfield, ran at St. Ives and as space opened up fired a rasping effort that beat keeper Trebbs outstretched hand but crashed back off the post.

In the latter minutes of the half more Hoban trickery produced a penalty appeal as Luke Hipwell’s supporting cross appeared to strike an arm, and a goalmouth scramble resulted from another dangerous ball with Lorraine, Stevenson and Quigley unable to quite turn it home

Half-time:  AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 – St. Ives Town 0

The pattern continued much the same way in the second half with Diamonds pressing and probing their opponents who struggled at times to hold the dynamic interplay of the Diamonds midfield and forward line. Claudiu Hoban was really testing the away side with great control and pacey running and hit the woodwork for the second time in the match as his drive from just inside the box at the end of another run caught the crossbar on 48.

The pressure was building and the vital first goal was not long in coming for the home side and it was a Hoban cross on 53 that created the goal. The ball was only half-cleared to Tom Lorraine on the edge of the box where the big striker turned and smashed the ball home first time from 18 yards. He celebrated the breakthrough in trademark fashion in front of a delighted Peter De Banke.

St. Ives made a number of substitutions and a change in formation as they noticeably pushed forward in response to going behind and while they shaded possession in this period they were largely unable to fashion meaningful chances. One dangerous ball into the box was only cleared as far as the edge of the area where a first time volley on target would have troubled Diamonds but it was skewed well wide.

Diamonds introduced Lewis Leslie into a revamped midfield and continued to looked really dangerous breaking forward at pace and created chances for Jon Stevenson after whose shot was blocked after the ball was won back on the edge of the St. Ives penalty area, and Luke Hipwell who joined the attack to great effect in the second half and had one effort from just inside the box as he controlled a bouncing ball.

Finally on 80 minutes Diamonds pretty much secured the points with a spectacular goal from Man of the Match Claudiu Hoban to massive celebrations around the ground. He was felled again wide out by the touchline and took the free-kick hitting a high curling ball that fell over the stricken Trebbs and into the far corner with Jack Ashton closing in.

It was no more than Diamonds deserved for their all-round display of attacking intent and resolute defending. St. Ives tried to get back into the game with 2nd half substitute and former Diamond Declan Rogers prominent firing one wild volley over from a wide angle to sum up the away sides night.

Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 – St. Ives Town 0

This was a dominant performance from Diamonds who were on the front foot from the very start, held their strong opponents to little threat, and got the goals they needed at just the right time to win this top of the table battle.

They now face 2nd placed Kings Langley on Saturday for the second big game of the week with a four point lead at the top of Southern League Central Division.

Man of the Match: Claudiu Hoban nominated by Match Sponsors St. James Leather Gifts 

Attendance: 482

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

St. Ives Town

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Delroy Gordon

3.   Luke Hipwell

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Brad Harris

7.   Andy Hall

8.   Jon Stevenson

9.   Dan Quigley

10. Tom Lorraine

11. Claudiu Hoban

Subs

12.  Shawn Richards (for Hoban 84)

13.  Alex Vitue

14.  Lewis Leslie (for Hall 73)

15.  Robbie Parsons (for Stevenson 87)

16.  Connor Kennedy

1.   Tim Trebbs

2.   Scott Sinclair

3.   Jordon Jarrold

4.   Charlie De’Ath

5.   Steven Gentle

6.   Luke Knight

7.   Louis Viera

8.   Jack Higgs

9.   Andrew Phillips

10. Danny Watson

11. Phil Draycott

Subs

12. Callum Shepherd

14. Jack Warwick (for Viera 62)

15. Ben Seymour-Shove

16. Declan Rogers (for Draycott 62)

17. Stuart Eason (for Watson 77)

Goals: Lorraine (53), Hoban (80)

Goals:

Yellow Cards: Hoban (58)

Yellow Cards: Sinclair (80)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Andrew Aylott

Assistants:  Robert Trinder, Mark Weatherall