AFC Rushden & Diamonds kept up their 100% pre-season record with a hard fought 2-1 victory against ground share rivals Wellingborough Town at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night.
Diamonds opened the scoring on 27 minutes through a second perfect Liam Dolman curled free-kick in two matches. This time from 25 yards after the impressive Robbie Parsons was felled. Wellingborough equalised just before half-time through Diamonds old boy Devon Ellwood and made a positive start to the second half coming close a number of times. Diamonds used all 6 outfield substitutes in the second half plus Nick Evangelinos who returned to the field after Joe Curtis picked up a knock. And it was Evangelinos who grabbed the winner on 86 as Diamonds pressed for the win. Chris Wreh trickery was again the source of panic in the opposition defence this time he found the winger to slot home right-footed to clinch the result.
For this traditional co-hosted game between ground share partners Manager Andy Peaks brought Sam Brown and Jack Ashton back into his back four alongside Aidan Bradshaw and weekend goal scorer Liam Dolman. Joe Curtis and Richard Bunting were partnered in centre midfield for the first time, and Tom Lorraine made his first pre-season start alongside Jake Newman, Robbie Parsons and Nic Evangelinos.
The Diamonds front players were enjoying playing in combination in the early stages on a cooling evening. Tom Lorraine won a free-kick wide left that Joe Curtis floated in dangerously but saw it held by the Wellingborough keeper on 4, Jake Newman touched a right wing cross back to Joe Curtis on 9 his effort fired over from the edge of the box, and Robbie Parsons jinked into the box on 11 going down under a challenge but no penalty was given.
Tom Lorraine then tested the Wellingborough keeper with another fierce effort on 17 but saw it pushed wide for a corner.
Wellingborough created their first chance on 21 with Diamonds old-boy Jack Wizniewski getting into space wide right and firing dangerously across goal but none of his fellow forwards could get a touch.
Robbie Parsons was as bright and dangerous as on his previous pre-season performances and after just failing to set up Nic Evangelinos on 24 he was instrumental in the Diamonds opener on 27. His mazy run was only stopped by a foul 25 yards out and up stepped Liam Dolman for another superb curling free-kick into the top corner.
Joe Curtis continued to show his positive impact on the side since joining shooting just over from 25 yards on 31, and then finding Jake Newman with a 36th minute corner that was just cleared.
But it was Wellingborough who would surprise their rivals with an equaliser on 40. Another ex-diamonds Devon Elwood this time with a fierce effort fired past Matt Finlay into the far corner.
Then in a further pre half-time blow to Diamonds on 41 Richard Bunting picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Lewis Jackson.
There was just time for a final piece of brilliance from Robbie Parsons who again got into a shooting position but firing his placed effort just over.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Wellingborough Town 1
The Doughboys boosted by their excellent pre half-time equaliser started the second-half well. Jack Wizniewski fired over from just outside the box on 47 and then back to back corners on 51 had Diamonds at full stretch to clear, the first by pushed away by Matt Finlay the second cleared off the line by Sam Brown.
A series of substitutions around the hour mark for Diamonds saw Taylor Orosz replace Tom Lorraine, Lewis Leslie replace Robbie Parsons and James Harvey come on for Nic Evangelinos.
It eventually sparked Diamonds into action with Lewis Leslie surging down the right on 66 and seeing his low cross just turned wide by Taylor Orosz. Jake Newman then took his turn to cleverly set up Orosz on 69 with a neat back heel which the striker just side footed wide.
Newman then gave way for Chris Wreh for Diamonds 5th change with Nabil Shariff being change number 6 in place of Sam Brown on 73 to give most of the squad a decent work out.
Lewis Leslie was again dangerous attacking the Doughboys defence on 76 threading the ball through for Taylor Orosz who saw his effort blocked wide by the Wellingborough keeper.
On 80 we saw Nic Evangelinos re-emerge for Diamonds after Joe Curtis disappointingly picked up a knock the second for centre midfield players on the night.
In the later stages Diamonds pressed hard for a winner with a good move earning an 84th minute corner but the keeper again gathered well, and then Chris Wreh showing trickery in the box to find Aidan Bradshaw whose shot was well blocked.
The winner finally came on 86 through the unexpected source of the returning from substitute Nic Evangelinos. It was more Chris Wreh trickery in the box this time finding Evangelinos in space to shoot right footed into the bottom corner.
Final Score: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 Wellingborough Town 1
Diamonds kept up their 100% pre-season record with this hard fought 2-1 win against local rivals Wellingborough Town. Pretty much the whole squad got a work-out with some fresh combinations tried and some good performances, particularly Robbie Parsons, Liam Dolman and Joe Curtis.
Injuries to centre midfield duo Richard Bunting and Joe Curtis will be a worry but Manager Andy Peaks will be pleased with how his squad is shaping up.
Next up the Dale Roberts Memorial Cup will be contested on Saturday against Didcot Town at the Dog & Duck.
Reporters Man of the Match: Liam Dolman
Match Report by Paul Judd based on Chris Gregory input
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Matt Finlay
2. Aidan Bradshaw
3. Sam Brown
4. Jack Ashton
5. Liam Dolman
6. Joe Curtis
7. Robbie Parsons
8. Richard Bunting
9. Jake Newman
10. Tom Lorraine
11. Nic Evangelinos
13. Alex Vitue
14. Lewis Leslie (for Parsons 58)
15. Taylor Orosz (for Lorraine 56)
16. Chris Wreh (for Newman 70)
18. James Harvey (for Evangelinos 65)
19. Lewis Jackson (for Bunting 41)
20. Nabil Shariff (for Sam Brown 73)
11. Evangelinos (for Curtis 80)
Goals: Dolman (27), Evangelinos (86)
Goals: Ellwood (40)