AFC Rushden & Diamonds recorded a 7-1 win over Northampton Sileby Rangers at Fernie Fields on Tuesday evening.
The Diamonds led 4-1 at the break with goals from Dunkley, Koriya and Deakin, with the fourth goal claimed by Koriya, as he and a defender challenged for a ball that looped into the net. Second half goals from Séan McBride and Alfie Taylor made the score 6-1 before Taylor scored the best goal of the game as he volleyed home a cross from Nat Liburd.
Diamonds Manager Mark Starmer reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, meaning that Matt Gearing started ahead of Brad Harris. Young goalkeeper Connor Brown took a place on the bench, with Adam Whybrow unavailable, and Ben Morgan also took a place on the bench after improving on his fine scoring record for the U21 side at the weekend. Lance Allen also returned to the bench after his unavailability at the weekend.
On a chilly autumn evening the Diamonds started with a bang, and scored their first after 1 minute and 11 seconds when a Joe Merrill ball into the box was controlled by Russ Dunkley before he clipped it into the net.
A young Sileby side looked to get men forwards quickly and Luis McCoy shot wide on the end of a sweeping move. Their keeper Liam Stanton did well to get his fingertips to an effort from Aaron King and concede a corner, but he could do nothing to prevent the Diamonds second goal after 11 minutes. A ball forwards in the right channel was flicked on by Russ Dunkley into the path of Alfie Taylor, who quickly engineered space to flick the ball low across goal for Fazel Koriya to slide home.
After a Koriya error to concede possession in a dangerous area the host went close through Blake Thomson who forced a decent save from Tom Cross. At the other end the Diamonds won a corner on the left, and the Koriya corner was met by the head of Jamal Clarke at the far side of goal, and his header towards the left post was nodded home by Alex Deakin with only 15 minutes on the clock.
Many sides might have let their heads drop after conceding three goals so quickly, but Rangers started to move the ball around nicely and get men forwards quickly, and after 26 minutes they had a goal back, when a ball forwards in the left channel saw the exposed Joe Merrill have to allow the run of Luis McCoy for fear off committing a foul that might have brought a red card, and McCoy was able to finish by slotting the ball past Cross.
With the Diamonds full-backs getting forwards alongside the wide-players the defence was left exposed at times, and Séan McBride was called upon to make a great challenge as the last defender when Rangers broke quickly through the middle.
There was another scare for the Diamonds after 38 minutes when Ashley White made a run towards the left hand side of the area to slot home a cross, but was flagged offside. Within a couple of minutes the Diamonds had restored their three goal lead, and again it was Joe Merrill who got forwards and his angled ball into the area squirmed off a challenge between Koriya and Baxter and looped into the net. Fazel Koriya quickly claimed the goal, although some thought it might be seen as an own goal by Ryan Baxter.
Half Time: Northampton Sileby Rangers 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4
The second half started quietly, but Alfie Taylor cut inside and shot just wide after 51 minutes. Just before the hour mark the Diamonds had their fifth, and again it was a Koriya corner from the left that caused problems, with Séan McBride making a late run to head home from close range without being challenged – this was a goal the Diamonds midfielder richly deserved after another powerful midfield performance.
The Diamonds then continued to dominate, but were guilty of wasting a number of decent chances, with Taylor, King, Merrill and Gearing all missing chances. Brad Harris was brought into the action to play centre-back as Jamal Clarke left the field just after the hour mark, with Nat Liburd and Ben Morgan also making an appearance.
Just as the game looked like ending 5-1 the Diamonds found a second wind with two goals from Alfie Taylor. After 89 minutes he broke clear to latch onto a King pass, and although keeper Stanton did partially parry his initial shot as he came out towards the edge of his area, the ball continued towards the goal and Alfie Taylor was able to run on and lash the ball into an empty net.
The seventh goal was the best of the night, as substitute Nat Liburd broke down the right and hit a cross on the run that Alfie Taylor volleyed home with an excellent strike in the second minute of added time.
Full Time: Northampton Sileby Rangers 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7
Diamonds Man of The Match: Alfie Taylor
The Diamonds road trip continues on Saturday when they travel to face Peterborough Northern Star.
Northampton Sileby Rangers
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Liam Stanton
2. Ryan Baxter
3. Ashley White (Capt)
4. Blake Thompson
5. Toby Cleaver
6. Jefferson Woodward
7. Luis McCoy
8. Caspar Coombes
9. Karabo Motshweni
10. Callum O’Sullivan
11. Tom Glasscoe
12. Lewis Entwhistle
14. Hayden Bream (for Baxter 56)
15. Sam Watkins
16. Jamie Chatfield
17. Josh Olowoyo (for McCoy 56)
17. Tom Cross
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Jamal Clarke
6. Alex Deakin
7. Matt Gearing
8. Aaron King
9. Russ Dunkley (Capt)
10. Alfie Taylor
11. Fazel Koriya
12. Ben Morgan (for McBride 78)
13. Connor Brown (GK)
14. Lance Allen
15. Nat Liburd (for Dunkley 72)
16. Brad Harris (for Clarke 61)
Goals: McCoy (26)
Goals: Dunkley (2), Koriya (11/40), Deakin (15), McBride (58), Taylor (89/90+2)
Yellow Cards: Coombes
Yellow Cards: Koriya
Referee: Wayne Bright
Assistants: Mark Connolly, Andrew Burston
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