AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 crashed out of their second cup competition in 2 weeks with a first half horror show at Kingsthorpe Mill on Thursday evening.
The Diamonds faced a Northampton Spencer side which based on their league position you could be forgiven for thinking would have been a straight forward victory. However on closer inspection Spencer have played the league leaders twice and have improved over the last few weeks. Diamonds made one change to the starting 11 from the previous defeat in the FA Youth Cup with Ryan Bhatti coming in for Moses Olanrewaju.
The game started brightly, both teams attacking from the off and it was Spencer who took the lead on 17 Minutes when a shot cannoned off the bar and the rebound was laid back to the striker who calmly placed the ball past Brown in the Diamonds goal. On 21 minutes Diamonds were level, a great ball from Bryant to Messenger on the right wing who neatly passed the ball to Foster who then placed the ball beautifully in the bottom corner.
The teams were level for barely 2 minutes as on 23 minutes the Spencer striker received the ball on the edge of the box and was allowed to turn and fire his team into a lead once more. Just 5 minutes later it was 3-1 when Roche headed a clearance straight to the Spencer striker who had no hesitation in putting his team 3-1 in front.
Diamonds looked to get back in the game and had a goal ruled out for handball, and also went close with efforts from Holmes and Ghavami, however the defensive frailties were apparent as Spencer also went close with a lob and a header. The game was effectively over on 41 minutes when a Spencer shot wasn’t cleared properly and the midfield player steered the ball in to make the score an insurmountable 4-1.
Half-Time: Northampton Spencer 4 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
The next best thing a team can do with a 4-1 half time scoreline is to go out and get an early goal. Manager Mark Walsh abandoned his ball playing philosophy and changed to a 4-2-4 formation in search of this and whilst there was lots of effort there wasn’t a clear cut chance until 80 minutes when Chamberlain headed just wide from a corner.
On 87 minutes Roche made a fantastic run through the heart of the Spencer defence to cross to Holmes at the far post, he squared the ball for Reynolds to tap home. Diamonds had another goal disallowed on 89 minutes as the referee deemed to have seen some pushing in the box. There was still time for Inwood to head just wide 2 minutes into injury time.
A poor Diamonds performance which manager Mark Walsh and a number of players held their hands up to on the unofficial forum and on twitter.
Full Time-Time: Northampton Spencer 4 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
Northampton Spencer U18
AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18
24. Connor Brown
2. Jamie Inwood
5. Ben Roche
6. Ryan Chamberlain
17. Tommy Messinger
4. Noah Bryant (Capt)
7. Joe Holmes
8. Matty Foster
10. Savvas Hamp
14. Ryan Bhatti
9. Omar Ghavami
12. Jake Reynolds (for Foster 44)
14. Harry Matthews
15. Alex Peters
Goals: Foster (21) Reynolds (87)
Yellow Cards: Inwood