The penultimate pre-season friendly for AFC Rushden & Diamonds ended as a goalless draw against UCL Premier Champions Long Buckby. With both sides shaping teams out of a new squad, neither side was able to take command of a game that struggled to entertain for long periods.
With a Diamonds XI also playing at Winslow the same evening, the first team squad was split between the two games to give as many of them as possible significant match action, so a number of U18 players helped to fill the Diamonds bench.
Mark Starmer also brought in two triallists into the side – Jordan Pendered to play on the wing, and Stewart Smeathers into midfield. For this game James Allcock played left back, and Joe Merrill was on the right alongside regular centre-backs Hope and McDonald. In centre-midfield were Dent and Smeathers, with Pendered and Wizniewski playing wide. Up front Ben Morgan partnered Deven Ellwood.
The game only sparked into life in brief bursts in the first half, and after an early scare when James Broadbent almost let a loose ball drop to a Bucks striker, he was the busier keeper, but commanded his area from then on, tipping a good effort from a Bucks striker around the post. There was a scare when Chris Hope and a Bucks defender clashed heads at a set piece, but both players were able to continue, with the Hope sporting a white bandage for a head-band for the remainder of the game.
Jack Wizniewski had switched from left to right mid-way through the half, and his vision allowed Deven Ellwood to beat an offside trap to get a clear attempt on goal which was well blocked. The final effort before the break saw Ben Morgan fail to connect fully as he got his head on a Merrill cross.
Half-Time: Long Buckby 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
The second half was more entertaining than the first, and both sides had their chances, most notably Chris Hope who was unable to properly connect with an excellent cross from substitute Fred Devereaux. Deven Ellwood did well to make space for himself in the area, but couldn’t force home a Merrill cross. Jack Wizniewski made a good run through the middle to beat the offside trap, but his effort on goal was blocked by the keeper, as was Ellwood’s attempt on the rebound. At the other end a great save by Broadbent and the Diamonds woodwork ensured the game remained justifiably goalless
Full-Time: Long Buckby 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
The Diamonds final pre-season game is on Saturday at Lutterworth Athletic. This will be a double header game, with an Under-18 game also being played between the two clubs.
Diamonds Man of the Match: Aynsley McDonald
Attendance: Approx 100
Long Buckby AFC
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Alfie Taylor for Wizniewski (66)
Alex Deakin for Allcock (74)
Blake Helsdown for Pendered (82)
Ashley Foulger for Broadbent (87)
Fred Devereaux for Morgan (87)
Zak Moon for Dent (90)
Noah Bryant for Smethers (90+1)
Cards : None
Cards : None
All Images Courtesy of Mal Swinden