AFC Rushden & Diamonds eased to a 4-2 victory over Cogenhoe United at the Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon. After failing to turn their pressure into sufficient goals in recent games their efforts were rewarded with goals from Koriya in the first half and McBride, Clarke and Morgan in the second. Although the visitors scored a goal when the Diamonds were 3-0 up, and a second deep into added time, there was little doubt about the result as the Diamonds dominated throughout.
Manager Mark Starmer brought Arron Parkinson back into the starting line-up, replacing Alex Deakin who had picked up a knock in midweek. Brad Harris replaced the suspended Aaron King. On the bench was the returning Deven Ellwood.
The game was preceded by a well-observed minute of remembrance ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The Diamonds quickly established their dominance in the game, and after six minutes they had the lead. Sam Brown received the ball on the left and quickly crossed into the area where Russ Dunkley had made room to be able to lay the ball into the path of Fazel Koriya who fired home.
A couple of poor challenges from Elliott Lamb-Johnson on Joe Merrill earned him and early yellow card, and his teammate Steve Blackwood fell awkwardly and was replaced in the eleventh minute. Blackwood’s replacement Chris Griffin had one of the Cooks few chances in the first period, but his effort was just over the crossbar.
A Sam Brown throw was flicked on by Dunkley towards Taylor and Gearing, and although Gearing looked better placed it was Taylor whose effort was blocked. Another well hit free-kick from Brown hit the chest of keeper Finlay but Séan McBride could not find the target with the loose ball.
Both full-backs were getting forward well, and crossing early into the area, with Joe Merrill seeing Russ Dunkley head his cross into the path of Matt Gearing who shot narrowly wide. Alfie Taylor also went close with an effort after the Cooks defence gave the ball away.
There were a couple of late scares in the first half, first when Tom Liversedge broke clear but wasted his chance, and then when Arron Parkinson tried head to an advancing Tom Cross but misjudged things and it needed a desperate clearance off the line from Joe Merrill.
The half ended with both Taylor and Gearing narrowly missing the target, the latter chance coming after excellent link-up between Koriya, Dunkley and McBride.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cogenhoe United 0
The second half started in similar fashion, with an early Merrill cross finding Matt Gearing whose effort went wide. Jamal Clarke was having an excellent game alongside Arron Parkinson, and he made a saving tackle on Josh Urquart to preserve the Diamonds lead. Tom Liversedge also went close after being set up by Courtney Herbert.
Brad Harris was also an important cog in the Diamonds machine, and he linked up with midfield partner McBride to set up a chance for Russ Dunkley whose effort brushed the crossbar.
Just after the hour mark the Diamonds won a corner on the left and Gearing’s dead-ball kick was flicked on by Jamal Clarke and headed home by Séan McBride. That goal came after 65 minutes, and three minutes later Jamal Clarke had his debut goal for the Diamonds after a Gearing free kick was flicked into his path by Russ Dunkley.
Tom Cross was alert to tip over an effort from Griffin, but after 79 minutes he was picking the ball out of his net after a neat through ball from Lamb-Johnson found Courtney Herbert who slotted home past an advancing Cross. Although that goal came out of nothing, it energised the visitors and a good run from Lamb-Johnson saw him create a chance for Jamie Russell, but his effort was over the bar. Cross also made a good save from Lamb-Johnson as the Diamonds held on to their two-goal advantage.
Ben Morgan had joined the action, and he produced an impressive cameo appearance, popping up in all corners of the pitch, helping out in defence and midfield as well as setting up a good chance for Alfie Taylor. With around 10 minutes left Jake Gillingwater also joined the action taking over the right back role, and he continued the good work by linking with Alfie Taylor and getting in a good cross that Ben Morgan fired home.
As referee Pater checked his watch there was just time for a final consolation goal for the visitors as Courtney Herbert headed home after a corner was headed back across the six-yard box.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Cogenhoe United 2
Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor “Go For Leisure” – Séan McBride.
The Diamonds travel to face Long Buckby on Tuesday evening.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Tom Cross
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Arron Parkinson (capt)
6. Jamal Clarke
7. Matt Gearing
8. Brad Harris
9. Russ Dunkley
10. Alfie Taylor
11. Fazel Koriya
12. Alex Deakin
13. Adam Whybrow
14. Jake Gillingwater (for Merrill 82)
15. Ben Morgan (for Koriya 69)
16. Deven Ellwood (for Dunkley 87)
1. Matt Finlay
2. Kieran Tarry
3. Dean Lukeman
4. Ross Harris
5. Josh Urquhart (c)
6. Jamie Russell
7. Dan Thomason
8. Steve Blackwood
9. Tom Liversedge
10. Courtney Herbert
11. Elliott Lamb-Johnson
12. Chris Griffin (for Blackwood 11)
14. Mark Hewitt
15. Jack Bowen (for Liversedge 69)
16. George McClellan
17. Karl Bates
Goals: Koriya (6), McBride (65), Clarke (68), Morgan (86)
Goals: Herbert (79, 90+5)
Yellow Cards: Lamb-Johnson
Referee: Mr Stuart Pater
Assistant Referees: Mr Craig Druce & Mr Kevin Davis