Moggerhanger United 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U21 4

New Manager Andy Keen took charge of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds U21 side for the first time on Friday night as they enjoyed a 4-0 friendly victory over Bedfordshire County League Division 2 side Moggerhanger United in a match played at Biggleswade United’s Second Meadow. Joe Merrill, returning to football duties after a chest infection, opened the scoring after just 2 minutes and James Harrison added two further goals in a seven minute second half spell before Dylan Wilson rounded off the scoring eight minutes from time.

On pleasant but overcast evening, the Diamonds team lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Rhys Redding in goal behind a back four of Tommy Reeve, Ollie Lee, Alex McDonald and Rhys Gilbert. A midfield three was marshalled by Joe Merrill in between a trialist and Joe Ackroyd with James Harrison leading the line and Christopher Knapp and Luke Garner providing width. The youthful subs bench was supplemented by Assistant Manager Marcin Klima, clearly keen to lead his young charges by example.

Diamonds started the game well and a nicely weighted ball from Rhys Gilbert made an immediate impact as Joe Merrill beat Moggerhanger’s offside trap and lofted a beautifully weighted shot into the top right hand corner of the goal. This set the tone for the early part of the first half as Moggerhanger struggled to wrestle possession of the ball from their energetic opposition. The lively Knapp was unfortunate to go off early with a knock and was replaced by Dylan Wilson. Whilst the young Diamonds were dominating posession, they were unable to turn this into further goals with one of the better chances falling to the pacey Wilson who rounded the Moggerhanger ‘keeper before being denied by a last ditch clearance. Moggerhanger, to their credit, were working hard to try and gain a foothold in the game and did look more threatening as the half wore on, although their best chance on 32 minutes was smashed just wide of the left hand post without forcing Redding into a save. Lee and McDonald were winning most of the ball in the air and this combined with some excellent pressing from their team-mates was enough to restrict Moggerhanger from creating any further clear-cut chances. Just before half time, Merill again put in Wilson who flashed a shot across the face of goal.

Half Time: Moggerhanger United 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U21 1

Diamonds made two changes at half time with rolling substitutions taking place throughout the second half which saw most Diamonds players leave and re-enter the pitch and a variety of different line-ups experimented with. Moggerhanger started the half strongly, but the young AFC side were quick to re-assert their authority with a great ball from midfield finding Luke Garner who rounded Moggerhanger’s substitute ‘keeper before unselfishly attempting to square the ball for Harrison but was unfortunate to find an alert defender on hand to clear. Harrison was soon on the score sheet, however, as a mis-cueued goal kick fell straight to him and he was able to lob the ball superbly into the goal from 30 yards. The Diamonds lead was almost reduced immediately as a Moggerhanger striker broke clear almost straight from the kick-off and was only thwarted by a superb challenge from McDonald. A scramble from the resulting corner was also cleared and just as it looked as if Moggerhanger might reduce arrears, Diamonds made the game safe. A free kick from mid-way inside the Moggerhanger half was headed on to Wilson by Harrison who received the ball back instantly and tucked it away inside the right hand post.

As the second half wore on, the match became more fragmented with a number of substitutes from both sides joining and re-joining the action. On 70 minutes, a powerful Moggerhanger shot from distance was palmed away by Redding into the path on an onrushing forward and as both players lunged for the ball the referee judged that the Diamonds stopped had challenged his opponent unfairly and pointed to the penalty spot. Unfortunately for Moggerhanger, the resulting kick was hit at a nice height for Redding who saved well to his right hand side. Dylan Wilson had looked livlier and livlier as the game wore on and he saved his best contribution to the game for the eightieth minute. Picking up the ball in midfield the young winger jinked past two opponents at speed and from the left hand edge of the 18 yard box stuck the ball sweetly past the Moggerhanger goalkeeper to score the Diamonds’ fourth, something which resulted in cheers and applause from everyone in the ground. Wilson had a chance to add to his tally further a couple of minutes later as Garner won the ball well and laid his team mate through. The on-rushing Moggerhanger goalkeeper, however, had saved his best contribution of the game for last as he got down well to save Wilson’s initial shot and again to smother the rebound.

Moggerhanger United 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U21 4

Moggerhanger United Chairman Paul Beith was keen to pass on his thanks to the visiting officials for bringing a team to face his ambitious club and as the players left the pitch to applause from all corners, everyone was able to reflect on a successful fixture with Moggerhanger raising some much needed funds and the young Diamonds starting their pre-season in very positive fashion. They will face a much sterner test on Tuesday as they travel to Buckingham Town.

Moggerhanger United

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U21



















17. Rhys Redding

2. Tommy Reeve

3. Rhys Gilbert

4. Joe Ackroyd

5. Alex McDonald

6. Ollie Lee

7. A Trialist

8. Joe Merrill

9. James Harrison (c)

10. Luke Garner

11. Christopher Knapp


15. Reece Pickering (Garner 60)

16. James Pearson (A Trialist 67)

18. Marcin Klima

19. Alex Harker (Ackroyd 45)

20. Dylan Wilson (Knapp 15)

23. Danny Atkins (Gilbert 45)

Goals: None

Goals: Merrill (2), Harrison (53, 60), Wilson (80)

Cards: None

Cards: None


Diamonds Man of the Match: James Harrison

Attendance: Approx 70

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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