Diamonds made it two wins in two this year with this 3-1 win against opening day opponents Barwell. After a 4-2 lead at St. Ives on New Year’s Day had become a nervy 4-3 finish it took all-time leading scorer Tom Lorraine to come off the bench to clinch the points with his 96th for the club.
Diamonds took the lead as exciting youngster Greg Kaziboni and Jesse Akubuine combined for Akubuine’s swept curling finish on 18 minutes. It was 2-0 on 71 as “veteran” defenders Sam Brown and Jack Ashton combined for a brilliant Ashton near post finish. Barwell like St. Ives on New Year’s Day made it a nervy finish with a Sam Hollis close range finish on 82. Step up Diamonds all-time leading scorer Tom Lorraine from the subs bench with a typical finish from “close range” after great work by Jordan Macleod to make it 3-1.
Manager Andy Peaks named an unchanged starting line-up after that 7 goal thriller on New Years Day. Greg Kaziboni making his home debut alongside Nabil Shariff and Ben Acquaye in the forward three, Jesse Aqubuine continued in midfield alongside Matt Slinn and Nathan Hicks and Liam Dolman led a familiar looking back four alongside Jack Ashton, Sam Brown and Zack Reynolds with Ben Heath in goal. Just the one change on the bench with Jordan Macleod returning in place of Nat Gosnal-Tyler with youngsters Ryan Hughes and Patrick Casey joining the experienced Ben Farrell and Tom Lorraine.
On a gloomy day the two sides rather cancelled each other out in the early stages. Greg Kaziboni was really lively for Diamonds beating his man regularly and getting crosses in but Barwell defended the final ball strongly and with relative ease. Barwell tried to push forward too but were unable to retain possession in the final third to pressure the home side.
Around the quarter hour mark Diamonds started to get some attacking joy with Nathan Hicks going for another wonder goal on 14 minutes after more good work by Greg Kazaboni, his spectacular half volley flying just wide. The breakthrough started to look on and it was forced by Greg Kazaboni on 18 minutes with some excellent work out wide which was initially blocked by Barwell but it fell invitingly for Jesse Akubuine who swept a curling effort superbly into the far corner.
Barwell were still bright on the break and good in possession and Kai Williams had a great chance after winning the ball in midfield and surging forward his rasping effort just flying wide. Omotolani Omotola then had the ball in the net on another break but he was well offside and duly flagged.
In a lively spell around the half hour mark Diamonds pressed again with Kazaboni benefiting from his own good work to fire in a rebound effort after initialling being repelled and Matt Slinn hit a ferocious left footed effort which went close after a corner broke out to him.
The game then slowed in the final 15 minutes of the half with a number of injuries disrupting play and neither side able to fashion too many chances. Right on half time Diamonds thought they had scored a second as Liam Dolman fired a close range effort off the bar with the away keeper falling on the ball on the line. It was apparently ruled out as not having “wholly” crossed the line despite Diamonds protests.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Barwell 0
The second half started much as the first as a tad cagey with the sides finding each other out but Diamonds started to make some inroads 10 minutes in. Greg Kazaboni was again the provider on 54 minutes laying off really well to Nabil Shariff to fire just wide and just a minute later it was Shariff again firing over from the edge of the box after another good move.
Then on 62 minutes Diamonds came incredibly close with Ben Acquaye, Nabil Shariff and Greg Kaziboni all having shots blocked in a mad scramble before a superb cross back in from Jack Ashton just evaded everyone on the far post.
Barwell then had a great chance to pressure Diamonds with a free-kick right on the edge of the area but the usually reliable Brad Hickey fired over. Diamonds kept pressing and got the vital 2nd courtesy of the defenders on 71 minutes. Sam Brown flew down the left and his cross found Jack Ashton at the near post with a strikers finish.
The two goal lead looked to be enough for the points but like at St. Ives on Wednesday Barwell were having none of it and pulled a goal back on 82 minutes. Substitute Samuel Hollis finished from close range after a quick break.
Any nerves were quickly dispelled though as Diamonds broke from some solid defending on 87 minutes to make it 3-1. Greg Kazaboni was involved in the break but Jordan Macleod created it with a great run, cut inside and shot that broke for substitute and all time Diamonds leading scorer Tom Lorraine who won’t have score many from closer in – his 96th for the club
Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Barwell 1
This was Diamonds 2nd win of the year… the decade… which have seen 7 goals scored and 4 conceded. The introduction of Greg Kazaboni, Nabil Shariff and the blossoming of Jesse Akubuine have played a major part. Liam Dolman back at the heart of the defence is a massive boost and the whole package gives Diamonds outside chance of some end of season interest at the right end of the table.
Next up the long trip to Leiston before back to back home games against Needham Market and Stratford Town
Man of the Match: Jesse Aqubuine
Match Report: Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Ben Heath
2. Zack Reynolds
3. Sam Brown (C)
4. Jack Ashton
5. Liam Dolman
6. Jesse Aqubuine
7. Ben Acquaye
8. Matthew Slinn
9. Nabil Shariff
10. Gregory Kaziboni
11. Nathan Hicks
12. Patrick Casey
14. Ben Farrell (for Kazaboni 90)
15. Tom Lorraine (for Shariff 79)
16. Ryan Hughes
17. Jordan Macleod (for Aquaye 74)
1. Max Bramley
2. Jaydon Cotterill
3. Eliot Putman
4. Reece Ford
5. Elliot Percival
6. Micah Edwards
7. Jac Redhead
8. Tristan Dunkley
9. Omotolani Omotola
10. Brady Hickey (C)
11. Kai Williams
12. Samuel Hollis (for
14. Zayn Hakeem
15. Jahvan Davidson-Miller (for Omotola 80)
16. Jamie Mcateer
17. Joseph Evans
Goals: Aqubuine (18), Ashton (71), Lorraine (87)
Goals: Hollis (82)
Referee: Joe Woolmer
Assistants: Scott Postin, Harley McKittrick