After two postponed games in a row, Diamonds returned to action with a hard fought 1-0 win at Hanwell Town two days before Christmas. Tom Lorraine’s second half scrambled effort earned Diamonds the three points to stay top of the league at Christmas.
Diamonds remained unchanged from the side that beat Aylesbury United 16 days ago, with the only difference being to the substitute’s bench. Jack Ashton came back into the squad, along with Richard Bunting, Ben Diamond and Cameron Gilchrist.
Diamonds dominated much of the early stages of the game, with Lorraine’s running effort on five minutes flying over signalling the beginning of a flurry of chances in the first half.
A few minutes later, a defender backing into Ryan Robbins earned Diamonds a free kick from 30 yards out. Fairlamb stepped up for the kick, bending a dipping effort, forcing the keeper into a low diving save to his left. The resulting corner was spilled by Sam Bunting before the defence managed to clear.
Hanwell’s first chance fell to Luke Alfano, whose audacious long effort looped up and easily into Ben Heath’s hands.
Diamonds’ best chance of the half fell to Gyasi on 18 minutes. A short throw from Sam Brown was controlled by the winger before he smartly turned both of the defenders on him. He then bent a lovely effort towards the far corner but an acrobatic effort from the keeper denied a wonder goal.
Three minutes later, Lorraine had another bursting run down the right hand side before laying into the box. The ball flicked off a defender, giving Robbins a split second to react but he could only flick the ball off his heel and over the bar.
Diamonds then had two bookings in quick succession, firstly Jack Westbrook for a late sliding tackle, and secondly for Blaize Punter for recurring fouls.
Robbins had the ball in the net on 38 minutes; however the striker was ruled offside as he broke forward. Gyasi had another mazy run before squaring to Farrell in the area who couldn’t sort his feet out fast enough but he recovered enough to lay to Lorraine running in who took a superb first touch before blazing over.
Moments before half time, Diamonds had the ball in the net again. A corner awarded from a good block from a Robbins effort was poorly cleared and as the danger remained, Dolman swung the ball back in for Sam Brown to head in but again the assistant referee had his flag up ensuring a goalless first half.
Half-time: Harwell Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
The Diamonds continued the second half with the same dominance as they showed in the first. Three minutes from the restart, a great ball over the top by Gyasi was laid off by Robbins for Lorraine to run on to but his effort was fired just wide.
Five minutes into the second half, Hanwell goalkeeper Sam Bunting pulled off a marvellous double save. Joe Curtis played in Lorraine who bore down on goal from a tight angle, firing a fierce effort which was well saved before the ball fell to Farrell with the goal gaping but the keeper somehow managed to tip the ball onto the post.
On 58 minutes, there were appeals for a handball from a Hanwell defender, as Fairlamb’s shot struck the player as he jumped and turned but the referee judged the ball to have hit the player’s back and waved the appeals away.
Diamonds broke forward once more on 67 minutes with Lorraine once again breaking forward before shooting for the keeper to hold. Almost immediately, the ball was at the other end with Mason Welch-Turner firing inches wide from distance.
Diamonds finally broke the deadlock in the 70th minute. Fairlamb took on his man down the left flank, and after a few step overs, crossed in for Lorraine to bravely tap in under challenge from the keeper. In the tumble,Lorraine fell through the goal and had to receive treatment after colliding with the advertising hoardings through the net.
The Diamonds goal seemed to awaken Hanwell, and they immediately pushed for an equaliser. Alfie Cain fired inches wide from 30 yards on 74 minutes, and then two minutes later Charlie Mitchell turned Gyasi and Punter inside out before shooting towards the near post for Heath to save well.
That was the last notable action of the game, with both sides making changes in the last 15 minutes but there was no real talking points as the game fizzled out.
Full time: Harwell Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Diamonds’ Man of the Match: Tom Lorraine
Match Report by Adam Benney
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Sam Bunting
2. Charlie Mitchell
3. Mason Welch-Turner
4. Oliver Duffy (c)
5. Calum Duffy
6. Joe Chandiram
7. Jesse Kewley-Graham
8. Alfie Cain
9. Peter Dean
10. Ned Clarke
11. Luke Alfano
12. Harvey Killeen (on for Welch-Turner, 89)
14. Sam Pekun (on for Kewley-Graham, 45)
15. Elijah Seymour
16. Ricky Pither
17. Chris Mills
13. Ben Heath
2. Blaize Punter
3. Sam Brown
4. Jack Westbrook
5. Liam Dolman (c)
6. Ben Farrell
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Joe Curtis
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Ryan Robbins
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Jack Ashton
14. Darryl Smith (on for Robbins, 78)
15. Ben Diamond
16. Cameron Gilchrist
17. Richard Bunting (on for Westbrook, 90)
Yellow cards: Westbrook (29), Punter (34), Smith (84)
Referee: Mr Elliot Kaye
Assistants: Mr Ede Eruero
Mr Mike Heavey
Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.
Video highlights and post-match interviews are available here.
Match Gallery courtesy of Stephanie Webb Photography Copyright Stephanie Webb Photography ©2017