Diamonds went down 3-1 to Step 2 side Oxford City in their latest pre-season friendly on Saturday afternoon. Jack Bowen netted a late consolation after Diamonds had trailed 1-0 in a competitive first half, and then 3-0 to a strong Oxford City side by the 75th minute.
Manager Andy Peaks again used his whole squad with broadly the same group of trialists who have played in the previous games given another run-out. Zac Reynolds, Alex Collard, Jack Ashton, Sam Brown, Joe Curtis, Sam Johnson, Jack Bowen and four trialists started including the trialist keeper.
A quite entertaining first half saw Diamonds pass and move well from the back and through midfield but they struggled to test the home side in the final third.
Oxford looked a confident side and took the lead on just 7 minutes. A ball over the top catching the Diamonds defence out was slotted through the trialist keeper’s legs by Dan Rowe.
Chances were few and far between after that despite some neat football from both sides. The trialist keeper for Diamonds made a good save from a free header for Oxford when Joe Oastler found himself unmarked at a free-kick. Another trialist made a good blocking challenge on Craig Fasanmade as he cut inside after breaking past his man out wide and looked to get a shot away.
Diamonds were more than a match for their higher ranked opposition in what was a good quality game all be it with few chances.
Half-time: Oxford City 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Oxford stepped up their performance level in the second half and Diamonds struggled to match them. They added a deserved second goal on 55 minutes as a super passing move was calmly finished by Kyran Wiltshire.
Diamonds made the usual substitutions on the hour mark with Liam Dolman, Ben Heath, Ben Acquaye, Tom Lorraine and two trialists coming on.
Oxford made it 3 on 75 minutes with another great finish by Dan Rowe of a slick passing move that opened up the Diamonds defence.
Diamonds grabbed a consolation with 2 minutes remaining through Jack Bowen who played the full 90 minutes. He latched onto a good through ball, held off his defender and confidently slot home.
Full-time: Oxford City 3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
Another good pre-season workout for the Diamonds squad with 6 trialists given another chance to impress against higher ranked opposition. There were some decent performances particularly in the first half but Diamonds lacked the cutting edge that Oxford city had.
Next-up a trip to Bugbrooke St. Michael on Tuesday night
Match report: Paul Judd