Barton Rovers 1-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds produced a workmanlike performance to defeat mid-table Barton Rovers on a clear afternoon at Sharpenhoe Road on Saturday afternoon.

After goalkeeper Matt Finlay had produced a sharp save to deny a back-post volley from home striker Connor Vincent, Diamonds took the lead in the 21st minute as Claudiu Hoban cut in from the right and drilled a left-footed effort in at the near post. Dan Quigley hit the post shortly after with a flicked header and Tommy Berwick failed to capitalise on Rovers’ goalkeeper Kyle Forster being out of his goal as Rushden went into the half-time break a goal to the good.

Liam Dolman carried on his goalscoring form of last Saturday as he glanced home a Hoban right-wing corner at the front post early in the second period, though Barton quickly pulled one back as striker Jason Blackett powered a header past Finlay after being picked out by full-back Lucas Perry with a deep cross. Diamonds were however relatively untroubled from there on in and after Dolman hit the woodwork from another Hoban set-piece, Quigley sealed the victory in the 90th minute as his effort from the edge of the box was deflected past a helpless Forster.

Manager Andy Peaks made just the solitary change from the side who played in the end of the FA Cup adventure for this season on Tuesday, with Andy Hall coming in on the right wing and replacing Courtney Herbert. Tom Liversedge, like Hall, returned from being cup-tied and took his place amongst the substitutes.

The sun was shining from afar and added to a nice autumnal feeling in the air as the game got underway, and despite Barton having an inconsistent start to the season, they had reached the play-off final last season and so Diamonds knew they would still be provided with a stern test on the back of their midweek disappointment.

The opening 15 minutes were relatively devoid of chances, with both sides maintaining possession and passing the ball well but not being able to create a clear sighting at goal. The first chance of note fell to the Rovers in the 19th minute after a long throw-in from full-back Jack Keating found its way to striker Jason Blackett, and his eventual shot after bringing the ball under control was blocked behind for a corner. From the resultant set-piece the deep, drilled delivery from the right found Connor Vincent in space at the back post, but his powerful volley was brilliantly saved by Finlay to his right side to keep the scores level.

This save proved even more crucial when the Diamonds took the lead two minutes afterwards, and again a set-piece contributed to the chance. A Claudiu Hoban corner from the right didn’t beat the first man but found its way back out to the Romanian winger. With only one defender facing him up he performed a couple of stepovers, cut inside his marker and flashed an effort inside the near-post with Barton goalkeeper Kyle Forster unable to stop the shot.

The goal proved the initiation for a concerted spell of pressure for the Diamonds, mainly helped by the link-up play, flexibility and movement of Hoban, Andy Hall, Tommy Berwick and Tom Lorraine. Straight from the kick-off Lorraine was able to run in behind the Barton defence, though the ball took a little while to come down and settle for the Diamonds number 9. He eventually fizzed a left-footed effort at goal from the edge of the area which Forster got his fingertips to to divert the shot over.

The midfield two of Richard Bunting and Dan Quigley, who had frequently been pressured and harassed in the two games against higher level Barwell, were finding themselves with more time and space in possession in this fixture, and this allowed them to dictate the tempo and pace of the game for large spells of the first half. It was Quigley who was inches away from doubling the lead in the 26th minute after Bunting floated a free-kick into the box, and the box-to-box midfielder saw his free header come back off the far post and away from danger.

Two minutes later Hall, who would prove to be a livewire and danger throughout, chased a long ball down the right channel but it appeared to no avail as the Barton keeper advanced from his goal to collect the ball. However the Rovers’ stopper dropped the ball and Hall seized on possession, initially shielding the ball from the panicking Forster and then eventually working the ball into the middle for Berwick to latch onto. Unfortunately for the Diamonds the ensuing touch taken was slightly heavy, and by the time the ball had been brought under full control the chance was gone and the ball was cleared downfield.

Although the away side were now seemingly dominating proceedings, several earlier moves and interchanges by the home side showed that they were confident with the ball at their feet and quick to push possession upfield when they got the chance to. In the 33rd minute a corner from the right was only half-cleared by the Diamonds backline, and Ashton Grant lurking outside the penalty area slammed a return volley goalwards, but also wide of the right post. Moments later Hoban was penalised for a trip 25 yards from goal to halt a dangerous break forward, and midfielder Kev Kilroy stood over the dead ball. He curled in a pacey effort to Finlay’s left, though the Diamonds stopper was able to comfortably catch the ball.

The half-time whistle was then sounded by referee Rob Evans on a progressively entertaining half which Rushden deserved to be leading, albeit with work still to be done in the second period.

Half Time: Barton Rovers 0-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

The sun that had been beaming across towards the main stand in the first half had slightly regressed during the half-time interval, and it was important for the Diamonds to carry on the dominant work that had been seen at fleeting intervals in the first 45 minutes. Sam Brown’s long throws have caused real problems for many opposing defences so far this season, and he wound another one up in the 48th minute which Warren Plowright inadvertently headed towards his own goal. His blushes were spared, however, by a sprawling dive from Forster to parry the ball away.

