AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 6 Northampton Spencer U18 0

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 6-0 Northampton Spencer U18

Northants Senior Youth League

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s’ brought down the curtain on their season, and their 3 year stint in the Northants Senior Youth League, with an emphatic win over Northampton Spencer at the Dog & Duck. The win equalled their biggest ever NSYL win, and cemented another impressive final league position; this time 3rd place, to go with the 5th and 1st from the previous two seasons.

The opening minutes of the game were very scrappy, but from the moment the Diamonds opened the scoring on 10 minutes it was one way traffic. The goal came when a dangerous corner from Savvas Hamp was only half cleared, Jake Reynolds then did well to keep the pressure on before teeing up Matty Foster, and his excellent pass found Matty Smith who was left with a simple finish from close range.

The lead was doubled just 7 minutes later. Smith this time turned provider, helping on a long goal kick from Connor Brown into the path of Reynolds and he burst clear of the defence and rifled a shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

The visitors should have been reduced to 10 men shortly after when Liam Stone scythed down Smith from behind just as he was about to burst into the penalty area, but the referee awarded only a free kick and issued no further punishment. Stone, who had also spent most of the recent game at Spencer Park trying to earn himself a red card, soon had to be replaced due to an injury picked up in the ‘challenge’. From the free kick, Hamp just cleared the bar with visiting ‘keeper Ryan Loeball well beaten.

With just over half an hour gone the Diamonds netted a deserved third goal. Reynolds and Smith combined well once again, with the former threading through a pass which the Spencer defence really should have cut out, but Smith was onto it in a flash and raced clear before calmly slotting past Loeball.

The visitors finally registered their first shot on target in the 42nd minute, from a free kick awarded after Foster had been booked for his reaction to an off the ball incident. James Wallington’s well struck effort skidded awkwardly in the pluvial waters on the Dog & Duck pitch, but was well held by Brown.

The visitors belatedly picked up their first booking of the game just a minute later, when Reiss Gartland pushed his luck too far with one too many tackles from behind. Smith’s 25 yard free kick was fumbled by Loeball, but there was no one on hand to tap home the loose ball.

As the first half drew to a close, a rare mistake by Ryan Chamberlain almost gifted Jordan Sweeney a chance, but Brown was out of his goal quickly to smother the danger.

The Diamonds had one further chance to extend their lead before the interval. Omar Ghavami beat his marker on the right flank and put in an inch perfect cross for Reynolds, but he put his glancing header well wide of the post.

HT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 3-0 Northampton Spencer U18

Like the first half, the second began very scrappily. Foster and Sweeney exchanged long range efforts early on, but both failed to trouble the ‘keepers.

On 57 minutes though the Diamonds netted a fourth goal, which again spurred them back into life. A over-hit pass looked easy for the Spencer defence to deal with, but a horribly miskicked clearance saw the ball loop up into the air and fall at the feet of Ghavami just inside the visiting penalty area, and he made no mistake in slotting past Loeball.

Smith then went close to netting a second hattrick in 3 games, as a dangerous left wing free kick from Jamie Inwood was parried by Loeball, but the ball bounced off the Rushden striker, who didn’t have time to react, and fell just wide of the post.

With 20 minutes remaining, a good 25 yard effort from Spencer substitute Jake Cross drew a smart save from Brown, before the move of the match almost brought about a Diamonds fifth. Great work from Noah Bryant saw him win back possession and release Inwood down the left flank. The full back got to the byline before crossing low to Smith at the far post, but his effort from a tight angle was kept out by an excellent save from Loeball.

The fifth goal did arrive soon after though, and was a goal of real quality. Substitute left back Chris Knapp picked up the ball just inside the Spencer half and set off on a brilliant run, beating three defenders before picking out Foster with a sublime through ball, and the midfielder controlled the ball before prodding it home with the outside of his boot.

Rushden weren’t done there though, and another substitute, James Pearson, went within inches of his first Diamonds goal, striking the bar with an overhead kick after the visitors had failed to deal with a left wing corner. Loeball then made another great save to deny Inwood from a 25 yards free kick, and although the rebound was tapped in by Foster, it was ruled out for offside.

Pearson was having his best game in a Rushden shirt, and again went close to breaking his duck with a volley from Ben Peaks’ pinpoint cross, but Loeball once again came to the visitors rescue. Spencer then had a rare chance for a consolation goal when Cross headed just over the bar from a left wing cross.

But the icing was added to the cake 2 minutes into injury time. Inwood capped probably his best Rushden performance with an excellent goal, his first for the club, powerfully heading into the top corner from Smith’s left wing cross. That proved to be the very last action of the game, as the referee called time on the Diamonds brief spell in the NSYL before the game had chance to restart.

FT: AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 6-0 Northampton Spencer U18

The Club would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the NSYL U18 side over the past 3 years; from the 467 who attended the first ever competitive AFC Rushden & Diamonds game, to the few hardy souls who have remained ever present in more recent months.
We should also like to thank the management of the Northants Senior Youth League for accepting the club at late notice back in the summer of 2011, and for their hard work in running what has been a thoroughly enjoyable league to compete in.
Finally, a big thank you to the players and management team who have performed admirably, especially in the weeks since it was announced that the club would be withdrawing from the NSYL at the end of this season. We hope that as many as possible will continue their footballing careers with AFC Rushden & Diamonds, but to those who are unable to/choose not to, we wish you all the very best for the future. 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18

Northampton Spencer U18

24. Connor Brown
  21. Tommy Reeve
  2. Jamie Inwood
  4. Noah Bryant (c)
  12. Ryan Chamberlain
  6. Ben Roche
  18. Omar Ghavami
  8. Matty Foster
  11. Matty Smith
  10. Jake Reynolds
  7. Savvas Hamp

1. Ryan Loeball
  2. Brad Pettit
  3. Reiss Gartland
  4. Joe Handley
  5. Liam Stone
  6. James Wallington (c)
  7. Jack Shaw
  8. Charlie Halliwell
  9. Scott Digby
  10. Jordan Sweeney
  11. Jack Burns

  9. James Pearson
  17. Chris Knapp
  20. Ben Peaks
  22. Joe Ackroyd

  12. Jake Cross
  14. Jack Portley

  Smith (10 mins)
  Reynolds (17 mins)
  Smith (32 mins)
  Ghavami (57 mins)
  Foster (80 mins)
  Inwood (90+2 mins)


  Foster (42 mins, unsporting conduct)

  Gartland (43 mins, foul)


You can find the final NSYL League Table, along with appearance and goalscoring stats for the AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 side here, with results / scorers and links to match reports from the three NSYL seasons for this side here,  here and here.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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