AFC Rushden & Diamonds scored two goals in each half to wrap up a comprehensive win over Northampton Sileby Rangers on Tuesday evening. A hat-trick from Fazel Koriya followed an opening goal from Russ Dunkley, and Koriya also missed a chance to open the scoring with an early penalty – but he did convert a second spot kick as well as scoring with a deft lob and an overhead kick. The victory in the Diamonds first game in the UCL Premier Division at the Dog & Duck was achieved in front of 521 spectators.
In the absence of Mark Starmer, assistant manager Andy Peaks took control of team affairs, assisted by Arron Parkinson, and he kept the same starting line up that won at Deeping Rangers at the weekend. Alex Deakin returned to a place on the bench, and Ashley Foulger replaced the injured Quincy Shorunmu as substitute keeper.
The old cliché of starting a game with a bang could so easily have been applied to the Diamonds, as they really should have scored 3 times in the opening 3 minutes. Alfie Taylor saw an early effort hit keeper Stanton, and then Russ Dunkley headed over from a Sam Brown cross. In the third minute the Diamonds were awarded a penalty with the linesman assisting the referee in the decision. Fazel Koriya stepped up to take the kick but he blazed high and wide.
After 12 minutes Jack Wisniewski headed over from a corner, but two minutes later the Diamonds were forced into an early change as Alfie Taylor was suffering from a groin injury and was replaced by Matt Gearing.
Wisniewski then contributed to the Diamonds opener after 16 minutes, when he slid the ball to Koriya, who unselfishly set up Russ Dunkley for a short-range finish for his first Diamonds goal.
After 22 minutes the Diamonds were awarded a second penalty after Séan McBride was fouled in the box, and Fazel Koriya once again took the kick, this time firing home low into the right-hand side of the goal.
Sam Brown saw a dipping shot go just over the bar, and both Koriya and Dunkley went close as the Diamonds looked to extend their lead before the break.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Northampton Sileby Rangers 0
The Diamonds kept up the pressure early in the second half, and created the best two goals of the game. A one-two between Koriya and Dunkley saw Fazel Koriya execute a neat lob over the keeper’s head for the Diamonds third. After Dunkley had seen a header caught by the Rangers’ keeper, it was Fazel Koriya who sealed his hat-trick as a Merrill free kick from the right was flicked on by Dunkley and Koriya fired home with an overhead kick.
Last season the Diamonds had seen several games where they had failed to build on a decent lead, and although they had built up an impetus again after the break, the final quarter of the game saw their tempo reduced, and Sileby started to find time to build up from the back.
Tom Cross had little to do for most of the game, but he made a good save after a neat through ball had dissected the Diamonds defence, ensuring he kept his first clean sheet of the season.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Northampton Sileby Rangers 0
Diamonds Man of the Match sponsored by Pool Solutions: Fazel Koriya
The Diamonds will now focus on their first ever game in the FA Cup, when they travel to face London Colney on Saturday – match preview and travel details are here.
The current UCL League Table can be found on the AFC Diamonds website here, and the updated Match Stats, Player Stats, Form Guide and Attendance figures are found in the summary stats area here. Updated player profiles are also available.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Northampton Sileby Rangers
17. Tom Cross
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Jake Gillingwater
6. Jamal Clarke
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. Brad Harris
9. Russ Dunkley (capt)
10. Alfie Taylor
11. Fazel Koriya
12. Elliot Dent (for McBride 68)
13. Ashley Foulger
14. Lance Allen (for Koriya 71)
15. Matt Gearing (for Taylor 14)
16. Alex Deakin
1. Liam Stanton
2. Adji Gnadja
3. Ashley White
4. Sean Conaboy
5. Toby Cleaver
6. Liam O’Neill (capt)
7. Dan Pritchard
8. Sam Watkins
9. Karabo Motshweni
10. Zac Moon
11. Connor McEnroe
12. Fred Devereaux (for O’Neill 50)
14. Korey Morgan (for Watkins 690
15. Pernell Taylor-Jacob (for McEnroe 87)
16. Scott Goodwin
Goals: Dunkley (16), Koriya (22pen, 55, 58)
Yellow Cards : Merrill
Yellow Cards: Gnadja
Referee: Brian O’Sullivan
Assistants: Mark Connolly, Piotr Roj
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