AFC Rushden & Diamonds 6 Arlesey 1

AFC Rushden & Diamonds finally put 6 past a spirited Arlesey Town side on Tuesday night with three goals in the final 5 minutes to finish off a scoreline that saw them go 6 points clear at the top of Southern League Central Division.

Arlesey took the lead on 6 minutes as Lewis Wilson found space in the box to turn and strike low past Matt Finlay in the Diamonds goal. It took time for Diamonds to settle into the game against an excellent away side and they finally got their equaliser on 30 as Andy Hall’s cross was deflected high into the air falling near the goal-line where Lewis Leslie bundled home. Just 6 minutes later they took the lead through a close range Tom Lorraine header as they upped the tempo of their performance.

The crucial moment in the game came on 63 as Andy Hall was felled in the box as Diamonds again looked to up the tempo against strong opponents. Hall stepped up to fire a fierce penalty kick home to open up a two goal cushion. Arlesey continued to be prominent in the game but were unable to fashion much in the way of clear chances and it was Diamonds who finally over-ran their tiring opponents in the later stages. First Hall fired in his second on 87 after good play from Jon Stevenson, before the winger earned and converted a second penalty of the night on 89 minutes for his hat-trick. Shawn Richards completed the scoring on 93 to make it 17 goals in three home league games for resurgent Diamonds.

 

Diamonds went with an unchanged side from the side that beat Ware 3-0 on Saturday. Just one change on the bench saw Shawn Richards return in place of Joe Ackroyd.

On a cold night at the Dog & Duck Diamonds started on the front foot passing neatly around the Arlesey midfield with Claudiu Hoban drawing an early foul when flying down the left wing which saw Arlesey captain John Shaw shown a 2nd minute yellow card.

But it was a first break by the visitors that saw them take a 6th minute lead. Lewis Wilson was found in space in the right hand side of the box after a neat build up and he turned and fired low to the right of Matt Finlay from 15 yards.

The goal energised the away side who put some of promising moves together that had Diamonds working hard to repel before Diamonds responded with a dangerous run and cross from Claudiu Hoban that was just cleared in front of Tom Lorraine.

The flow of play then returned to that of the early stages with Diamonds pressing their lower ranked opponents hard. Two corners in quick succession created mayhem in the Arlesey box with Liam Dolman denied close to the line from the first one, and then Claudiu Hoban struck just wide from the edge of the box after a dangerous right wing cross was only cleared into his path.

Arlesey have won 6 games on their travels this season to belie their lowly position and showed how with a number of quick breaks and good passing to create a heading chance for Wilson from a great left wing move and cross, and a free-kick opportunity for Tavernier after Wilson was brought down by Brad Harris as he was flying towards the Diamonds goal. Harris picking up a booking for his troubles.

Diamonds were beginning to show some anxiety as they chased an equaliser and there was relief around the ground when it duly came on 30 minutes. Andy Hall worked his man hard on the right wing and finally got his cross in but it was deflected high in the air falling near the line with the keeper out of place and it was Lewis Leslie strongest in a group by the line that forced the ball home.

Claudiu Hoban was having a good night down the left and he controlled a long ball really well, terrorised the full-back and got in a great cross that Arlesey keeper Nick Thompson just gathered off the head of Jon Stevenson.

And it was Hoban who put Stevenson away in the 36th minute to win a corner from which Diamonds would take the lead. Swung in deep and headed back across goal by Jack Ashton it fell to Tom Lorraine to nod home from 6 yards for his 13th of the season. The goal was the big strikers 34th for the club putting him 4th on the goal scoring charts level with Fazel Koriya and just one behind Russ Dunkley.

Arlesey continued to look a good quick-breaking passing side but vulnerable at the back which Diamonds nearly exploited from another corner that was flicked from the front post through the box, and from a quick break that put Stevenson clear only to be denied by Thompson spreading himself at the striker’s feet.

Half-time:  AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 – Arlesey Town 1

 A fairly low-key start to the second half saw Diamonds probing without much danger apart from a Tom Lorraine run and speculative shot from 25 yards that went well wide.

The same player livened up the stadium on 52 minutes with a powerful run towards the Peter de Banke Terrace which he finished with a firm low cross that Jon Stevenson hit first time on the volley just over the bar.

