Diamonds made comfortable progress in the UCL Knock-out Cup at Latimer Park tonight with an emphatic 7-1 victory against Burton Park Wanderers.
A strong Diamonds line-up took an early lead through an acrobatic volley from Adam Confue on 7 minutes. Burton were competitive for the first hour and equalised on 33 minutes as Shane Hawkes curled home a beautiful free-kick. In a breathless finish to the half Diamonds first re-took the lead through Russ Dunkley chesting down a Sam Brown throw-in and hitting a firm shot across keeper Roggero on 42, and then a minute later he flicked on a long clearance into Jason Turner‘s path who coolly slotted home on 43 to give Diamonds a 3-1 half-time lead. They totally dominated the second half against a tiring Burton and added 4 more goals from a stream of chances. On 58 Jason Turner was fed through by Joe Merrill and from an angle fired past Roggero. He completed his hat-trick on 64 as Gearing pounced on a mistake at the back, rounded the keeper but when pushed wide fed Jason Turner who slid home from 8 yards. On 73 substitute Tom Lorraine swept home from the edge of the box after good work from impressive debutant substitute Nathaniel Ansu, and Russ Dunkley finished the scoring on 84 after Joe Merrill squared the ball to him after a great one two with Matt Gearing and he coolly rounded the keeper and tapped home.
Manager Andy Peaks picked a strong side for the start of this seasons UCL Knock-out Cup campaign with just 5 changes from the starting line-up on Saturday. Quincy Shorunmu and Jamal Clarke made seasons debuts in a back four also containing the returning Liam Dolman. Gearing started out wide in place of Lamb-Johnson with Russ Dunkley starting up front in place of Tom Lorraine. U21 players Ryan Coyle and Nathaniel Ansu made the bench alongside Matt Finlay, Jack Ashton and Tom Lorraine.
There was a real purpose and energy about Diamonds from the start with little sense that the competition was being take less than seriously as seemed the case in previous years. They pressed right from the start and took the lead on 7 minutes in spectacular fashion. Joe Merrill drifted in a free-kick from just 10 yards inside the Burton half which looked to be falling behind Adam Confue but he produced an acrobatic almost overhead kick to fire the ball across Burton keeper Rogerro into the far corner.
Burton reacted well to that set back and there was no sense of parking the bus as they showed energy in closing Diamonds down, and tried to work the ball forward at every opportunity. Liam Nicell had a dangerous free-kick blocked by the wall from the edge of the box, and Tommy Newman was prominent in running at the Diamonds defence at every opportunity.
Diamonds looked more likely to score though in this period with chances mostly coming from the excellent Russ Dunkley holding the ball and turning well to feed in runners. Roggero in the Burton goal came for crosses and punched well under pressure, and Gearing, Ling, the overlapping Sam Brown and Dunkley when he got out wide got in dangerous crosses.
Burton played in a dark blue and black strip and after 22 minutes the referee sensibly decided to don an orange bib as he was difficult to distinguish from the defenders. Fans will be interested to note he rejected the initially offered green respect bib!!
Soon after Liam Nicell had a volley well saved for Burton by Quincy Shorunmu diving to his left, and Diamonds had a goal disallowed after Dunkley headed down to Turner to finish but he was just a step offside.
Another edge of the box free-kick on 33 minutes gave Burton a way back into the game. Shane Hawkes superbly curled the ball round the wall and Shorunmu could only get fingertips to it and it brushed through into the bottom corner.
Diamonds reacted quickly and looked to have earned a penalty as Gearing’s shot on the run was fumbled by Rogerro and Turner was brought down as he reacted to the loose ball. The referee initially pointed to the spot, but then saw the assistant’s flag and changed the call to the probably correct offside on Turner.
In a breathless end to the half Chapman flicked a diving header wide from 15 yards for Burton and Tommy Newman nearly got in down the left hand side only to be blocked by Shorunmu as he cut into toward goal, and for Diamonds Dunkley headed a Gearing cross just over, and Gearing himself blasted over from the angle after running onto an excellent Joe Merrill through ball.
Diamonds finally added to their tally twice in two minutes to lead 3-1 at half-time. First on 42 Russ Dunkley chested Sam Brown’s short throw and hit a firm shot into the far corner. And on 43 he flicked a long clearance into the path of Jason Turner who took it in his stride and coolly slotted home.
