Pre-Season Friendly: Kempston Rovers 3-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Diamonds with 12 trialists on display were held by an energetic Kempston Rovers side in their first pre-season friendly of the new season on Saturday after a 3-3 draw.

Diamonds led 3-0 at half-time after a positive attacking display; trialists scoring the first two goals and Connor Furlong adding the third. Kempston had missed a number of first half chances as the Diamonds defensive trialists struggled but scored three second half goals against a much changed Diamonds side to deservedly draw the game.

Manager Andy Burgess included 6 trialists in the starting line-up alongside Dean Snedker, Ryan Hughes, Jesse Aqubuine, Connor Furlong and Nathan Tshikuna.

The wing back trialists pressed high up the field in the early stages and Diamonds shaded possession and moved the ball well, threatening around the box but not penetrating the area too often. The back three including Ryan Hughes and two trialists were repeatedly exposed as they got used to each other, allowing Kempston to run through on goal a number of times. Poor finishing, the excellent Dean Snedker and some good last ditch challenges denied them a goal.

Connor Furlong and the right wing back were most dangerous along with Nathan Tshikuna and Trialist 10. Furlong stuck well from outside the box and combined with the right wing back to drive into the area to see his close range effort blocked.

The opening goal came on 33 minutes as Trialist 10 in centre midfield combined well with Nathan Tshikuna to strike from 20 yards his shot deflecting over the goalkeeper and in off the bar. A minute later it was 2-0 as the right wing back surged forward and aimed a cross towards Trialist 9 in space only to see it drift over the keeper into the top corner.

It was three on 42 minutes as Connor Furlong started a move which included Nathan Tshikuna and Trialist 10 and 9. It broke down on the edge of the box but the loose ball was collected by Furlong who placed his effort into the far corner.

Half-time: Kempston Rovers 0 Diamonds 3

7 changes were made at half-time with 5 trialists including the keeper and Fraser Corden and Jack Snelus coming on.

Kempston were better in possession at the start of the second half and probed around the box as the new look Diamonds struggled to retain possession. The first goal back was coming but it was an absolute beauty. From 30 yards, after cutting inside, the shot was high and curling and accurate right into the top corner.

Diamonds improved after the hour mark creating a couple of half chances through the left wing back who had stayed on and the new right winger No. 14 who really impressed.

The Kempston youngsters were really impressing as their confidence grew and they grabbed a second with a shot from outside the box which wasn’t the firecrest but found the bottom corner.

The game was in the balance going into the last 10 minutes as both sides pushed but it was Kempston who completed the come back with a scooped effort from just inside the box that bobbled past the keeper into the bottom corner.

Final Score : Kempston Rovers 3 Diamonds 3

An entertaining game that looked over at half-time with Diamonds leading 3-0 but Kempston fought back well to draw the game. Diamonds were better in possession in the first half but 3-0 flattered them a bit with Kempston missing a number of chances. Ironically Diamonds defended better in the 2nd half but were not as good in possession and they conceded 3 times. Andy Burgess will have learned much from this first game with some of the trialists impressing. The centre half who played 90 minutes, the two wingbacks from first half, the goalscoring No. 10 who is a familiar face together with No. 14 2nd half winger. The trialist defenders in the second half also looked good.

Next up is the visit of MK Dons on Tuesday night. Over 200 tickets already sold so a good crowd is expected for an exciting fixture.

Reporters Man of the Match: Connor Furlong

Match Report: Paul Judd