Diamonds were defeated by a late Alvechurch goal in a tight affair at Hayden Road.
After a quiet opening spell, Rushden came close when Tom Lorraine was brilliantly denied from close range, but a minute later the visitors broke away to strike first. Nicholas Clayton-Phillips got down the left before hitting an effort that Dean Snedker allowed to roll under him.
They should have doubled their lead when captain Jamie Willets headed wide, and Diamonds did the same when Alex Collard glanced off-target from a promising position.
The home side improved in the second half as they began to build pressure and dominate possession. It paid off in the 58th minute when Ben Diamond headed home a free-kick into an unguarded net, and they almost completed the turnaround when Lorraine shot inches wide.
Alvechurch regrouped though and, after a couple of dangerous set-pieces, they grabbed what proved to be the winner twelve minutes from time. Clayton-Phillips sped forward before slipping a precise ball through to Zak Brown who fired low into the far corner.
Manager Peaks kept the same starting XI and bench from the entertaining draw at home to Rushall last time out. Though Diamonds hadn’t won any of their last four in all competitions, they had only been defeated in one of their last six league matches. The visitors came into the contest with a strong home record, winning four out of six at Lye Meadow, but they hadn’t won a league away match so far this campaign.
The early exchanges were keenly contested, with plenty of midfield tussles and a high turnover of possession, but pretty short on goalmouth action. Diamonds won a couple of early free-kicks, the second of which found a towering Alex Collard at the far post only for his header across goal to be cleared ahead of the lurking Ryan Hughes.
Alvechurch responded with the first clear opportunity of the encounter. Nicholas Clayton-Phillips, who would prove to be a danger throughout, was played in down the left, and his fizzing effort drew a brilliant save from Dean Snedker low down to his right.
After the visitors were forced into an early substitution, Ravi Shamsi had a sight of goal when Ben Diamond neatly flicked the ball into his path. However, his half-volley was skewed and drifted wide of the target. The visitors were soon down the other end as Samuel McLintock hit a hopeful effort from around 30 yards out, and Snedker was able to catch it easily.
Rushden’s best chance came in the 24th minute when a neat move saw Shamsi play an inviting low ball across the face of goal, and Lorraine ran to meet it with just the keeper to beat. His powerful effort looked destined for the net, but away stopper Daniel Jezeph spread himself wide to make the block from point-blank range.
This save proved crucial when the visitors took the lead only a minute later. Nicholas Clayton-Phillips again found space down the left, and his low effort squeezed past Snedker to open the scoring.
The Alvechurch man was involved again only moments later as his threatening cross from the left forced Collard to head behind. From the resulting corner, defender Jamie Willets had a free header but could only place his effort harmlessly wide.
Diamonds had a similar chance just after the half-hour mark. Following a cross from Casey that was deflected behind, Shamsi’s inswinging delivery found Collard at the far post. The defender had already come up with important headers against Needham Market and Hitchin earlier this season, but he couldn’t make it third time lucky as his header flew wide of the post.
The remainder of the half passed without much action, aside from two Liam Dolman long-throws and Tyrell Skeen-Hamilton hitting the post for Alvechurch after the offside flag had been raised against the striker.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-1 Alvechurch FC
Rushden emerged from the changing rooms a few minutes before their opponents, and it was clear to see from the resumption that they were playing with more intensity and forcing Alvechurch back. The pressure told when, feeling Connor Furlong was tripped on the left, Shamsi’s drilled delivery passed over the flailing Jezeph and found Ben Diamond to gleefully head home into the empty net.
The home side won another free-kick shortly afterwards, and it led to a corner which was eventually cleared to the waiting Jay Williams on the edge of the area. His powerful strike was deflected, and it ran for Lorraine only for the offside flag to go up.
Diamonds’ all-time top goalscorer almost had another to add to his tally in the 64th minute. Williams won possession and fed Shamsi, who in turn tried to thread it through to the onrushing Furlong. Though it was partially cut out, the loose ball was collected by Lorraine who ran into the area and unleashed a low effort that flew just wide of the far post.
