Gresley FC 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

Diamonds won a 6th away game of the season at Gresley FC on Saturday with Fazel Koriya and Liam Dolman giving them a 2-1 half-time lead that they held on to despite much Gresley second half pressure.

Manager Andy Peaks put returning Diamonds hero Fazel Koriya straight into his starting line-up and the move paid dividends with a real buzz in the team as they warmed up before the game and they started in dominant fashion. Tom Lorraine came close 4 times to vital interventions in the first 10 minutes as Diamonds swarmed over their struggling opponents and the pressure finally told with the opening goal on 11. Fazel Koriya on his second Diamonds debut collected a ball played deep in the box and oh so coolly finished into the bottom corner for his 35th Diamonds goal.

The home side full of goals this season responded well and after Courtney Meade tested Matt Finlay at the near post he earned a 20th minute penalty as he seemed to bounce off Liam Dolman but the decision was quickly given. He slotted home comfortably to keep up the 100% record of penalties in Diamonds games this season with 6 scored by both Diamonds and their opponents. Gresley went on to have a tremendous spell in the game with Melbourne, Meade again and Mwanyongo all going close.

But Diamonds gradually regained control of the midfield battle and resumed the dominance of the opening period. With good link-up play between the forward six Fazel Koriya earned a free-kick 25 yards out that saw Liam Dolman test Cotton in the home goal, his batted out save agonisingly falling between closing in Diamonds players. The same combination didn’t have long to wait to set-up Diamonds go ahead goal. Koriya with another mazy run eared a corner that Richard Bunting curled beautifully to the near post for a Liam Dolman trademark glanced header to give the away side a 2-1 half-time lead.

Gresley made a strong start to the second half with Meade blasting wide twice when well placed and Mwanyongo striking the post with Matt Finlay well beaten. Diamonds looked to relieve the pressure with Nabil Shariff hitting a first time volley from 18 yards straight at the Cotton and Tom Lorraine breaking into the box only to be denied by Coton again.

But Diamonds were forced into some excellent cover defending to deny an energetic home side more shooting chances, and Rory Winters got a vital touch to deny Meade a far post tap in. Meade worked a tremendous shooting chance that beat Finlay but also the bar and then Liam Dolman and Brad Harris put in excellent last ditch blocks in injury time.

The final whistle was a relief to the away side who knew they had been in a battle and had to work hard in the second half to hold onto the advantage earned by some good attacking first half play.

Diamonds stay 6th in the table but picked up points on some of the teams above them and will look confidently towards the NLP League Cup tie against Corby Town at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night.

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Full Match Report:

Manager Andy Peaks brought new signing and returning Diamonds hero Fazel Koriya straight into his starting line-up on the left hand side with Lewis Wilson out right of Nabil Shariff and Tom Lorraine up front. Lewis Leslie returned to the starting line-up to join Richard Bunting in central midfield allowing Brad Harris to move to right back. Fellow new signing Ben Farrell came onto the bench alongside Taylor Orosz, Jake Newman, Kyal McNulty and Ben Heath.

The inclusion of Fazel Koriya seemed to give the whole side a real lift that you could see in the warm-up and Diamonds started the game in superb style. Excellent passing and link-up play across the whole of the front six saw Diamonds threaten from the off.

A Tom Lorraine flicked header so nearly put Fazel Koriya away in the box on 3 and just a minute later Lorraine was played into space down the right and flashed his cross across goal just evading Koriya again.

Koriya returned the favour on 4 chipping a great ball into Lorraine who had to stretch on the 6 yard line to make contact and put the ball just wide. Then it was Lorraine surging into the left side of the box after great link-up play just seeing home keeper Coton smothering at the near post.

The pressure finally told on the home defence as more good hold-up play by Nabil Shariff saw the ball chipped to the far post where Fazel Koriya controlled superbly 8 yards out and oh so coolly finished in the bottom corner. Queue great celebrations for the returning hero who now has 35 Diamonds goals in 71 appearances pulling level with his regular UCL strike partner Russ Dunkley.

Tom Lorraine threatened again 4 minutes later with a trademark run into the right channel only to be bravely challenged by Jordon Wakeling just he was shooting at goal. The home defender came off worst and after a lengthy treatment sadly had to leave the field with a knee injury.

The home side are full of goals this season and their dangerous forward line responded really well with Mwanyango testing Matt Finlay at the near post on 16 after cutting inside a Diamonds defender. More enterprise from Lucas Harrison had Diamonds under pressure and his ball saw Courtney Meade stride into the box and bounce off Liam Dolman’s challenge. Referee David Hunt pointed straight to the spot for what seemed a harsh call and Meade duly stepped up and slotted home to bring the home side level.

Gresley went on to have a tremendous spell in the game with Melbourne, Meade and Mwanyongo all threatening and Ryan Walker hit a curling effort just over after a loose ball fell to him in the area.

