AFC Rushden & Diamonds 5 AFC Kempston Rovers 1


AFC Rushden & Diamonds stormed to the summit of the United Counties Premier League Division with an emphatic 5-1 victory over mid-table AFC Kempston Rovers on Tuesday night at the Dog & Duck.

The home side roared out the blocks inside the first 5 minutes, and found themselves 2-0 ahead due to a catastrophic own goal and a Russ Dunkley header. Kempston fought their way back into the match with a quality strike from winger Ash Fuller, but this only briefly halted the Diamonds’ momentum, as further goals from Fazel Koriya, Liam Dolman and Elliot Lamb-Johnson gave them a commanding lead at the break. The heavily blustery conditions paved the way for a much quieter second half and no additions to the score sheet, but the important damage had been done by Rushden before the interval.

Manager Andy Peaks kept faith with the same starting team that had stepped out onto the pitch on Saturday afternoon against Thurnby Nirvana, though there were welcome returns to the bench for the in-form Jason Turner and Adam Confue. With Joel Gyasi and Scott Joseph also being named as substitutes, it left the Diamonds with a vast array of attacking talent at their disposal if and when needed.

Any thoughts that the home side may start slowly due to the chilly weather conditions were blown away inside the first 35 seconds, as they broke the deadline in fortuitous circumstances with their first foray into the Kempston half. Elliot Lamb-Johnson picked up the ball on the right flank, drove forward, and sent a speculative cross into the penalty area. It appeared to be a simple catch for goalkeeper Martin Conway, but he managed to let the ball through his grasp and squirm into the back of the net for an own goal.

With the Diamonds having the early initiative, they began to crank up the pressure on their opponents, and Dunkley managed to charge down a clearance from defender Grant Fryer which allowed strike partner Tom Lorraine to run through on goal and force a good save from Conway with his legs. However, from the resultant corner, the lead was extended. Lamb-Johnson supplied the corner from the right, and Russ Dunkley rose highest in the congested penalty box to loop a header into the far corner of Kempton’s goal.

It was a start that Diamonds could surely only have dreamed of, and with only three minutes on the clock, there was a possible question of how many would the home side have netted by the end of the match. But the Walnutboys, having only lost one game since the opening game of the season, were always going to pose a threat, and so it proved in the sixth minute. Liam Dolman slipped on the left side of the penalty area after a ball forward, and this allowed Ben Gallant to float a cross to the back post which bypassed Jamal Clarke, found Ash Fuller, and the recent signing from Holbeach unleashed a half volley into the top of the Diamonds net, leaving Matt Finlay with no chance.

After the hectic opening period of the game, the pace and the tempo naturally slowed as both teams began to fully adjust to the adverse conditions. On 18 minutes, Richard Bunting picked up the ball in the centre of midfield and lofted a ball through to Fazel Koriya in on goal, and he confidently dispatched the ball past Conway into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Diamonds, the assistant referee’s flag had long been raised. They, and Koriya in particular, didn’t have long to wait to add another goal though, as three minutes later, a penalty was awarded against visiting defender Fryer for handball when he tried to control a bouncing ball in the penalty box. Lamb-Johnson assumed penalty taking responsibility, but his effort was too close to the goalkeeper as Conway correctly dived to his right. He could only parry the effort however, and there was Fazel Koriya on hand to steer the rebound home from 10 yards.

The Diamonds didn’t settle back on their two goal cushion, and the lead was extended even further in the 24th minute. Set pieces have proven to be a key source of goals for Rushden this season, and when Koriya was fouled close to the left corner flag, Lamb-Johnson whipped in another fine delivery, and Liam Dolman was on hand to glance the ball past a stranded Kempston keeper into the corner of the goal.

Despite the high amount of goals on show for Diamonds fans in recent weeks, the scoreline still came as a surprise to many around the ground, though Kempston still did show the odd sign of danger that ensured the home side would need to stay on their guard throughout. One such moment led to Kye Andrews driving a shot wide of the left-hand post after a Jack Ashton header clear had fallen into the midfielder’s path.

Rushden looked so incisive and dangerous every time they went forward in the first half, and this was demonstrated by arguably the best goal of the night to make the score 5-1. Bunting picked up the ball from a tussle in midfield and faced a 4 on 3 situation ahead of him. With a range of options, he picked out an inch perfect pass for Elliot Lamb-Johnson running free on the right, and he was able to advance away from the fullback and dispatch an exquisite clip over Conway 10 minutes before the interval.

