Diamonds got their 2019 pre-season campaign off to a flying start with an excellent 7-0 victory against hardworking Rushden & Higham United. A Jack Bowen deflection and a cross-shot from a trialist gave Diamonds an early 2 goal lead with Ben Acquaye adding a cracking effort to give Diamonds a 3-0 half-time lead. A tap in by a trialist at the end of a great move gave Diamonds a 4th, a Declan Rogers screamer was the 5th, a Tom Lorraine header the 6th, and Sam Johnson tapped in another great Nathan Hicks cross for the 7th.
Manager Andy Peaks gave most of his available squad a good run out at Hayden Road along with an impressive looking group of trialists. Ben Heath, Zac Reynolds, Sam Brown, Jack Ashton, Liam Dolman started as a strong back five, with Ben Acquaye, Joe Curtis and Jack Bowen joined by three trialists. Nathan Hicks, Declan Rogers, Tom Lorraine, Sam Johnson and Alex Collard played the second half with a further 4 trialists looking to impress the manager.
Diamonds were 2 ahead early on against a hard working Rushden & Higham side all be it in slightly fortuitous circumstances. The first came from a good Ben Acquaye shot that cruelly deflected in off Jack Bowen, and the second came from a cross by one of the trialists that drifted over the home keeper into the top corner. Diamonds third was a cracking effort though. Ben Acquaye slipped beautifully past a defender before slamming his effort into the top corner to give Diamonds a 3-0 half-time lead.
A much changed side in the second half continued to dominate possession and rattled in 4 more goals to compliment some neat passing build-up play. The 4th was great team goal with a good ball threaded out to Nathan Hicks who controlled and whipped in a superb cross for a trialist to slot home. Declan Rogers drilled a superb 25 yard effort in trademark fashion for the 5th. Tom Lorraine also in trademark fashion added the 6th with a towering header from a corner, and Sam Johnson slotted home another excellent Nathan Hicks cross at the far post for the 7th.
Full-time: Rushden & Higham United 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7
A healthy crowd of 276 enjoyed the return of football to Hayden Road for the 2019/2020 season with Diamonds lifting the Chris Ruff Memorial Cup again. Next up the first of two Football League sides to visit Hayden Road in pre-season Leyton Orient arrive on Thursday 18th. The game will be tinged with sadness following the passing of O’s promotion winning manager and Diamonds hero Justin Edinburgh but will no doubt be a celebration of what the man meant to both clubs.
Video post-match interviews are available here.
Match Gallery courtesy of Matt Hawkins. Copyright HawkinsImages ©2019