Southfield Libero Academy 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / MAA 1

AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s played out their first draw of the season as they drew 1-1 to Southfield Libero, in a match they probably should have won.

Captain Ryan Kirk was serving the first of his three match suspension, as the scholars looked to bounce back from their 3-2 defeat to Thomas Beckett academy two weeks earlier.

The first half was generally dominated by the Diamonds, however they were unable to take one of their numerous chances.

A couple of one on one’s were squandered, as Diamonds failed to hit the target on both occasions.

Half Time. Southfield Libero Academy 0-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / MAA.

The second half was a much different pattern of play. Southfield were a lot more physical and it showed as they collected three bookings during the match, a lot for an academy game.

Neither team was really able to gain a foothold as Southfield were able to cut out the Diamonds chances like they had in the first half.

Then Southfield broke the deadlock with 25 minutes to go. Diamonds’ left- back Usuf had a throw in, inside the Rushden half, and as Desborough looked to receive it, he slipped, and a Southfield midfielder won the ball off of him. The Diamonds back four was a little flat footed, as the ball was played over the centre-half Knapp’s head, and the striker latched onto it and rolled it past Redding to make it 1-0.

But the MAA boys would go on to snatch a late equaliser. With five minutes left, Diamonds had a free kick on the right. Desborough’s cross as not cleared by the Southfield defence and the Diamonds kept the ball alive by recycling the ball and keeping it in the opposing box. And there was Luke Garner on the turn to fire in off the underside of the bar. 

Full Time. Southfield Libero Academy 1-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / MAA.

Team: Redding, Peaks (c), Knapp, Roache, Usuf, Desborough, Ivett, Leeson, Hewett, Pinder, Weeks.

Subs: Uddin, Kearney, Garner.

Manager Darren Purse said: “It was an open game, very exciting to watch. If we had of finished the chances we created, we would’ve won by three or four. We had five one-on-ones, but missed the target every time. But Luke [Garner] has come on and got us the draw. He wants to play on people’s shoulders and run in behind because he’s big and quick. Matty’s [Pinder] is more hectical, and it’s good to have a difference, and options to bring each other on. Luke stretches the game out and it creates space for other players. To be fair to Luke, every time I put him on, he comes up and scores a goal.”

Report by Hayden Pott.