Diamonds won a thrilling derby game against Corby Town in Southern League Challenge Cup action on Tuesday night by three goals to two.
Two goals in the first half hour put Diamonds in control with Jack Bowen putting Diamonds ahead and Jesse Aqubuine adding a second with a superb free-kick to emulate his friend Ben Acquaye from Saturday. Corby pulled a goal back through ex-Diamonds Elliot Sandy early in the second half and then had a potential equaliser ruled out for offside and a good penalty shout turned down. The impressive Matt Slinn looked to have clinched it on 72 minutes striking a wide free-kick clean through the area and into the net after earlier hitting the post in a similar position. But Corby bounced back again with 10 minutes to go with Elliott Sandy claiming the final touch to set up a nervy finish. Corby just couldnt fashion the killer chance and Diamonds held on to progress to the next round.
Manager Andy Peaks picked a strong side for this local derby sprinkled with young talent. Patrick Casey and Niall Copper started alongside Zac Reynolds, Jack Ashton and Alex Collard at the back, with Jesse Aqubuine joining Ben Acquaye, Matt Slinn and Nathan Hicks in midfield. Ryan Dove and Jack Bowen were paired up front. Youngsters Reece Kelly and Will Jones came onto the bench alongside Liam Dolman, Tom Lorraine and Ben Heath.
In an entertaining and competitive game Diamonds largely controlled the early stages with Jesse Aqubuine screwing an effort just wide and Matt Slinn shooting just over from 25 yards. The breakthrough finally came on 23 minutes after a good passing move saw Nathan Hicks burst into space to set-up Jack Bowen for a close-range finish his first of the season.
On the half hour it was 2-0 as Jesse Aqubuine emulated his friend Ben Acquaye from Saturday with a superb curling 25 yard free-kick into the far corner. Corby responded well with their best period of the half but could only muster one effort on goal a low effort from Steve Diggin that Niall Copper held well.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Corby Town 0
Corby were out of the blocks fast early in the second half and were back in the game on 48 minutes. Revarnelle James got away down the right and crossed low for ex-diamond Eliot Sandy to finish from close range. They had the ball in the net soon after only to see it ruled out for offside, forced Niall Cooper into another good low save and had a strong penalty shout for a challenge on Elliot Sandy turned down.
Diamonds were still threatening though with Alex C0llard heading over and Matt Slinn striking the post with a free-kick whipped through the box which no-one got a touch on and Jesse Aqubuine couldn’t get the rebound on target.
The impressive Matt Slinn then repeated the whipped in free-kick from wide left on 72 minutes this time to give Diamonds a 3-1 lead. It also went through the penalty area at pace but this time through the hands of the away keeper George and into the far corner.
Ben Acquaye then had a half-chance to really kill the game coming very close to connecting with Nathan Hicks dangerous free-kick but Corby set-up a nervy finish for the home side with a 2nd goal on 79 minutes. Another ex-Diamonds John Dean crossed from the left and Eliot Sandy claimed the final touch for his second of the game as the ball was deflected past keeper Niall Cooper.
Diamonds introduced academy players Reece Kelly and 16 year old Will Jones for experience in the closing stages and both impressed with their composure as had Patrick Casey in a confident 90 minute performance. Corby pressed for an equaliser in an open finish to the game but the killer chance wouldn’t come with John Dean’s looped effort onto the roof of the net the nearest they came.
Full-time: AFC Rushden & diamonds 3 Corby Town 2
Diamonds enjoyed getting back to winning ways after a run of draws and even more so in a very competitive local derby. Youngsters Matt Slinn, Jesse Aqubuine, Patrick Casey and late subs Reece Kelly and Will Jones really impressed in and around an experienced line-up who really stepped up their performance as Corby forced them to do.
Next up the visit of Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday afternoon in league action with Diamonds sitting just outside the play-offs and Bromsgrove potential play off contenders with a game in hand.
Man of the Match: Matt Slinn (chosen by John Dunham Northamptonshire Telegraph)
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Niall Cooper
2. Zac Reynolds
3. Patrick Casey
4. Jack Ashton
5. Alex Collard
6. Jesse Aqubuine
7. Ben Acquaye
8. Matt Slinn
9. Ryan Dove
10. Jack Bowen
11. Nathan Hicks
12. Will Jones (for Bowen 88)
14. Reece Kelly (for Aqubuine 83)
15. Tom Lorraine (for Dove 74)
16. Liam Dolman
17. Ben Heath
1. Daniel George
2. Callum Westwood
3. Samuel Warburton
4. Joe Burgess
5. Charlie Wise
6. Gary Mulligan
7. Revarnelle James
8. Jake Duffy
9. Eliot Sandy
10. Steve Diggin
11. Jordan Crawford
12. Dean (for Diggin 69)
14. Gregory Ling (for Mulligan 64)
15. Scott Sandy
16. James Ireland
17. Ashley Robinson
Goals: Bowen (23), Aqubuine (30), Slinn (72)
Goals: Sandy (48, 79)
Yellow Card: Lorraine, Dove
Yellow Cards: Duffy, Burgess, Westwood
Referee: Daniel Robinson
Assistants: Simon Kavanagh, Harley Mckittrick