The winger almost added to his tally 5 minutes later when he broke the offside trap in reaching a long ball forward from Dolman, but after getting the ball under control, the Walnutboys goalkeeper was able to hold onto his attempted lob.

The half time break arrived with no more action of note, with the fans in attendance finally being given a chance to catch their breath after a frenetic opening 45 minutes.

Half Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 5-1 AFC Kempston Rovers

With the Diamonds now playing without the aid of the wind that had served them so well in the first half, and the game having been near enough decided as a contest, it was to be expected that the second period would not live up to the pace, verve and tempo seen in the first half. Lamb-Johnson again caused problems for the Kempston backline by latching onto a ball from Lorraine, but after initially galloping away from centre half Fryer, the defender was able to recover and take the pace off the effort by the Rushden winger, with Conway making a comfortable save.

There was a worrying moment for the Diamonds defence just after the hour mark, when Bunting gave away a free kick just short of 30 yards from goal. Fuller, who proved be a spark for Kempston all night, sent in a dipping left footed effort that picked up speed in the wind, but Finlay was able to parry the ball around the post and to safety.

Joel Gyasi replaced Lamb-Johnson on 68 minutes, and he almost made an immediate impact just as he did on Saturday afternoon. He picked up the ball on the half-way line, ran at Kempston full back Tom Guiney, and tried to slip a through ball for Dunkley. However, the ball ricocheted back to the winger, and he unleashed a well struck right footed drive that forced a good save to the Kempston keeper’s left hand side.

A lot of the play in the second half was contested in the middle of the park, with the Diamonds seemingly content with keeping the scoreline exactly how it was. This encouraged Kempston to come forward in search of a consolation goal, and the final 10 minutes saw them produce a couple of good opportunities. Firstly, winger Dom Marsala made progress down the left wing before playing a fine ball across to Fuller, who cut inside Dolman, but could only place a curling left footed effort wide of goal. Then Fuller was involved again as he played a one two with Guiney to generate some space for a shot, but the effort again went wide of the Rushden goal.

Striker Scott Joseph had also entered the fray for the home side to face his old side, and he came close to crowning off a successful evening for the Diamonds with a sixth goal. Again Gyasi tried to play a ball in behind the Kempston defence, but the ball broke to the forward who cracked a 25 yard half-volley at goal, only for Conway to be right behind the attempt.

There was one final chance in stoppage time for the visitors to get a goal back, but after an inswinging corner from Marsala had picked him out, Shane Bush could only place a free header wide of Finlay’s net from five yards out.

Full Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 5-1 AFC Kempston Rovers

A fifth successive home win for the Diamonds, with 25 goals being scored in that period, is something that can only please manager Andy Peaks and his coaching staff. The way that the team broke with pace and incision in the first half, while looking strong and assured at the back throughout, was a key factor of the win, and something that Diamonds will look to carry on into Saturday’s big match with second placed Holbeach United in the UCL Premier.

Diamonds Man of the Match chosen by Match Sponsor Theresa Hales: Liam Dolman

Attendance: 342

Match Report by Ollie Mortimer

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

AFC Kempston Rovers

17. Matt Finlay

2. Jamal Clarke

3. Jack Ashton

4. Brad Harris

5. Liam Dolman

6. Arron Parkinson (C)

7. Elliot Lamb-Johnson

8. Richard Bunting

9. Russ Dunkley

10. Tom Lorraine

11. Fazel Koriya



12. Adam Confue (for Clarke 45)

13. Quincy Shorunmu

14. Scott Joseph (for Lorraine 82)

15. Jason Turner

16. Joel Gyasi (for Lamb-Johnson 68)

1. Martin Conway

2. Tom Guiney (C)

3. Orlando Joao

4. Grant Fryer

5. Alex Stoyles

6. Shane Bush

7. Dom Marsala

8. Kye Andrews

9. Ben Gallant

10. Andrew Osei-Siribour

11. Ash Fuller



12. Simon Carmichael (for Stoyles 65)

14. Lucas Kirkpatrick

15. Seb Simpson (for Osei-Siribour 30)

16. Taylor Orosz (for Joao 56)

Goals: Own Goal (1), Dunkley (3), Koriya (21), Dolman (24), Lamb-Johnson (35)

Goals: Fuller (6)

Yellow Cards: Bunting (75)

Yellow Cards: Fryer (39), Guiney (43)

Referee: Paul Cooper

Assistants: Darrell Horner, Tom Carr



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