Diamonds signed off their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Brackley Town on Saturday only beaten by some real quality finishing in the last 20 minutes.
Ben Ford fired over and Lorrell Smith came close against his former club in the first half and Richard Walton made three good saves in a competitive contest. Brackley gradually got on top in the second half but it took some quality finishing to beat Diamonds with Ellis Myles stunning strike on 70 minutes and Armson’s volley on 80 minutes.
Manager Andy Peaks selected a strong side with Richard Walton in goal behind Zack Reynolds, Patrick Casey, Alex Collard, Ben Ford, Luke Fairlamb, Matt Slinn, Jesse Aqubuine, a trialist, Lorrell Smith and Tom Lorraine. On the bench were Luke Munro, Ben Farrell, Fernando Bell-Toxtle, Chris Wreh, Nat Gosnal-Tyler, Walton and a further trialist.
A complete closure on the busy A45 around Northampton meant the Radio Diamonds crew were unable to make the game which kicked off a few minutes late.
Brackley were quick off the mark with a first minute snapshot well saved by Richard Walton but Diamonds responded with a Ben Ford effort which just went over the bar.
Walton was back in action tipping over a Jimmy Armson effort and Lorrell Smith had Diamonds best chance after a great turn in the box but his effort cleared the bar.
It was a pretty even half but Richard Walton was the busier keeper with two further good saves to single effort from Diamonds trialist that was well held.
Half-time: Brackley Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Both sides made substitutions at half-time and during the second half and it seemed to strengthen Brackley more than Diamonds. Chances remained limited but the home side saw one 25 yard effort fly over the bar and tested Richard Walton again who showed more good handling.
The game was competitive and was going to take something special to win and Ellis Myles certainly provided it on 70 minutes. Diamonds lost possession in midfield and Myles pounced ran at Diamonds and fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner to finally beat Richard Walton.
The trialist was working hard to impress for Diamonds and twisted this way and that in the box before seeing his effort deflected wide as Diamonds tried to respond.
The game was finally put to bed though by Brackley on 80 minutes with a superb flowing move finished by a fantastic Jimmy Armson volley. Diamonds were only undone by real quality again as they had been very competitive with their National League opponents.
Full-time: Brackley Town 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
A really good final workout for Diamonds as they matched their National League opponents all over the pitch but were beaten by some real quality with two goals as good as anything you might see all season.
Diamonds have a week free now to concentrate on preparations for the much anticipated opening game in the league at Nuneaton next Saturday.
That will be followed by a….wait for it….HOME FA Cup tie against Newark FC on Tuesday 22nd. Ticket details for both matches will be on the website, but bear in mind that Nuneaton are imposing segregation again so tickets need to be for the away area.
Match report: Paul Judd, Radio Diamonds