Diamonds bowed out of the FA Cup following a heavy defeat at fellow Southern League side Coalville.
After Rushden almost forged ahead in the first minute through Nathan Tshikuna, the hosts took the lead a minute later when Tim Berridge cut inside from the left and slammed an effort past Dean Snedker. Will Jones had an effort parried as Diamonds searched for an equaliser, and they got it when Tshikuna curled home a sumptuous free-kick from 25 yards. Following some close efforts from Thomas Mcglinchey and Berridge, Coalville did retake the lead near the end of the half as Berridge cut in from the right this time and clipped a low effort home. The advantage was then doubled in stoppage time when Berridge claimed his hat-trick courtesy of a cool finish under Snedker.
Coalville carried on where they left off in the second half and, after Berridge and Mcglinchey threatened again, Berridge scored his and Coalville’s fourth when he arrowed a shot into the top corner after jinking inside. Diamonds did get a goal back when Jay Williams struck from 30 yards, but the hosts had the last say when substitute Kyle Jardine stroked home following a swift counter-attack.
Manager Peaks made two changes to the side that had performed well but who had been narrowly defeated by table-toppers Peterborough Sports on Monday afternoon. Ben Garwood returned to the side at right-back, and Tom Lorraine was out injured meaning a first senior competitive start for Will Jones at the front of a 4-3-3 system.
Diamonds had defeated Coalville a fortnight previously in the league courtesy of a Joel Gyasi stoppage time winner, but they had lost their last four against the Leicestershire outfit before that which included three away defeats. They had also lost at this stage of the FA Cup in each of the last three campaigns, a record they were looking to overturn as the game got underway in front of a healthy 384 crowd at the Mander Cruickshanks Solicitors Stadium.
The visitors almost got off to the perfect start in the very first minute when Gyasi sprung down the right and crossed into the middle. It went over Jones but reached Nathan Tshikuna, and the midfielder showed quick feet to skip away from a challenge before hitting a low effort towards the near post that Saul Deeney tipped away for a corner.
The set-piece was cleared, and Coalville countered to take the lead from their first foray forward. Tim Berridge ran forward, skipped past Liam Dolman and then clinically dispatched an effort past Dean Snedker. The striker had the ball in the net again a few minutes later as he latched onto a long ball and lobbed it over the Diamonds keeper, but the offside flag had been raised.
Rushden responded as good work by Jones generated some space as he ran forward. He got into the area before striking a low shot towards the far corner that Deeeny got down to parry away.
However, after Thomas Mcglinchey had a weak attempt easily held for Coalville, Diamonds did find a leveller. Nathan Tshikuna set off on a strong driving run from just ahead of the halfway line, one that saw him bearing down on the penalty area until he was cynically brought down by Joe Doyle-Charles that resulted in a booking. Worse punishment was to follow for the hosts as Tshikuna dusted himself down, stepped up and curled a superb strike from 25 yards out into the top corner beyond Deeney’s despairing dive.
Diamonds had their tails up, and a couple of searching through balls by Tshikuna and Jesse Akubuine almost found Jones both times only for Deeney to come and collect. The striker then had a lofted effort easily held, but the ever-dangerous hosts soon came back and started to build more pressure. Mcglinchey had two long-range strikes held by Snedker, Tshikuna was booked for a late challenge and Berridge hit a half-volley over after he broke the offside trap.
Just when it looked like Diamonds may go into half-time level, Coalville retook the lead. Another long ball forward found Tim Berridge, and he skipped away from Ryan Hughes before running into the area, facing up Dolman and then flicking a finish past the wrong-footed Snedker.
Worse was to follow as, in the one minute of additional time, Tim Berridge completed his hat-trick. Luke Shaw ran forward before cleverly feeding the striker in behind, and he coolly slotted a low finish into the back of the net. The Coalville man had scored a hat-trick against Diamonds on this ground back in April 2019 in a 5-0 victory, and he had clinically repeated the trick here.
Half time: Coalville Town 3-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Berridge almost carried on where he left off in the second half when, in the 49th minute, he had room in the box to fizz an effort towards goal only for Garwood to throw himself in front of it. Diamonds then lost possession and Billy Kee seized onto the loose ball to release Mcglinchey through on goal. The winger took him time, drew Snedker and then tried to place it low into the far corner only for the Diamonds stopper to make a good stop.
Coalville did have their fourth soon afterwards though, and again it was Tim Berridge who was the man to strike. Dolman did well to stop a jinking run forward from Mcglinchey, but the loose ball ran to the forward and he cut inside before arrowing a strike into the top corner. Kee then headed an inswinging corner just wide of the mark as the hosts threatened to score every time they attacked.
Ben Diamond was introduced just after the hour mark replacing Matt Slinn, and he threatened to pull a goal back when he met a deep Akubuine free-kick. However, his free glancing header was well held by Deeney. The substitute was involved again when Jones did well to win the ball back on the left, and Diamond was fed before cutting inside and having a pass blocked. It ran for Tshikuna who looked in a good position, but his effort was charged down and the danger cleared.
Coalville went close when Mcglinchey had a shot blocked following a superb solo run, and midfielder Connor Smith had a strike well held by Snedker, but it was Rushden who scored next. Jay Williams, playing only his second game for the club following his recent signing, hit an effort from 30 yards out that Deeney got a hand to, but he was only able to palm it into the back of the net.
Soon after Claudio Dias came on for Gyasi, the home side re-established their three goal advantage. Diamonds were caught on the counter-attack, and a swift run forward saw Shaw sprint forward before unselfishly squaring across to substitute Kyle Jardine who side-footed into the top corner.
Three minutes were added on at the end of the match and, although Dias lobbed a shot over, these passed without any further action as Diamonds were consigned to defeat.
Full time: Coalville Town 5-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
A young Rushden side were simply overpowered by a more experienced, clinical and skilful Coalville side who will be right up there in the league this season. Diamonds were well in the game up until the 41st minute, but the two goals at the end of the first half took the game away from them and it was always going to be a tremendously tough ask in the second period.
Attentions now turn back to the league for Diamonds, and their next game will see them travel to Liberty Way to face Nuneaton Borough on Saturday 11 September, 3pm kick-off.
Diamonds Man of the Match: Nathan Tshikuna
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
Diamonds: Snedker, Garwood, Warburton, Williams, Dolman (C), Hughes, Gyasi (Dias 82), Slinn (Diamond 61), Jones, Akubuine, Tshikuna (subs not used: Casey, Collard, Nixon, Bell-Toxtle)
Diamonds goals: Tshikuna (13), Williams (78)
Diamonds yellows: Tshikuna, Garwood, Williams
Coalville: Saul Deeney, Alexander Dean, Kian Taylor, Jake Eggleton, Stuart Pierpoint, Connor Smith, Luke Shaw, Joe Doyle-Charles (C) (Stephen Towers 76), Tim Berridge (Kyle Jardine 76), Billy Kee, Thomas Mcglinchey (Dave Assuncao 88) (subs not used: Tomasz Bukowski, Kyle Tomlin, Herve Pepe-Ngoma)
Coalville goals: Berridge (2, 41, 45+1, 53), Jardine (84)
Coalville yellows: Doyle-Charles, Kee
Images courtesy of Hawkins Images ©2021