AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA U18 7 S Leicestershire College 1

Diamonds scholars maintained their 100% start to their league season by smashing South Leicestershire College 7-1 at The Malcom Arnold Academy this afternoon. Despite the score, manager Darren Purse described his side’s performance as ‘awful’.

The match had originally been scheduled at the Dog & Duck, however moved to the Academy during the day.

Diamonds had started quite poorly and Leicestershire used the long throw tactic well towards the tall striker. But it was the away side that would take the lead. 18 minutes played, the ball fell to the tall striker to leather the ball in from 25 yards out leaving goalkeeper Barnes no chance.

Purse’s boys were in shock and a reaction didn’t prevail for a good ten minutes. But when the scoreline did sink in to the players, it kickstarted them and then they got a foothold in the match on the 4G pitch.

The scholars drew level in the 25th minute as winger Weeks got behind the full-back and pulled the ball back to Pinder who finished from 12 yards out.

It was all Diamonds traffic with wave after wave of attacks. However chances were not being converted because they failed to get into a rhythm as the players were unable to string passes together.

Ten minutes after the equaliser, the MAA lads took the lead. It was a piece of individual brilliance by Leeson. He drove inside and took on his full back, and he fired a great strike into the bottom right hand corner. Then in the 39th minute Leeson got another to increase Diamonds’ lead.

As the half time whistle approached, Diamonds grabbed a fourth. In the 45 minute, following a ricochet inside the penalty area, the ball fell to Weeks whose left footed volley flew past the keeper. Diamonds went into the break with a healthy 4-1 scoreline, however their performance had not merited the lead.

Half Time. AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA 4-1 South Leicestershire College.

Mid-way through the second half, manager Purse still hadn’t seen a change of performance levels, so he reverted back to his favored 4-5-1 formation from a 4-4-2. This seemed to brighten the scholars up once again.

As moments later, another piece of individual brilliance helped Diamonds out. After 68 minutes, Hewett thundered home a 30 yard free-kick into the top corner.

Diamonds managed to get their sixth of the afternoon with just over ten minutes left. Following good work on the right by Ivett, he pulled the ball back to Garner who mis-hit the shot. However Hewett was on hand to tap in for his second of the afternoon.

Then after 82 minutes, it was Desborough’s chance to score from his individual brilliance. During his run through the heart of the Leicestershire defence, he took on three or four players and finished by rounding the goalkeeper to tap in to give Diamonds a 7-1 lead.

Full Time. AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA 7-1 South Leicestershire College.

Team: Barnes, Peaks, Uddin, Roache, Usuf, Kirk, Ivett, Leeson, Weeks, Pinder, Garner.

Subs: Ackroyd, Desborough

After the game, Darren Purse expressed his discontent with his side’s performance. “Yes we won but we were absolutely awful. Perhaps it was because of the change of system, but we trained on that earlier in the week. I changed it to a 4-4-2 from my normal 4-5-1 so the lads can try out new positions as part of their education.  Whether it was that I don’t know. Perhaps the change from grass to 4G pitch, as the venue was switched during the day. The change of ground, or change of system should never stop you from working hard, but they didn’t do that today. It was a massive struggle for us today, and I’ll need to think about why it happened. Luckily, moments of individual brilliance got us through the poor performance. We should’ve have kept a clean sheet and scored at least ten.”  

Match Report by Hayden Pott.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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