AFC Rushden & Diamonds left it late before snatching a 1-0 victory over resilient Olney Town in the ChromaSport and Trophies United Counties League One game in Buckinghamshire. An Alfie Taylor goal four seconds before the game went into added time was enough to give the Diamonds the three points.
New signing Jake Newman had to settle for a place on the bench as Mark Starmer made a single change to his starting line-up, with Jack Wisniewski being absent due to illness meaning a first UCL start for Peter Okechukwu.
On a warm afternoon the two teams performed in front of a bumper crowd that was later confirmed as 513, with fans making a donation to the host club as they are not permitted to charge entrance fees.
The hosts had the better chances in the first quarter with Robert Heaney having a good early chance, but he was unable to get sufficient power to trouble Quincy Shorunmu, and the Diamonds keeper than caught a shot from Umney. The Nurserymen were showing they would put up a strong fight, and one or two challenges appeared fortunate to escape further punishment from referee Tebbutt.
Elliot Dent was continuing in a wide role, and an excellent crossfield ball from Deven Ellwood found him in space on the right, and his cross was just too high for Alfie Taylor.
As the game moved into the second quarter the Diamonds started to get on top, and although Alfie Taylor did put the ball in the net, he had been flagged offside, as the Diamonds strikers struggled to defeat the efficient Olney trap all afternoon.
Taylor did beat the offside trap after 31 minutes and ran on to a neat ball through the home defence, but he would have been disappointed to see his shot come back off the bar. He then turned provider as a good run down the right edge of the area saw a cross narrowly elude Deven Ellwood. A sweeping Diamonds move saw Gilsenan and Dent execute a neat 1-2 before the cross went over the home defence towards the back post, but the best Peter Okechukwu could do was to force a corner.
The Diamonds almost snatched the lead before the break, as after 41 minutes a powerful free-kick from Jamie Gilsenan thundered back off the underside of the crossbar.
Half-Time: Olney Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0
The second half started in a similar fashion to much of the first half, with the Diamonds strikers still struggling with the home offside trap. The Diamonds midfield did look far more determined, with Séan McBride winning the ball in determined fashion.
The hosts were still creating an occasional good chance, with full-back Blackwell setting up a good chance for Winconek but the striker’s shot was blocked.
Mark Starmer started to ring the changes, but the introduction of Ben Morgan appeared to have little impact, but Deven Ellwood was able to head a ball on to his strike partner after 75 minutes, but Alfie Taylor could only divert the ball wide. A dangerous looking cross from Gilsenan on the left seemed to catch the Diamonds strikeforce by surprise with the ball going across the area without anybody getting the necessary touch.
Apart from a couple of late calls for a penalty, notably one for a blatant hand-ball, plus the introduction of debutants Jake Newman and Louis Smith, the game looked like it might end in stalemate. However with the 90 minutes almost up the Diamonds won a throw on the left, and the long throw from Sam Brown was headed home by Alfie Taylor to sparks scenes of wild celebration on and off the pitch.
Although referee Tebbutt played four minutes of additional time, it was the Diamonds who looked the most likely to score, and Jake Newman had a chance to score a debut goal as he did well to wriggle free of his marker for a run on goal, but he chose to shoot from well outside of the area and didn’t trouble Dorrill in the Olney goal.
Full-Time: Olney Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1
The Diamonds preserved their clean disciplinary record, with the team still yet to receive a yellow card this season.
The Diamonds finally return home to the Dog and Duck next weekend with the visit of Fakenham Town in the FA Carlsberg Vase. Before then there are games for the Diamonds Ladies (Sunday at home in Bozeat to Woodford Ladies) and the Under-18s (Monday “away” at Wellingborough Town U18s). Note that contrary to earlier information, the Fakenham game may now go to a replay if the scores are level after 90 and 120 minutes.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match: Sam Brown
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Stuart Dorrill
2. Paul Blackwell
3. Lewis Strafford
4. Edward Wheatley
5. Jason Goldman
6. James Pacifici
7. Marc Umney
8. Sam Parrish
9. Shaun Winconek
10. Deanio Bailey-Browne
11. Robert Heaney
12. Immanuel Suan Soetan (for Bailey-Browne 58)
14. Luke Hefferon
15. Dean Torto (for Wincock 68)
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
6. Aynsley McDonald
7. Elliot Dent
8. Jamie Gilsenan
9. Alfie Taylor
10. Deven Ellwood
11. Peter Okechukwu
12. Ben Morgan (for Okechukwu 65)
13. Jake Newman (for Ellwood 79)
14. George Cox
15. James Allcock
16. Louis Smith (for Dent 89)
Goal: Alfie Taylor (90)
Yellow Card : Goldman (88)
Cards : None
Referee: Paul Tebbutt
Assistants: Simon Cheney, Dale Abbott
Match Highlights available Here
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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