Diamonds made an impressive return to first team action on Tuesday with a 7-1 win at Kempston Rovers in their first match in the Harry Robinson Trophy.
After Kempston had an early effort crash off the post and the follow-up cleared off the line Diamonds grew in the game and saw Lorrell Smith open the scoring on 20 minutes with a crisp finish from 18 yards.
Sam Warburton impressed on his debut and had a 25 yard effort just tipped over. Fernando Bell-Toxtle ran through to chip the keeper but saw his effort drift just wide. And a great team move on 40 minutes saw Sam Warburton latch onto Jesse Akubuine’s neat ball to pull back just behind the on-rushing Tom Lorraine and Lorrell Smith.
Smith received a second knock on 44 minutes and had to be replaced by Will Jones but Diamonds were in good control 1-0 at half-time.
Half-time: Kempston 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Will Jones made an immediate impact with a superb 47th minute strike bursting between defenders and finishing so coolly. Kempston responded with a quick break on 48 minutes bundling the ball home for 2-1.
Diamonds regained control with some good passing and movement but had to wait until 70 minutes for their next goal but went on to add 4 in 13 minutes. Will Jones with a calm re-direction of a trialist’s shot made it 3-1 on 70 minutes after good work by the impressive Nat-Gosnal Tyler. Ben Diamond danced through the Kempston defence on 72 minutes for 4-1. Will Jones had a couple of close efforts for his hat-trick but held off a defender on a run into the right side of the box on 78 minutes again coolly finishing into bottom left corner. He then turned provider after a run that could have produced a speculative shot but he intelligently cut the ball back to Ben Diamond to turn home.
Trialist No 19 had impressed on his cameo but missed a very late penalty on 88 minutes after Will Jones had been pulled down. He didn’t have long to make up for it though delightedly powering home a last minute header from a corner for 7-1.
Full-time: Kempston Rovers 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7
After that early scare this was an increasingly dominant Diamonds display. Kempston worked hard to deny Diamonds but the away side passed and moved the ball well and some good combinations emerged with Sam Warburton an important part. Lorrell Smith was sharp before his injury and Will Jones strong and explosive as his replacement showing great composure for his three goals. Ben Diamond grew into the game and playing in a No 10 position in the 2nd half after the 4 substitutions brought the best out of him and 2 great goals. Trialist No 2 at right-back and No 4 in centre midfield looked solid in the first half with No 22 getting well involved from right back in the 2nd half. And No 19 was lively up front creating Will Jones 2nd goal, missing a penalty and powering home a header for 7-1.
Diamonds lead the round robin group after two matches played and go again on Thursday vs Eynesbury Rovers who are yet to play due to unavailability of their own pitch. The game on Thursday is played at Kempston again before Diamonds complete their matches against Cambridge City at home on Saturday. Cambridge beat Kempston Rovers 5-1 on Saturday in the only other completed game and their postponed game from last night at Eynesbury is still to be re-arranged but likely to be played next week probably at ever helpful Kempston.
Man of the match (as nominated by Radio Diamonds): Will Jones
Match Report: Paul Judd