Holwell Sports 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3

Holwell Sports 0-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Pre-Season Friendly

Another fine performance from AFC Rushden & Diamonds saw them run out 3-0 winners for the second time in pre-season, once more against fellow step 6 opposition. On a glorious evening in Leicestershire, Ben Morgan gave the Diamonds a first half lead, before second half strikes from Deven Ellwood and Elliot Dent sealed the victory. Ellwood’s goal means he has now scored in each of the first three games.

The game started slowly with the players keen not to burn themselves out too quickly in the belatedly warm conditions. The first effort of note came from the hosts, as Aaron Ridout hit a 30 yard snap shot which flew narrowly wide of the post. Rushden’s first effort of the game came a couple of minutes later as Alfie Taylor beat his marker on the left flank before cutting inside and firing into the side netting from a tight angle.

The best chance of the opening stages fell to Ben Smedley, whose far post volley from Ridout’s cross was well blocked by Jamie Burrows. The rebound fell to Smedley again, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.

The Diamonds’ front two of Ben Morgan and Alfie Taylor were quickly developing a good understanding, and on 13 minutes Morgan played in his strike partner with an excellent through ball, but Taylor’s shot from the right hand side of the area was well saved by Richard Cragg in the home goal.

The visitors should have taken the lead on 21 minutes as a long ball from the back was cleverly flicked on by Morgan into the path of Elliot Dent, who raced forward with only the ‘keeper to beat, but Cragg made another good save to deny the former Rushden & Diamonds youth player. A minute later Morgan tried his luck from 25 yards after cutting in from the right flank, but fired narrowly wide of the upright.

On 25 minutes the Diamonds’ increasing pressure paid off, as the impressive Morgan opened the scoring. Cox played him in on the left hand side of the penalty area, and Morgan beat his man before placing the ball just inside the far post from a tight angle.

Three minutes later it was almost 2-0, as Taylor raced onto a ball down the right flank, skipped past two defenders and hit a near post shot which beat Cragg but cannoned back off the post.

The home side started to up their game in the final 15 minutes of the first half, and had a few decent opportunities to grab an equaliser. Tom Morgan was the first to go close when he headed wide from a deep left wing corner, before Ridout tried his luck again from 30 yards, but his terrific strike flew inches wide of James Broadbent’s goal.

The final opportunity of the half fell to the hosts once again, as another deep corner found the head of captain Anthony Snelgrove, but he was unable to direct his effort on target.

HT: Holwell Sports 0-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Mark Starmer made three changes at the interval, with Deven Ellwood replacing Taylor in attack, Jack Wisniewski taking Ashley Meeks’ place on the right wing, and Ashley Foulger replacing Broadbent between the sticks. The changes looked to have unsettled the AFC defence to begin with, as an uncharacteristic error from Aynsley McDonald allowed Jay Kirby a shooting chance from the edge of the penalty area, but the striker’s powerful effort shaved the outside of the post.

On 57 minutes Starmer handed new signing Chris Hope his second Diamonds’ debut, as the former Rushden & Diamonds favourite replaced Jake Gillingwater for his first appearance in an AFC shirt.

With an hour gone, Rushden doubled their advantage with a team goal of real quality. A good move down the left flank resulted in a deep cross from Dent, which was volleyed back across goal by Luke Pritchard into the path of Ellwood, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net from ten yards.

Two minutes later Pritchard and Ellwood combined again to create another chance, this time for Morgan whose 18 yard shot was too close to Cragg. The Holwell ‘keeper produced another good save shortly after, denying Morgan once again after the striker had raced onto a great through ball from Wisniewski.

The visitors were looking fairly comfortable now, but were almost caught out on 68 minutes. A quickly taken short corner saw Ridout find Michael Stevenson with a deep cross, but the striker was brilliantly denied by Ashley Foulger’s fine reflex save.

With 8 minutes remaining the Diamonds made the game safe, netting three times for the third consecutive game. Good work down the left flank between Morgan and Taylor saw the ball played into Ellwood, who in turn teed up Dent on the edge of the box, and his shot was deflected past Cragg and into the bottom corner.

There was just enough time for Rushden to come close to a fourth goal, as a deep cross was only cleared as far as Wisniewski, but his shot from 18 yards was well held by Cragg.

FT: Holwell Sports 0-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Attendance: Approx. 100

Man of the Match: Ben Morgan

Photographs courtesy of Mal Swinden


Holwell Sports

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1. Richard Cragg
2. Kieran Foster
3. Dominic Hallows
4. Billy Stubbs
5. Anthony Snelgrove (c)
6. Tom Morgan
7. Ben Smedley
8. Aaron Ridout
9. Jay Kirkby
10. Michael Stevenson
11. Graham Keast

17. James Broadbent
2. James Allcock
5. Aynsley McDonald (c)
6. Jake Gillingwater
3. Jamie Burrows
11. Ashley Meeks
4. George Cox
8. Elliot Dent
7. Luke Pritchard
9. Alfie Taylor
10. Ben Morgan

Chris Hibbitt (for Foster)
Stuart Rose (for Stubbs)
Tom Muggleton (for Snelgrove)
Ian Bitmead (for T. Morgan)
Dean Randall (for Smedley)
Mark Tinsley (for Keast)

12. Troy Johnston (for Cox, 63 mins)
13. Ashley Foulger (for Broadbent, 46 mins)
14. Deven Ellwood (for Taylor, 46 mins)
15. Lee Gotch (for Pritchard, 63 mins)
16. Jack Wisniewski (for Meeks, 46 mins)
18. Chris Hope (for Gillingwater, 57 mins)


B. Morgan (25 mins)
Ellwood (60 mins)
Dent (82 mins)



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