Diamonds made it through to the semi-finals of the NFA Hillier Cup on Tuesday night with a comprehensive 6-1 victory against Wellingborough Town at a rainy Hayden Road
Manager Andy Peaks made 5 changes to his starting line-up with Ben Ford coming into the back four alongside the returning Sam Brown to allow Liam Dolman to be rested. Fernando Bell-Toxtle and Joe Curtis were paired in centre-midfield with Darryl Smith returning out wide with Luke Fairlamb. Ryan Robbins and Tom Lorraine resumed their up front partnership.
On a very wet night Diamonds dominated from the off with a high tempo performance. After an early half-chance for Tom Lorraine was blocked they raced into a two goal lead inside 15 minutes. Darryl Smith flicked home a right wing free-kick from 15 yards past the stranded away keeper on 10 minutes, and Ryan Robbins grabbed his first for the club 5 minutes later finishing a sweeping move from close range. Ben Ford had set-up the move with a beautiful ball over the top for Tom Lorraine to chase and square for the supporting Robbins.
After Diamonds had gone close through Tom Lorraine again at the end of another flowing move the curse of Wellingborough struck on 22!! The lights went out in the increasingly heavy rain but after a short break they were back up again and shining brightly.
Diamonds nearly added a 3rd on the re-start Tom Lorraine firing wide from just inside the box. The Doughboys tried to play on the front foot too and in a good spell around the half-hour created half chances for Devon Ellwood and Ben Baines from good possession.
Darryl Smith was having an impressive game down the right and broke clear of his marker on 3 occasions to get shots away at goal and crosses into the danger area before he added Diamonds 3rd on 40 minutes. Tom Lorraine was found in the area after a break down the left by the impressive Luke Fairlamb. His ball to Tom Lorraine was fed across to Smith coming in from the right to slide home left footed into the bottom corner.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3 Wellingborough Town 0
Diamonds were out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second half and a sustained period of pressure around the Wellingborough area saw mayhem in the Wellingborough box with Robbins, Smith and Fernando Bell-Toxtle all going close.
On 53 away keeper Jack Riley picked up a bad finger injury forcing him off but it was a nightmare start for his replacement Oliver Reynolds. A routine looking clearance was badly shanked to a free Ryan Robbins who was able to walk the ball into an empty net for 4-0.
Fernando Bell-Toxtle was having an impressive game in midfield for Diamonds getting dangerously in and around the box numerous times. After firing a rebound effort that Reynolds touched round the post on 59 from just inside the box he grabbed a deserved goal on 68. A good move along the edge of the 18 yard box found Fernando to fire home superbly right-footed into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
It was 6 for Diamonds just 5 minutes later as second half sub Chief Boateng flew clear down the left, timed his square ball to Ryan Robbins perfectly for the striker to grab a hat-trick on the night with a sweeping curling effort from 20 yards into the bottom left corner.
Diamonds were down to 10 men with 10 minutes remaining as Robbins left the field with a knock after all three substitutions had been used. Wellingborough kept going throughout the game and put Diamonds under pressure in those final 10 minutes and got their reward with a Ben Baines header from a left wing corner on 86. They really should have had a second two minutes later as a breakaway ball across the 6 yard line was somehow volleyed over the bar.
Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 6 Wellingborough Town 1
Diamonds were good value for this substantial win with a hat-trick for Ryan Robbins his first goals for the club, 2 for Darryl Smith and a first goal for Fernando Bell-Toxtle. Wellingborough played their part in an entertaining game in horrendous conditions with an attitude so at odds with what we saw last Saturday supported by excellent officiating. The win puts Diamonds into the semi-finals of the Hillier Cup along with Brackley, Peterborough Sports and their opponents will be the winners of the postponed Daventry/Kettering tie away.
Next up a trip to Uxbridge on Saturday for the resumption of Southern League East action.
Man of the Match: Ryan Robbins
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
13. Ben Heath
2. Cameron Gilchrist
3. Ben Ford
4. Sam Brown
5. Blaize Punter
6. Fernando Bell-Toxtle
7. Darryl Smith
8. Joe Curtis
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ryan Robbins
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Callum Westwood (for Ford 70)
14. Ben Farrell
15. Joel Gyasi (for Fairlamb 70)
17. Adam North
19. Chief Boateng (for Lorraine 63)
1. Jack Riley
2. Carlos Lewis
3. Aynsley McDonald
4. Lloyd Buckby
5. Joe Rich
6. Sam Russell
7. Adam Speight
8. Justin Dowling
9. Deven Ellwood
10. Ben Baines
11. Daniel Mortimer
12. Dwayne Wood (for Russell 60)
14. Jake Gillingwater
15. Jack Wisniewski (for Ellwood 78)
16. Albert Akeremi
17. Oliver Reynolds (for Riley 54)
Goals: Smith (10, 40), Robbins (15, 54, 73), Bell-Toxtle (68)
Goals: Baines (86)
Referee: Thomas Cooke
Assistants: Wayne Bright, Ben Bright