AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 5 Thrapston Town Ladies 0

 In a change to the scheduled fixture AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies took on Thrapston Town Ladies in a friendly at their home ground in Bozeat, and what a friendly it was – and a game that marked AFC Ladies commitment into building a team ready to succeed.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies came into the match knowing that last season in the league Thrapston where unbeaten and would expect  to present a tough challenge. Although just a friendly it was a chance for the Diamond ladies to show what they were made of, and that they did.

The first half saw both teams starting the match looking to set the pace and take an advantage whenever they could, after some brilliant midfield play from both teams the game looked as though it would not produce much of a result. After 17 minutes the Diamonds made a change with debutee Ashleigh Beale being replaced by Megan Watkins in attack, and after the change the Diamonds looked fresher but still couldn’t put enough pressure on the opposition, but that was soon to change. Fifteen minutes into the first half saw the first chance for the Diamonds with Claire Stancliffe slotting a ball past the Thrapston midfield for Cat Sealey to run on to and take and early shot with the defence hot on her heels, fielded by the Thrapston keeper

After a steady passage of play from both teams they looked to be cancelling each other out, however the one thing Thrapston didn’t have was Diamonds midfielder Fiona Strathern, who dominated the centre of midfield throughout the first half and put the Thrapston midfield under pressure every time she challenged for a ball. Also putting in a strong performance was the defensive trio of Tash Lowe, Kerry Lawrence and Diamonds debutee Katie Wood, who were clearing every ball put towards them and keeping Thrapston from being able to get a shot on goalkeeper Kerrie Cosham.

With the half drawing to a close the Diamonds stepped up a gear and managed to put the Thrapston defence & goalkeeper under pressure, with two great efforts that beat the keeper but were just wide of goal. A further good move started in midfield with Fiona Strathern winning the ball and linking up with her partner Claire Stancliffe, who once again played a mischievous ball to Cat Sealey who found a route past the Thrapston defence, only to be denied when her effort beat the keeper but went just over the crossbar. Another attempt on goal saw great link up play between Diamonds left back Alix Daverson and left winger Kelly Rust, who after receiving the ball from Alix ran at the Thrapston defence and after getting through their line saw her effort float just over the crossbar. With the half coming to a close the Diamonds looked the stronger team and were ready for the second half to begin.

Half-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 0 Thrapston Town Ladies 0

The second half started just how the Diamonds had finished the first with progressive play which saw the first goal for Diamonds come within two minutes of the re-start, with midfielder Claire Stancliffe once again putting a ball through the defence for one of the Diamond attackers to latch onto, this time the attacker was Megan Watkins who controlled the pass from Claire and neatly round the keeper to place the ball into the back of the net without hesitation.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 1-0 Thrapston Town Ladies (Watkins)

Following goal the Diamonds made a change with Tash Lowe being replaced by Elise Young. Thrapston Town Ladies had only just kicked off again when the Diamonds took full control of the game, after a short passage of play from both teams it was the Diamonds who once again proved stronger with midfield dominance culminating with a second through ball from Fiona Strathern which Megan Watkins ran onto in similar style to the first goal, and rounded the keeper to her left and placed the ball into the net for her second of the game.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 2-0 Thrapston Town Ladies (Watkins)

With the Diamonds looking stronger than they had been throughout the game they began to get the game under control and take the game to Thrapston. With the ball flowing from defence to attack the Diamonds looked comfortable on the pitch with confidence growing throughout the team. On 71 minutes the Diamonds had the game won after sloppy passage of play from Thrapston defence saw the ball land at the feet of attacker Cat Sealey and with a clever side step she saw her shot rifle past the Thrapston keeper to give the ladies a 3 nil lead against the league’s unbeaten team.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 3-0 Thrapston Town Ladies (Sealey)

Megan with the Match-Ball
Megan with the Match-Ball

After the restart Diamonds made a further substitution with Lauren Perkins replacing Cat Sealy and Katie Wood being replaced by Sarah Coleman, with Kelly Rust dropping back into defence and Sarah taking up her role on the left. After the changes the teams both enjoyed a steady period of play before Jenna Looker replaced Harriet Clarke but with the ladies pushing forward even more it wasn’t long before Megan Watkins latched on to a chip forwards from Kerry Lawrence that split the Thrapston defence, and Megan again rounded the keeper to score her third goal – the first hat-trick in AFC R&D Ladies history and their fourth goal of the game.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 4-0 Thrapston Town Ladies (Watkins)

With the game drawing to a close and the ladies in full control of the game there was still time to add to the scoreline with substitute Lauren Perkins reacting first to a defensive error after a shot from Fiona Strathern was parried by the keeper to the feet of a Thrapston player, only to see it stolen of her toes by the determined Perkins who then smashed the ball home for Diamonds 5th of the match.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 5-0 Thrapston Town Ladies (Perkins)

The ladies ended the match as strongly as they had ended the first half to wrap up the 5-0 win.

Full-Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 5 Thrapston Town Ladies 0

The ladies had again signalled their intentions to all the teams in the league that they are here and ready to play no matter what the odds are – it may have only been a friendly but it was a performance that showed just how good the Ladies team is and how they will be striving to challenge for the top spot in the League.

The line for Diamonds was:

Kerrie Cosham, Tash Lowe, Kerry Lawrence, Katie Wood, Alix Daverson, Kelly Rust, Fiona Strathern, Claire Stancliffe, Harriet Clarke, Cat Sealey, Ashleigh Beale

Subs : Jenna Looker, Sarah Coleman, Megan Watkins, Lauren Perkins, Elise Young

Goals: Watkins x3, Sealey, Perkins

Player Of The Match: Fiona Strathern

The Diamonds Ladies are looking for Sponsorship to cover playing expenses – details here.

Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography

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