A combination of clinical finishing by the hosts and a poor team performance from AFC Rushden & Diamonds saw them lose their unbeaten league record as they lost 4-1 to Eynesbury Rovers on Saturday afternoon. Lee Bassett bagged a hat-trick for the home side.
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer gave Alex Deakin his first start in a league game for the club, in the absence of Aynsley McDonald, with Chris Hope taking over the captain’s armband. Young keeper Domenico Roggero was brought in to take a place on the bench as goalkeeper cover.
The first minutes of the game saw the Diamonds pushing forwards but Jake Newman was struggling to read the home offside track, so the threats were quickly snuffed out. After 10 minutes the Diamonds go behind to what looked classic wing-play on the left between Ducket and Freshwater and then a well measured cross from Freshwater on the left was met by the head of Lee Bassett to open the scoring.
In recent games the Diamonds had created chances that had been foiled by good goalkeeping, but today it was more a case of poor finishing as Newman (shot), Ellwood (shot), Morgan (header) and McBride (shot) all failed to hit the target, then a tame shot from Gilsenan was fielded by keeper Wale before a free-kick from Brown was directed past the wall but straight at Wale. Jack Wisniewski did show a bit of guile in the area to wrong-foot a defender, but he too could only hit a tame shot, and a cross from Morgan on the left looked dangerous, but nobody was able to make the run to the near post the cross demanded.
Half-Time: Eynesbury Rovers 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
The second half started with some promise that the Diamonds might get back into the game, but Jake Newman was unable to take advantage of a defence splitting pass as he seemed to hesitate and allow a defender to catch him and get in a challenge that forced him to shoot over.
As in the first half, with about 10 minutes on the clock the hosts scored their second through Lee Bassett, with James Ducket again involved in the build up on the left.
For the next 10 minutes the Diamonds had their best spell of the game, although many of their moves broke down without a real threat on goal until a neat interchange between Ellwood and McBride saw keeper Wale concede a corner as he tipped McBride’s shot around the post. After having wasted several dead-ball opportunities earlier with short-corner / free-kick moves that failed to get the ball into the danger area, the Diamonds were finally able to take advantage of a clear height advantage over their hosts. The corner from Joe Merrill was headed home by Jake Newman as Chris Hope and Alex Deakin kept other defenders occupied.
For a while it looked like the Diamonds would get something from the game, as Ellwood set up Newman for another clear run into the area, but the striker was caught before getting in a clean strike. Joe Merrill and Jack Wisniewski were finally getting some joy on the right, but a couple of dangerous looking crosses were well dealt with.
The Diamonds were preparing Jake Gillingwater to replace Sam Brown, but just before the move could be made the Diamonds defender needed to deal with a looping ball forward with Lee Bassett bearing down on him in the centre of the field, but his weak header towards Shorunmu was pounced on by Bassett who neatly chipped the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net.
With ten minutes left any thought the Diamonds might have a second attempt at staging a fightback were ended as Tom Coles got ahead of Alex Deakin to score the fourth Eynesbury goal heading home a cross from the right.
Full-Time: Eynesbury Rovers 4 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer spoke after the game, and was quick to apologise to the travelling fans for the performance of his team.
The Diamonds return to UCL KO Cup action next weekend with an “away” game with Wellingborough Town.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match: Not Merited
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Andrew Wale
2. Dave Fisk (Capt)
3. James Ducket
4. Barry Albone
5. Darren Woodend
6. Tom Coles
7. Ben Colmer
8. James Freshwater
9. Ben Cole
10. Lee Bassett
11. Aaron Greene
12. Rob Ducket
14. Luke Swain (for Cole 74)
15. Nick Finney (for Colmer 83)
16. Ryan Inskip (for Freshwater 90)
17. Shaun Flack
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Chris Hope (Capt)
6. Alex Deakin
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. Jamie Gilsenan
9. Jake Newman
10. Deven Ellwood
11. Ben Morgan
12. Jake Gillingwater (for Brown 71)
13. Domenico Roggero
14. George Cox
15. Peter Okechukwu (for Wisniewski 80)
16. Louis Smith (for Gilsenan 80)
Goals: Bassett (10,56,70), Coles (79)
Goals: Newman (61)
Yellow Card : Freshwater
Yellow Card: McBride
Referee: Paul Tebbutt
Assistants: Peter Moore, Michael Chalkley
For Match highlights see here.
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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