AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7-0 Wellingborough Vicarage Farm
AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ first ever competitive cup tie ended with an emphatic 7-0 victory over Vicarage Farm, their biggest win to date. Mark Starmer used the game to give a run out to some of the fringe players in the squad, and will be delighted with his players’ response.
There were competitive debuts for Adam Batten and Dan Paterson, while Mark Rust, Kai Robertson and Bjorn Kleinhans all started a game for the first time.
The early morning rain had subsided and a clear, sunny sky greeted the players as they took to the pitch, much to the relief of the 200+ crowd, most of whom were stood out in the open at Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck ground. After a scrappy opening couple of minutes, the Diamonds went ahead in rather fortuitous circumstances. A free kick was awarded 25 yards from goal, and although Ashley Meeks weak effort appeared easy for the Vic Farm defence to deal with, they failed to clear the danger allowing Bjorn Kleinhans to flick the ball towards the top corner where goalkeeper Paul Stanyer misjudged it and fumbled the shot over the line.
A minute later and things went from bad to worse for the visitors’ defence, as a nasty clash of heads between centre backs Leeson Baker and Alex Cope left both players needing treatment for a bloody nose. Both returned to the pitch following their treatment, but Cope was still feeling the after effects and couldn’t continue for much longer before being substituted.
With 12 minutes gone, Vic Farm went close to an equalising goal as Adam Batten came to gather a long ball into the box, but although he was beaten to it by Miles Webster the Rushden stopper redeemed himself with an excellent block from point blank range. Both sides were struggling to really get going in the opening stages and more than 20 minutes had gone before the home side began to stamp their authority on the game. Louis Smith burst forward from the left wing and hit a vicious strike from the edge of the box which looked to be heading towards the top corner, but his effort struck a Vic Farm defender and was cleared.
Mark Rust had been eligible to play for either side in this game, as he is a regular for Vic Farm in their Northampton & District Youth Alliance games, but he opted instead to represent the Diamonds and was keen to prove that it was the right decision. On 23 minutes he embarked on a great run down the right flank, and crossed perfectly for Jeron Thompson, but the striker couldn’t get a clean contact on the ball and presented Stanyer with an easy save. Rushden attacks were now coming thick and fast, and just a minute later Kleinhans played in Smith who beat his man and fired in a shot from a tight angle, but Stanyer made a good save to deny the left winger.
The Vic Farm defence were struggling to contain Smith and he again broke away down the left flank, this time hitting a delightful cross to the back post, but the ball just evaded the onrushing Kai Robertson.
The Diamonds didn’t have to wait much longer for a second goal though. A great move down the right wing saw Thompson feed Robertson just inside the box, and the winger jinked past his man and crossed low to the feet of Kleinhans who bundled home his second goal of the game from close range. Rushden were well in control of the game now and immediately began pushing for a third goal. Shortly after the half hour mark Meeks played in Thompson who managed to get away from his marker before attempting to lob the ball over Stanyer, but his effort fell narrowly wide of the post. Two minutes later and Meeks again got forward from midfield, this time having a pop at goal himself, but his volley from 20 yards was easy for Stanyer.
Five minutes before the half time interval AFC R&D came within inches of adding a third goal. Smith went on an excellent run down the left wing, skipping past three defenders before he was eventually dispossessed, but the loose ball fell only as far as Robertson who crossed back to Smith, and his effort looped up and hit the post before being hacked clear by the Vic Farm defence.
The visitors were struggling to make any impact on the Rushden defence, but they almost created a chance just before the interval, when a long throw from the right looked like falling for Ciaran McDaid in the penalty area, but Batten was quickly off his line to smoother the ball at the feet of the Vic Farm striker. The final effort of the half fell to the Diamonds though, and it was Kleinhans who came close to netting a first half hat-trick. A long ball over the top bounced awkwardly for Stanyer and Kleinhans bravely challenged him in the air, winning the header which bounced towards the goal, but there wasn’t enough pace on it and the defence recovered in time to deny the powerful Rushden striker.
HT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-0 Wellingborough Vicarage Farm
Although the Diamonds had been dominant in the first half there was still plenty of room for improvement in the second. They nearly got off to the worst possible start however as Batten missed a routine cross into the box, allowing McDaid a simple chance from close range, but under pressure from Adam Ziolkowski he could only fire into the side netting.
