Royston Town 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

AFC Rushden & Diamonds fell to a third successive 1-0 defeat this time at Royston Town on Saturday afternoon despite a much improved performance.

Diamonds started well with Claudiu Hoban running hard at the Royston back four but Royston soon settled with their own danger man Hoenes coming close twice inside the first 20 minutes including with a diving header from 8 yards that Matt Finlay brilliantly saved. Diamonds had a good spell going into half-time Lorraine firing in one great effort after a trademark run, Jon Stevenson having a close range effort block after his own good run, and Liam Dolman seeing a header from a corner cleared off the line. But it was Royston who took a slightly fortuitous lead right on half time as a poorly hit free-kick fell to big frontman Thomas who just about managed to back heel the ball to wrong foot Matt Finlay who just failed to prevent the ball trickling over the line.

The second half was a game of attrition as Diamonds tried to press but without the guile or fortune to create much in the way of decent chances, and Royston were content to hold and frustrate their former table topping opponents. Jon Stevenson had a good mazy run stopped by a yellow card earning challenge, Tom Lorraine just failed to get a bouncing ball under control, as he fired over from the edge of the box and Brad Harris swept a Lorraine cut-back just over the angle of post and bar. Royston were always a danger on the break though and had the better second half chances with Thomas a handful and they managed the game well in the final stages against a tiring Diamonds side.


Manager Andy Peaks brought two of his new signing straight into the starting line-up with Jason Lee in at left-back and Eliot Sandy in a number 10 role behind Jon Stevenson up front. Tom Lorraine played a deeper role alongside Sandy and Claudiu Hoban with Brad Harris and Dan Quigley holding midfield.

On a first bright spring football day of the year it was a combative start by two sides knowing what rested on this crucial game. Royston picked up an early booking for a scything challenge on Claudiu Hoban on just 6 minutes, and Dan Quigley escaped a similar punishment 4 minutes later for a similar challenge.

Diamonds had pressed in the opening minutes without creating chances but it was the home side who came into the game around the 10 minute mark with hat-trick hero from the first game between these sides Hoenes prominent. He skipped past his man on 11 and just over hit his cross shot when well placed, and he got to a cute ball over the top of the Diamonds back four on 15 but saw his 8 yard diving header batted away by Matt Finlay in the Diamonds goal.

Diamonds were struggling to get a foothold in the game against strong confident opponents but did craft a good chance on 21 as Claudiu Hoban fed Tom Lorraine with a trademark run into the right side of the box his good looking strike just flashing wide.

They came closer still 4 minutes later as Liam Dolman’s header from a right wing corner was headed off the line after a free kick had itself been cleared from just under the bar by the home side.

There was plenty of solid midfield challenging from both sides as the pitch started to cut-up in the middle section and play was more even with Sandy trying to combine with Stevenson and Lorraine for Diamonds, and Hoenes constantly looking for space across the Diamonds back four.

Claudiu Hoban earned a late free-kick as he was felled just outside the area drawing a yellow card for Frater. Liam Dolman crashed his effort into the wall.

Jon Stevenson then went close as he jinked into the box and saw his shot blocked and Claudiu Hoban had a great run at the Royston back four just stopped as Diamonds were finishing the half strongly.

But the classic sucker punch saw them go into half-time trailing.  A free-kick from 25 yards on 45 was poorly hit but found the feet of striker Thomas who with back to goal just about got a back heeled effort away which wrong footed Matt Finlay and he couldn’t quite prevent it trickling over the line.

Half-time:  Royston Town 1 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

Diamonds responded well to that half-time setback and came out with real attacking intent with Jon Stevenson looking his most effective for some time. He controlled a long ball beautifully on 48 twisted past a number of defenders and surged towards the box only to be felled by already booked Frater who was maybe fortunate not to receive a second yellow.

Tom Lorraine then had a decent effort as he tried to control a bouncing through ball from Claudiu Hoban but could only fire over from 20 yards, and Brad Harris curled a Tom Lorraine cut-back over the bar from the same distance on 53.

The game did settle into  a pattern of attrition as the home side were content to hold and frustrate the former league leaders and Diamonds were unable to fashion the clear chances they craved.

Manager Andy Peaks changed his formation on 68 with the introduction of Andy Hall reverting to a 4 4 2 with Tom Lorraine joining Jon Stevenson up front.

Hall looked immediately dangerous swinging in a wicked cross that was just chested clear. Stevenson who was enjoying having a fellow striker alongside him linked well with Lorraine to earn a corner on 75 which was just punched clear allowing Quigley to hit a lobbed effort with the keeper stranded that ended up well over the bar.

Royston were using up as much time as possible in the game but broke well to create shooting chances for Hoenes and Hull and 2nd half substitute Ingrey as the game entered the final stages.

The home side had a good appeal for a penalty on 80 minutes as Thomas stooped to head home a free-kick from just 1 yard but fell inexplicably. As the appeal was waved away the ball broke to Hoenes whose rasping effort from the edge of the box was blocked by a brave Diamonds challenge.

Diamonds tried to press forward but Royston managed the game well and saw out it out with some ease despite the introduction of Matt Pinder who showed energy and purpose but to no avail.

Final Score: Royston Town 1 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

This was a much improved performance by Diamonds but still resulted in a third 1-0 defeat in succession. They had chances and periods in the game when it looked promising but they were unable to ever dominate their opponents and will be disappointed with how few serious chances they created. Royston never looked like the 80 goal side they are this season but they were an experienced and confident side who managed the game well after getting a slightly fortunate opener and deserved their win.

Next up for Diamonds is the visit of Uxbridge to the Dog & Duck as they look to get back to winning ways.

Man of the Match: Matt Finlay chosen by Members Vote

Attendance: 421

Match Report by Paul Judd


Royston Town

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1.   Ron Yates

2.   Danny May

3.   Chris Watters

4    Stuart Bridges

5.   Ryan Frater

6.   Daniel Braithwaite

7.   Ryan Towner

8.   Erkan Okay

9.   Simon Thomas

10. Tommy Hull

11. Rhys Hoenes


12. Gus Scott-Morriss (for Hull 89)

14. Reece Dobson

15. Liam McDevitt (for Thomas 81)

16. Martel Powell

17. Ryan Ingrey (for Okay 61)

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Ollie Wilkinson

3.   Jason Lee

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Brad Harris

7.   Eliot Sandy

8.   Daniel Quigley

9.   Jon Stevenson

10. Tom Lorraine

11. Claudiu Hoban


12.  Andy Hall (for Harris 68)

13.  Alex Vitue

14.  Matt Pinder (for Sandy 85)

15.  James Jepson

16.  Connor Kennedy

Goals: Thomas (45)


Yellow Cards: Okay (7), Frater (39)

Yellow Cards: Quigley (25), Wilkinson (51)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee:  Christopher Francis

Assistants:  Joseph Karram, Gavin Jolley



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