St. Ives Town 1-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
A last gasp goal from Conor Bell saw AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ recent good form continue, as they came from behind to beat St. Ives Town in a closely fought contest at Westwood Road.
Mark Starmer fielded a youthful side featuring six U16s, and only two second years in the squad of 15. Danny Bird made a welcome return at the heart of the defence, although Elliot Ames retained the captaincy having led the team so well in Bird’s absence.
On a bitterly cold April evening, the game got off to a slow start with almost quarter of an hour gone before either side managed a meaningful attempt at goal. Jake Reynolds picked out Harry May with a good cross-field pass to the right flank, and the wing back cut inside onto his left foot and hit a decent 20 yard shot at goal, but his effort was too close to Dan Sewell who made a comfortable save.
A minute later and May again tried his luck with a carbon copy of his first attempt. Zach Farden and Jeron Thompson this time combined to find May, and after cutting inside once more his 20 yard shot this time produced a much more challenging save from Sewell, who did well to tip the ball behind for a corner.
Following this bright period for the visitors, the Saints came back into the game and enjoyed a good spell of their own. On 18 minutes they had a great chance to open the scoring when Jojo Thompson picked out Tom Richards with a ball over the top of the AFC defence, but the striker shot well wide with only Ashley Foulger to beat. The hosts continued to press, regularly finding space down their right hand side, but the Diamonds’ back three just about did enough to prevent any further clear cut chances.
On 27 minutes however, the Saints’ pressure finally paid off as they opened the scoring. Another ball down the right from Ryan Potts found Jojo Thompson in plenty of space, and this time the defence couldn’t get across in time allowing the winger to race into the area and hit an excellent strike across goal and into the top corner.
Rushden responded well to falling behind, and just six minutes later they netted an equalising goal. May’s left wing corner was only half cleared by the Saints defence, with Jeron Thompson picking up the ball at the back stick, beating his man and delivering a superb cross to the near post, where Reynolds lost his marker and nodded home from close range.
The home side finished the half the stronger, and went close to retaking the lead on two occasions. On 36 minutes Jack Prime flicked the ball on to Richards just inside the penalty area, and his powerful shot at goal produced a fine save from Foulger. Shortly after, the Saints striker went closer still, running onto a header by Jojo Thompson and hitting a sweetly struck shot from 20 yards, which cannoned off the inside of the post and bounced across goal and behind.
HT: St. Ives Town 1-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first, with little action of note in the opening stages. On 57 minutes Richards had a half chance for the hosts with an overhead kick from just inside the Diamonds’ box, but the ball looped up and presented Foulger with a simple save.
Shortly after the hour mark the visitors had a great opportunity to take the lead. Reynolds long throw down the right flank picked out Jeron Thompson, who managed to evade the attentions of his marker and burst into the penalty area, but he shot tamely at substitute ‘keeper Josh Baker who saved comfortably.
The next good chance fell to the Saints as Richards fed Potts with a great ball through the Rushden defence, but his first time shot drew a good save from Foulger who tipped the ball around the post. That proved to be Foulger’s last contribution of the game, as Starmer replaced him with Mozza Roberts for the final 20 minutes.
No sooner had Roberts taken to the pitch, a back pass put him under pressure from the Saints attack, with his attempted clearance going agley. The ball fell invitingly for Richards 25 yards from goal, but his attempted lob sailed over the bar. Shortly after, a deep free kick from Tyler Grissett found Jojo Thompson deep inside the Rushden penalty area, and his close range header forced a good reaction stop from Roberts.
With 77 minutes gone the Diamonds had another great chance to take the lead as a deep right wing corner found Conor Bell at the far post, but he couldn’t keep his header down and the ball flew just over the bar. Moments later the hosts almost scored a goal out of nothing, as Potts picked up the ball 30 yards from goal before turning and hitting a stunning strike which beat Roberts and clipped the stanchion on its way over.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes another right wing corner for the Diamonds almost led to a second goal, this time Reynolds heading on target only to see his effort cleared off the line. But with stoppage time approaching the visitors took the lead and with it the victory. Zaak Moon picked up the ball in midfield and played in Bell with a great through ball. Bell outpaced the tiring Saints defence before firing an inch perfect left foot shot across goal and into the bottom corner, giving Josh Baker no chance.
FT: St. Ives Town 1-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Defeat was probably a little harsh on St. Ives, with the two sides looking very evenly matched over the 90 minutes.
The Diamonds are back in competitive action next week as they take on S&L Corby in their second Jaymann Shield group game. Click HERE for the match preview.
Man of the Match: Noah Bryant
St. Ives Town
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|1. Dan Sewell
2. Jack Baker
3. Tyler Grissett
4. Ross Wood
5. Pat Kinsman
6. Joe Kelly
7. Jack Prime (c)
8. Tom Powell
9. Ryan Potts
10. Tom Richards
12. Jojo Thompson
|24. Ashley Foulger
2. Ben Roche
4. Elliot Ames (c)
5. Danny Bird
7. Harry May
8. Zaak Moon
12. Matti Ellis
13. Noah Bryant
3. Zach Farden
10. Jeron Thompson
11. Jake Reynolds
14. Dom Fordham (for Thompson, 85 mins)
16. George Large (for Powell, 68 mins)
23. Josh Baker (for Sewell, 46 mins)
6. Alex McDonald (for Ellis, 46 mins)
9. Fred Devereaux (for Farden, 46 mins)
14. Conor Bell (for Moon, 46 mins)
86. Mozza Roberts (for Foulger, 71 mins)
Jojo Thompson (27 mins)
Reynolds (33 mins)
Bell (90 mins)