Diamonds came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw at Leiston FC on Tuesday night to maintain their unbeaten start to the league season.
A thunderbolt finish by Dylan Switters put Leiston ahead on 19 minutes but Diamonds responded well and equalised on 33 minutes through a tremendous Tom Lorraine finish in the box. Jack Ashton was sent off just before half-time for responding to an off the ball incident and Leiston dominated early in the second half and re-took the lead on 63 minutes through Will Davies. Diamonds responded well for a second time with just on substitute Lorrell Smith making a quick impact being brought down for a penalty which he duly converted on 71 minutes. Harry Knights was shown a red card for the challenge to even up the numbers but Diamonds couldn’t force a late winner.
Manager Andy Peaks had to make 2 changes to his starting lineup with Liam Dolman out with a knock and replaced by Patrick Casey and Matt Slinn not well and replaced by Jesse Akubuine. Prince Mutswunguma came onto the bench to increase attacking options.
After such a long journey and late disruption Diamonds will be really pleased with their start to the game. They played bright attacking football with Chris Wreh first to stretch the home defence on 4 minutes with a run deep into the box and a turn and shot that was just blocked away.
Wreh had scored an incredible 4 times in 10 minutes in last week’s 7-1 win against Hitchin and he was unlucky not to repeat the feat tonight. He placed a shot just wide after good interplay with Tom Lorraine on 8 minutes, and hit the post on 16 minutes at the end of another run and twist in the box.
Leiston then hit Diamonds with a classic counter punch on 19 minutes as the full-back got away from the left, drove past a number of defenders and fed Dylan Switters who fired in off the bar from the edge of the box.
The home side were lifted by the goal and another good run won a free-kick 35 yards out. The build up was tense but the shot while well struck didn’t trouble the Diamonds goal.
Diamonds then got back to the quick passing breaking football that had earned the early chances and got their equaliser. The ball was played out to Joel Gyasi on the right on 33 minute who beat his man and crossed into Tom Lorraine who controlled with back to goal and turned and hit a firm strike across the keeper. There was a tad of confusion as the ball bounced quickly back out of the firm framed net with only Tom Lorraine initially celebrating but the assistant quickly confirmed the ball had crossed the line and Diamonds were deservedly level.
Diamonds had a half chance to take the lead on 36 minutes as a long free-kick deep into the box found Alex Collard leaping high but his header towards the top corner was well held by the home keeper.
The turning point of the game certainly denting Diamonds momentum came on 43 minutes as Jack Ashton was shown a red card for reacting to an off the ball incident. Chris Wreh also picked up a yellow card in the aftermath and Diamonds went in at half-time level but with it all to do.
Half-time: Leiston FC 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Andy Peaks made a tactical change at half-time bringing Ryan Hughes on to play left side of the defence and the youngster slotted in really well.
Luke Fairlamb had been delayed on his journey to the ground and had grown into the game but nearly got the second half off to a flyer. His 30 yard free-kick on 49 minutes swerved in front of the home keeper who could only pat it down seemingly for Alex Collard to smash home but a defender just got in first. He was at it again on 56 minutes as another dangerous free-kick found Chris Wreh who cleverly diverted the ball towards goal but just wide.
Leiston had shaded possession but had struggled to make the extra man count against a Diamonds side if anything playing the better football. But typical of the season to date they fashioned a goal out of nothing on 63 minutes to take the lead. It was a good move getting the ball from side to side and then swinging in a cross which was steered home by William Davies.
Andy Peaks then made a manager’s dream substitution sending on Lorrell Smith in place of Chris Wreh. Within a minute he had turned his man and ran through on goal only to be felled as last man by a home defender. He coolly stepped up and slotted the penalty wide of the diving keeper in the 71st minute for his third goal of the season. Home defender Harry Knights was shown a red card for the incident to bring numbers level.
Neither side was able to fashion much in the way of chances in the final stages despite Diamonds looking slightly the more promising. Leiston did have a good penalty shout turned away on 73 minutes and in the final minute saw a striker almost through on goal but seeing Richard Walton out quickly to block.
Final score: Leiston FC 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
A point away from home on a long trip on a Tuesday night is always good and Andy Peaks who also had to deal with pre-match disruption to his squad was happy to maintain the unbeaten start to the season. It could have been more but Diamonds made life difficult again by conceding goals when seemingly in control and being reduced to 10 men again for a long period. Man of the Match Tom Lorraine was pleased to edge closer to that milestone moving to 98 goals for Diamonds, and Lorrell Smith impressively dispatched his second penalty to earn a point this season and his 3rd goal in his first season for the club.
Next up another tough away trip to Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday. Please get your on-line tickets early as they are limited.
Man of the Match: Tom Lorraine
Match Report: Paul Judd
- Samuel Donkin
2. George Keys
3. Oliver Saunders
4. Robert Eagles
5. Harry Knights
6. Matthew Weaire
7. Finlay Barnes
8. Dylan Switters
9. Liam Jackson
10. William Davies
11. Marcus Wilkinson
12. Kyle Hammond (for Jackson 76)
14. Matthew Richardson
15. Kyle Richardson
16. Jamie Eaton-Collins (for Wilkinson 85)
17. Oliver Godbold
Red: Knights (70)
Yellow: Jackson (62) Switters (78)
Switter (19), Davies (63)
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
17. Richard Walton
2. Zack Reynolds
3. Patrick Casey
4. Jack Ashton
5. Fernando Bell-Toxtle
6. Alex Collard
7. Joel Gyasi
8. Jesse Akubuine
9. Tom Lorraine
10. Chris Wreh
11. Luke Fairlamb
12. Ryan Hughes (for Gyasi 45)
14. Lorrell Smith (for Wreh 68)
15. William Jones
16. Prince Mutswunguma
18. Ben Ford (for Akubuine 85)
Red: Jack Ashton (43)
Yellow: Wreh (44), Collard (85)
Tom Lorraine (33), Lorrell Smith (71 Pen)
Referee & Assistants
Referee: Abigail Byrne
Assistant 1: Louis Dawson
Assistant 2: Edward Frazer