AFC Rushden & Diamonds recorded a solid, if unspectacular, 2-0 win at Desborough Town on Tuesday evening. Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation on a wet evening the Diamonds broke the deadlock just before the break as Séan McBride made a late run into the area to head home a Russ Dunkley flick-on of a Sam Brown throw. Fazel Koriya made the game safe after 72 minutes when Dunkley ran to the byline and squared the ball into his path, after good work from Aaron King.
Diamonds manager made a number of changes to both personnel and formation, with Arron Parkinson absent due to a knock, so Alex Deakin joined Jamal Clarke in central defence, with Joe Merrill and Sam Brown in full back roles. In front of the defence were two holding midfielders – Séan McBride and Brad Harris – with Harris lining up against his old club. In front of them were Fazel Koriya, Aaron King and Nat Liburd who were supporting striker Russ Dunkley.
After recent heavy rain the Waterworks Field pitch appeared in good condition, but the game started very slowly with both sides losing possession rather too easily – although the hosts did have an early chance when Josh McGoldrick made a powerful run toward the penalty area. Aaron King was taking advantage of the chance to get forwards more, with a role similar to the one he had performed at Bugbrooke last season. He shot over from an early chance, as did Joe Merrill as the two full backs were able to get forwards more knowing that McBride and Harris were supporting the defence. Russ Dunkley also had a couple of chances in the first quarter but couldn’t test keeper Lavin.
In the second quarter the weather got increasingly worse, but the Diamonds continued to dominate and were rewarded with the opening goal shortly before the break. After winning a throw-in on the left, Sam Brown’s throw to the near post was flicked across the area by Russ Dunkley for Séan McBride to head home as he made a late run to the six-yard box.
Half-Time: Desborough Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Although the rain had continued at half-time the pitch was continuing to play well for the second period, and the Diamonds new formation was continuing to work well, with the defence quashing any threat from ArTarn. Fazel Koriya started to cause more problems down the right, although it was a Sam Brown throw that caused an early threat as it bounced over everybody but nobody was on hand to capitalise. Joe Merrill forced a save from Lavin and Nat Liburd started to get into the area more with his runs down the left.
Aaron King continued to impress with his workrate, seeing efforts blocked on the edge of the area. With 70 minutes on the clock, and perhaps the Diamonds fans looking for a substitution in order to get the vital second goal, the Diamonds management instead chose to switch wings for Koriya and Liburd, and this brought immediate dividends, as Koriya on the left linked with Aaron King who hit a perfect pass for Russ Dunkley to run onto in the area. He took the ball to the byline to and then chose to square the ball across the six yard box for Fazel Koriya to run in and fire home.
Russ Dunkley came close to getting a goal to go with his two assists as his looping header from a Sam Brown cross just cleared the crossbar. Alfie Taylor joined the action with 5 minutes to go, taking the Koriya role on the left, and he played a part in creating an excellent chance, as his forward ball was headed by Russ Dunkley for Aaron King to head goalwards, but his close-range effort just cleared the crossbar. He also had a late chance when he made a good run into the box, but his effort from a narrow angle missed the target.
Full-Time: Desborough Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
Diamonds Man of The Match: Séan McBride
The Diamonds travel to the Fens on Saturday with a trip to Wisbech Town – preview here.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Richard Lavin
2. Mark Redding
3. Ben Williams
14. Dan Grainger
5. Leo Adams
6. Richard Scott
7. Josh McGoldrick
8. Mark Forbes
9. Michael Byrne
10. Shaun Goodall
11. Alan Campbell
12. Jordon Harvey (for Campbell 90)
15. Tom Mills
16. Ryan Gormley (for Byrne 68)
17. Sam Flood (GK)
17. Tom Cross
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Jamal Clarke
6. Alex Deakin
7. Nat Liburd
8. Brad Harris
9. Russ Dunkley
10. Aaron King
11. Fazel Koriya
12. Lance Allen (for Dunkley 90)
13. Adam Whybrow
14. Jake Gillingwater
15. Matt Gearing (for Liburd 80)
16. Alfie Taylor (for Koriya 85)
Goals: McBride (44), Koriya (72)
Yellow Cards: None
Yellow Cards: None
Referee: Andrew Humphries
Assistants: Craig Druce, Simon Trusler