An added on time winner for Needham Market saw them come from behind to knock Diamonds out of the Southern League Challenge Cup on Tuesday night.
Diamonds picked a strong looking side with just 3 changes from Saturday’s dramatic win against Stourbridge. Ben Farrell and Jesse Aqubuine came into midfield in place of Matt Slinn and Nathan Hicks and Ryan Dove came in for Nabil Shariff up front.
Both sides were good in possession in the early stages but there was little in the way of chances until Diamonds struck on 25 minutes. The impressive Patrick Casey hit a lovely pass into Ryan Dove who finished in style.
Needham should have equalised on 34 minutes as the offside trap was beaten but the effort was put wide with only Ben Heath to beat. Diamonds responded 5 minutes later with a super move involving Zack Reynolds skipping through a couple of challenges feeding Jordan Macleod who laid it back for Reynolds to just fire wide.
Half-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Needham Market 0
Diamonds had a really strong start to the second half with Macleod having a shot saved at the end of a great run, Aqubuine crossing to Tom Lorraine to just head over, and Ben Farrell and Ben Acquaye combining for Farrell to see his effort just saved by the keeper.
But Needham gradually found a way into back into the contest as Diamonds stood off a little and on 67 minutes a foul was adjudged on a Sam Brown challenge in the box and a penalty awarded. Marsden fired into the top corner to bring Needham level.
Diamonds struggled to impose themselves in the final stages but still had decent efforts at goal that on another night might have won the game, Jack Ashton coming closest trying to turn in a Matt Slinn free-kick on 81 minutes.
But late in the game it was Needham who would punish the Diamonds defence. Squires firing home on 91 minutes. Diamonds had a great chance a minute later as Nabil Shariff span in the area in trademark fashion but fired agonisingly wide.
Full-time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Needham Market 2
So Diamonds cup activity for the season is over with this late defeat to Needham Market. For an hour Diamonds largely controlled the game but only had a single Ryan Dove goal to show for it. Diamonds backed off a little at that stage and Needham got back into the game through a somewhat unfortunate penalty and then went on to score very late to clinch the tie.
It is unfortunate to halt the momentum of recent results but Diamonds will take a record of three league wins on the bounce to Kings Langley on Saturday.
Man of the Match: Patrick Casey
Match Report: Paul Judd
***Line-ups and match stats to follow***