Sam Warburton replaced Dolman in an enforced change, and Alvechurch then started to regain a foothold in the game. After Collard was forced to make two important defensive headers, they retook the lead twelve minutes from time. Clayton-Phillips was this time the provider as he picked up the ball in space, ran at the Diamonds defence and slid a through pass to Zak Brown who hit a low strike past the sprawling Snedker.
Diamonds almost found another leveller immediately as Furlong intercepted a poor pass and drove through on goal, but his rising shot was well tipped over by Jezeph. Collard met the resulting corner but could only head wide under pressure.
Will Jones and Nathan Tshikuna were introduced, and moments later they won a corner that fell to Jesse Akubuine. His low strike deflected to Lorraine, but his effort was scuffed and it rolled wide of the target.
Despite five minutes of additional time, Diamonds weren’t able to find an equaliser and were consigned to defeat.
Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1-2 Alvechurch FC
Diamonds struggled to get going in the first half, but improved in the second period to get back on terms and then look the side most likely to find a winner. Despite chances for Lorraine, Collard and Furlong throughout the contest, Alvechurch were more clinical with the few chances that they had. They then defended stoutly to limit any late home pressure and to see out the victory.
Diamonds have a chance to bounce back when they entertain Barwell at Hayden Road on Tuesday evening (19 October), 7.45pm kick-off.
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
Diamonds will be looking to build on Tuesday night’s impressive performance against a very good Rushall Olympic as they take on Alvechurch at Hayden Road on Saturday afternoon.
Diamonds drew against Rushall 1-1 but finished strongly and came close to winning with a number of late chances. Alvechurch beat in-form Leiston last Saturday so this has the makings of another excellent Southern Premier Central match.
The Church were founded in 1929 as Alvechurch Juniors working their way to Southern League level in the 1970’s. That iteration of the club holds a unique FA Cup record that will never be beaten. They fought through 5 replays of an FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying tie in 1972 against Oxford City, finally winning 1-0 at Villa Park. They also reached the 3rd Round Proper in 1973/1974 beating Exeter and King’s Lynn Town before a 4-2 defeat Bradford City.
The club folded in 1993 but re-emerged in 1994 starting in the Midland Combination league before fighting back up to Northern Premier League Division One South. Promotion was achieved in the first season and saw them placed in the Southern League Premier Central. They reached the 2018/2019 playoffs beating Stourbridge before losing to King’s Lynn Town.
The two sides have competed 3 times in league action with Diamonds unbeaten. The first contest was a 0-0 away draw, notable for Duane Darby’s guest appearance on Radio Diamonds. A 1-1 draw at Hayden Road followed with Sam Johnson, the Diamonds scorer. The only “result” came in 2019 as Diamonds won 2-1 at Lye Meadow with Nabil Shariff and Tom Lorraine on target before Covid intervened in the season.
Alvechurch have a big disparity in home and away form. They come into the game off the back of three home games which saw 2 wins and a draw with a 2-0 win against in-form Leiston last Saturday making it 4 home wins in total. Away from home they gained just the one point from a 0-0 draw at Royston with 3 defeats in 4 at St. Ives, Lowestoft and Coalville.
Diamonds’ form can be described as just one defeat in 6 (after losing 3 of the first 4) or no wins in 3. Back -to-back 1-1 draws away at Stourbridge and home to Rushall showed a much improved form from the home defeat to Royston. That defeat had followed 7 points from 3 games so predicting Diamonds’ games remains as ever difficult. One “interesting” stat sees that Diamonds have not failed to score since 30th August so with improved defensive efforts there are positive signs for the coming games.
I made my “long awaited” return to live action on Tuesday night and was able to give Joseph some company on Radio Diamonds while giving you Twitter updates. We have the brilliant Bruce Greenburg and Ollie Mortimer back in the team this weekend so listen out for Radio Diamonds, Twitter updates, interviews, highlights and now Joseph as your Stadium Announcer.
We can’t wait and hope you enjoy the game and our coverage.
|Date||Time||League||Season||Match Day||Attendance||Man of the Match||Captain|
|Sat, 16th Oct, 2021||3:00 pm||Southern League Premier Central||2021/22||12||385||Patrick Casey||Alex Collard|
|Hayden Road Sports Ground, Hayden Road, Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 0HX|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2|
|Alan Cox||Ryan Jennings||Matthew Broadhurst|