AFC Rushden & Diamonds suffered a frustrating afternoon as they lost 2-1 to Boston Town in Lincolnshire on Saturday. The Poachers took the lead from their only chance in the first half, with the Diamonds wasting several good chances. Although Alex Deakin prodded home the Diamonds equaliser in the second period, it was his slip shortly afterwards that led to the hosts’ winner.
The Diamonds made a single change to the line-up that had brought home three points from their trip to Lincolnshire seven days earlier, with the injured Richard Bunting being replaced by Alex Deakin, with Brad Harris moving forwards into midfield. This meant that top scorer Alfie Taylor continued on the bench along with Fazel Koriya, as Aaron King was given the responsibility of supporting Russ Dunkley. New signing Joe Henderson was also on the bench, along with Arron Parkinson as he recovers from illness.
The pattern of the first half was quickly established, with all the action being towards the Poachers’ goal. An early chance fell to Aaron King whose shot was saved after good work from Ling and Dunkley on the left. King then saw a shot go wide and a volley caught by keeper Drury. A Merrill cross just eluded the head of Russ Dunkley before a Ling corner was only cleared as far as Matt Gearing whose effort was also saved.
The first quarter ended with Russ Dunkley missing a headed chance from a Gearing, but shortly afterwards the Poachers had a forward threat for the first time in the game, and Matt Kennedy forced a lunging tackle from Jamal Clarke which saw referee Henry show a yellow card as Kennedy looked like his injury would mean the end of his afternoon. The Daryl Clare free kick from 35 yards out was only knocked from right to left, and striker Josh Ford was able to fire home with 27 minutes on the clock.
The Diamonds dominated the remainder of the half, and really should have taken at least one of their chances. Dunkley and King combined to set up Greg Ling whose effort hit the base of the post, and then Ling and Dunkley linked to present Matt Gearing with a chance where he only had keeper Drury to beat, but the effort was too close to the home keeper.
After a succession of Diamonds’ corners Russ Dunkley found space for a header that flew just wide, and then the final chance of the half fell to Greg Ling on his right foot, but he chose to try to try to find a team-mate and the ball was cleared.
Half-Time: Boston Town 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
The Poachers had clearly been instructed to get forwards more during their half-time team-talk. A good move down the left saw Paul Goodhand hit a shot across goal – their first attempt on goal from open play in the game.
After 57 minutes a Diamonds corner was hooked onto the bar by Alex Deakin, but a minute later a Merrill free-kick was deflected into the path of Alex Deakin who prodded home the equaliser.
Any thoughts the Diamonds fans might have had that they would now go on to win the game were quickly dispelled when a Diamonds move down the right broke down unexpectedly, and with Joe Merrill having gone forwards Alex Deakin had to cover on the right side. As he turned to pass back to Tom Cross he slipped and the underhit pass was quickly seized by Josh Ford who found Paul Goodhand ready to fire home an easy chance.
Alfie Taylor joined the action, and showed that the home defence would struggle with more direct runs down the middle, and he was quickly on the end of a good move involving McBride and Gearing, although he shot whilst off-balance and his effort curled wide.
Greg Ling then hit the post for the second time in the game, and then a Cross free-kick was laid into the path of Aaron King by Taylor, but his effort went wide. Joe Henderson made his Diamonds debut in a central midfield role as the Diamonds pushed forwards for an equaliser, but despite further chances falling to Taylor and Clarke, and Taylor being caught narrowly offside when clear on goal they were unable to get back on terms before referee Henry blew for full-time after three added minutes.
Full-Time: Boston Town 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Diamonds Man of the Match: Russ Dunkley
The Diamonds will next face Wellingborough Town on Boxing Day.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Ricky Drury
2. Lawrence Lambley
3. Nick Jackson
4. Luke Wilson
5. Michael Wood (Capt)
6. Ollie Pinner
7. Matt Kennedy
8. Paul Goodhand
9. Josh Ford
10. Daryl Clare
11. Lori Borbely
12. Jordan Nuttell (for Clare 85)
13. Nathan Iley (for Goodhand 70)
14. Robbie Bryant (for Ford 82)
15. Danny Woods
16. Paul Jones
17. Tom Cross
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Jamal Clarke
6. Alex Deakin
7. Matt Gearing
8. Brad Harris
9. Russ Dunkley (Capt)
10. Aaron King
11. Greg Ling
12. Fazel Koriya (for Ling 78)
13. Adam Whybrow(GK)
14. Alfie Taylor (for Deakin 68)
15. Joe Henderson (for Gearing 78)
16. Arron Parkinson
Goals: Ford (27), Goodhand (60)
Goal: Deakin (58)
Yellow Cards: Wood
Yellow Cards: Clarke
Referee: Carl Henry
Assistants: Christopher Day, Lee Hartley