Barton half-time substitute Tom Peverall, who replaced Grant, then found himself with a decent opportunity after a cross from the left was only headed away as far as the home number 14 in space just inside the box. Although he brought the ball down well, Liam Dolman was quickly out to block his way and hurry the Rovers man into a slashed effort which dropped well wide of the post.

The general play was starting to swing more end-to-end as the game became slightly stretched and more open, and both teams’ forward lines often found themselves with time to run at the opposition defence in this second period. One such occasion saw Lorraine pick up the ball with his back to goal, and with no home player closing him down, he turned and moved towards the penalty area. His well-struck shot brought a diving save from the Barton goalkeeper as he fell to his left, and Hoban came across to the right-side to take the following corner.

It was from this set-piece where the Diamonds were able to double their lead. With six men in the box for Hoban to aim at, his near-post delivery found the perfectly-timed run of defender Liam Dolman to powerfully flick home his third goal in his last three games.

Any thoughts that that goal might have put the contest beyond the reach of Barton were immediately shattered, however, as the home side sprang down the other end and quickly pulled a goal back. Lorraine was guilty of giving possession away in the middle of the park as he tried to find Ollie Wilkinson, and though it initially appeared the Diamonds striker had won the ball back, the play was fed through for overlapping full-back Lucas Perry to clip a ball to the back-post. Jason Blackett was there in the perfect area to force a header past Finlay who had little chance of stopping the effort.

The quick and lively opening to the second period continued straight after this goal as the Diamonds created three presentable opportunities to restore their two goal cushion. Firstly Hoban jinked down the left channel and worked himself into shooting range, drawing a parry from the Barton goalkeeper, and it was Hoban looking dangerous again as he slipped a through ball into the path of Bunting, but his left-footed shot flew over the bar with no touch from Forster despite the Rushden skipper’s protestations otherwise. Another corner from the right then found Delroy Gordon, but his header downwards bounced up off the turf and looped over the net from close range.

Aside from a tame header following a deep free-kick which bounced through to Finlay, Diamonds looked relatively comfortable and free of pressure despite the narrow lead they possessed. Scott Joseph was introduced from the bench to replace Lorraine, and he was swiftly into the action as Brown flicked a ball round the corner for him to pick up on the edge of the penalty area. He used his strength well to hold off a Barton midfielder and, after cutting inside, curled a shot towards the far post which Forster was able to collect.

Set-pieces had shown themselves to be a dangerous weapon in the Diamonds’ artillery in this second half, and another Hoban delivery from the right four minutes from time found Dolman to flick a header off the apex of crossbar and post as the Rovers’ stopper was put under pressure from three away players.

They didn’t have to wait much longer to wrap up the three points though as the clock ticked just past the regulation 90 minutes, and it was substitute Tom Liversedge who was the creator. The ball was headed forward to the ex-Belper man after a throw-in by the home side had been won by the Diamonds, and he was able to turn and attempt to lay the ball off to the sprinting Dan Quigley. The ball was slightly deflected into his path, and his resultant shot took a much larger deflection to take the ball up and over the dive of Forster to seal the victory.

Full Time: Barton Rovers 1-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

With the two FA Cup exits in the last two seasons leading to league defeats in the next fixture, it was pleasing to see the Diamonds break this sequence, record a deserved victory and move up to second in the Southern League Division One Central table. The performances of the two wingers Claudiu Hoban and Andy Hall were eye-catching and provided the away side with consistent energy and pace throughout the afternoon, and though it wasn’t a sparkling performance on the whole, the old cliché ‘getting the job done’ was achieved against a bright and purposeful Barton Rovers side. Rushden’s next fixture is in the NFA Hillier Cup Quarter Final at home to Desborough Town on Tuesday night, and that is before a top-of-the-table league clash will see the Diamonds pit themselves against current leaders Egham Town next Saturday on the 7th October.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Dan Quigley

Attendance: 306

Match Report by Ollie Mortimer

Barton Rovers

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1. Kyle Forster

2. Jack Keating

3. Lucas Perry

4. Kev Kilroy

5. Paul Andrews (C)

6. Warren Plowright

7. Jordan Davis

8. Ashton Grant

9. Jason Blackett

10. Connor Vincent

11. Aaron Morgan



12. James Bishop

14. Tom Peverall (for Grant 45)

15. Abdul Salmin

16. Chris Wreh

17. Tuki Tayali

17. Matt Finlay

2. Ollie Wilkinson

3. Sam Brown

4. Delroy Gordon

5. Liam Dolman

6. Dan Quigley

7. Andy Hall

8. Richard Bunting (C)

9. Tom Lorraine

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Claudiu Hoban



12. Brad Harris (for Hall 82)

13. Alex Vitue

14. Scott Joseph (for Lorraine 75)

15. Charlie Butt

16. Tom Liversedge (for Berwick 86)

Goals: Blackett (55)

Goals: Hoban (21), Dolman (54), Quigley (90)

Yellow Cards: Davis (60), Blackett (81)

Yellow Cards: Quigley (65), Brown (83)

Referee: Rob Evans

Assistants: Mark Simmons, Michael Dunkley



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