A brace from Hayford Osei helped AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / Malcolm Arnold Academy comfortably progress through to the First Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup with a 5-1 win against Wellingborough Town.
- It was the first game of the season for the scholars.
- Hayford Osei scored a brace. Nginamau, Hunt and Lancaster completed the rout.
- Six of the youngsters who played last season started this game.
- The U18s will travel to Desborough Town in the 1st Qualifying Round.
The opening stages of this FA Youth Cup game were scrappy with neither side being able to keep possession of the ball long enough to create any openings.
However, the first chance came after nine minutes. Osei created the chance himself as he cut in from the right wing and fired a left footed shot straight at the goalkeeper.
14 minutes in, and the hosts won their first corner. The scholars’ main weakness last season, was defending set-pieces with their lack of height. The corner came in and Diamonds’ goalkeeper Tom Cocking fumbled the ball, before keeping hold of a strong shot from the defender.
But it didn’t take long for the opening goal to come. On 18 minutes, Osei is a pacey striker and the Diamonds put this to good use. Austin Bishop put the ball into the channel for Hayford Osei to chase after. The striker then cut inside and placed the ball into the bottom corner to put the scholars 1-0 up.
Just seven minutes later, and the MAA boys were caught napping. Wellingborough’s midfield dispossessed the Diamonds defence and he flashed the ball across the face of the goal, however no one was able to turn the cross home for the hosts.
The U18’s doubled their lead on 27 minutes. A superb team goal allowed Christy Nginamau to get on the scoresheet. Bishop and winger David Hunt linked up well on the left, a quick one-two allowed Bishop to attack the space. The full-back found the right winger, Nginamau, inside the penalty area and he kept his cool to make it 2-0.
Ryan Baird, one of the six who played under Darren Purse last season, was controlling the midfield. He had a chance to make it three. The central midfielder won the ball back, high in the Doughboys’ half and fed Osei. The shot was blocked but fell to Baird again but his shot was blocked away for a corner.
Baird and Osei again linked up superbly down the middle. The midfielder broke up the play in midfield and he glided past three defenders before releasing Hunt who won a corner. Captain, Jamie Mastropiero headed the corner just over the bar, two minutes before the break.
In the 56th minute, Wellingborough almost pulled one back. A deflected right win cross clipped the crossbar and went out for a corner.
57 minutes played and Diamonds got a third. Once again, knowing that Osei has the pace to beat defenders, Craddock played the striker in who kept him composure and slotted in for his second.
And then the next attack for the Diamonds made it four. Osei received the ball over the top, and he had the awareness to pick out Craddock who squared the ball to his left to Hunt, who put the ball past the goalkeeper with his left foot. Two goals in two minutes for the scholars put them 4-0 up.
After 61 minutes, it was complete Diamonds domination and substitute Jake Lancaster got the fifth. Ryan Baird played a through ball to Lancaster, the Wellingborough ‘keeper stayed in his goal leaving the substitute in acres of space to pick his spot and score. 5-0.
Soon after, The Diamonds goalkeeper, Cocking, showed great concentration to keep his clean sheet intact. The Wellingborough left-back got in behind the Rushden defence and fired a strong shot towards the near post. But Cocking showed good hands to tip the ball over the bar. The corner that followed was headed off the line by Tom Hughes to keep the score at 5-0.
With ten minutes still to play, the scholars missed a golden opportunity to make it six. Osei took the ball out of the air brilliantly with a nice touch and he turned and ran at the defence. Then substitute Alix Clarke was put through by the striker for a one on one but couldn’t beat the onrushing goalkeeper.
In the end, there was to be another goal. But it would be a consolation one. The Diamonds defence miscontrolled the ball in a dangerous position which allowed the half time substitute for Wellingborough to beat Cocking to make it 5-1.
Full Time. Wellingborough Town U18s 1-5 AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s / MAA.
Team: Cocking, Goldsborough, Hughes, McTeggart, Bishop, Mastropiero, Baird, Nginamau, Craddock, Hunt, Osei.
Subs: Rusu, Clarke, Dankwa, Lancaster, Ahmed.
Manager Darren Purse was pleased with the preparations his side put into pre-season.
“I started pre-season off with one of the toughest games we could get, we and we got beat convincingly. But sometimes it’s about bringing the lads down a peg or two. From then on, the pre-season got better and better. It’s good to get a win and I’m hoping to get a good run in the FA Youth Cup.”
Ryan Baird controlled the game in midfield, and Purse, rightly so, was full of praise for the midfielder.
“I don’t know where his best position is… he’s such a good player, I can play him anywhere and he’ll deal with it.
I sat down and had a chat with him and he said he’ll play wherever I want him to as long as he’s playing. He’s a great luxury to have and a very, very good player. I can see him playing for the First Team before the end of the season, along with four of five others.
He’s got great technique, great footwork and he can get around the pitch, but he’s a little bit slight and that’s the reservation I have, would he get bullied a bit in men’s football? The only way to find out is to put him in there.”
Hayford Osei’s two goals also impressed Purse and potentially on watching First Team manager Andy Peaks.
“Hayford’s got pace to burn and his old coach told me that he just lacks a finish in the final third. But tonight he was top class and he took them. We can always work on his finishing but he has all the attributes to become a top centre forward.”
“Caley [McTeggart] and Tom Hughes were also good tonight. I’ve given ‘Hughesey’ the vice-captaincy because he’s a leader and they defended the set-pieces really well. I just think they need to demand a little more from each other but tonight we defended against a tall side, really well. I’m disappointed to concede the goal, but overall, we’ve dominated from start to finish.”
Match Report by Hayden Pott.