AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy were knocked out of The FA Youth Cup in the 2nd Qualifying Round, after they were beaten 3-1 at home to Ely City.
- Hayford Osei scored his 4th goal in as many games to equalise in the first half.
- Two goals in 7 minutes either side of half time put the game beyond reach for Diamonds.
- It was the first defeat for the scholars this season.
- The U18’s are back in action Wednesday 5th , for their first league game this season.
The first chance of the game fell to Ely after just six minutes. The left winger played the ball into the striker who turned well but his shot went wide.
But then the scholar’s had a couple of opportunities themselves. First of all, after a bit of pin ball in the penalty area, the ball almost wormed its way into the bottom corner. But the Ely goalkeeper got down well to tip it around the post for a corner.
22 minutes in, striker Hayford Osei was beginning to show glimpses of his form over the past couple of games. Osei picked the ball up on the half way line and ran at the Ely defence. The striker then played in winger Christy Nginamau, but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
Just six minutes later though and Diamonds were behind. Ely won a corner on the left and goalkeeper Tom Cocking couldn’t stop a strong header at the far post. 28 minutes in and Ely led 0-1.
Just two minutes later, the away side almost doubled their lead. The right full back played the ball into the feet of the dangerous striker, who in turn knocked the ball onto the left winger and his volley went wide.
The equaliser did come though not long after going behind. 33 minutes and the MAA boys scored a fantastic goal. Once again Osei carried the ball forward for Diamonds and as he bared down on the penalty area, the he played an intricate one-two with Tom Craddock and then beautifully curled the ball into the top corner of the goal, from the corner of the penalty box. A fantastic goal at any level of the game.
But four minutes before the half time whistle, Ely edged infront once again. Tom Cocking miscued a goal kick and the ball quickly came back at the defence, so centre back Tom Hughes had little option but to bring down the attacker when on goal. Subsequently, Hughes was shown a yellow card. And unfortunately, from the resulting free kick, the Ely midfielder curled the ball into the top corner to make it 1-2.
Half Time. AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / MAA 1-2 Ely City U18s.
As soon as the second half began, the scholars conceded again. 48 minutes in, a mistake would be costly. Defender Caley McTeggart was under pressure and his backwards header was picked up upon. The striker rounded the goalkeeper and made it 1-3.
As Diamonds were pressing for a goal, to find a way back into the match, they were almost picked off on the counter attack. Rushden midfielder Ryan Baird had a volley from the edge of the area saved, and instantly Ely, went up the other end and almost scored. Thankfully McTeggart was back to clear the ball off the line.
With minutes remaining, Ely should have made it 4-1. The scholars had thrown everyone forward apart from Austin Bishop and Caley McTeggart. Ely’s striker put Bishop under pressure by chasing a lost cause but McTeggart came across with a last ditch tackle. With seconds remaining, the ball was whipped into the box, and a header came back off the crossbar.
Full Time. AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / MAA 1-3 Ely City U18s.
Team: Cocking, Goldsborough, Bishop, Mastropierro (c), McTeggart, Hughes, Chirwa, Baird, Osei, Craddock, Nginamau.
Subs: Lancaster, Clarke, Sharpe, Sibanda, Dankwa.
After the game, manager Darren Purse said the goals they conceded turned out to be costly, but his side’s lack of physicality wasn’t to blame for conceding from set-pieces.
“If we make mistakes, and don’t defend set pieces right then we won’t win games. It’s simple. There’s nobody to blame for it, it’s just a poor result.
You can be 5 foot 2 and stand up against somebody and stop them from getting a free header but we didn’t do that for the first goal. This year we’ve been defending set-pieces a lot better, I thought we’d got over them mistakes, but tonight, we didn’t track the runners and it’s cost us.”
The scholar’s only goal came from good link up play, and Purse was pleased that one of the movements paid off.
“We did things like that all night, but it’s just that little bit of composure, timing and pace of the pass, and when we did get into those positions, we just let ourselves down with the quality in the final third. But the play to get into the position to score Hayford’s [Osei] goal was decent.”
“It’s disappointing to be knocked out, it’s a fantastic competition but we’ll have to concentrate on other cups and the league now. I want my team to win every game, I always have done so we’ll concentrate on other things now.”
Match Report by Hayden Pott.