Diamonds returned to Hayden Road as the away team on Saturday and ran out 4-1 winners against their groundshare partners to lift the Chris Ruff Memorial Cup again.
A goal a piece in the first 3 minutes got the game off to a lively start. Jack Ashton connected with a first minute corner to put the away side ahead but Rushden & Higham were level on 3 minutes as the ball was played back across Ben Heath into an empty net from wide on the right. Diamonds gradually started to dominate possession and after spurning some good shooting positions took the lead on 31 as Jack Bowen beat the onrushing keeper to the ball to head home at the far post.
Multiple changes at half-time didn’t alter the pattern and Diamonds were further ahead on 56 minutes as Tom Lorraine latched onto a great through ball to coolly chip the advancing keeper. It was 4-1 on 72 minutes as Ben Ford found the net from 40 yards as his effort flew over the hapless home keeper.
Manger Andy Peaks named a strong line-up for this annual pre-season match-up against ground share partners Rushden & Higham United. In a 4-3-3 formation Nathan Hicks joined Ross Oulton and Ben Farrell in midfield with James Hall joining Ben Diamond and Jack Bowen upfront.
The game got off to a flying start with 2 goals in the first 3 minutes. Diamonds earned a 1st minute corner from which Jack Ashton guided the ball home at the far post, and the home side fired a loose ball back across Ben Heath from wide right into an empty net on 3 minutes.
As Diamonds settled into some decent possession James Hall showed his ability winning the ball just outside the box, moving it onto his left foot and getting a quick effort away that just slid wide. Hall then linked well with Ben Diamond to get away down the left before whipping a superb ball behind the R&H back four that just evaded Jack Bowen’s outstretched leg.
Nathan Hicks was neat in possession and moving the ball well across the midfield and he had a chance for a glory goal 18 minutes as he ran onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and hit a flying volley that went well over.
Diamonds re-took the lead on 31 minutes as more good work down the left saw a deep ball find Jack Bowen who beat the onrushing keeper to nod the ball home. Diamonds overran R&H for the next 10 minutes creating chances for Hall, Bowen and another flying volley attempt for Nathan Hicks.
R&H continued to battle hard in the game and finished the half well with an effort from wide left just flying over the bar, and the impressive Gosnal-Tyler working a great position on the edge of the box his firm effort deflected wide.
Half-time: Rushden & Higham United 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
Multiple changes at half-time saw Lorraine, Dolman, Westbrook, Gilchrist, and Dean join the fray and Tom Lorraine came close to connecting with a ball over the top after just a minute. Ben Diamonds then ran right across the R&H back four feeding the excellent John Dean who cut inside and saw his firm effort blocked.
The third goal that Diamonds had been threatening came on 56 minutes as a neat through ball got Tom Lorraine through on goal and he coolly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper. Lorraine came close to adding to his tally on 61 as he out muscled the full-back surged towards goal and hit a fierce effort forcing the keeper into a great save at his near post.
More substitutions saw Rhys Kelly and Ben Ford join the fray and it was Ford who would grab Diamonds 4th. His effort from 40 yards flying high over the retreating keeper to complete the scoring.
Diamonds continued to pass and move well in the heat with John Dean in particular a livewire on the right of the front three, cutting in and shooting at will, and putting in some excellent crosses and through balls.
Tom Cocking came on for the last 10 minutes for his debut in goal but didn’t have much chance to feature despite R&H battling to the end.
Final Score: Rushden & Higham United 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4
This was an entertaining competitive game played in good spirit with some great action to pay tribute to the late Chris Ruff. His memorial trophy was handed to Diamonds after the game as they kept up a 100% record in this pre-season contest.
Reporters Man of the Match : John Dean
Report by: Paul Judd
Rushden & Higham United
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Kyle Swailes
2. Michael Duroe
3. Ben Aidulis
4. Arran Cormack
5. Ryan Kalla
6. Gav Wills
7. Ross Patrick
8. Barry Deacon
9. Jake Reynolds
10. Jory Mann
11. Nat Gosnal-Tyler
12. Jordan Pendered
14. Tom Martin
15. Callum Dench
16. Matt Kumar
17. Adam Abbott
18. Nigel Lewis
13. Ben Heath
2. Callum Westwood
3. Sam Brown
4. Jack Ashton
6. Blaize Punter
18. Ross Oulton
7. Nathan Hicks
8. Ben Farrell
9. Jack Bowen
10. James Hall
11. Ben Diamond
5. Liam Dolman (for Punter HT)
12. John Dean (for Bowen HT)
14. Jack Westbrook (for Hicks HT)
15. Cameron Gilchrist (for Ashton HT)
16. Tom Lorraine (for Farrell HT)
19. Rhys Kelly (for Westwood 64)
20. Ben Ford (for Oulton 64)
GK. Tom Cocking (for Heath 78)
Goals: Ashton (1), Bowen (31), Lorraine (64), Ford (72)