Diamonds dramatically struck in stoppage time to claim their first win of the season and consign the visitors to their first defeat.
The hosts led after only four minutes when captain Liam Dolman touched in from close range following Ben Diamond’s header across, and they almost doubled their lead when Gyasi lobbed just over. Coalville upped the pressure though, with danger-man Thomas McGlinchey being denied by the excellent Dean Snedker and Luke Shaw also drawing a save from the Diamonds stopper. Following some further close moments, the visitors won a penalty when Tim Berridge was brought down, and Billy Kee stepped up to convert. Berridge was then played in on goal, but Snedker made a crucial save, and then Rushden almost grabbed the lead again when a back-pass slipped away from the visiting keeper but it ran just wide.
The second half was quieter, with Coalville applying pressure and having most of the chances. Berridge was thwarted by Snedker, a number of efforts were blocked and Shaw had a deflected strike fly millimetres wide. The Diamonds defended strongly throughout though and, just as it looked like the contest would end in a draw, they broke through Joel Gyasi. The winger sprinted away from the visiting defence before coolly slotting a low effort past the keeper to spark rapturous scenes amongst the home faithful.
Manager Peaks made two changes to the starting XI that has been defeated by Banbury in their opening league fixture on Tuesday. Paddy Casey replaced the injured Alex Collard in the heart of defence, and Tom Lorraine came in for Lorrell Smith who took a place on the bench alongside the returning Fernando Bell-Toxtle and Nathaniel Gosnal-Tyler.
Coalville had started the season well, winning their opening encounter and drawing their second, and had finished the cancelled campaign last year top of the table without losing a league game. They had emerged victorious in each of their last four contests against the Diamonds, but it was the hosts who started this match the brighter in forcing a couple of early corners. From the second of these, Claudio Dias’ delivery found Ben Diamond at the back post and his header back across found fellow defender Liam Dolman to nudge home from close range.
Moments after the visitors were forced into an early change when Stuart Pierpoint replaced the injured defender Chris Robertson, Rushden almost doubled their advantage when Joel Gyasi latched onto a Lorraine flick to loop an effort goalwards. It sailed over Saul Deeney in the away goal, but it landed onto the roof of the net rather than the back of it.
Coalville then started to get a foothold in the game, with Thomas McGlinchey seeing an effort fly wide from 25 yards and Ben Diamond being forced into an important clearance to stop the dangerous winger getting in on goal. After 18 minutes, they should have equalised when Tim Berridge cleverly skipped past Dolman and fed McGlinchey. However, his low effort was brilliantly blocked by Dean Snedker, who would go on to have another impressive and commanding display following his competitive Diamonds debut last time out.
Moments later, fellow away winger Luke Shaw sprinted forward on the left and unleashed a strike goalwards that Snedker parried away diving to his left. McGlinchey then had a shot charged down as the visitors continued to build pressure and force Diamonds back.
The hosts were also forced into a change when Dias hobbled off following an earlier challenge to be replaced by Bell-Toxtle. Coalville continued to press and, after McGlinchey had skimmed two efforts wide of the post, they won a penalty. A through ball saw Casey slip on the wet surface, and Berridge ran through on goal. In his attempt to get back and stop the chance, Gyasi brought down the striker and referee Joshua Crofts had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Striker Billy Kee stepped up and confidently placed the spot-kick past Snedker to level the scores.
Diamonds almost re-established their lead immediately when Sam Warburton was set free down the left, and his low ball was only partly parried away. Gyasi got onto the rebound but was slipping and also quickly surrounded by a couple of defenders, so his effort was smuggled away. Coalville swept down the other end in what was proving a very entertaining half, Berridge was played in on goal but Snedker spread himself superbly and made a crucial save.
