AFC Rushden & Diamonds had to survive a late onslaught to record a 3-2 victory over Harrowby United at the Dog & Duck. First half goals from Ben Morgan (2) and Jake Newman had given their side a 3-0 lead at the break, and the Diamonds looked to be comfortable seeing out the game before a 25-yard strike from Martin Wormall with four minutes left was followed by a second from Lee Shaw at the start of added time. The Diamonds saw out a further 5 minutes of added time to earn the three points.
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer kept faith with the side that beat Raunds Town in midweek, the only change being Alex McDonald getting the place on the bench vacated by Jake Reynolds because of his weekend work commitments.
It was the visitors who looked the brighter side in the first ten minutes, so the Diamonds took the lead against the run-of-play after 11 minutes when Séan McBride made a great run into the right hand side of the area before pulling the ball back from Ben Morgan to slot home.
Several further chances fell to Jake Newman and Morgan as the Diamonds took control of the game, and after 29 minutes Ben Morgan netted his second. His good worked forced an Arrows defender into a mistake near the right edge of the area, and although his first touch didn’t look 100% in control it took him past his marker and allowed him to execute a neat chip over keeper Drury and into the net off the underside of the bar.
Three minutes later the Diamonds repeated their midweek feat by netting their third goal before the break, and this time it was Jake Newman who neatly controlled a long ball from Jake Gillingwater, as he broke clear off the static central defenders, and as keeper Drury tried to recover from a slip he was able to slot home the third.
Further chances fell to Chris Hope, Jamie Gilsenan and Matt Gearing before the half-time whistle.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Harrowby United 0
The second half initially followed the pattern of the game against Raunds, where the Diamonds didn’t often threaten to increase their lead, and gradually the visitors recovered their lost confidence. Sam Brown conceded a free-kick for hand-ball near the centre circle, and from the resulting free-kick Billy Stubbs forced a great save from Quincy Shorunmu. The resultant corner saw an effort hit Shorunmu in the face, but the threat was averted.
At the other end Jake Newman made a great run that left three defenders in his wake, but he fired over the bar.
With the half otherwise uneventful the Diamonds started to make their substitutions, and Alex McDonald was given his league debut with four minutes left, and was unfortunate to be called into action before he had time to settle, with the ball breaking to Martin Wormall who hit an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top right hand corner of the net.
Any thoughts that this might be a simple consolation goal were dispelled as the game entered added time, when Lee Shaw made another of the surging runs he had made throughout the game and was able to collect a pass and fire past Shorunmu.
Referee Gurney played a total of six minutes of added time, but the Diamonds were able to hold out for the win their first half performance deserved, but enormous credit must also be given to the visitors for not giving up when the game seemed lost.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Harrowby United 2
The Diamonds host Basford United in the FA Carlsberg Vase on Saturday (KO 3pm).
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match chosen by Match Sponsor Steven Parkin Builders and Match Ball Sponsors Nick and Anne Archer: Jamie Gilsenan
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Jake Gillingwater
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Chris Hope (capt)
6. Alex Deakin
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. Jamie Gilsenan
9. Jake Newman
10. Ben Morgan
11. Matt Gearing
12. Joe Merrill
13. Domenico Roggerio (GK)
14. Louis Smith (for Morgan 74)
15. Lance Allen (for Wisniewski 82)
16. Alex McDonald (for Gilsenan 86)
1. Jack Drury
2. Sam Hill
3. Jamie Preston
4. Jack Whyley (capt)
5. Billy Stubbs
6. Owen Sheridan
7. Sam Weatherstone
8. Louis Hamilton
9. Lee Shaw
10. Martin Wormall
11. Liam Harper
12. Chris Gibson (for Preston 73)
14. Tom Vorley
15. Luke Peberdy (for Hamilton 82)
16. Matt Hodgkin (for Weatherstone 60)
17. Steve Fardell (GK)
Goals: Morgan (11, 29), Newman (32)
Goals: Wormall (86), Shaw (90+1)
Yellow Cards : Newman
Yellow Cards: None
Referee: Gary Gurney
Assistants: Paul Stradling, Paul Kimbrey
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Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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