A 2nd minute goal shocked Diamonds last night and they were never able to recover going down 1-0 to Banbury United. They suffered the additional blow of seeing Jack Westbrook sent off early in the second half on a disappointing and chilly night in Banbury.
Two changes to the starting line-up saw Declan Rogers and Albie Hopkins return in place of Zack Reynolds who missed the game and Jack Bowen who dropped to the bench. Diamonds were punished for a sluggish start as they switched off from a corner allowing Steve Diggin to tap home in just the 2nd minute. They were unable to really lift their game and Banbury had a number of chances to extend their lead in what was a scrappy opening half for the away side.
The second half was only 4 minutes old when Diamonds suffered a massive blow to their chances of mounting a comeback. Jack Westbrook with a clumsy challenge that seemed to lack malice was punished with a straight red card. 10 man Diamonds did mount attacks on the Banbury goal that might have brought joy on another night with Albie Hopkins, Declan Rogers lifting crosses into the box that were just cleared and Tom Lorraine and Dan Clifton have decent efforts on goal. Banbury continued to create chances themselves though and probably should have added to the 2nd minute tap-in that ultimately won them the game.
Not a good night for Diamonds with their winning run ended and they are on the road again on Saturday with the long trip to Lowestoft Town followed by the re-arranged home game against Halesowen Town next Tuesday.
Manager Andy Peaks made two changes to his starting line-up to this trip just over the county border into Oxfordshire. Albie Hopkins and Declan Rogers returned to the side with Zack Reynolds missing the game and Jack Bowen moved to the bench. Nathan Hicks slotted in at right back, Declan Rogers into the midfield three and Albie Hopkins into the front three.
On a very chilly night Diamonds were caught napping in just the 2nd minute in what would be the decisive moment of the night. A left wing corner went unchallenged through the 6 yard box where it was headed down at the far post for Steve Diggin to tap home from a yard out.
It was a horror start for Diamonds and Banbury came close to making matters worse with a number of close shaves in the opening minutes. A penalty claim for handball was turned down as a good ball was played towards potentially free Banbury men in the box, and Jack Ashton then cleared a good shot at goal off the line in the 8th minute. Gregory Kaziboni then went close with a good shooting chance as Diamonds were very much on the back foot.
Banbury largely dominated the opening period creating a number of these shooting chances that were largely wasted before by Ben Heath was forced into a good save on 23 minutes as more space was found in behind the struggling Diamonds defence.
The returning Albie Hopkins was the bright spark for Diamonds and he ran well with the ball on 25 minutes running across the Banbury defence before laying it to the supporting Nathan Hicks whose excellent cross just evaded Tom Lorraine.
Banbury went close again on 34 minutes finding space in the box but firing wide before Diamonds sparked into life late in the half. Ben Diamond started to trouble the Banbury defence and ran well at them on 35 minutes nearly breaking through but was just seen out, and Declan Rogers hit a fierce free-kick just into the Banbury defensive wall winding one of the defenders in the process.
Half-time: Banbury United 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Diamonds would undoubtedly have been fired up by Andy Peaks for a much stronger second half performance but their hopes were dealt a massive blow by an unfortunate sending off on 49 minutes. Jack Westbrook made a somewhat lunging challenge that lack malice but was seen as dangerous and out of control by the referee who issued a straight red card.
Diamonds responded pretty well to the set-back by having some of their best spells in the game with the 10 men. Albie Hopkins was at the heart of most of Diamonds good play and he had a good run on 59 minutes which ended with a great ball into the box that just evaded Sam Brown. Declan Rogers was also prominent and he likewise lifted a good ball into the box on 62 minutes that was very close to Liam Dolman’s run.
Banbury continued to create space in the Diamonds defence though especially on the break and came close to a 2nd goal on 63 minutes. A Diamonds attacking throw was turned into a swift break getting a man into the area one on one with Ben Heath only for the Diamonds stopper to produce a good save.
Tom Lorraine was working hard against strong Banbury defenders all night and he broke at them with pace on 66 minutes surging to the edge of the box before firing just over.
Banbury came straight back with another good shooting chance that was blazed over before John Dean and Dan Clifton came on in the latter stages to try and energise Diamonds. And it was Clifton who would have the final Diamonds opportunity to earn a point with a fierce effort on 84 minutes that was cruelly deflected over.
Full-time: Banbury United 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
This was a disappointing night for Diamonds with an early goal conceded from a corner and a sending off. Diamonds struggled to contain Banbury in the first half who fortunately didn’t have their shooting boots on, and Diamonds couldn’t fashion the killer chances they needed in a better second half played largely with 10 men.
It brings a nice winning run to an end but Diamonds stay 7th in the table just 2 points outside the play-offs. Next up the long trip to Lowestoft Town on Saturday before the re-arranged home game against Halesowen Town next Tuesday.
Man of the Match: TBC
Match Report by Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Emmanuel Agboola
3. Matthew Taylor
5. Charlie Wise
6. Bavin Shansi
7. Charlie Hawtin
8. Edmond Hotter
9. Ricky Johnson
10. Steve Diggin
15. Eddie Odhiambo
16. Gregory Kaziboni
18. Giorgio Rasulo
4. George Nash
11. Mark Bell
12. Amer Awadh
14. John Mills
17. Harry Whitehead
13. Ben Heath
2. Sam Brown
3. Nathan Hicks
4. Jack Ashton
5. Liam Dolman (C)
6. Jack Westbrook
7. Declan Rogers
8. Ben Farrell
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ben Diamond
11. Albert Hopkins
12. John Dean (for Lorraine 81)
14. Dan Clifton (for Farrell 81)
15. Jack Bowen
16. Patrick Casey
17. Nathan Pickworth
Goals: Diggins (2)
Red Cards: Jack Westbrook
Referee: Richard Walker
Assistants: Daniel Pattison, Ashley Clarke