Half-time – Burton Park Wanderers 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3
Ryan Coyle came on for his debut at half-time replacing Adam Confue and got straight into the action raiding down the left hand side and just failing to get his cross in.
Diamonds began to dominate more and more as Burton tired and were starting to run through the Burton back four almost at will. Ling was having a growing influence on the game and had a volley from the edge of the box deflected over, he fed Gearing superbly who shot just wide, and he had a firm shot from the edge of the box held well by the hard pressed Roggero in the Burton goal. Turner then fluffed a chance to add to his tally when taking an air shot when only 3 yards out after a knock-down by Dunkley
Burton’s resistance finally crumbled on 58 when Jason Turner was fed through by an excellent Joe Merrill pass and running in from the angle fired past Rogerro. He completed his hat-trick on 64 as Gearing pounced on the ball after a mix up in the Burton back four, rounded the keeper but was pushed wide, and then cleverly squared into the path of the supporting Jason Turner who slotted home.
Turner was quickly replaced by Tom Lorraine and Nathaniel Ansu came on for what would be an impressive debut for Brad Harris, moving out wide allowing Ling to tuck into central midfield.
Ansu was a threat from the off, much as Coyle had been earlier and he had a hand in the 6th goal that came on 73 minutes. He cut in from wide, ran across the edge of the 18 yard box evading tackles and had his shot blocked but only into the path of Tom Lorraine who swept the ball home from the edge of the box.
There were so many occasions in this period where Diamonds swept through the Burton defence and had chances to add to their tally. Dunkley had a header from 8 yards just wide from another dangerous Gearing cross and after more good work by Ansu, Lorraine got himself one on one with the keeper after muscling out the Burton defender only for Rogerro to save at his feet, and there was an incredible melee when Ansu lobbed the keeper when clean through, it was palmed onto the bar and the follow up header hit the bar with the net gaping.
They finally did add a 7th on 84 when Joe Merrill played a great one-two with Gearing, squared to Russ Dunkley who surprised everyone with a skilful swerve round the on rushing keeper and a cool slot home.
Final Score – Burton Park Wanderers 1 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7
Diamonds were made to work for their initial advantage in the game against a hard working Burton side, but once they got ahead they totally dominated, and could have easily doubled their 7 goal tally from clear chances. Andy Peaks will be pleased to see Quincy Shorunmu and Jamal Clarke return with good game time, and will have food for thought with the entry of Ryan Clarke and Nathaniel Ansu into his first team squad. A Jason Turner hat-trick, the form of Russ Dunkley, Greg Ling and Matt Gearing in particular will generate plenty of confidence for the coming games.
Diamonds play the winners of the 2nd round tie between Wellingborough Whitworth and Harborough Town in the next round.
On Saturday the Diamonds will host Northampton Sileby Rangers in the UCL Premier – Preview here.
Reporters Man of the Match : Jason Turner
Attendance : 155
Match Report By : Paul Judd
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Burton Park Wanderers
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Brad Harris
5. Liam Dolman
6. Jamal Clarke
7. Matt Gearing
8. Adam Confue
9. Russ Dunkley
10. Jason Turner
11. Greg Ling
12. Jack Ashton
14. Tom Lorraine (for Jason Turner 65)
15. Ryan Coyle (for Adam Confue 45)
16. Nathaniel Ansu (for Brad Harris 74)
18. Matt Finlay
1. Dominick Rogerro
2. Michael Tolton
3. Sam Herne
4. Liam Hanley
5. Darren Capps
6. Stewart Godley
7. Tommy Newman
8. Josh Bamsey
9. Leigh Chapman
10. Liam Nicell
11. Shane Hawkes
12. Curtis Hart
14. Nathan Chapman
15. Cory Tailby
16. Harry Lloyd (for Newman 61)
17. Marcus Neal
18. Eoin Casey (for Alfie Hatch 57)
Goals: Confue (7), Dunkley (41, 84), Turner (42, 58, 64), Lorraine (73)
Goals: Hawkes (33)
Yellow Cards: Capps (5),
Referee: Vincenzo Byatt
Assistants: Gareth Williams, Peter Wilson