AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 3 Woodford United U18 3

AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3-3 Woodford United

Northants Senior Youth League

A crowd of almost 100 witnessed an exciting opener to the 2012/13 Northants Senior Youth League season for AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s. New Manager Mark Walsh was already missing seven players due to holidays and injuries, and his player shortage was made worse in the warm up as Ben Roche picked up a thigh injury which scuppered his chances of taking part in the game. That left a very young looking squad, with five debutants in the starting XI.

Despite the inexperienced, new look side, the Diamonds actually started brightly, and should have taken the lead on 18 minutes with the first real chance of the game. A low ball in from the right flank found Conor Bell unmarked inside the Woodford penalty area, but he shot straight at Messinger in the visitors’ goal.

Woodford’s first chance came two minutes later as a right wing corner found Oddy at the far post and his close range volley was well held by Ben Clarke. The Diamonds went straight up the other end missed another great chance to open the scoring, this time Bell was the provider, crossing from the left for Jake Reynolds who fired over the bar from 6 yards out.

The first goal finally arrived on 35 minutes and it was the visitors who scored it, albeit in extremely fortuitous circumstances. McGannon surged forward down the left and hit a deep cross into the Rushden penalty area, and the ball deceived Clarke and sailed into the top corner.

The lead lasted only a minute though as Zach Farden netted his first ever Diamonds goal. A left wing free kick was taken short by Zak Moon, and Farden got to the byline before driving the ball across goal and into the far corner. There was some debate as to whether Farden’s ball in was a shot or a cross, but the full back confirmed after the game that he was definitely going for goal.

There was a moment of controversy as half time approached, as Clarke fumbled a 30 yard shot from Arcon, with the ball going very close to the line before Clarke managed to recover. The Woodford players were convinced that the ball had crossed the line, although just like with Pedro Mendes’ effort against Manchester United in 2005, the assistant referee could not be certain of that and therefore couldn’t award a goal.

HT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Woodford United

Woodford started the second half strongly, still aggrieved that what they perceived to be a legitimate goal hadn’t been given. And they regained the lead on 51 minutes when a right wing corner was glanced in at the near post by Bailey. Things could have got a lot worse on 57 minutes when Clarke mishit a clearance straight to McGannon, but the visiting winger fired well wide.

The Diamonds had a great chance to equalise on 66 minutes as a deep free kick from the left wing by Farden found Adam Ziolkowski in space at the far post, but he couldn’t direct his free header on target. Shortly after, the visitors extended their lead and looked to have made the game safe. A deep right wing cross was met in the air by Liam Bond, but his header lacked height and hit substitute Stewart who blasted the ball home off the underside of the crossbar.

On 74 minutes Woodford went close to a fourth goal as a deep free kick was volleyed goalwards by Brunero, but Clarke held the ball well. But two minutes later Rushden got themselves back into the game thanks to a debut goal from Wes Kirkton. Reynolds played the ball in to the substitute striker, who raced through on goal, before hitting a low shot past Messinger and into the net, despite the best efforts of a recovering defender.

The goal gave the hosts a clear boost, and they went on to dominate the closing stages of the game. Just a minute after the goal, Farden cut inside on his right foot and fired in an 18 yard shot which forced a good save from Messinger. Two minutes later Ziolkowski surged forward from the back, exchanging passes with Moon before hitting a powerful 25 yard shot which was fumbled by the Woodford ‘keeper, who was relieved to see Kirkton flagged offside from the rebound.

On 84 minutes the Diamonds’ pressure paid off as they netted the equalising goal. A 30 yard free kick was again taken short by Moon, this time to Bond, who took a touch before firing a superb 25 yard strike into the bottom corner of the net.

Having drawn themselves level, Rushden nearly threw away their point in injury time as Clarke raced from his goal to deal with a ball down the right wing but miscued his clearance. The ball was played square to McGannon, but he was denied thanks to a brilliant last gasp challenge from Ziolkowski.

FT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3-3 Woodford United

Attendance: 99

Man of the Match: Adam Ziolkowski


AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Woodford United

24. Ben Clarke
7. Liam Bond
2. Adam Ziolkowski
4. Luke Fathers
3. Zach Farden
6. Zak Moon (c)
8. Noah Bryant
10. Conor Bell
11. Joe Holmes
12. Ryan Bhatti
9. Jake Reynolds

1. J. Messinger
2. L. Williams
3. R. Kightley
4. B. Oddy (c)
5. N. Shampier
6. A. Brunero
7. G. Jeffrey
8. D. Arcon
9. L. Roberts
10. J. Bailey
11. M. McGannon

5. Ben Roche
14. Wes Kirkton (for Holmes, 61 mins)

12. A. Stewart (for Roberts, 61 mins)
14. K. Worrall
15. S. Lions (for Arcon, 61 mins)
16. J. Handley (for Jeffrey, 79 mins)
17. C. Harrison

Farden (36 mins)
Kirkton (76 mins)
Bond (84 mins)

McGannon (35 mins)
Bailey (51 mins)
Stewart (71 mins)

Bond (74 mins, foul)

Brunero (44 mins, dissent)
Lions (83 mins, dissent)

Sent Off:

Sent Off:

Match Highlights are available here

Images courtesy of Niall Kelly

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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