Re-arranged from 27th December, 2021
Diamonds were consigned to a late defeat by fellow play-off contenders Peterborough Sports in a close contest at The Bee Arena.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium throughout as both sides contained and limited one another in front of goal. Alex Collard had an early flick easily held and AJ George saw a strike from range blocked, with the hosts responding when Joshua McCammon and Michael Gash hit efforts off-target. Rushden took the lead when home full-back Luke Warner-Eley’s attempted back-pass was missed by the keeper and it rolled into the empty net. However the hosts levelled within two minutes when Lamine Kaba Sherif toe-poked a strike past the diving Dean Snedker from the edge of the area.
Defences were on top again in the second period, and the only opportunities saw Sam Warburton have an effort blocked after a buccaneering run and Nathan Tshikuna also saw a free-kick charged down from a promising position. Peterborough scored what proved to be the winning goal though eight minutes from time when a free-kick from the right was headed goalwards which produced a sensational reflex save from Snedker, but the rebound fell for Dan Jarvis to hook home.
Ten days since their dramatic late win at Lowestoft last time out, manager Burgess made only one change from that starting XI. Liam Dolman was unavailable so captain Alex Collard returned to the side, and there was also a place amongst the substitutes for new signing Lauric Diakiesse who had signed from Kettering earlier in the day.
This was another crucial clash in the race for the play-offs, with only one place and three points separating the sides. Peterborough Sports entered the contest fourth having only won two of their last eight, but they had scored the most goals and had the fourth best home record in the division. Diamonds sat in fifth as a result of winning their last three matches overall, they’d also emerged victorious in six of their last eight away from Hayden Road and they had the third best away record in the league.
Referee Thomas Hales got the game underway, and it was immediate from the start that both sides were going to press each other in possession to try and force mistakes. The first opportunity fell to the visitors as, after five minutes, Sam Warburton’s long-throw from the right found Collard who flicked it on, but keeper Paul White easily collected it. Moments later they won a free-kick which was played to the back post and knocked down, but White was adjudged to have been impeded.
Diamonds continued their bright start as a long ball forward saw White rush far out of his goal to try and clear. However, the loose ball dropped for AJ George, but he was just unable to generate space to fire back towards the empty net and his resulting effort was blocked away.
Sports began to get more of a foothold in the match as they started to launch some attacks, especially down their right-hand side. In the 15th minute Joshua McCammon had a chance as he found space, but he wildly thrashed it across goal and out for a goal-kick. Ex-RDFC man Michael Gash went down soon afterwards clutching his back, an injury that would force him off just before half-time, but he was able to continue for a short period of time and saw a couple of efforts go harmlessly off-target.
Home winger Kyujon Marsh-Brown looked for a penalty as he went down in the box following a strong run, but the referee was unmoved and McCammon then struck wide of the near-post after a sprint forward from Dan Jarvis.
Just after the half-hour mark, Rushden took the lead in the most bizarre of circumstances. An innocuous back-pass from home full-back Luke Warner-Eley looked easy for White to control and clear, but the keeper took his eye off the ball and it rolled past him into the empty net.
Peterborough Sports quickly put that behind them though as, only two minutes later, they equalised. A loose ball dropped for Lamine Kaba Sherif on the edge of the area, and he quickly toe-poked an effort that flew past Dean Snedker into the bottom corner.
The two quick goals had brought the previously tight game briefly to life, and the away side could have reassumed their advantage a couple of minutes afterwards. George got down the left before flashing a dangerous ball across goal that Connor Furlong met on the volley, but his strike whistled over the bar. Collard then fired over as well following a deep Warburton free-kick, and Fernando Bell-Toxtle also shot off-target following another cross from the full-back.
Half time: Peterborough Sports FC 1-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Like in the first half, Diamonds started the second period positively as Furlong won a free-kick in a promising position. Nathan Tshikuna’s delivery found Shane Bush, but he was under pressure and so his header bobbled wide of the upright.
They were dealt a blow moments later when Ryan Hughes went down following a clearance and, despite some treatment, he wasn’t able to continue. Bush dropped back to centre-half and Diakiesse was brought on up front. He and Furlong linked up nearly almost immediately, but the winger was adjudged to have been offside during the attack.
The visitors were struggling to sustain possession and build pressure, but Peterborough Sports were only threatening sporadically down the other end themselves as the teams continued to largely cancel each other out. Home sub Ryan Hawkins jinked in from the left but saw his strike well blocked by the tracking Paddy Casey, and his opposite full-back Warburton continued his excellent performance as he sprang forward past a few despairing challenges before his shot was also blocked.
With fifteen minutes left, Tshikuna embarked on a commanding run of his own before being brought down around 25 yards out. He lined up the set-piece but his effort hit the defensive wall and it was cleared away. Soon afterwards, Sports won a free-kick of their own and they made it count. The delivery from the right found Ryan Fryatt whose bullet ehader was somehow saved by Snedker, but the loose ball ran for Dan Jarvis who knocked home the rebound from only a few yards out.
Will Jones replaced George as Diamonds seeked an equaliser, but Sports looked more likely to extend their advantage. Marsh-Brown shot wide, Sherif also hit an effort off-target and Snedker made a good save to deny Hawkins from range. However, Jarvis’ late goal was enough to seal the contest in the host’s favour.
Full time: Peterborough Sports FC 2-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
This was a game of very fine margins, with Peterborough Sports shading proceedings but Diamonds doing well to limit them in terms of chances. They struggled to create opportunities down the other end themselves though, something which they will be looking to improve for the remainder of the campaign.
Rushden remain in fifth, the final play-off position, and still in control as they sit four points ahead of sixth-placed Alvechurch with a game in hand. Their next match sees them host Tamworth, managed by Andy Peaks, on Saturday (19 March), 3pm kick-off.
Match report by Ollie Mortimer
|Date||Time||League||Season||Match Day||Attendance||Man of the Match||Captain|
|Tue, 15th Mar, 2022||7:45 pm||Southern League Premier Division Central||2021/22||24 (new date)||302||Sam Warburton||Alex Collard|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2|
|Thomas Hales||Kieran Shaw||Tolu Sangowawa|
|The Bee Arena|
|651 Lincoln Road, Peterborough PE1 3HA|