The early scare seemed to wake up the Diamonds players, and on 50 minutes Rust came close to netting the goal he was desperately looking for. A short corner caught the Vic Farm defence napping, and Rust curled in a brilliant left footed strike from 20 yards, but Stanyer produced a good save, tipping the ball over the bar. From the resultant corner the ball was cleared to Dan Paterson who tried his luck from 35 yards, but his powerful drive flashed wide of the post.
Three minutes later and Rushden’s third goal finally arrived. Louis Smith once again broke down the left flank, exchanging a one-two with Kleinhans before firing home from a tight angle. Almost immediately Robertson had a chance to make it 4-0, but after sprinting on to Meeks’ through ball he could only scuff his shot straight at Stanyer. With an hour gone the Diamonds again went close to a fourth goal. Kleinhans held the ball up well before laying it off to Smith who in turn fed Thompson, but his shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide, just evading the head of Robertson at the far post.
It was 4-0 just a few minutes later though, as Jeron Thompson at last got the goal he deserved, capping off a terrific team move to net his first for the club. Matti Ellis and Ashley Meeks combined well in the middle of the park before playing the ball out wide to Robertson, and his excellent cross from the corner of the box was met by Thompson whose first time shot from 10 yards found the bottom corner giving Stanyer no chance. Not content with four, Rushden continued to press and Thompson nearly scored again with a header from Meeks’ corner, but a defender was on hand to head the ball off the line.
Vicarage Farm then had a rare chance to nick a goal at the other end, as a deep right wing corner found the head of Jack Livingstone, but he couldn’t keep his effort down and it cleared the bar. Within two minutes the Diamonds made it 5-0, as a delighted Mark Rust netted the goal his performance deserved, although there was a great deal of fortune involved. Robertson once again burst down the fight flank before laying the ball off to Rust, and his attempted cross sailed over Stanyer’s head and into the back of the net. Mark Starmer then made the first of his substitutions, replacing Meeks with Ryan Ellmer who took up an unfamiliar left wing position allowing Smith to move into his favoured central midfield role.
With around 15 minutes to go the visitors carved out another half chance, as a cross from the right flank found Harry Matthews at the far post, but although he got a shot in under pressure from Rust, Batten was equal to it and held the ball well.
Starmer then made his final substitutions in the space of a couple of minutes, bringing on two of his regular first team players, Blake Helsdown and Danny Bird, who replaced Bjorn Kleinhans and Elliot Ames respectively. The changes quickly paid off as Helsdown latched onto a great through ball by Smith before calmly tucking the ball past Stanyer for the home team’s sixth goal of the game. It could have been 7-0 within a minute as Thompson drifted out wide before crossing for Robertson, but although the diminutive striker won his header, he couldn’t keep it down and the ball sailed over. Thompson himself then went close, turning well on the edge of the box before curling a shot just inches too high.
In injury time though the seventh goal arrived, as Helsdown completed a memorable cameo role, sprinting onto a defence splitting pass from Ellis, turning past a defender and coolly slotting the ball home with his left foot.
FT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7-0 Wellingborough Vicarage Farm
With so many fringe players turning in very good performances, Mark Starmer will have a pleasant selection headache going into Thursday’s tough game at Cogenhoe United, the pre-season favourites for the league title. Details of that game can be found HERE. The Diamonds are next in action at home, back at Kiln Park, on Thursday 20th October when Northampton Spencer are the visitors. A full match preview will follow in due course.
Man of the Match: Louis Smith
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Wellingborough Vicarage Farm
|24. Adam Batten
4. Mark Rust
11. Dan Paterson
8. Elliot Ames (c)
15. Adam Ziolkowski
9. Kai Robertson
2. Ashley Meeks
12. Matti Ellis
10. Jeron Thompson
16. Bjorn Kleinhans
13. Louis Smith
|1. Paul Stanyer
2. Hayden Pott
3. Kyle Neville
4. Leeson Baker
5. Tom Sadler
6. Alex Cope
7. Harry Matthews
8. Miles Webster
9. Ciaran McDaid
10. Jack Livingstone
11. Billy Freame
86. Ashley Foulger
3. Zach Farden
5. Danny Bird (for Elliot Ames, 81)
7. Blake Helsdown (for Bjorn Kleinhans, 78)
14. Ryan Ellmer (for Ashley Meeks, 73)
Kleinhans (4 mins)
Kleinhans (28 mins)
Smith (54 mins)
Thompson (63 mins)
Rust (69 mins)
Helsdown (87 mins)
Helsdown (90 mins)