St Ives Town 2-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds were forced to settle for a draw after conceding a late leveller away to St Ives on Tuesday evening. 

Diamonds fell behind in the 12th minute of the match when Brad Harris was adjudged to have tripped Ives winger Luis Viera as the Ives player looked to jinked into space in the box, and Jack Higgs confidently dispatched the resultant spot-kick. For the majority of the half the visitors struggled to find a consistent tempo on what was a bobbly and bouncy surface, but they found an equaliser through Tom Lorraine as he latched onto a defensive mistake and slotted past the home goalkeeper into the far corner. 

Gradually Rushden started to get more and more of a grip on the game and began to dictate proceedings as the second half wore on. After Courtney Herbert had missed a glaring chance in front of goal following Charlie Butt’s ball across, Tommy Berwick produced a sublime chip over the keeper from the left side of the penalty area to give the Diamonds a 2-1 lead after 62 minutes. Aside from a couple of dangerous runs and set piece situations thereafter, it appeared the Diamonds were going to see the game out for a come-from-behind victory, but the hosts found an equaliser four minutes from time as Harry O’Malley glanced a header into the far corner of the net after a deep free-kick. 

Diamonds manager Andy Peaks made one enforced change from the draw versus Petersfield on the opening day of the season as Charlie Butt stepped in for the injured Liam Dolman. This meant Delroy Gordon moved into the centre of defence to partner Jack Ashton and Butt slotted in to his natural full-back slot. On a fairly warm and cloudless evening in Cambridgeshire, the away side lined up in the same 4-2-3-1 which they had started out with on Saturday. 

It was apparent from the outset that it was going to be a tough game for the Diamonds, with Ives pressuring the away back four at every given opportunity and the difficult surface testing players’ first touch and control. The first chance of the game fell to the visitors in the fifth minute as a long ball from Delroy Gordon found the chest of Courtney Herbert. He brought it down and, seeing space ahead of him, drove forward and hit a bobbling effort goalwards which was tipped behind by home stopper Tim Trebes. The resultant corner saw Steve Spriggs’ delivery clear everyone and just miss the onrushing Gordon and Ashton looking to guide it home at the far post. 

Spriggs was again involved three minutes later after a ball forward was miscontrolled by Ives defender Steven Gentle and Tom Lorraine was able to latch onto possession. With options on both sides, he chose the Diamonds winger running in on the right, and despite Trebles advancing in an attempt to put Spriggs off, he knocked the ball past the goalkeeper and fell to the ground, but the penalty appeals were waved away. 

However, 12 minutes had elapsed when St Ives were to take the lead from their first foray forward of the contest. The ball reached striker Danny Watson on the right side of the box, and as he held the ball up Luis Viera took up possession, jinked one way then the other and attempted to drive towards the six yard box. He fell down under pressure from Brad Harris and Robert Evans immediately pointed to the penalty spot despite the winger appearing to already be on his way down when the contact took place. Jack Higgs stepped up and placed the ball high into the middle of the goal with Matt Finlay committing to his left side. 

Similar to the Spriggs corner before, Trebes struggled to deal with another delivery into the box in the form of a Sam Brown long throw, but fortunately for the home side his fumble wasn’t able to be forced home by Gordon and the danger was cleared. Another set piece saw Spriggs deliver a corner from the right and Ashton sent a near post header wide of the mark, but aside from this it appeared that the visitors were struggling to come to terms with the uneven playing surface and unable to find any forward momentum when in possession of the ball.

Higgs was always looking to pick up the ball in midfield and dictate the tempo of the game for the home side, and he had two chances to extend their lead. Firstly, in the 23rd minute, Dan Quigley gave a free-kick away around 25 yards out and central of goal, and the St Ives number 8 curled the subsequent shot narrowly over Finlay’s crossbar. Then two minutes later Stuart Eason was able to chase and challenge for a long ball over the top into the left channel, and after winning possession he laid the ball into the path of Higgs in an area of space in between the Diamonds midfield and defence. Thankfully for the visitors his left footed drive was straight at Finlay who was able to gather at the first time of asking. 

The game then descended into a scrappy and error strewn period as both teams struggled to maintain possession and create space to feet and in behind both teams’ defences. There was a feeling that a mistake may contribute to the next goal in the match, and so it proved as the Diamonds grabbed an equaliser after 36 minutes. A clipped ball forward by Gordon was flicked on by Herbert, though it seems as if the danger would again be cleared. Gentle however again struggled to control the ball, and it bobbled off him through for Tom Lorraine to advance on goal and slot past the goalkeeper in the far corner. 

Many free-kicks had been awarded by referee Evans in the midfield areas of the pitch, and from one of these Ives created an opening a minute before half-time. Higgs lofted the set-piece from the halfway line into the area for Eason to power the header across goal looking for his strike partner, but Gordon made a crucial intervention and was able to divert the ball away for a corner before Watson could get to it.

Half Time: St Ives Town 1-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 

The Diamonds started the second period with a higher intensity and seemingly a greater amount of width, as both Herbert and Spriggs seemed to be hugging their respective touchlines more than they had done in the opening half. Sam Brown and Charlie Butt were also getting forward in support of attacks more frequently, and it was Butt who created the first chance of the half. He received a short pass from Harris, powered past Phil Draycott, exchanged a one two with Lorraine and sprinted into the area. He slammed the ball across and with the goal at his mercy, Herbert contrived to fail to turn the ball home almost on the goal-line, with Lorraine also failing in his attempt to turn home the rebound.

