Wellingborough Town XI 2-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
AFC Rushden & Diamonds gave a good account of themselves in a keenly contested friendly against a strong Wellingborough Town XI. The experienced Doughboys side just about deserved their 2-0 victory, but were given a real test by the youthful Diamonds side, which included a number of trialists.
Rushden had almost a full squad to choose from, but with one notable absentee in the injured Mason Thomas, who will be out for 4-6 weeks with a knee ligament injury picked up in the friendly against Histon. Blake Helsdown also picked up a knock during the pre-match warm up and wasn’t risked. The four new faces were U16s trialists; centre backs Ben Roche and Tom Ward, midfielder Lewis Carpenter and striker Toby Robinson.
The home side got off to the brighter start, forcing a corner inside the opening few minutes which was spilt by Ashley Foulger and headed just over the Diamonds’ crossbar. Wellingborough’s tricky right winger, Wayne Richardson, was causing problems for the AFC back line, and almost picked out the lanky Tom Liversedge with a dangerous cross, but Foulger did really well to claim the ball ahead of the striker.
A minute later the roles were reversed as Liversedge set up Richardson, but he snatched his shot well wide.
After a cagey opening 15 minutes by the visitors, they started to get into the game more and cause the Doughboys’ defence a few problems. A dangerous free kick delivery from Louis Smith appeared to strike the hand of a Wellingborough defender inside the penalty area, but the referee waved away the Diamonds’ appeals. A couple of minutes later, Ashley Meeks almost fluked the opening goal with a sliced right wing cross, but the ball just cleared the bar with Eliot Metcalf struggling between the sticks.
Smith was the next to try his luck, hitting a powerful 25 yard strike which flew narrowly over.
A minute later Foulger had to be at his best to keep out a 20 yard strike from Richardson, after he had turned well just outside the penalty area. From the resulting corner Jamie O’Keefe headed just over. Richardson kept up his impressive first half performance with a great run past Zach Farden and Ben Roche, but was denied once more by Foulger who smothered the ball bravely at his feet.
With just over half an hour played, the Diamonds had a great chance to open the scoring. James Harrison showed good pace and strength down the right wing, with Ashley Nunn hauling him down just outside the penalty area. Another great delivery from Smith found Danny Bird unmarked with the goal at his mercy, but his volley flew agonisingly wide of the post.
And not long after, the Doughboys made the Diamonds pay for the missed chance. A corner was only half cleared to the edge of the area, where Liversedge calmly stroked the ball through a crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner giving Foulger no chance.
Two minutes later Jared Newman was presented with a chance to double the lead as Foulger slipped taking a free kick on the left hand side of his penalty area, but with the Rushden ‘keeper struggling to get back in position Newman could only shoot high and wide from 30 yards.
The Doughboys went close once more shortly before the interval, as Newman crossed for Liversedge whose close range shot was well saved by the impressive Foulger. The ball ricocheted back off Meeks and looked to be heading in for an own goal, before he just managed to stop the ball on the line and clear it to safety.
HT: Wellingborough Town XI 1-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Wellingborough started the second half as they had finished the first, and Newman almost broke through on goal 4 minutes after the restart, but was denied by a great recovering tackle from Bird.
On 52 minutes the Diamonds were almost gifted an equaliser as Metcalf spilled Meeks’ right wing corner, but the defence bailed him out, clearing the ball off the line.
Rushden then made a mass substitution, changing the entire side with the exceptions of Foulger and Roche. Conor Bell took on the captain’s armband from Danny Bird. The changes unsurprisingly unsettled the Diamonds, and shortly after the home side double their advantage. Rushden failed to deal with a ball into the penalty area, and Newman pounced to cleverly lob the ball over Foulger’s head and into the back of the net.
Two minutes later it should probably have been 3-0, as Liversedge rose to meet Richardson’s deep cross from the right, but under pressure from Adam Ziolkowski and Mark Rust he could only head wide of the post from just a couple of yards out.
On 70 minutes the Diamonds had a great chance to get back in the game. Rust was fouled on the right flank, 35 yards from goal, and Fred Devereaux’s excellent delivery found the head of Roche, but he could only glance the ball wide of the post. Roche soon made amends for the missed chance however, clearing the ball off the line after John Lucas’ header had beaten Foulger.
The Doughboys height and strength advantage had caused problems from set pieces all night, and they went close again as the game entered its final 10 minutes, as Ashley Hunt headed just wide from a left wing corner. Their superior fitness was now starting to show as well, as the Diamonds struggled in the latter stages. Liversedge found space 25 yards from goal and fired in a shot which drew a great save from Foulger, who held the ball superbly.
The best moment of the game arrived a minute into stoppage time, as Wellingborough pushed for a third goal. A weak clearance fell only as far as Lucas 25 yards from goal, who teed up the ball before hitting a stunning volley which looked to be creeping just under Foulger’s bar. The Rushden stopper wasn’t to be outdone though, as he pulled off an equally outstanding save to tip the ball over. He then showed his Man of the Match credentials once more from the resulting corner, denying Liversedge from point blank range.
FT: Wellingborough Town XI 2-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Although the result went against the Diamonds, it was another good workout, and there were some encouraging performances with a few players looking as though they are already up to the physical challenge of senior football.
AFC R&D’s next game is the NSYL Knock Out Cup Quarter Final against ON Chenecks on Thursday evening. Match preview HERE.
Man of the Match: Ashley Foulger
Wellingborough Town XI
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|1. Eliot Metcalf
2. Ashley Nunn
3. Charlie Bardell
4. Jamie O’Beefe
5. Ashley Hunt
6. Luke Hughes
7. Wayne Richardson
8. John Lucas (c)
9. Tom Liversedge
10. Jared Newman
11. Guy Chatfield
|86. Ashley Foulger
4. Elliot Ames
5. Danny Bird (c)
14. Ben Roche
2. Ashley Meeks
6. Alex McDonald
8. Zaak Moon
21. Louis Smith
3. Zach Farden
9. James Harrison
11. Lewi Williams
12. Daniel Harding
14. Sean Hughes
15. Adi Langley (for Richardson, 68 mins)
16. Jamie Chatfield (for Nunn, 61 mins)
17. Matt James (for G. Chatfield, 45 mins)
7. Fred Devereaux (for McDonald, 57 mins)
10. Jeron Thompson (for Harrison, 57 mins)
12. Lewis Carpenter (for Moon, 57 mins)
13. Toby Robinson (for Williams, 57 mins)
15. Adam Ziolkowski (for Ames, 57 mins)
17. Dan Paterson (for Farden, 57 mins)
18. Tom Ward (for Bird, 57 mins)
19. Mark Rust (for Meeks, 57 mins)
22. Conor Bell (for Smith, 57 mins)
Liversedge (38 mins)
Newman (65 mins)
All images courtesy of Mal Swinden