The visitors created some further half-chances as the half drew towards a close, with Shaw striking wide and then having a shot blocked, midfielder Joe Doyle-Charles having a long-range effort comfortably held, and defender Jake Eggleton hooking an improvised effort over the bar. It was Diamonds who came closest though when, in the fourth minute of additional time, a pass was played back to Deeney only for it to race past the keeper. Lorraine tried to sprint onto it to tap home into the unguarded net, but it ran out of play for a corner that was cleared.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Coalville Town
Less than 30 seconds had elapsed in the half when Berridge got in down the left for the visitors, he cut inside but his strike was well tipped away by Snedker. Berridge then headed over before Dolman did likewise for Rushden after Diamond had done well to win a corner following a strong run down the left.
Coalville continued to have more of the ball and press forward, though they were struggling to create clear-cut chances against an organised Diamonds defence. Kee struck an effort from the edge of the area following a cleared corner, but it was straight at Snedker, and then McGlinchey had another effort blocked before full-back Kian Taylor hit a 35-yard free-kick over the bar into the Peter de Banke terrace.
With 15 minutes to go, Diamonds made their first change as Will Jones replaced the ever-willing and hardworking Lorraine. Following a rising effort from Mcglicnhey that flew well over the bar, Gyasi did well to skip in from the right before having an effort strongly blocked by Pierpoint. The away defender went down as did Jones, and the home striker unfortunately wasn’t able to continue as Smith came on in his place.
The half was less eventful and quieter in goalmouth action than in the first period but, with the match firmly in the balance as the time ebbed away, both sides sensed the possibility of grabbing a late winner. Diamond did well defensively again to block a cross at the expense of a corner, and the following set-piece dropped for Shaw on the edge of the box. His dipping strike, via a slight deflection, left Snedker rooted to the spot, but thankfully for the hosts it flew millimetres wide of the far post.
Warburton then broke down the left for Rushden, and his low ball in almost fell for Gyasi but did for Smith. He tried to generate some space but was quickly closed down, and the danger was eventually nullified. Coalville broke again in an end-to-end conclusion to the match, and Eggleton had a downward header held by Snedker.
Four minutes of stoppage time was signalled and, in the first of these, Jesse Akubuine was booked for a sliding challenge. Then, in the second minute, Diamonds struck. Slinn cleared an away attack, and Smith did well to win a flick-on ahead of the halfway line for Joel Gyasi. The winger’s first touch was perfect to get away from a nearby defender, but he still had plenty to do with just under half of the pitch away from goal. He sped forward though, took a couple of touches into the area to set himself and then showed tremendous composure to roll a low effort through Deeney’s legs and into the back of the net.
There was still time for Snedker to deny Coalville an equaliser as the Diamonds keeper showed strong reflexes to tip a header over following a right-wing cross, but Crofts soon blew his whistle to signal the end of the gripping encounter.
Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Coalville Town
Following the disappointment of Tuesday night, Diamonds showed great resolve and strength of character to bounce back with this courageous display. Though Coalville had lots of possession and created a number of chances, especially in the first half, the hosts dug in and clinically took their opportunities at the start and end of the match. They were helped by a terrific defensive display, in particular from Snedker again and also full-back Ben Garwood. The euphoria and jubilant scenes that greeted the late winner were made even more special after the uncertain last 17 months that everybody has experienced, and to have another great memory created at Hayden Road truly was a moment to never be forgotten for all present.
Diamonds are on the road for the first time this season in their next match as they travel to Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday (28 August), 3:00 pm kick-off.
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
Diamonds play the second game of their league season on Saturday afternoon against a Coalville Town side who are playing their third!!
Southern League Opening Week
The late move of Kings Langley to the Southern League Premier Division South left just 21 teams in Southern League Premier Division Central and this means each team has a “week off” during the season. Unfortunately Diamonds’ free week fell on the opening weekend with Hitchin “losing out” midweek.
Coalville opened with an excellent 3-1 victory against Stratford Town last Saturday and followed up with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Tamworth on Tuesday night playing the last 15 minutes with 10 men.
