AFC Rushden & Diamonds completed their pre-season programme with a 3-1 victory over Biggleswade United at Fairfield Road.
The kick-off for the game was delayed by 15 minutes as four Diamonds players had been stuck on the M1. Tom Cross returned in goal, behind an experienced back four of Merrill, Brown, Gillingwater and the returning Deakin. In central midfield were Dent and Harris who had recovered from his knock last week, with Smith and Wisniewski taking the wider roles. Up front were Morgan and Allen.
The Diamonds dominated the first half, and took a deserved lead after 18 minutes when Elliot Dent picked up the ball on the half-way line in front of the dug-outs, his ball forward to Ben Morgan was neatly controlled and played back into the path of his forward run, and Dent’s strike was too powerful for the home keeper, who could only palm the ball into the net.
The second Diamonds goal came when Ben Morgan was off the pitch receiving treatment, and a through ball from Brad Harris allowed Louis Smith to nip in just ahead of the home keeper, his first touch flicking off the keeper allowing him to slide the ball home after 30 minutes.
Lance Allen limped off after 30 minutes to be replaced by Nat Liburd.
The second half saw the home side make wholesale changes, and their refreshed side produced a meaningful threat on the Diamonds goal for the first time, forcing a number of fine saves from Tom Cross, and thus it was against the run of play when the Diamonds got their third after 67 minutes, when a move involving Smith and Morgan saw the ball slotted to Nat Liburd who took a touch to one side of the keeper, and rolled the ball home from a narrow angle.
Both Jack Wisniewski and Ben Morgan toiled hard, and both might have got the goal their performances deserved, but it was a combination of the post, good goalkeeping and shots getting blocked that denied them.
The hosts did get a goal from a John Vooght volley that their second-half performance deserved, but the Diamonds were able to bring on Zach Farden and Ashley Meeks for Deakin and Merrill during that period.
Diamonds Team: Tom Cross, Joe Merrill, Alex Deakin, Jake Gillingwater, Sam Brown, Jack Wisniewski, Louis Smith, Elliot Dent, Brad Harris, Ben Morgan, Lance Allen. Subs Nat Liburd (for Allen 31), Zach Farden (for Deakin 58), Ashley Meeks (for Merrill 65). Not Used: Liam Bond.
Attendance: Approx 70
The focus will now be on the trip to play Deeping Rangers at the weekend – see here for the match preview.
It was announced following the game that Ashley Meeks, Zach Farden and Liam Bond have all been registered with the UCL for the senior side.
The final “scores on the doors” for the UCL registered players in the pre-season period are roughly as follows.