On a surprisingly chilly September evening, the joint AFC Rushden & Diamonds and the Malcolm Arnold Academy team began their FA Youth Cup campaign in their dominant style, deserving considerably more than their one nil victory.
Diamonds fielded a similar squad to the one that had been out muscled in the First Qualifying Round against Bugbrooke St Michael’s last year, as well as the side that reached the final of the NFA County Cup. There was enough of a smattering of younger first years to keep the spectators interested throughout.
It was the Diamonds who were immediately on top, and took just three minutes to get into the ascendency. One of the newer arrivals to the Diamonds fold, Christy Nginamau broke down the Diamonds left, and put in a tantalising cross for young ace Matt Pinder to coolly slot past the home ‘keeper.
After this, the Diamonds took complete control of the first half, without creating any clear cut chances. Nginamau and Desborough caused a lot of trouble down either flank when given space. Pinder put in a strong performance up front, but often cut a rather isolated figure. At half time the game remained in the visitors favour.
Things had to change at half time, and Cogenhoe United came into the game much stronger after the break. Redding who had been spotted with his slippers in the first half, was called into action to at least clear balls played into him by his defenders. Diamonds still controlled the majority of the possession, but again were not able to create any clear cut chances to put the game to bed.
As the half drew on, some of the Diamonds support, including first team manager who was on hand to scout the clubs future, began to wonder if history would repeat itself, and the home side would get a late equaliser. Some of the more knowledgeable fans also highlighted that no AFC Rushden & Diamonds side had ever won at the home of the cooks. To counter this, manager Darren purse made a couple of changes, including young Ryan Baird, who looked a player to watch for the future.
The Cooks were able to put a lot of pressure on the Diamonds goal, but were not able to make their pressure play, and the Diamonds were able to see the game out, and progress to the next round, where they will face Brackley Town away. This will be in the week of the 21st of September. The winner of that fixture will host Biggleswade Town in the next round.