AFC Rushden & Diamonds took a deserved point from Needham Market after battling from behind twice to salvage a draw. It was a combative yet creative display which Andy Peaks and his coaching staff will be encouraged by.
In terms of personnel, Andy Peaks made two changes to the side which was victorious in Nuneaton at the weekend. Ravi Shamsi was handed a full Diamonds debut in place of the injured Jay Williams whilst Ben Diamond was brought in to replace Joel Gyasi.
The Diamonds manager continued with the 4-2-3-1 formation which has been the preferred system so far this campaign.
Dean Snedker featured in goal. The back four remained unchanged and consisted of Ben Garwood, Alex Collard, Patrick Casey and Sam Warburton. Jesse Akubuine formed a double pivot alongside Claudio Dias in midfield with Ravi Shamsi playing just ahead as a ‘number ten’. Nathan Tshikuna and Ben Diamond flanked either side of lone striker Will Jones.
The hosts admittedly started the brighter of the two sides as they created a handful of early chances. Callum Page’s deflected shot was well saved by Dean Snedker before Luke Ingram saw his header parried aside by the Diamonds goalkeeper.
The Suffolk side continued to push on and ultimately made the breakthrough. Gareth Heath picked up the ball on the counter-attack and delivered a piercing through ball for Luke Ingram who raced in on goal, rounded Dean Snedker and calmly slotted into an empty net.
Andy Peaks’ side were not fazed by the opener and soon gained a foothold in the match for themselves. A passage of vertical build-up play found Will Jones who shifted the ball onto his right foot and struck it over the top.
Diamonds began to crank up the pressure and started to turn their possession into chances. Nathan Tshikuna cannoned a long-range effort narrowly over the bar before Ravi Shamsi fired wide of the left post after a run down the right.
As the visitors maintained the pressure, the equaliser inevitably arrived courtesy of an exquisite team move. Sam Warburton, Nathan Tshikuna and Jesse Akubuine exchanged passes down the left wing with the latter finding Ravi Shamsi who returned the ball with a through pass for Akubuine to finish.
Diamonds had generated some real momentum and were in the ascendency leading up to halftime. Ravi Shamsi, a continuous threat in the first half, was threaded through on goal but his effort was matched by Marcus Garnham in the Needham net.
HT: NEEDHAM MARKET FC 1-1 AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS
AFC R&D would have been disappointed to hear the halftime whistle as they had recently gained control of the match. There can be no denying that Needham Market had a spell of their own at the start of the game but Andy Peaks’ team grew as the half went on and looked the more likely side to add a second to their scoresheet.
Needham Market started the second half as they started the first by taking initiative in possession but it was Diamonds who fashioned the first opportunity. Nathan Tshikuna slid the ball through for Will Jones who skipped past the defender and drew an important save from Garnham at his near post.
The hosts were awarded an opportunity to retake the lead through the form of a penalty. The ball was cut back across goal following a move down the right and Jesse Akubuine was penalised for lunging into a tackle. Luke Ingram converted the penalty to put the Marketmen back in front.
The introduction of Connor Furlong injected some more energy into the Diamonds attack. After a mazy run down the right, the debutant hit a fierce strike which Garnham could only punch over the bar.
Needham began to create more chances as they sensed an opportunity to kill the game off. Byron Lawrence had a rasping strike tipped over by Snedker with the following corner being headed straight at the Diamonds keeper. Arguably the defining moment for the home side came just minutes later as Noah Collard broke in behind the Diamonds defence and saw his scuffed effort trickle agonisingly wide of the post.
Diamonds took control of possession as they pursued an equaliser. The pressure took its toll on Needham and their resistance was finally broken on the verge of stoppage time. Alex Collard rose highest for a corner delivery and planted his downward header into the net – a trademark Diamonds set-piece which paid dividends right at the death!
FT: NEEDHAM MARKET FC 2-2 AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS
AFC R&D proved to be good value for their point in Suffolk as the travelling supporters were rewarded for their long journey across the A14. The result could have been even better if Diamonds had converted their first half chances but this Tuesday night point is a welcome addition to the tally.