Diamonds opened their campaign on Tuesday night with a disappointing 2-0 reverse to Banbury United. The Puritans started with 5 recent Diamonds regulars – Sam Brown, Jack Westbrook, Morgan Roberts, Ben Acquaye and Chris Wreh – but it was Henry Landers with a goal in each half who deservedly clinched the points.
With 19 teams having played twice the early pacesetters are Hednesford who followed up a 2-1 win against Needham Market last Saturday with an excellent 2-1 win at a disappointing Stourbridge on Monday night. Peterborough Sports joined them as the only other team on 6 points with a win against Barwell on Tuesday to follow-up a 2-0 win against Rushall Olympic. Royston, Coalville, Banbury, Biggleswade and St. Ives have 4 points each with a win and a draw. Diamonds sit down in 19th with only Bromsgrove Sporting and Lowestoft below them as the only teams to lose twice. Hitchin have lost their only game along with Diamonds.
Today’s opponents have been in existence since 1926 when they were founded as Ravenstone Miners Athletic. They moved through Leicestershire leagues and eventually moved to nearby Coalville in 1995 when their Ravenstone home could not be upgraded. They are known as the Ravens to this day.
They joined Midland Alliance and Northern Premier Leagues before being moved to Southern League Division Central in 2018. Their stand out periods include reaching the first round of the FA Cup in their very first season in the competition in 2004 losing 1-0 to Wycombe Wanderers and winning the Midland Alliance in 2010/2011 scoring an incredible 153 goals.
Diamonds won the first two games between the sides but have been beaten 4 times since. The first meeting was in FA Trophy action in 2016 when Coalville were a level above Diamonds but were beaten 1-0 at the Dog & Duck thanks to a Jack Ashton header. The first Southern League Division Central game was won by Diamonds 3-1 at Hayden Road with Ben Farrell, Declan Rogers and Tom Lorraine scoring.
Since then Coalville have had much the better of the games with 5-0, 1-0, and 4-1 wins at Coalville, and a 3-0 win at Hayden Road.
Andy Peaks has added some exciting prospects to his signed-up squad as the season gets underway with wide player Connor Furlong last at Biggleswade Town and goalkeeper Charlie Nixon from the Academy. Connor Furlong is described as “a tricky, technical winger with a lovely left foot who gives us something different” and Charlie Nixon is a confident goalkeeper who will be Diamonds No.2 as Ben Heath has moved on to a fresh challenge. He joins Will Jones, Will Glennon and Bailey Weatherly as signing on from the Academy to the first team squad.
Claudio Dias, last at Nuneaton Borough, joined in time to play in the opening game against Banbury and earlier in pre-season Nathan Tshikuna, Dean Snedker – ‘man of the match’ on Tuesday night -, Dean Dummett, Ben Garwood and Sam Warburton all signed on after trialist appearances.
Bouncing Back, Tickets, Media
Diamonds will definitely be looking to bounce back from midweek disappointment as the new signings and experienced players start to gel into the entertaining attacking outfit Andy Peaks is looking for. Coalville will be really tough opponents but exactly the challenge Diamonds need to get motivated in front of another big crowd at Hayden Road.
A reminder that tickets should ideally be purchased in advance to help the turnstile operation. Cashless payment can be accepted on the day but you may need to be patient if numbers arrive at the same time.
Radio Diamonds were excited to finally get league coverage underway in Tuesday night’s game after a long pre-season despite the result and will be full of beans again on Saturday afternoon if you can’t make the game. I may even make my first appearance of the season!!
Look out for the usual in game Twitter updates, post-game match report and post-match interviews which will give you full coverage of Diamonds hopefully returning to winning ways.
Enjoy the match.
|Date||Time||League||Season||Match Day||Attendance||Man of the Match||Captain|
|Sat, 21st Aug, 2021||3:00 pm||Southern League Premier Division Central||2021/22||2||387||Ben Garwood (as chosen by Radio Diamonds)||Liam Dolman|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2|
|Joshua Crofts||Aimee Kier||James Cliffe|
|Hayden Road Sports Ground, Hayden Road, Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 0HX|