Diamonds were comprehensively defeated by Newark in the Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round on Tuesday evening.
The visitors raced into a 3-0 lead by midway through the opening half courtesy of a Ben Hutchinson penalty in the second minute, a Danny Meadows cross-shot over Richard Walton and then a Meadows thumping header from a Craig Westcarr free-kick.
Diamonds pressed in the second half and created a few half-chances without seriously threatening the Newark goal, and the away side were able to counter at pace to score two further goals. Hutchinson scored his second of the game after latching onto a Kevin Bastos through ball, and Bastos himself then netted with a clinical low finish.
First half: Early drama, quickfire goals, no time to settle
Manager Peaks kept the same starting XI that had deservedly gained a point at Nuneaton on Saturday afternoon, whilst visitors Newark named a line-up that included ex-Kettering and EFL striker Craig Westcarr. Nicknamed the Highwaymen and based in the Midland League Premier Division (Step 5), they had won all four of their matches so far this season without conceding a goal.
The contest had a maximum attendance set at 450, and every ticket had been sold which lent itself to a strong atmosphere especially from the travelling faithful.
Less than a minute had elapsed when Newark won a penalty from their first attack. Winger Kevin Bastos, who would prove to be a threat all evening, drove into the area before being slide-tackled by Jack Ashton. The referee adjudged the Diamonds defender to have committed a foul, and striker Ben Hutchinson stepped up to confidently place his effort past the despairing dive of Richard Walton.
The early strike set the tone for the opening 25 minutes as the visitors swarmed round the hosts, not allowing them time in possession and forcing them into a number of mistakes. They also looked a threat everytime they broke forward, and this danger led to another goal in the 11th minute. Bastos found space to sprint forward before feeding the overlapping run of Danny Meadows, and the midfielder hit a cross-shot that sailed over Walton and into the far corner of the net.
Diamonds seemed shell-shocked by the visitors’ fast start, and they weren’t able to react. Instead, Newark should have extended their advantage when a low cross in from Meadows found Hutchinson in acres of space inside the area, but he somehow lifted his effort over the bar with the goal gaping.
However, they did add another goal two minutes later. Westcarr played a free-kick into the middle of the box, and Danny Meadows met it with a commanding header that flew into the back of the net. The visiting pressure continued, and another set-piece caused further danger shortly afterwards. A corner from the right found Hutchinson, but his header went wide of the post.
The hosts were in disarray, but they started to get more of the ball and begin to build some possession before half-time. They fashioned a few opportunities as Ashton looped a header over the bar, Luke Fairlamb saw a free-kick well held and Ross Oulton drove a shot wide from 20 yards, but they weren’t able to force away keeper Jason White into action.
Half time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-3 Newark FC
Second half: Home pressure, swift counters, game sealed
Diamonds made two changes at the interval as Alex Collard replaced Ashton, and Chris Wreh came on for Oulton who had been booked in the opening period. This meant a tactical re-shuffle that saw the hosts throw more men forward, something they had to do given the scoreline.
Aside from a Bastos effort that was saved, all the pressure came from the hosts as they looked for any way back into the match. They won three free-kicks, all in a similar position, in the space of a few minutes, and Fairlamb hit the first one over. Akubuine then had the next one blocked, and Fairlmab forced a save out of White from the last one. It rebounded out to Tom Lorraine who headed home the loose ball, but the offside flag had been raised against the Rushden all-time top goalscorer.
Fairlamb was seeing a lot of the ball in the second half, and he looked threatening when he ran at the away defence with pace. The winger had a shot charged down before he teed up Akubuine in the next attack, but the resulting curling effort went harmlessly wide from the edge of the area. Wreh then did terrifically well to hold up the ball and embark on a run down the left that took him past three Newark men, but his attempted cutback towards Lorraine just ran away from the striker.
A minute later, the visitors put the game beyond any doubt. A swift break saw Westcarr intelligently feed Bastos with a backheel, and he played it further across to Ben Hutchinson who took a touch before poking it past Walton.
Rushden continued to search for at least one goal, and they almost had one on a number of occasions. Lorraine had a shot tipped behind by White, Fairlamb had a penalty appeal turned down, Reynolds was released through on goal before his shot was smothered behind, and Wreh was unable to turn home a dangerous corner.
With two minutes of normal time remaining, Newark scored a fifth. A header forward in midfield found Kevin Bastos in space, and he wasted no time in clinically dispatching a shot into the far corner of the net.
A few minutes of stoppage time were played, but these passed without any action of note before the referee blew his whistle to confirm Diamonds’ elimination from the competition.
Full time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-5 Newark FC
Though Diamonds were poor throughout, nothing can be taken away from Newark who looked like a side who ply their trade at a much higher level than Step 5 and who fully deserved their victory. The hosts were simply unable to deal with their energetic, pressing and quick play, and they took their chances with aplomb.
For Diamonds, it is a case of drawing a line under what has passed, learning the lessons from it and reacting positively in their next match. There isn’t too long to wait until they are back in league action as they return to Hayden Road on Saturday (26th September) to host Barwell for a 3pm kick-off. The match is all-ticket, and you can find out further ticketing information for all upcoming games here.
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
|Date||Time||League||Season||Attendance||COVID-19 Secure Capacity||All Ticket?||Captain|
|September 22, 2020||7:45 pm||FA Cup First Round Qualifying||2020/21||450||450||Yes - All Pay (season tickets not valid)||Liam Dolman|
|Hayden Road Sports Ground, Hayden Road, Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 0HX|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2|
|Thomas Kelly||Jake Bloom||Nicholas Fuller|