AFC Rushden & Diamonds Youth fell at the first hurdle in The English Colleges FA Premier Cup, after losing 1-0 away to Tresham College Firsts.
On the back of Diamonds’ fantastic 6-2 over Birmingham City Junior, in The Dale Roberts Memorial Cup, manager Darren Purse said he would go into the competition, looking to win it.
Diamonds had previously beaten Tresham College earlier in the month, albeit their second team, however this cup match was against Tresham’s firsts, a category one team, so it would be a stiffer challenge.
Purse’s boys started brightly as they looked to get a foothold in the game and dictate the tempo but created very few good chances.
It was the home side that broke the deadlock, midway through the first half. A right wing cross was met by the tall left winger. It left Ben Peaks at right back helpless, as the height difference was a mis-match and the winger headed past Redding to give Tresham the lead in the 35th minute.
Diamonds had some opportunities to get on level terms before the break. They created a few chances which unfortunately were unable to take. The home side restricted Diamonds to half chances which they generally snatched at and wasted.
Their main problem was that they were too direct. Tresham had a tall centre half who dealt with everything that come his way, and this played into the home sides hands.
Half Time. Tresham College Firsts 1-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 / MAA.
During the second half, manager Darren Purse brought on Weeks and Garner – two of Diamonds most physical players – to try to unsettle the home side. This seemed to work for Diamonds and it looked as though if anyone was going to go on and score in the second half, it would be the scholars.
Despite playing better football in the second half, Diamonds were unable to take their chances. They tested the keeper a few times but nothing too troublesome.
As Diamonds pressed for a late equaliser, unfortunately goalkeeper Rhys Redding came off injured with a knee problem with ten minutes to go. Substitute Garner came on as a stand-in goalkeeper (not for the first time this season) as regular ‘keeper Barnes was still out recovering from concussion. However Purse confirmed after the game that Redding will be fit for the next match.
It was an entertaining game which Diamonds were tested, however they did not disgrace themselves against a grade one side.
Full Time. Tresham College Firsts 1-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 / MAA.
Team: Redding, Peaks, Knapp, Keirney, Uddin, Kirk, Desborough, Akroyd, Hewett, Leeson, Pinder.
Subs: Garner (Leeson), Ivett (Kirk), Weeks (Hewett).
After the loss, manager Darren Purse said: “We played really well, I was happy with what I saw. They were more physical than us, but it’s no excuse, it’s what we’ve had to deal with all year. My lads have come up against lads a couple of years older than them, and the difference is noticeable when the opposition players get in the car and drive home when some of mine haven’t started driving yet!”
Although Purse’s side is out of another cup competition, he is pleased with how his players are developing. “Obviously it’s a shame about the result, we didn’t get what we wanted, and nobody wants to get knocked out of a cup competition. But we’ve dealt well with set-pieces since the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks, we haven’t conceded from one, which is pleasing. I learned more in this game than I did against Birmingham, so did the lads. Its part of their development, they’re learning new things every day. We played well against a big physical side, and that’s the sort of test I want for them now.”
Next up for the MAA boys is a league game away to Derby College. Diamonds will be looking to keep up their 100% record in the league this season.
Report by Hayden Pott.