Brooke House 2-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
AFC Rushden & Diamonds completed their inaugural season with a 3-2 victory over Brooke House, in a hard fought and thoroughly entertaining encounter at Harborough Town.
Any thoughts that this would be a dull, uneventful end of season fixture soon went out of the window, as the Diamonds hit the woodwork twice inside the opening minute. Zaak Moon picked out Zach Farden on the left flank, and the latter, without a goal to his name all season, hit a stunning 25 yard strike which cannoned back off the underside of the bar, just bouncing back into play. Jake Reynolds was quick to pounce on the rebound as Brooke House struggled to clear their lines, and hit a looping volley from the narrowest of angles, which again beat Callum McEachran in the home goal, but hit the foot of the far post before the ball was finally cleared.
Rushden looked the brighter side in the opening minutes, but it wasn’t long before the hosts found their feet. They had their first meaningful attempt on goal after 10 minutes, as Margorit Georgiev hit a blistering free kick from the left wing, which produced a fine save from trialist Ben Clarke in the AFC goal.
The game was now a very even affair, with the supporters being treated to some first class football from both sides. The next chance of the game fell to Harry May after 15 minutes, as he skilfully beat his man before firing in a left foot shot from 25 yards, but his effort failed to trouble McEachran.
Brooke House created a good scoring chance on 22 minutes, and probably should have netted an equalising goal. The lively Ming Cheng picked out Petar Vitanov with a clever backheel inside the Diamonds penalty area, but the Bulgarian’s shot was too close to Clarke who got down well to make a good save.
With the half hour mark approaching, Rushden hit the woodwork for a third time. James Harrison turned his marker well and attempted a cross from the right hand side of the area, but his effort was sliced and cannoned off the outside of the post.
The visitors opened the scoring just two minutes later though. A great ball down the right flank allowed Fred Devereaux to break clear of the defence, and he played in an excellent low cross which was slotted into the bottom corner from 12 yards by Jake Reynolds.
The hosts should have been back on level terms just 5 minutes later, but profligacy in front of goal let them down again. Vitanov was the provider this time, embarking on a strong run down the right flank before picking out Yash Mhatre in the middle, but he blazed his shot high over the bar from 10 yards out.
Brooke House finished the half strongly, and again went close only a couple of minutes before the interval. A great passing move saw Mario Stefanov find Mhatre inside the penalty area, but Clarke was quickly off his line and made and excellent one-on-one save.
HT: Brooke House 0-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
The Diamonds made a number of changes at half time, giving debuts to four new trialists, plus three further substitutions. The move seemed to backfire, as within 10 minutes of the restart their one goal lead had become a one goal deficit.
The warning signs were there right from the start of the half, as Alex McDonald had to be at his sharpest to deny Stefanov with a fine block. The Diamonds did have a chance of their own shortly into the second half, with trialist Luke Emery beating his marker before hitting a good shot from a tight angle, which was very well held by McEachran.
With just 7 minutes gone though, the hosts found their equaliser. Stefanov broke clear of the AFC defence and showed good strength to hold off Tom Ward, before calmly slotting the ball past Clarke. Three minutes later, things went from bad to worse for the visitors, as Brooke House netted a second in quick succession. A poor defensive header allowed Mhatre to get inbetween Clarke and his defence, and the Brooke House man lobbed the ball over the onrushing Diamonds’ ‘keeper and into an empty net. Clarke accidentally collided with Mhatre in an attempt to save the ball, and looked as though he might have been quite badly injured, but fortunately managed to shrug off the knock and continue the game.
Rushden tried to respond, and went close on 58 minutes when Ciaran McDaid fired just wide of the post from a tight angle, after being played in by May. Mhatre then went close for the hosts from a similar position at the other end of the pitch, but was denied by another fine save from Clarke, who tipped the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner, Avyay Gujral climbed above the Diamonds’ defence but headed high over the bar.
The Diamonds were back on level terms soon after though, with a goal of real quality. May found Jeron Thompson in the middle of the park, and the substitute striker burst forward, past two defenders, before picking out McDaid with a delightful through ball. The trialist drew McEachran from his goal before delicately dinking the ball over the Brooke House ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
With the final 20 minutes fast approaching, the home side created a great chance to take the lead once more. Ebuka Umeh found Stefanov with a good ball into the Rushden penalty area, but the midfielder was brilliantly denied by Clarke who saved with his feet. The rebound fell invitingly for Umeh, but his effort from the edge of the box was cleared off the line by the well positioned Harry Osbourne.
Umeh went close again two minutes later, when Yasin Amusan’s right wing cross was only half cleared, but his well struck 20 yard volley flew just over the Rushden crossbar.
The action was now going from end to end, with both sides looking to win the game. On 73 minutes a dangerous cross from Thompson bounced awkwardly for the home defence, allowing Emery a headed chance, but he nodded just over the bar. Alex McDonald was the next to go close a few minutes later, picking up Osbourne’s quickly taken free kick and firing a 25 yard shot just wide of the post.
Mhatre responded for Brooke House by testing Clarke from similar distance, but found the Rushden stopper equal to his effort. Minutes later, a quick break saw Mhatre find Umeh just outside the penalty area, but his shot flew inches wide.
With time running out the winning goal was scored, and it was the Diamonds who claimed it, with three of their trialists involved. Osbourne’s long throw found Emery near the corner flag, and he beat his marker before crossing low into the path of Matt Hibberd who smashed the ball home from close range.
There was still enough time remaining for the hosts to grab an equaliser, and they almost did just a minute later. Tan Chun Lok’s cross was only cleared as far as Usman Haruna on the edge of the box, but his volley dipped agonisingly over the bar.
FT: Brooke House 2-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
The win concludes a tremendous first year for AFC Rushden & Diamonds, and all attentions will now be turned towards the 2012/13 season.
Please keep an eye on www.afcdiamonds.com over the summer, as we will be bringing you all the latest transfer and fixture news as soon as it happens.
Attendance: Approx. 50
Man of the Match: Adam Ziolkowski
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|1. Callum McEachran
2. Luke Powney
4. Kieran Bedford
5. Nikola Simeonov
7. Mario Stefanov
10. Petar Vitanov (c)
11. Avyay Gujral
15. Hank Lok Leung
16. Ming Cheng
18. Yasin Amusan
20. Margorit Georgiev
|24. Ben Clarke
5. Ben Roche
15. Adam Ziolkowski
17. Tom Ward
11. Harry May
4. Zaak Moon
8. Fred Devereaux (c)
13. Noah Bryant
3. Zach Farden
9. James Harrison
14. Jake Reynolds
1. Hadley Beeken (for McEachran, 78 mins)
3. Tan Chun Lok (for Bedford, 62 mins)
6. Ebuka Umeh (for Gujral, 74 mins)
14. Usman Haruna (for Vitanov, 74 mins)
17. Yash Mhatre (for Cheng, 62 mins)
19. Abass Balogun (for Georgiev, 74 mins)
2. Ciaran McDaid (for Moon, 46 mins)
6. Alex McDonald (for Devereaux, 46 mins)
7. Blake Helsdown (for Farden, 46 mins)
8. Matt Hibberd (for Bryant, 46 mins)
10. Jeron Thompson (for Harrison, 46 mins)
12. Luke Emery (for Reynolds, 46 mins)
16. Harry Osbourne (for Ziolkowski, 46 mins)
Stefanov (52 mins)
Mhatre (55 mins)
Reynolds (30 mins)
McDaid (62 mins)
Hibberd (86 mins)
All Images courtesy of Alex Newton