On a scorching afternoon AFC Rushden & Diamonds continued their pre season winning form with a hard fought 2-1 victory at Bedford Town.
Manager Andy Peaks shuffled his players with Joe Henderson and Jack Ashton returning and starting debuts for Elliot Lamb –Johnson and Jason Turner. Greg Ling lined up in centre midfield alongside Brad Harris.
Livewire Lamb-Johnson opened the scoring after just three minutes following good work from Turner who held the ball up, turned and placed the ball in front of Lamb-Johnson. The defender read the through ball well, unfortunately his clearance ricocheted off a Bedford colleague into Lamb-Johnson’s path and he sweetly finished into the top corner. Lamb Johnson could have doubled his tally 2 minutes later when a nicely struck shot across the goalkeeper narrowly went wide.
Bedford settled into their neat passing play, however didn’t create a great deal, the chances that fell were largely created by errors from the Diamonds defence and on another day could have proved crucial had they been put away. After 12 minutes the ball fell to Scott Cross who shot straight at Diamonds stopper Finlay.
Diamonds continued to threaten on the break and after 24 minutes Lamb-Johnson narrowly shot over the bar. Two minutes later, Tom Lorraine picked the ball up just outside the box and fired a fierce shot just wide.
On 37 minutes, the dangerous Cross almost profited from a Harris mistake as he shot just wide, then after 39 minutes ex Cogenhoe man Tom Liversedge was clean through and struck a tame shot straight at Finlay.
After 43 minutes, Diamonds best move of the half saw Lamb-Johnson put Turner through on the left hand side and his early shot fizzed just wide.
As half time approached, Bedford were looking more and more dangerous and ex Diamond man Aaron King burst through the defence and just as he was pulling the trigger, Brad Harris made a fantastic goal saving tackle. The ball fell to Cross, whose shot was turned round the post by Finlay.
Diamonds almost scored at the perfect time when Turner returned the earlier favour to Lamb- Johnson, who crossed to Lorraine who cleverly headed back to Ling who fired high over the bar.
Half-Time: Bedford Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
The only first half change had been McBride for Clarke, who seemed to pick up a knock. At the interval Dunkley replaced Lorraine and Koriya replaced Lamb-Johnson. Brad Harris had slotted into the centre back role to replace Clarke.
There was little to entertain the decent sized crowd until 58 minutes, when Matt Gearing exchanged passes with Turner and scuffed his shot straight at the keeper.
After 65 minutes Gearing cut inside from the left and shot over the bar. With 75 minutes gone Richard Bunting joined the action replacing Turner. 10 minutes later Redding replaced Finlay and Lorraine returned for Joe Henderson.
With the match seemingly petering out in the heat of the afternoon, a Matt Gearing corner was glanced past the keeper by Russ Dunkley to score his third goal in two games.
Deep into injury time, a Bedford free kick from the right was bundled into the net by Sam Macrae to make the scoreline 2-1.
Overall, a great pre-season workout with both teams defending very well and should Diamonds progress to meet Bedford in the FA cup in this season, it will be a very close game indeed.
Full-Time: Bedford Town 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
Diamonds Man of the Match: Brad Harris
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Lee Crockett
2. Ben Grant
3. Joe Hopewell
4. Neil King
5. Jeff Woodward
6. Dan Burke
7. Josh Winters
8. Scott Cross
9. Tom Liversedge
10. Aaron King
11. Rob Parker
12. Sam Macrae
14. Josh McGoldrick
15. Jordan Jarrold
16. Simon King
17. Shane Lyons
18. Kerran Birch
19. Danny Harmon
GK Ben Heath
17. Matt Finlay
2. Joe Henderson
3. Jack Ashton
4. Brad Harris
5. Jamal Clarke
6. Aaron Parkinson
7. Elliot Lamb-Johnson
8. Greg Ling
12. Tom Lorraine
11. Matt Gearing
9. Russ Dunkley
14. Richard Bunting
15. Fazel Koriya
16. Sean Mcbride
17. Rhys Redding
Goals: Macrae (90+3)
Goals: Lamb-Johnson (3), Dunkley (89),
Yellow Cards: None
Yellow Cards: None