AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy comfortably progressed into the 3rd Round of the English Schools Trophy after a 7-1 win at Silverstone UTC.
Manager Darren Purse said before the game that he would be playing a side mainly of first years (16 year olds) as well as three U16s from the AFC Rushden & Diamonds development teams, and it was the influence of these younger players that would win the game.
The game opened up as a tight and scrappy affair with both teams cancelling each other out, but it wasn’t long before the scholars would go into the lead.
Thomas Craddock, a first year scholar, was playing in the right-back position when naturally a central midfielder, as the right back slot has been troublesome for the scholars with injuries. It was Craddock himself who started and finished the goal to go one nil up, after eight minutes. Craddock played the ball infield to Connor Worrall, who returned the ball to the full back about 25 yards out. And for the second game running, unleashed a superb strike to give Diamonds a 1-0 lead, into the top corner of the net.
Diamonds doubled their advantage just six minutes later. Another first year Ryan Baird got the goal. A Year 11, Aaron Awbury delivered a right wing cross, which Baird beat his man at the back post to volley in, making it 2-0 to the scholars.
Just after the half hour mark, the MAA boys were making their dominance pay off. Osei Hayford, another Year 11 and AFCRD U16 player looked lively and pacey upfront. And he used his pace to his advantage when a ball over the top reached him and he got past the defender and beat the goalkeeper to make it 3-0.
Half Time. Silverstone UTC 0-3 AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA.
The scholars came out of the changing rooms at half time, looking to pick up where they left off in the first half. And within two minutes of the restart, Paulo Dyrmishi made it four. Baird this time was the provider as he beat the right back and pulled the ball back to Dyrmishi who was waiting on the penalty spot to finish comfortably.
With the Diamonds attacking so much, it was inevitable that one of the only chances Silverstone would have on the counter attack, they would take. And with players pushing on for a goal, the Diamonds were caught out at the back in the 69th minute. Caley McTeggart and Joe Ackroyd lapsed in concentration as they allowed two attackers to come onto them, leaving a two-on-two situation. McTeggart unfortunately slipped over which allowed the striker a clear route at goal and he finished past debutant goalkeeper Kacper Watroba from eight yards.
But any chances of an unlikey comeback were soon dashed, as five minutes later, Diamonds scored their fifth. Lee Goldsborough, another U16 player, drove forward from left-back, and played a nice one two with substitute Luke Garner and Goldsborough bent the ball into the far corner from 12 yards out.
As Silverstone started tiring, the scholars cranked up the intensity. Following a dangers corner into the box, it led to a goalmouth scramble and Osei Hayford was in the right place at the right time to knock the ball in to make it 1-6.
And finally, the icing was put on the MAA’s performance and Hayford was given the chance to secure his hattrick from the manager. In the 89th minute, Luke Garner was fouled inside the box, and Purse allowed Hayford to step up and comfortably knock in the penalty and his first hattrick for the U18s.
Full Time: Silverstone UTC 1-7 AFC Rushden & Diamonds / MAA.
After the game, I spoke to manager Darren Purse:
“We played very well, it was a dominant performance, and I was pleased with the players who came into the team. They all did very well. The future looks bright as there are some talented boys who have the potential to come through and keep this scholarship going from strength to strength. If they can get the grades they need to get through onto the school scholarship, then yes it stands us in good stead.”
Looking ahead to the side’s trip to Mansfield on Wednesday, Purse said it will be a good test.
“They beat us 2-1 in a pre-season friendly, albeit we had a young team, and they had some trialists playing. So I think it will be a bit of a different game with some of our experienced players playing, and they’ll have their experienced lads back as well. But it will be an interesting game and we’ll see what happens.
Ashley Hewett is still not fit enough to play, but the majority are back, Ieuan Ivett and Joe Ackroyd are back which is obviously a good thing.
It’s important to do well in these cups, the league hasn’t gone particularly how we would have liked so far. So it will be nice to get back to winning ways in the league and you have to start by doing well in the cups to get confidence.”
Report by Hayden Pott.