After two wins and a draw in their three away friendlies, AFC Rushden & Diamonds finally took their opportunity to show their fans what they could produce at home as they defeated a Peterborough United XI by 4-0 at the Dog and Duck. Two first half goals from Alfie Taylor were backed up by strikes from Chris Hope and Elliot Dent in the second period.
Prior to the game the Diamonds fans were able to attend the opening of the newly established Dale’s Bar, with Dale Roberts’ parents performing the ceremony. In doing so they also paid tribute to the work that had been done over the summer by the team of volunteers to ensure that first team football could be played at the Dog and Duck.
With 441 fans in attendance a good atmosphere was ensured, and this was especially impressive for a pre-season friendly that coincided with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.
The Diamonds lined up with Chris Hope and Aynsley McDonald in central defence in front of Quincy Shorunmu, with full backs Jamie O’Grady and Sam Brown on right and left. In central midfield George Cox and Troy Johnston provided the backbone for two attacking wide players Peter Okechukwu and Jack Wisniewski. Up front Alfie Taylor and Deven Ellwood provided the strikeforce.
The Posh XI included a mix of first team and fringe players, including ex-Diamond Joe Day, as well as Nicky Ajose, Scott Griffiths and new signing Jonson Clarke-Harris.
The game proved to be lively and entertaining throughout, and within 3 minutes Joe Day was forced to make the first of three good stops he made during his 45 minutes on the pitch as a powerful shot from Troy Johnston threatened to give the Diamonds an early lead. The Posh then had perhaps their only period where they looked like they may get something from the game, as Sam Brown made an excellent last-gasp clearance off the line from a Tim Cary effort, and then an effort from Scott Griffiths on the left flashed across goal.
The Diamonds had seen Deven Ellwood have a powerful shot blocked before Ellwood linked well with his strike partner Alfie Taylor who then made a good run to the by-line before putting in a dangerous low cross that was scrambled for a corner. One concern for Mark Starmer and his assistants was that Peter Okechukwu had to be substituted after he came off worst in a challenge in midfield.
After 31 minutes the first Diamonds goal at the Dog and Duck arrived, and it was Alfie Taylor who opened the scoring as he turned and found space towards the edge of the area to receive a pass from Jack Wisniewski before firing low past Joe Day. Whilst this was a neatly taken finish, it only took Alfie Taylor two more minutes to produce the sort of goal that will make him a fans’ favourite if he can repeat it during competitive games. Picking up the ball in the right channel he beat two defenders with a combination of ball control, pace and incisiveness to force his way into the area and hit a fierce shot past Day.
The Diamonds performance for the remainder of the half confirmed that they deserved their two goal margin as an Ellwood shot forced a good save after the Diamonds striker had allowed a through ball to run past him before turning and shooting. Jack Wisniewski then hit a powerful shot that once again forced Day to pull off a sharp save, before Ellwood closed the half with an effort that struck the post.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Peterborough United XI 0
The changes made by the visitors at half-time, as well as a lively first five minutes to the second period showed that they were looking to get something from the game, but after a number of changes for the Diamonds they were able to get a third goal after 77 minutes. A well-taken free-kick by Louis Smith from just in front of the Diamonds dug-out caused problems for the Posh defence and the ball fell to Chris Hope who had a simple task of prodding the ball home from six yards.
Further substitutions followed, but again the Diamonds were able to bring on players as direct replacements so that they kept their shape, and another Smith free kick forced the Posh defence to concede a corner, and the ball was then only cleared to Elliot Dent on the edge of the “D”, and his low shot deceived Alex Lynch to make the score 4-0.
To their credit the visitors did not give up trying to get a consolation, and came very close when an effort from Joe Burgess struck the post.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 Peterborough United XI 0
After an impressive performance in front of an equally impressive crowd, the Diamonds will now prepare to welcome Buckingham Athletic to the Dog and Duck on Tuesday evening.
Diamonds Man of the Match: Alfie Taylor
Photographs courtesy of Mal Swinden
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Peterborough United XI
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Jamie O’Grady
3. Sam Brown
5. Chris Hope
6. Aynsley McDonald (Capt)
7. George Cox
8. Troy Johnston
9. Alfie Taylor
10. Deven Ellwood
11. Peter Okechukwu
12. Jack Wisniewski
16. Joe Merrill for Okechukwu (22)
4. Elliot Dent for Johnston (51)
18. Jake Gillingwater for O’Grady (51)
20. Ben Morgan for Taylor (68)
22. Lee Gotch for Brown (68)
19. Manny Soetan for Ellwood (74)
15. Louis Smith for Cox (76)
14. Alex Deakin for Hope (81)
21. Matthew Brady for Wisniewski (81)
13. Ashley Foulger for Shorunmu (81)
Goals: Taylor (31, 33), Hope (77), Dent (83)
Cards : None
Cards : None