PSF: Kempston Rovers 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

A typical Tom Lorraine finish on the hour mark won this tightly contested pre-season friendly at Kempston Rovers. For once though the on pitch action took second place to the return of spectators for the first time with 122 enjoying being back watching live football post-lockdown.

Diamonds led in the 15th minute after Chris Wreh slid a lovely through ball for a trialist to finish. Kempston responded almost straight away via a Ben Barker penalty. A competitive game looked to be heading for a draw before the goal scoring trialist set up Tom Lorraine for a trademark finish.

Manager Andy Peaks started with 3 trialists looking to impress in broadly forward positions. A strong back line included Richard Walton in goal with Zak Reynolds, Patrick Casey, Jack Ashton, and Ben Ford with Matt Slinn and Jesse Aqubuine and Chris Wreh anchoring midfield. Tom Lorraine, Fernando Bell-Toxtle, Joel Gyasi and Alex Collard were joined by further trialists on the bench.

Diamonds started brightly with some neat passing and movement particularly by the forward trialists linking with Matt Slinn, Jesse Aqubuine and Chris Wreh. Diamonds duly took the lead on 13 minutes as Chris Wreh drove forward sliding a neat ball to trialist (no 10) who finished left footed across the home keeper. The lead lasted just 2 minutes as Kempston pressed forward and a run into the box drew a challenge from Jack Ashton that saw a penalty awarded. Ben Barker converted for the home side. Diamonds largely controlled possession after that early burst of scoring but Kempston were well organised and chances were limited.

Tom Lorraine and Fernando Bell-Toxtle came on at half time and it would be Diamonds all-time leading scorer who would clinch the result. Chances were again limited as both sides worked hard to deny each other space and goal scoring opportunities. It was the goal scoring trialist (no 10) who made the break with a surging run and neat ball to Tom Lorraine to finish from the edge of the box in trademark fashion. Alex Collard made a very welcome return to action for the last 10 minutes and Joel Gyasi got more minutes on the pitch with further trialists also introduced. Diamonds closed out the game for a 2 – 1 victory and third pre-season win.

This was a step up in quality of opposition for Diamonds and they had to work hard for the win. A number of trialists impressed and the squad got a really good workout. Next up will be Diamonds biggest challenge of pre-season with National League side King’s Lynn the first side to visit Hayden Road this season. Fans will be able to attend of course to a limit of 300 but must purchase tickets in advance. Lots of work has been put in to make a safe return to live football so please follow guidelines and instructions to ensure it can continue.

Match report: Paul Judd