AFC Rushden & Diamonds continued their fine form with an impressive 4-0 win over Northwood at Hayden Road on Saturday afternoon. All four goals came in the second half courtesy of captain Richard Bunting, Ben Farrell, Sam Brown and substitute Ben Diamond.
Three changes were made from the midweek cup victory over old rivals Kettering Town, with Liam Dolman, Tom Lorraine and Bunting all returning to the starting line-up. Sam Brown joined Blaize Punter and Dolman in a new look back three, with Luke Fairlamb and Joel Gyasi acting as wing backs. Bunting, Ben Farrell and Joe Curtis bulked the midfield, with Tom Lorraine and Ryan Robbins up front.
Diamonds started the game with a high tempo, testing an early shot with Ryan Robbins firing wide from distance just three minutes in. A few minutes later, a free kick by the corner flag was whipped in by Joel Gyasi to Tom Lorraine in the middle but he glanced his header inches past the post.
On the tenth minute, another long free kick was swung in by Bunting to Robbins who turned and shot but his effort was blocked, falling into the path of Joe Curtis 20 yards but his first time effort flashed wide of the near post.
A minute later, Diamonds had their first effort on target. Good work from Punter on the right wing helped set up Gyasi to run inside before laying off to Farrell on the edge of the area to hit a first time, curling effort to force the keeper into a good diving save.
Gyasi caused problems for the Northwood defence for the entirety of the game, and it was another one of his mazy runs inside that set up Robbins on the right hand side to cut into the box before shooting but Hazlett saved well at his near post.
Northwood grew into the first half with a couple of chances midway through the period. Michael Buckley and Harry Newman both had good efforts off target.
Diamonds could have taken the lead on the stroke of half time when a cross from Farrell on the right was met by the head of Lorraine but his header was just tipped over the bar by Hazlett. However, Northwood had other ideas, and moments later a long ball over the top looked harmless as Heath came to collect but the keeper lost his footing, allowing Mahlondo Martin in on goal but a backtracking Brown was there to block the winger’s shot.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northwood 0
On 52 minutes, a sliding challenge on Lorraine earned Diamonds a free kick from around 20 yards out, which Dolman hit but his effort deflected off the wall and out for a corner. Curtis’ corner was then collected well by Hazlett.
Diamonds took the lead in style on 58 minutes. There was great work from Lorraine down the left wing before cutting back and laying to Fairlamb. His cross was headed away by a defender only as far as Richard Bunting who lashed a first time, left footed volley into the corner of the net from 18 yards, leaving Hazlett with no chance.
Northwood’s Martin had a long effort hit well and on target on the hour mark, but Heath was equal to it and managed to hold well.
Diamonds made their first change on 64 minutes, with Ben Diamond coming on to replace Robbins up front.
Three minutes after this change, Diamonds had their second goal. A long ball over from Bunting was laid beautifully off by Lorraine for Ben Farrell to place a shot past the goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, it was three, and a rare goal for Sam Brown. Fairlamb did well to hold on to the ball under challenge in the area, before crossing low into the box but the defender cleared the ball straight to Brown just seven yards out to fire past the keeper.
Diamonds made another change on 79 minutes. Callum Westwood came on to replace Bunting, meaning the formation reverted back to four in defence.
Into the final ten minutes, Diamonds completed their rout with a goal from substitute Ben Diamond. Farrell won the ball back superbly near the half way line before Diamond strode forward, taking on the defence before firing past Hazlett.
Diamonds made their final change with five minutes to go, with Chief Boateng making his first league appearance since Kempston Rovers in August replacing Lorraine.
In the final moments, there was a nasty incident between Westwood and Pat Adamson. The two defenders collided in a fair challenge, but Adamson needed lengthy treatment and was stretchered off the field with what was later confirmed as a fracture to his leg.
Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Northwood 0
With such an emphatic victory and great performance all round with the new formation, Diamonds can push on in the promotion race in the league, especially with an all important home tie against second placed Cambridge City next Tuesday. All of us here at AFC Rushden & Diamonds would also like to wish Pat Adamson a speedy recovery from his injury.
Diamonds’ Man of the Match: Joel Gyasi
Match Report by Adam Benney
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Ben Heath
2. Blaize Punter
3. Sam Brown
4. Joe Curtis
5. Liam Dolman
6. Ben Farrell
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Richard Bunting (c)
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ryan Robbins
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Callum Westwood (on for Bunting, 79)
14. Ben Diamond (on for Robbins, 64)
15. Cameron Gilchrist
16. Ben Ford
18. Chief Boateng (on for Lorraine, 85)
1. Brendan Hazlett
2. Isaac Olorunfemi
3. Pat Adamson
4. Michael Buckley
5. Lewis Hobbs
6. Brad Hewitt (c)
7. Lewis Ochoa
8. Taysham Hayden-Smith
9. Harry Newman
10. Evans Kouassi
11. Mahlondo Martin
12. George Robinson (on for Adamson, 90)
14. Wilson Chingoka (on for Buckley, 64)
15. Declan Nche
16. Nebay Hailey
17. Kojo Gyimah
Goals: Bunting (58), Farrell (67), Brown (72), Diamond (82)
Yellow cards: Gyasi
Yellow cards: Buckley (24)
Referee: Mr Gareth Davis
Assistants: Mr Robert Cairns
Diamonds Man of the Match Chosen by “Team of the Day” Diamonds Under-7’s: Joel Gyasi
You can find a report about the Diamonds Under-7’s “Team of the Day” outing at Hayden Rd on Saturday here.