Diamonds made it back to back home wins with this 4-0 victory against a hard working Loughborough Dynamo side at the Dog & Duck on Saturday afternoon.
Callum Westwood was very impressive on his home debut at right-back in the only change to the starting line-up as Diamonds looked to bounce back from agonising late defeat at Romulus last week. They got off to the perfect start with a goal in just the 3rd minute. Sam Brown’s long throw was only headed out to the edge of the box where Joe Curtis hit a controlled volley into the right hand corner. After Loughborough had shaded possession but floundered on a resolute Diamonds back four the home side doubled their lead on 20. Good work down the right saw a ball into the box turned home by Joe Curtis this time with the outside of his left boot high into the near post. Just 5 minutes later it was 3-0 as Tom Lorraine converted from close range to all but clinch the points.
Callum Westwood was having an impressive debut completing his defensive duties energetically and getting forward at every opportunity whipping in dangerous crosses and coming close to scoring with a run and curling effort just over the bar from 25 yards. It was so disappointing therefore for him to be carried off on 33 after a heavy challenge with a damaged ankle.
The second half was relatively low-key with the game seemingly decided but Loughborough pressed through Roger Lee with a long distance effort just over and a closer in header well held by Matt Finlay. It was nearly time for Diamonds with Tom Lorraine, Nabil Sharif, Joe Curtis and Fazel Koriya nearly setting each other up or nearly getting efforts on goal. Ollie Brown-Hill came on for his debut for the last half-hour and threatened space as his team-mates had but the chance never quite fell for him. However the wide man probably gets an assist for Diamonds 4th which came on 81 as he forced a defender to get to a deep ball into the box before his advancing keeper and nod high into the empty net.
Midweek signing Callum Westwood from Rugby came straight into the Diamonds side at right-back in place of Kyal McNulty who dropped to the bench in an otherwise unchanged starting line-up. Ollie Brown-Hill came onto the bench and would also make his debut for Diamonds late in the game.
Diamonds were looking for back to back home wins to reverse early season home form and got off to a flyer in this game. Tom Lorraine latched onto a great through-ball by Sam Brown in just the first minute running free into the box on an angle seeing his close range effort smothered away for a corner. And in the 3rd minute Diamonds took an important early lead. Sam Brown involved again this time with a long throw only half cleared to the edge of the box where Joe Curtis struck a deliberate left footed volley into the right hand corner.
Loughborough responded well with neat midfield play but were unable to fashion any meaningful chances in the final third against a resolute and compact Diamonds back four. Callum Westwood was energetic defensively on debut and direct and influential going forward.
He made a number of supporting runs creating a chance for himself on 8 cutting inside and hitting a curler that away keeper Jack Tolley pushed wide and whipping in a number of dangerous crosses throughout the half.
Tom Lorraine dragged a decent effort wide left on 15 after more good work from Sam Brown before Diamonds doubled their lead on 20. A build-up down the right was fed into Fazel Koriya deep in the box his cut-back flicked home superbly left footed by Joe Curtis high inside the near post.
Just 5 minutes later it was three for Diamonds and pretty much game over with Curtis the provider this time. His 20 yard chipped pass found Tom Lorraine 10 yards out with back to goal. He took a great touch and struck quickly on the turn to wrong-foot Tolley for his 48th Diamonds goal.
After the flying Westwood had set-up Tom Lorraine for a diving header on 30 the young full-back fell to the turf on 33 clutching his ankle. Lengthy treatment was followed by the stretcher to carry the unfortunate young man from the field.
Loughborough continued to work hard and probe to get back into the game and produced a couple of really dangerous balls into the box that had the Diamonds back four at full stretch to clear and a 25 yard free-kick headed just over.
Diamonds had their own free-kick chances late in the half. Joe Curtis curling one over from 25 yards on 39 and Liam Dolman coming closer still with a 35 yard effort that looked in all the way but crashed back off the underside of the bar on 44.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Loughborough Dynamo 0
The second half was understandably low-key after the game had been pretty much won by those three early goals. Robert Lee was at the heart of the away side’s dangerous moments with a 20 yard effort fired over from the edge of the box and a free header deep in the box but at an angle held by Matt Finlay.
Diamonds played some nice build-up play but were guilty over over-playing a couple of times when well placed as a desire to pass and move overcame the desire to get a shot away. They did come close through another Liam Dolman free-kick on 60 this time just curled over the bar and into the Peter De Banke.
Ollie Brown-Hill made his debut for Diamonds on 64 and looked to run at the Loughborough back four but was unable to get past the first man a few times due to some determined away defence.
Joe Curtis had a great chance to grab his hat-trick on 66 as he picked up a loose ball just inside the box and hit a deft curled effort that had the keeper well beaten but just clipped the top of the bar.
Nabil Shariff had a penalty appeal after being played into space in the box on 70 by Ollie Brown-Hill going down under a challenge but appeals were waved away. He fired in a 25 yard effort on 72 after some neat footwork to create space as Diamonds were managing the game well and probing on the break.
The 4th goal did come on 81 but in unusual fashion. A driven ball in from deep saw Ollie Brown-Hill hassle a retreating defender into getting his head on the ball before the advancing keeper seeing it loop high and into the empty net.
It was harsh on a hard working Loughborough side who had had their fair share of possession but struggled to impose themselves on an impressive Diamonds defence who notched a much sought after 2nd successive Dog & Duck clean sheet.
Diamonds managed the remainder of the game as comfortably as they had most of the second half with Lewis Leslie coming close as the ball ricocheted of him from close in and a driven effort from the edge of the box that went just wide.
Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Loughborough Dynamo 0
This was the perfect repost to that disappointing and undeserved defeat at Romulus last weekend. Diamonds dominated from the off, got the vital early goals and manged the game well to run out 4-0 winners.
After the problems of the many home draws in 2016 that was a second home win for Diamonds in 2017 and back to back clean sheets with 7 goals scored. The level of opposition steps up during an important February but this result sees Diamonds level 3rd on points and going into a period of the season where they traditionally thrive.
Before the fascinating trip to the world’s oldest football team Sheffield FC next weekend they take on old rivals Spalding United in the last 16 of the Integro League Cup on Tuesday night at the Dog & Duck.
Man of the Match: Liam Dolman chosen by Match Sponsors A.V.O
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Matt Finlay
2. Callum Westwood
3. Sam Brown
4. Brad Harris
5. Liam Dolman
6. Ben Farrell
7. Nabil Shariff
8. Fazel Koriya
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Richard Bunting
11. Joe Curtis
12. Lewis Leslie (for Curtis 78)
13. Ben Heath
14. Kyal McNulty (for Westwood 33)
15. Taylor Orosz
16. Ollie Brown-Hill
1. Jack Tolley
2. Louis Guest
3. Louis Keenan
4. Carl Sibson
5. Jack Andrews
6. Jared Holmes (C)
7. Stephane Mauve
8. Roger Lee
9. Ezekiel Agyemang
10. Karl Demidh
11. Alex Curtis
12. Jack Beckett (for Mauve 19)
14. Sam Thorpe (for Agyemang 62)
15. Jack Oldham
16. Tom Rigby
17. Danny Durkin (for Curtis 54)
Goals: Curtis (2, 20), Lorraine 25, O.G. (81)
Yellow Card: Leslie
Yellow Cards: Sibson
Referee: Richard Ely
Assistants: James King, Kieran Shaw
Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.
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