AFC Rushden & Diamonds secured their third victory of the pre-season campaign by defeating landlords Wellingborough Town 1-0.
Jason Kilbride got the only goal of the game with a tap-in on 25 minutes. Trialist Steve Spriggs linked up well on the right with striker Dom Lawless with the former Kilbride providing the finishing touch.
The game petered out in the second half as a host of changes were made and players getting to full fitness.
Scott ‘Biff’ Carlin was once again acting as first team manager with both Andy Peaks and Paul Lamb away on holiday. And a number of players were recalled to the squad to be given game time.
Kieran Fitzgerald and Dom Lawless were both given another start, since the 2-1 defeat at Enfield whilst Sam Brown returned at left-back after his last game away at Northampton Spencer.
Ollie Wikinson continued at right back with last seasons’ central pairing of Liam Dolman and Jack Ashton at the back. Joe Merrill lined up in an unfamiliar defensive midfield position, alongside a more attacking Dan Quigley. Steve Spriggs and Jason Kilbride operated the wide areas with new signings Dom Lawless and Kieran Fitzergerald upfront.
The hosts fielded a couple of familiar names with former Diamonds Aynsley McDonald and Jake Newman starting for The Doughboys.
The match got off to a scrappy start with neither goalkeeper being tested. Spriggs had started brightly on the right hand side, but when he cut in field, he saw his shot dragged wide.
14 minutes in, the trialist was involved once again. This time, the former King’s Lynn man burst into the area and his cross along the six yard box was narrowly missed by the onrushing Fitzgerald and Kilbride at the back post.
After 20 minutes, Diamonds found their rhythm and settled into the game. This is when the tide began to turn. Their next chance came when Fitzgerald made a strong run on the left and he fed strike partner Lawless but he could only put it wide.
But then the goal came. After 25 minutes, Kilbride had the ball in the back of the net. But first of all, Liam Dolman could have given the ‘away’ side the lead with a powerful header following a Spriggs corner. Just 30 seconds later, Kilbride made sure his side did go ahead.
Once again it was Spriggs providing the danger on the right hand side, and having beaten his man, his low drive across the six yard box was slid in by Kilbride at the back post to give The Diamonds a 1-0 lead.
The waves of attack didn’t seem to slow as Sam Brown was next to head over another Spriggs corner just two minutes later.
Wellingborough didn’t really carry much of a threat going forward. Whenever they did however, it was sniffed out by the Diamonds back line. The only chance The Doughboys threatened was when former Diamond Jake Newman got to the by-line, but his cross landed ontop of the net.
Two minutes before the break, Kilbride cold have doubled his and Rushden’s lead. In a carbon copy of the goal, it was again Spriggs with a low cross from the right, but this time it fell behind the former England Futsal international.
Half Time: Wellingborough Town 0-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
There were no changes at the break but it seemed Wellingborugh had come out the blocks firing. Newman had a 30 yard strike go well over the bar and then Aynsley McDonald was booked for a bad foul on Lawless.
With limited goalmouth action in the second half, one of the highlights was a surging Liam Dolman run in the 56th minute. Breaking out from centre back, he played a one two with Joe Merrill, and then it looked as though he had nowhere to go. But he pulled off a delightful backheel to release Fitzgerald who earnt a corner.
Jack Ashton and Kieran Fitzgerald were withdrawn just after the hour mark with Delroy Gordon and recently signed on Scott Joseph returning to the Diamonds squad.
After these substitutions, Diamonds’ best chance of the game fell to Lawless in the 65th minute. The former Newport Pagnell striker robbed a Wellingborough defender on the edge of the penalty area, lobbed the ball over the remaining defender but his volley from six yards out went way over the bar.
The game petered out from this point with neither side creating any real clear cut chances. Diamonds remained resilient at the back but lacked the cutting edge to go further ahead.
Full Time: Wellingborough Town 0-1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Diamonds’ new signings were given the opportunity to impress here today and some of them certainly did. Ollie Wilkinson looks a great addition bringing solidarity to the right back area. Whilst Dan Quigley looks composed in central midfield alongside Joe Merrill who didn’t look out of position. The forward positions are potentially still up for grabs with the likes of Lawless, Lorraine, Berwick, Herbert and Joseph vying for a starting berth. We may also see a couple more additions with Ben Heath, Steve Spriggs and Harry May all still on trial. It is also interesting to see the seemlessness to swap from a 4-3-3 into a 4-4-2 during a game. Both formations working well. Next up, is a Diamonds XI game away at Lutterworth on Wednesday (29th KO 7pm) and then the final pre-season game against Loughborough on Saturday (1st). This is where we will start to see who is at the forefront of Andy Peaks’ plans.
Match Report by Hayden Pott
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
5. Aynsley McDonald
9. Jake Newman
17. Matt Finlay
2. Ollie Wilkinson
3. Sam Brown
4. Jack Ashton
5. Liam Dolman
6. Dan Quigley
7. Steve Spriggs
8. Dominic Lawless
9. Joe Merrill
11. Jason Kilbride (for Spriggs 78)
12. Kieran Fitzgerald
13. Ben Heath (for Finlay 89)
15. Delroy Gordon (for Ashton 62)
16. Scott Joseph (for Fitzgerald 62)
18. Courtney Herbert (for Kilbride 70)
Goals: Kilbride (25)
Yellow Cards: McDonald and Number 4.
Yellow Cards: None