Lewis Leslie then dropped to the ground near half-way on 55 clearly suffering from a knock he had picked up and leaving the field to be replaced by Dan Quigley.

Diamonds continued to press and Claudiu Hoban twisted and turned by the corner flag to win a corner on 60 that produced a shooting chance for Hall followed by a header for Lorraine across goal that fell again to Hall who couldn’t quite connect from just 10 yards.

The crucial moment in the game came on 63 as another excellent ball into space on saw Andy Hall sprint clear and into the box where he was pushed from behind to give Diamonds just their 3rd penalty of the season. Hall picked himself up to send the keeper the wrong way with a rasping drive to give Diamonds breathing space in the game.

Arlesey were a confident side in the final third though and earnt a free-kick on the edge of the area on 65 which Saul Williams curled beautifully over the wall only to be denied at full stretch by the brilliant Matt Finlay one handed by the near post.

Brad Harris already on a booking and responsible for the free-kick challenge was then substituted to bring Dan Quigley into the game and he was involved in the move which saw Andy Hall felled on the edge of the box to give Diamonds a dangerous free-kick. Claudiu Hoban curled it firmly past the wall but just over the angle of bar and post.

Diamonds were certainly more relaxed with the 2 goal lead creating occasional opportunities through Lorraine and Hoban while concentrating on holding a lively Arlesey side who passed the ball well without creating too much danger themselves.

In the later stages with Diamonds finally starting to overrun a tiring Arlesey side Claudiu Hoban had a superb low effort from 30 yards that stung keeper Thompsons fingers, before they did add a 4th on 87. A throw in was flicked on by Jon Stevenson into the path of Andy Hall who controlled well and fired low and hard under the hapless Thompson for his second of the game.

The goal scoring winger then notched his hat-trick and Diamonds 5th with his second penalty on 89. It was Hall who was tripped in the box and he stepped up again to fire hard down the centre which keeper Thompson got a hand too but couldn’t keep out.

That wasn’t the end of the scoring though as Diamonds cleared a 93rd minute Arlesey effort off the line and then broke straight down the field for Shawn Richards to run into the left hand edge of the box and fire low under Thompson into far corner for 6-1.

Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 6 – Arlesey Town 1

This was an ultimately dominant performance by Diamonds but they had to work hard to subdue their at times excellent opponents. Conceding the first goal again as they had done against Leighton will be disappointing for Manager Andy Peaks but he will be pleased how his team defended after that moment, and how they went onto to overrun their opponents. The attacking options in this Diamonds side are going to trouble any side in this division when they play like this, including the added danger from talent coming from the bench.

Diamonds travel to Fleet Town on Saturday 6 points clear at the top of the table before they take on 2nd place St. Ives and 3rd place Kings Langley in their crucial next two home games.

Man of the Match: Andy Hall voted for by Match Sponsors Hart Family Breweries

Attendance: 330

Match Report by Paul Judd

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Arlesey Town

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Ollie Wilkinson

3.   Conor Kennedy

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Brad Harris

7.   Andy Hall

8.   Jon Stevenson

9.   Lewis Leslie

10. Tom Lorraine

11. Claudio Hoban

Subs

12.  Delroy Gordon (for Hoban 84)

13.  Alex Vitue

14.  Dan Quigley (for Leslie 55)

15.  Shawn Richards (for Harris 66

16.  Luke Hipwell

1.   Nick Thompson

2.   Harry Carr

3.   Sam Willett

4.   Stefan Powell

5.   Matt Hall

6.   Luke Rowland

7.   Nathan Olukanai

8.   Christian Tavernier

9.   Tony Williams

10. Lewis Wilson

11. Saul Williams

Subs

12. Sean Beesley

14. Luke Abrahams (for Wilson 75)

15. Bill Plumpton

16. Dylan Gittens (for Olukanai 65)

17. Anthony Wright

Goals: Leslie (30), Lorraine (36), Hall (63 Pen, 87, 89 Pen), Richards (93)

Goals: Wilson (6)

Yellow Cards: Harris (21)

Yellow Cards: Hall (4), Willett (69)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Abbas Khan

Assistants:  Ryan O’Mahoney, Burt Thomas

 

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AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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