AFC Rushden & Diamonds Under-18 team’s interest in the FA Youth Cup ended at the Dog & Duck on Monday evening when they lost 4-0 to Stotfold U18 in the Second Qualifying Round. With Stotfold having beaten Yaxley 12-0 in the previous round the young Diamonds were aware of the challenge they faced, and they matched their opponents for the first quarter of the game, but three well-taken goals from the visitors before half-time sealed their victory before they added a fourth in the second period.
Diamonds U18 Manager Mark Walsh was without Jake Reynolds and Matty Smith because of their commitments with Corby, but he was able to recall Moses Olanrewaju after his recent injury absence. He also brought in recent signing Jamie Inwood at left wing-back, pushing Ben Roche into a centre-back role, with Tommy Messinger at right wing-back.
The match started with both teams willing to play a passing game, and there was little to choose between them in the early exchanges. The Diamonds best move of the game came after 16 minutes as Tommy Messinger made a good run down the right before hitting a low cross which was flicked on by Omar Ghavami to Savvas Hamp, whose well-hit shot forced a reflex save from keeper Darlow. At the other end Charlie Cullen went close before Ghavami shot over after receiving a pass from Hamp.
As the match moved into the second quarter the visitor established their dominance over the game via two clinical finishes from Sid Gosling. His first after 27 minutes was an individual effort as he surged forwards down the right channel and into the area, and was allowed to fire home without a challenge. His second came 10 minutes later with a similar run and shot, but this time on the left.
Charlie Cullen had a great chance to extend the lead, but fired to the right of goal, leaving the Diamonds fans to hope their side might reach the break with only a two-goal deficit, and regroup for the second period. However, the match was effectively ended as a contest a minute before the break when a Brown punch in the Diamonds goal fell to Thomas Grey who also took his chance clinically.
Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Stotfold 3
The second period really needed an early Diamonds goal to provide the spark, but apart from a good cross from Inwood to Hamp who narrowly failed to connect with an attempt at a volley, they failed to threaten the Stotfold goal.
An excellent save from Connor Brown as he tipped wide a Reilly effort after 62 minutes was the highlight of the half, but he was picking the ball out of his net four minutes later as a Chapman-Hearn corner was headed home by Ricky Douglas.
Apart from a good run by Omar Ghavami followed by a shot that went just over the bar there was little to report from the final quarter of the game, which was played on a sporting manner on the pitch.
Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Stotfold 4
AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18
24. Connor Brown
2. Jamie Inwood
5. Ben Roche
6. Ryan Chamberlain
17. Tommy Messinger
4. Noah Bryant (Capt)
7. Joe Holmes
8. Matty Foster
10. Savvas Hamp
11. Moses Olanrewaju
9. Omar Ghavami
12. Ryan Bhatti (for Messinger 58)
16. Christopher Knapp (for Olanrewaju 74)
20. Luke Garner
21. Harry Matthews (for Hamp 63)
22. Jack Crow
1. George Darlow
2. Bailey Chapman-Hearn
3. Jack Phypers
4. Paul Reilly
5. John Vincent
6. Ricky Douglas
7. Nico Micelli
8. Thomas Grey (Capt)
9. Charlie Cullen
10. Sid Gosling
11. Jamie Murphy
12. Kai Ashley (for Micelli 78)
14. Ryan Clancy (for Cullen 82)
15. Lance Suart
16. Joel Khalili (for Murphy 73)
Goals: Gosling (27, 37), Grey (44), Douglas (66)
Yellow Cards: Inwood
Yellow Cards: None
Referee: Daniel Glazewski