Diamonds suffered their third defeat of the pre-season programme as they lost 3-2 to NPL Premier side Stamford AFC at Kettering Road. The Daniels featured former RDFC players Andy Burgess and Jon Challinor in their squad with Burgess in the starting line-up, and Challinor on the bench, making an appearance at the start of the second half.
Mark Starmer made a few changes to the eleven which started at Hayden Road, although the same trailists featured at the start, while Brad Harris, Aaron King and Fazel Koriya started in place of Brown, Wisniewski and Liburd. Jake Gillingwater had returned from holiday to take a place on the bench.
With temperatures having reached close to 30’ during the day, the evening was still very warm as the home side started confidently. Most of the play during the opening period was in the Diamonds half, with Ashley Robinson’s long throws causing some concern. Koriya and Dunkley did have chances for Diamonds, but both players missed the target by some distance.
Diamonds gradually came more into the game, but it was the home side who went in front on 35 minutes, when Andy Burgess played a great ball out to Shawn Richards, who in turn played inside for Jordan Smith to smash home from 10 yards. Ashley Robinson went close for Stamford before the break, while Russ Dunkley’s effort from Koriya’s free-kick was cleared away off the line.
Stamford made six changes at the start of the second half, while Nat Liburd replaced Alex Deakin for Diamonds, Harris going into the centre of defence. The half was fairly even before several more substitutions seemed to bring some life to the Diamonds attack. On 63 minutes, the trialist keeper sent a long clearance up to Liburd on the right, and his touch allowed Fazel Koriya, who had moved into a more forward role, the space to volley home from the edge of the box.
Ten minutes later, Diamonds went in front as Russ Dunkley forced a mix up between two Daniels defenders and played in Fazel Koriya to slot the ball past the keeper. Koriya came very close to his hat-trick moments later, shooting just wide.
On 82 minutes, the Daniels pulled level again as a one-two with new signing Tom Liversedge allowed Alvin Jarvis to fire into the roof of the net. Then with just four minutes left, Sean McBride, playing at left back, was well beaten by Jordan Hempenstall, who was bundled over by the trialist centre-back in the penalty area. Despite a superb save from the keeper who forced the spot kick from Hempenstall onto the cross-bar, Tom Liversedge followed up to give Stamford the win.
Diamonds next pre-season game is at Winslow United on Friday evening, although this will be a mixture of youth and squad players. Diamonds play Conference North side Brackley Town at the Dog & Duck on Saturday at 3pm.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds:: 17 Tom Cross, 2 Trialist; 3 Sean McBride, 4 Brad Harris, 5 Alex Deakin (c), 6 Trialist, 7 Daniel Grainger, 8 Aaron King, 9 Russ Dunkley, 10 Alfie Taylor, 11 Fazel Koriya.
Subs:12 Nat Liburd for Deakin 46, 13 Trialist for Cross 58, 14 Jack Wisniewski for Taylor 58, 15 Jake Gillingwater for Trailist/2 58, 19 Elliot Dent for Grainger 58, 16 Louis Smith for King 78, 17 Lance Allen for Dunkley 78
Goals: Jordan Smith 35 (1-0); Fazel Koriya 63 (1-1); Fazel Koriya 72 (1-2); Alvin Jarvis 82 (2-2); Tom Liversedge 86 (3-2).