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AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Daventry Town 0

AFC Rushden & Diamonds got their Northants Senior Youth League campaign off to a flying start at Kiln Park tonight with a three nil victory over Daventry Town.

Diamonds fans were made to wait slightly longer than expected for the kick-off that they had all been waiting for due the large number of supporters trying to enter just before the 7:45pm start, but after a delay of less than 5 minutes all 467 spectators had managed to make their way into the ground and the game was able to get under way. Diamonds in their white shirts with smart new Playfish logo and blue shorts were playing towards the training pitch end of the ground, whilst Daventry in purple shirts and white shorts played in the direction of McDonalds.

The early exchanges of the game were a little scrappy as both teams tried to find their feet in the balmy late-evening sunshine, but the Diamonds players seemed to adjust more quickly and after a couple of early forays into the Daventry box won a corner on around 7 minutes. Taker Blake Helsdown hit the ball towards the back post, narrowly missing the head of a jumping Danny Bird but instead found Lewis Williams who quickly knocked the ball back towards Bird for him to slot cooly into the net for 1-0. It would be natural to assume that the goal would have given the AFC side confidence, but in actual fact it seemed to galvanise the Daventry team who enjoyed long spells of posession deep in the Diamonds half. Despite this, they failed to have any meaningful attempts on goal as a persistent AFC back-line limited them to only a couple of long-range efforts and the odd scrappy melee in and around the penalty area.

As half-time drew near a Daventy goal seemed more and more likely, despite the occasional breaking foray into the Daventry box from the lively Diamonds forwards and, on 42 minutes, Daventry almost found a route back into the game. A corner high into the middle of the box was taken cooly by Ashley Foulger in the AFC goal, but his throw out wide was short and looping and only found a Daventry midfielder who knocked the ball straight back into the middle of the Diamonds penalty area. Amongst a raft of players the ball broke to a Daventry forward who fired a stinging shot at the bottom right hand corner of the net producing a stunning one-handed save from Foulger – clearly keen to give manager Mark Starmer a welcome goalkeeping selection head-ache. After a relatively un-eventful remaining three minutes the referee blew for half time with both teams walking off to appreciative applause from their supporters.

HT: AFC R&D 1 Daventry Town 0

What was said at half-time clearly had a marked effect on the Diamonds players as they started the second period strongly, knocking the ball around with consummate ease to the appreciative cheers of around 150 supporters who had swapped ends at half time. On 53 minutes, Diamonds won a free kick on the right hand edge of the Daventry 18 yeard box, but Lewis Williams’ shot toward the bottom right had corner of the net was easy for the Daventry keeper. At the other end, against the run of play, Daventry had a couple of decent chances to get back into the game. First, a nicely weighted ball over the top dropped invitingly for a Daventry striker who had beaten the Diamonds defence for pace, but his shot was slashed high and wide of goal. Next, on around 60 minutes, a Daventry corner towards the near post met the head of man in purple and flashed across the AFC goal.

If Daventry were beginning to feel that their equaliser must be on the way, these hopes were quickly extinguished as a sublime 1-2 between Louis Smith and Matti Ellis on the edge of the Daventry area left their full back for dead and allowed Ellis a clear run on goal. The young midfielder looked up before hitting a sweet effort with his right foot, the ball riquocheting off the inside of the post before nestling into the net to wild cheers and celebrations from the nearby Diamonds fans. Around five minutes later, Diamonds almost extended their lead as a corner won by substitute Bjorn Kelinhans was dropped by the Daventry keeper, finding an AFC foot on its way down and trickling towards the bottom corner of the net, only to be cleared at the last moment by a Daventry full back.

Whilst Diamonds clearly had the upper hand, the game was not all one-sided and at the other end a fierce effort from a Daventry player was well-held by Foulger. However, on 82 minutes the home side made the game safe – a corner from the right of the Daventry goal was swung invitingly towards the penalty spot and initially mis-hit by Bjorn Kleinhans, however it dropped right in front of a well-positioned Matti Ellis who volleyed sweetly past the despairing keeper. As the last few minutes of the game wore on, Daventry had one more opporunity to get on the score sheet as a weak back-pass trickled towards the edge of Foulger’s 18 yard box, the Diamonds keeper quickly off the mark to save smartly with his legs from one striker and then again from another, preserving a well-deserved clean sheet. At the final whistle, the Daventry players made quickly for the tunnel recieving warm applause from the AFC fans as the home team soaked up the atmosphere and lingered on the pitch for photographs before retiring to the dressing room to one more ovation from their delighted followers.

FT: AFC R&D 3 Daventry Town 0

After such a positive start to the season, AFC supporters have only a couple of days to wait for their next fix of footballing action as the Diamonds travel to Ely Way, Luton on Saturday for one more friendly (kick-off 11am) before another league match away at Bugbrooke St Michaels on Tuesday 30th August.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds would also like to say a special thank-you to match day sponsor Joan Bathurst, who forwent the hospitality before the game and during half-time and instead sold raffle tickets.

Man of the Match, chosen by Joan Bathurst Catering: Matti Ellis
Att: 467

Photos courtesy of Malcolm Swinden


AFC Rushden & Diamonds Daventry Town
86. Ashley Foulger
2. Ashley Meeks
3. Zach Farden
4. Adam Ziolkowski
5. Danny Bird (c)
6. Matti Ellis
7. Blake Helsdown
8. Levi Freeman
9. Lewi Williams
10. Alex McDonald
11. Louis Smith
1. Will Robb
2. Joe Taplin
3. Kallum Williams
4. Kyle Gibson
5. Ryan Cugini
6. Adam Creaney
7. Kyle Young
8. Dan Childs
9. Ben Drinkwater
10. Sam Ahrens
11. Charlie Davies
Subs Used:
12. Bjorn Kleinhans
14. Ryan Ellmer
15. Kai Robertson
Not Used:
16. Leeson Baker
17. Jeron Thompson
Subs Used:
12. Kevin Sonnenschein
14. Lewis Quinn


AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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