But Diamonds gradually regained control of the midfield battle and started to resume the dominance of the opening period. With good link-up play between the forward six Fazel Koriya earned a free-kick 25 yards out that at first looked like a penalty had been awarded. The whistle came as he was challenged in the box by keeper Coton, but the referee had been playing advantage for a foul outside the area. Liam Dolman stepped up and hit a fierce curling effort that Coton just batted away.

He wouldn’t be denied his 26th Diamonds goal for long though as another mazy run by Fazel Koriya earned a left wing corner. Richard Bunting hit a superb curling ball towards the near post where Dolman got across his man in trademark fashion to glance the ball home and restore Diamonds lead.

Lewis Leslie had been attacking threat throughout from the advanced centre midfield position and he hit a rasping effort on 39 that smacked into the wall behind the right hand goal, and just a minute later Tom Lorraine brilliantly running the channel surged into the box but sliced his effort just wide.

Gresley threatened themselves in the closing stages with Medbourne nearly connecting to a ball across the box, and Ben Harris firing in a fierce 25 yard free-kick that matt Finlay held low down.

Half-time: Gresley FC 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

Gresley made a really strong start to the second half with Meade blasting wide twice when well placed the second effort from 8 yards you really expected to see hit the net on 50.

Diamonds had another big let-off 2 minutes later when Mwanyongo burst into the left side of the area and fired hard past Matt Finlay. We were expecting to see the net bulge but the ball came back off the far post and somehow evaded the closing in Meade and Melbourne.

Diamonds looked to relieve the pressure with Nabil Shariff holding the ball up so well and being denied a free-kick on the edge of the area when advantage was initially played of which nothing came of it and the free-kick wasn’t given.

Ben Farrell then came on for his Diamonds debut on 59 as Diamonds looked to shore up the midfield area and 4 minutes later played a part in the build-up that allowed a loose ball to fall to Nabil Shariff on the edge of the box his first time effort finding the keepers midriff.

But it was pretty much all Gresley as the home side pushed for the equaliser but Diamonds were well organised with some great cover defending to keep the home side out. On 64 Rory Winters got a vital touch on a ball across the 6 yard box that would have been a tap-in for Courtney Meade.

Nabil Shariff was doing his best to relieve the pressure drifting out wide both right and left to hold the ball and bring others into play, putting Tom Lorraine clear in the area on 70 only for Coton to block again, and firing in an effort himself on 72 again well held by Coton in the home goal.

But Diamonds were forced into some excellent cover defending to deny an energetic home side more shooting chances, and Rory Winters got a vital touch to deny Meade a far post tap in. Meade worked a tremendous shooting chance that beat Finlay but also the bar and then Liam Dolman and Brad Harris put in excellent last ditch blocks in injury time.

Courtney Meade is the star of this Gresley side and he worked a position by himself on 80 cutting inside from the left and firing just over Matt Finlay’s bar. Sam Brown and Ben Farrell then teamed up to halt Mwanyongo in his tracks, and both Liam Dolman and Brad Harris put in vital blocks in the area as Gresley piled forward.

The final whistle came after 4 minutes of added on time as massive relief to Diamonds who had protected the league’s best away record but had been pushed all the way by the talented home side.

Final Score: Gresley FC 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

This was a real battle for Diamonds against a free-scoring but also goal conceding home side. The firtst and last 15 minutes of the first half won them the game with goals from Koriya and Dolman and they really had to defend well throughout the second half to preserve their lead. Gresley missed a couple of nailed on chances that should have earned them a point but the Diamonds back four were superb and really earned this win for the team.

The unbeaten league run now stretches to 14 and Diamonds have the luxury of a midweek NLP League Cup tie on Tuesday against Corby to rest a few and give game time to others.

Man of the Match: Liam Dolman

Attendance: 301

Match report by: Paul Judd

 

Gresley FC

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1.   Matthew Coton

2.   Ryan Walker

3.   Lucas Harrison

4.   Jordan Wakeling

5.   Alvin Jarvis

6.   Dexter Morris-Clarke

7.   Pearson Mwanyongo

8.   Ben Harris

9.   Courtney Meade

10. Matthew Melbourne

11. Leandro Browne

Subs

12. Reece Morris (for Harris 66)

14. Toby Fura

15. Josh Eggington (for Wakeling 15)

16. Tendai Chitiza (for Melbourne 66)

17. Keenan King

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Brad Harris

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Rory Winters

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Richard Bunting (C)

7.   Nabil Shariff

8.   Fazel Koriya

9.   Lewis Leslie

10. Tom Lorraine

11. Lewis Wilson

Subs

12.  Taylor Orosz (for Lorraine 89)

13.  Ben Heath

14.  Jake Newman

15.  Kyal McNulty (for Koriya 76)

16.  Ben Farrell (for Leslie 59)

Goals: Meade (21)

 

Goals: Koriya (11), Dolman (35)

Yellow Card:  Walker, Harrison, Morris-Clarke

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee: David Hunt

Assistants: Neil Allsop, Simon Bickley

 

 

 
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AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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