Diamonds exit Hillier Cup in seven goal thriller!
Diamonds went out of the Northamptonshire Hillier Cup in an entertaining seven goal thriller to Conference South Brackley Town by 4-3 at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday evening, with six of the goals coming in the first half! Goals form Jason Turner, Man of the Match Brad Harris and Scott Joseph could not stop Brackley Town from booking their place in the semi – final of the counties premier knockout competition.
Manager Andy Peaks made seven changes from the side which had beaten Sleaford by 2-0 on Saturday. Josh Thomson in goal for Matt Finlay, Jamal Clarke for Liam Dolman, Joel Gyasi for Lamb – Johnson, Charlie Butt for Adam Confue, Scott Joseph for Tom Lorraine, Jason Turner for Russell Dunkley and Matt Gearing for Fazel Koriya! Ryan Coyle, Quincey Shorunmu, Fazel Koriya, Russell Dunkley and Nathaniel Ansu made up the bench.
Floodlight failure and the late arrival of one of the match officials delayed the kick – off by twenty minutes but it was well worth the wait, Brackley Town scoring three goals within the first sixteen minutes, threatening to take advantage of the reshaped and experimental Diamonds back line.
Diamonds created the first opening on 3 minutes, a short pass from Richard Bunting through to Sam Brown whose shot was comfortably saved by keeper Dan Farrell. Within a minute Diamonds were behind, Shaun Jeffers stroked a fine ball wide to Michael Built out on the left wing and his superb cross was headed past his own keeper Josh Thomson by Sam Brown.
Confusion between Jamal Clarke and Josh Thomson gifted Brackley Town their second goal five minutes later, a weak headed back pass from Clarke was intercepted by the lively Shaun Jeffers who bundled the ball over the line to give Brackley a two goal lead after just nine minutes.
Things got worse for Diamonds seven minutes later, Shaun Jeffers was given too much space to run down the centre of the field, from where he passed the ball out to Will Green on the right wing whose shot found its way across the goal line despite the combined desperate efforts of Josh Thomson and Jamal Clarke to keep it out.
Just as it looked as though Brackley would run away with the game and grab a hatful of goals Diamonds got back into the match with a goal from Jason Turner. A Matt Gearing corner bounced around in the penalty area with no one able to control the ball before Turner was able to turn swiftly and hook his shot past the Brackley keeper Dan Farrell, giving the Diamonds faithful something to cheer at last!
As Diamonds raised their game with the crowd behind them Jason Turner had another fine effort blocked as Diamonds began to find a way back into the game. Shaun Jeffers should have made it four for Brackley on 20 after a pass from Will Green had presented his strike partner with a clear shot on goal; unfortunately Jeffers somehow managed to put his shot well wide of the keeper’s left hand post.
Diamonds scored their second on 23mins, a superb cross from Sam Brown found Man of the match Brad Harris whose powerful header beat the Brackley keeper down to his right. Harris was booked moments later for what appeared to have been an accidental foot into the chest of Curtis MacDonald, the referee classed it as dangerous play!
The sixth goal of the first half came minutes before the break, a neat drag back and shot by Michael Built was deflected off a Diamonds defender leaving Diamonds keeper Thomson wrong footed and Diamonds going in at the break 4-2 behind.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Brackley Town 4
It was always going to be difficult for the second half to live up to the excitement of the first forty five minutes but Diamonds started brightly, with Matt Gearing firing a shot straight at the keeper as Diamonds looked for a third goal.
It was Matt Gearing who provided the assist for the next goal, a neat chip from Gearing out to Joel Gyasi who knocked the ball back into the path of Scott Joseph whose powerful shot into the roof of the net gave keeper Dan Farrell no chance to save.
A powerful run on goal by Sam Brown was stopped by a Brackley defender as Brown permitted the ball to run too far in front of him allowing the defender to clear the ball from danger. Brackley winger Michael Built had a great opportunity to shoot when in an excellent position in front of goal but unfortunately for him he scuffed his shot.
Brackley substitute Ebbie Nelson – Addy had a one final chance to increase the away teams lead but his shot was not strong enough to trouble Josh Thomson who held the ball comfortably to his chest.
Brackley full back Dwayne Samuels escaped a caution after a foul on Jason Turner as Brackley struggled to hold on to their slender lead. Russell Dunkley came on late in the game for Scott Joseph but Diamonds were unable to find the goal which would have taken the game to immediate penalties.
Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Brackley Town 4
Despite going out of the competition after only one game, Diamonds manager Andy Peaks will be very pleased with the way his team performed against higher league opposition. Brackley had a lot of experienced and quality players in their line – up but the Diamonds put up a strong performance to come within one goal of equalising. The match was a learning experience for many Diamond players and they will have learnt a great deal from their involvement in the match.
Three goals in the first sixteen minutes meant Diamonds had to show a lot of character and belief in themselves, something the players on the field demonstrated admirably. Man of the Match Brad Harris had a fine game topped off by a wonderful goal and Scott Joseph was impressive leading the front line against very strong and experienced opposition centre backs and he also took his goal very well.
On Saturday Diamonds return to league action visiting Wisbech Town looking to retain their positon at the top of the league.
Man of the Match (courtesy of match sponsors) Brad Harris
Match Report By: Jim Davis
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Josh Thomson
2. Charlie Butt
3. Sam Brown
4. Brad Harris
5. Jamal Clarke
6. Jack Ashton
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Richard Bunting
9. Scott Joseph
10. Jason Turner
11. Matt Gearing
12. Ryan Coyle
13. Quincey Shorunmu
14. Nathaniel Ansu
15. Fazel Koriya
16. Russell Dunkley (for Joel Gyasi 84mins)
1. Dan Farrell
2. Dwyane Samuels
3. Joe Curtis
4. Ebbie Nelson – Addy
5. Chris Carruthers
6. Curtis McDonald
7. Greg Kaziboni
8. Sam Whittall
9. Will Green
10. Shaun Jeffers
11. Michael Built
12. Ryan Rowe
14. Greg Pearson (for Shaun Jeffers 63mins)
15. Eric Odhiambo (for Sam Whittall 58mins)
16. Jose Inigio ((for Will Green 77mins)
17. Peter Jachucha
Goals: Jason Turner 18mins, Brad Harris 23mins, Scott Joseph 61mins
Goals: OG(3 mins), Shaun Jeffers 9mins, Will Green 16 mins, Michael Built 43mins
Yellow Cards: Brad Harris 32mins,
Yellow Cards: Shaun Jeffers 27mins,
Red Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Assistants:Robert Evans, Stephen Briggs