Northampton Spencer U18 5 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18 1

Northampton Spencer 5-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Northants Senior Youth League

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s fell to a heavy defeat at Northampton Spencer, although the scoreline was far from a true reflection of the game.

The Diamonds were able to welcome back Ben Roche and Alex McDonald following injury and holiday respectively, but were still missing 8 players, including 5 second years, leaving the side with a very youthful look.

Despite this, the visitors got off to a perfect start, taking the lead with just two minutes gone. For the second week running Zach Farden got forward from left back to score for the Diamonds, this time cutting inside on his right foot before curling the ball into the top corner from 20 yards, although just like the previous week, there was plenty of suggestion that his effort was a cross rather than a shot.

The lead lasted just 2 minutes though, as Rushden lost the ball cheaply and were forced into conceding a corner, with the ball into the middle being headed home by Dan London.

Rushden were almost back in front on 7 minutes as the chaotic start continued, but Liam Bond’s dangerous right wing corner was eventually hacked clear off the line, before Jake Reynolds could turn it in.

The Diamonds were guilty of overplaying in defence, losing the ball in a dangerous position on several occasions. From one such mistake by Zak Moon, Brett Akenten raced through on goal only to be denied by a fine save from Ben Clarke. History was repeated just minutes later as Akenten again went through one on one, but Clarke came to the visitors’ rescue once more, tipping the ball onto the bar.

A minute later Alex McDonald went close with a dipping 35 yard shot, after Moon had found him with a quickly taken free kick. From the resulting goal kick, the ball was played forward for Reynolds to run on to, and although Corey Haselhurst in the Spencer goal looked favourite to reach the ball first, he fumbled it under pressure from Reynolds, but was lucky to see it fall kindly allowing him to pounce on it before the Rushden striker could tap the ball home.

The Diamonds were on top at this point but were struggling to create any real clear cut chances. They went close again from distance on 21 minutes as a good team move saw the ball played in to Bond who fired a 25 yard shot over the bar.

The game then settled down with Rushden controlling the possession, but still unable to get the final ball quite right, and lacking a cutting edge in the final third. That was until the 43rd minute when Moon played in Reynolds with a terrific through ball, but the striker shot tamely at Haselhurst who made a comfortable save.

HT: Northampton Spencer 1-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Having edged the first half, the Diamonds were slow out of the box in the second half, with Liam Stone firing wide from 10 yards inside the opening few minutes. Spencer did have the ball in the back of the net on 51 minutes, but Brett Akenten’s effort was ruled out for offside. A minute later Jacob Gartland went into the book following a deliberate handball which broke up a very promising looking AFC counter attack.

Rushden finally began to wake up, and a dangerous cross/shot from Luke Fathers on 54 minutes just evaded both Reynolds and the far post.

The game changed on 56 minutes however, as the hosts were gifted a penalty thanks to an appalling refereeing decision. Akenten once more burst clear of the Rushden defence but was denied for a third time by a fantastic save from Clarke, who clearly and cleanly won the ball from the Spencer striker. However, to the amazement of everyone in the ground, including the home players, none of whom had appealed, the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Gartland made no mistake, hammering the ball into the bottom corner to leave a furious Clarke with no chance.

Within three minutes the hosts stretched their lead to two goals, although once again there were question marks over the officials. The ball was played forwards into the path of Akenten, who appeared to be several yards offside, but the assistant’s flag stayed down and the Spencer striker raced through, calmly rounding Clarke and tapping the ball home.

More controversy followed two minutes later, as Ben Roche embarked on a good run towards the hosts’ penalty area before being tripped up. The referee was quick to point to the penalty spot but then changed his mind following a discussion with his assistant, and instead awarded a free kick just outside the box. The ball was played short to Fathers, who hit a terrific 20 yard shot narrowly wide of the post.

The hosts had been guilty of several hefty challenges, particularly in the second half, and Tommy Simmonds eventually had his name taken by the referee following a particularly nasty foul on McDonald, which left the Rushden defender unable to continue. He was replaced by young debutant Justin Nwogu.

Worse was to follow on 70 minutes as a shocking lunge by Liam Stone on Noah Bryant left him also in need of treatment, but with the Diamonds having used all three substitutes the midfielder was forced to continue. Unbelievably, the referee took no action against the Spencer player.

Rushden had a rare chance on 77 minutes to pull a goal back and setup an interesting end to the game, but after the hosts failed to clear a corner, Adam Ziolkowski fired in an overhead kick just over the bar. Two minutes later, Spencer made the game safe as London headed home a right wing corner, although a clear push on Roche went unnoticed by the officials.

On 82 minutes, Simmonds was lucky to stay on the pitch after another late tackle, this time on Roche, with Bryant picking up the loose ball and firing just wide from 20 yards. Justin Nwogu was impressing on his AFC debut, and almost netted a consolation on 82 minutes, cutting in from the left flank, past two defenders, before firing in a shot from 20 yards which was parried by Haselhurst.

A bad day at the office was completed in injury time as a Clarke goal kick was headed forwards to Akenten, who found himself one on one with the Rushden ‘keeper for the fifth time in the match, and he neatly tucked the ball into the bottom corner to complete the scoring.

FT: Northampton Spencer 5-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Attendance: Approx 50

Man of the Match: Ben Roche


Northampton Spencer

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1. Corey Haselhurst
2. Billy Patching
3. Sam Gillingham
4. Jacob Gartland
5. Dan London
6. Liam Stone
7. Russ Jackson
8. Tommy Simmonds
9. Brett Akenten
10. Jake Sharp
11. Robbie Watson

86. Ben Clarke
2. Ben Roche
3. Zach Farden
4. Adam Ziolkowski
5. Alex McDonald
6. Noah Bryant
7. Zak Moon (c)
8. Liam Bond
9. Jake Reynolds
10. Wes Kirkton
11. Luke Fathers

12. David Sibanda (for Gartland, 77 mins)
14. Sam Duxby
15. Conna Rice
17. Callum Peach (for Watson, 45 mins)

12. Mark Rust
14. Anthony Ottaway (for Bond, 57 mins)
15. Luke Waterhouse
16. Justin Nwogu (for McDonald, 64 mins)
17. Ryan Bhatti (for Farden, 57 mins)

London (4 mins)
Gartland (57 mins, pen)
Akenten (60 mins)
London (79 mins)

Farden (2 mins)

Gartland (52 mins, deliberate handball)
Simmonds (64 mins, foul)

Farden (42 mins, foul)

Sent Off:

Sent Off:


Match Highlights are available

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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