Following last night’s results, Diamonds sit 15th in the league table with seven points from six matches.
Next up, our attention turns to more local matters as Andy Peaks’ side head to Northampton ON Chenecks in the First Round of the NFA Hillier Cup.
Needham Market Preview
Under 12: Free
Programme is only available online using the following link: https://www.needhammarketfc.co.uk/clubdocuments.aspx
Tuesday night sees Diamonds face the long trip across to Suffolk to take on Needham Market located just north of Ipswich.
Diamonds will be looking to build on the excellent 1-0 win at Nuneaton Borough on Saturday while Needham Market had an impressive 3-3 draw at Banbury off the back of a first win of the season in FA Cup action the previous week.
Needham Market FC
There has been a team in Needham Market since the 1880s but this team was officially created in 1919. The Marketmen played in the Ipswich and Suffolk leagues and cups until joining the Eastern Counties league and then the Isthmian League.
They’ve played at Bloomfields since 1996 and saw 1,375 attend an FA Vase Semi-final against Kirkham & Wesham in 2008 and 1,748 saw an FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying tie against Cambridge United in 2013/2014.
After Step 3 promotion was achieved in 2014/2015 they were subsequently allocated to the Southern League Premier Central at the end of the 2017/2018 season, finishing 11th in the only completed season since.
Diamonds had a tremendous result on their previous visit to Bloomfields running out fantastic 5-1 winners in the early part of the 2018/2019 season. Ben Diamond, Declan Rogers, Jack Bowen, Tom Lorraine and Albie Hopkins scored that afternoon. They also won the game at Hayden Road 2-1 to complete the league double that season with Rogers and Bowen scoring again.
Needham got their revenge the following season with a pair of with a 2-1 victories at Hayden Road. The first was in the Southern League Cup with Ryan Dove scoring and the second was in the league at the end of January with Ben Farrell converting a penalty for Diamonds.
Needham have yet to experience league success this season but have a win in the FA Cup to their name with a 1-0 victory at home against St. Ives. They followed that with an impressive 3-3 draw at Banbury last Saturday to be unbeaten in their last 2 games.
They had an opening day defeat at high-flying Hednesford Town and a draw with St. Ives in the opening week but then suffered a narrow defeat at home to Bromsgrove and another defeat at Coalville. The draw at Banbury sees them on 2 points from 5 games with a game in hand but sitting in 20th place.
Diamonds win at Nuneaton last Saturday saw them end a 3 game losing streak which had included an FA Cup exit at Coalville. Victory over Coalville had improved early spirits after opening game defeat to Banbury but defeats at Bromsgrove and narrowly at home to high-flying Peterborough Sports followed by that tough FA Cup reverse had Diamonds on the back foot. The win at Nuneaton has Diamonds on 6 points now though from 5 tough opening games sitting in 15th place with a game in hand on many opponents
Another impressive new signing has also boosted spirits with Ravi Shamsi joining his former Nuneaton colleague Claudio Dias at Hayden Road. He boosts the attacking options and with a midfield boosted by Dias and Jay Williams, and defence looking solid with Alex Collard’s return Diamonds will be entering this next phase of the season in good spirits.
The trip to Needham on a wet Tuesday night is a tough one from the fixture secretary particularly with Needham unbeaten in two games. Diamonds will be buoyed however by memories of that 5-1 win on the last visit to Bloomfields so it has all the ingredients of a cracking game.
Radio Diamonds will make an appearance but twitter updates might be under pressure tonight. Look out for the match report and interviews after the game though and tune in to Radio Diamonds for all the action.
Enjoy the game
|Tue, 14th Sep, 2021||7:45 pm||Southern League Premier Central||2021/22||256||Alex Collard|
|Quinton Road, Needham Market, Suffolk IP6 8DA|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2|
|Jack Willmore||Adrian Copsey||Louis Lofts|