St Ives were dropping deeper and deeper as a result of the increased Diamonds pressure, and their backline was being worked more far more fervently than they were in the first 45 minutes. A Brown cross was deflected behind for a corner on the left, and Spriggs’ delivery again missed everyone attempting to meet it before the offside flag was raised on the ball being worked back into the Ives area. 

Shortly following these couple of opportunities however, Rushden managed to forge into the lead. Lorraine ran with the ball from just inside his own half, but he was well tackled by defender Daniel Moyes as he advanced. The loose possession was seized by Tommy Berwick, and after knocking the ball through for himself to run onto, he clipped an adroit and pinpoint chip over the St Ives keeper and into the right corner of the goal with the aid of the post from the left side of the area. It was clear to see how much the goal meant to the player himself, his teammates and the fans as a whole after an example of superb finishing.

There was no doubt that the home side still held a threat when going forward, with the odd intended ball over the top causing the Diamonds defence some concern, but on the whole the visitors were dealing with the perceived threat relatively comfortably. Substitute Ebey Marango embarked on one slaloming run which took him past three players before the ball ran out for a goal-kick as he tried to cross, and Watson slashed an effort over the top after a corner from the left hadn’t been fully cleared away.

Apart from that though, it was the Diamonds who still appeared the more likely side to find the next goal. Four minutes after his goal, Berwick had another chance after a Lorraine flick had ran kindly into his path, but with the ball sitting up high he couldn’t generate much power in his shot and Trebes was easily able to save. The introduction of substitute Claudiu Hoban, fresh from his lively cameo on Saturday, again had a positive impact for Diamonds going forward, and his quick feet and driving runs helped to create further openings.

In the 75th minute, the Diamonds number 16 sprinted down the right flank but was halted in his tracks by Gentle’s sliding tackle at the expense of a corner. After a short corner between himself and Spriggs, Hoban curled a cross into the near post which Lorraine met with a poked flick that the Ives keeper had to be alert to in keeping out and eventually falling on the ball. Five minutes later it vas Hoban again who was found on the right side, and after twisting left and right with a stepover thrown in for good measure, he accelerated to the byline and fizzed a ball across that was just too high for Lorraine and just too long for Herbert to reach and turn into a goalscoring opportunity.

The ex-Corby midfielder was further involved as the Diamonds looked to kill off the game in the closing stages as he won his team a free-kick by driving to the edge of the penalty area. With the foul occurring right of centre, it seemed to favour a left-footed strike, and Hoban stepped up to hit a dipping effort which Trebes was able to hold at the first attempt at his right hand post.

As the clock ticked to the 86th minute mark, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that the away side could maybe start looking to returning to Northamptonshire with the three points, but these hopes were dashed as St Ives claimed a leveller. A free-kick was awarded to the hosts on the right flank just past the halfway line, and Higgs’ pitch to the back post saw Harry O’Malley meet the delivery and plant a flicked header beyond Finlay and into the bottom corner of the net.

There was still time for the Ives to almost conjure up a winner two minutes into stoppage time, but the Diamonds defenders managed to clear away the danger from an Eason deep cross which had been met by Higgs arriving at the left side of the six yard box. The away side also briefly threatened in earning two corners deep into the added-on time, but after neither of these came to anything, the referee called time on an entertaining affair at the ProEdge Westwood Road.

Full Time: St Ives Town 2-2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds

The second half performance displayed by the Diamonds, along with the ability to restrict the Ives to limited chances throughout the game, will please manager Andy Peaks on the whole, and the exquisite goal notched by Tommy Berwick will hopefully boost his confidence and allow him to kick on for the upcoming fixtures. The fact that Rushden have also more than held their own in their opening two fixtures at this level is a highly positive one, and though there may be the odd thought of ‘what if’ from both games played so far in terms of points gained, the season is still in its early stages and very difficult to judge as of yet. Diamonds are on the road again this coming Saturday August 15 as they travel to Hertfordshire to take on fellow Southern League new-boys Ware FC.

Diamonds Man of the Match: Sam Brown

Attendance: Approx. 300

Match Report by Ollie Mortimer

 

St Ives Town

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1. Tim Trebes

2. Harry O’Malley

3. Jordan Jarrold

4. Daniel Moyes

5. Steven Gentle

6. Luke Knight (C)

7. Luis Viera

8. Jack Higgs

9. Stuart Eason

10. Danny Watson

11. Phil Draycott

 

Substitutes:

12. Luca Dusi (for Watson 87)

14. Joe Peacock

15. Pat Bexfield

16. Ebey Marango (for Draycott 39)

17. Chae Simons (for Viera 72)

17. Matt Finlay

2. Charlie Butt

3. Sam Brown

4. Jack Ashton

5. Delroy Gordon

6. Brad Harris

7. Steve Spriggs

8. Dan Quigley

9. Tom Lorraine

10. Tommy Berwick

11. Courtney Herbert

 

Substitutes:

12. Elliot Lamb-Johnson

13. Rhys Redding

14. Scott Joseph

15. Jason Kilbride (for Herbert 69)

16. Claudiu Hoban (for Berwick 72)

Goals: Higgs (pen 12), O’Malley (86)

Goals: Lorraine (36), Berwick (62)

Yellow Cards: Gentle (45)

Yellow Cards: Harris (27), Quigley (58)

Referee: Robert Evans

Assistants: David Jarrett, Matthew Lake

 

 

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