Wisbech Town 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3

AFC Rushden & Diamonds produced a memorable performance to defeat Wisbech Town 3-1 at the Fenland Stadium on Saturday afternoon. After Richard Bunting had given the Diamonds the lead from a 35 yard free kick, and Russ Dunkley had also seen his free kick hit the back of the net off the post and the keepers legs, the Diamonds were reduced to 10 men at the break with Bunting receiving a straight red card. The 10 men added a third at the start of the second half through Fazel Koriya before Sam Brown also saw red for a foul on the edge of the box when deemed to deny a scoring chance. The hosts pulled one back from the resultant free kick, before the Diamonds went down to 8 men when Russ Dunkley picked up a second yellow card, but the 8 man Diamonds side held out for almost half an hour before celebrating a famous victory in front of the large contingent of travelling fans.

Manager Andy Peaks made just one change to the team which started against Sleaford last weekend, with Joel Gyasi returning to the side in place of Elliott Lamb-Johnson. Matt Gearing came onto the bench in place of Charlie Butt.

Diamonds played with a really strong wind at their backs in the first half on a day when weather conditions would significantly impact what would be a truly dramatic game.

Wisbech held possession in the first few minutes probing around the Diamonds box but were held to shots from distance by a strong and aggressive Diamonds defence but Diamonds grew into the game quickly. Tom Lorraine ran onto an early ball into the right hand channel shooting firmly for Lea Jordan to save low down before the opening goal came on 6 minutes in spectacular fashion.

Diamonds were awarded a free-kick in a central position 35 yards from goal seemingly too far to contemplate a shot at goal. But Richard Bunting who doesn’t score tap-ins had other ideas and hit a superb curling shot into the top corner, his second fantastic strike in two league games after his screamer at Sleaford last week.

It led to a period of Diamonds domination with Joel Gyasi, Fazel Koriya and Adam Confue in particular running at the Wisbech defence. Both Wisbech centre halves received yellow cards in this period for halting Diamonds attacks and it seemed a matter of time before another goal would come, and it duly did on 25 minutes through yet another free-kick. This time Russ Dunkley was felled right on the edge of the area to the right hand side and he stood over the free-kick with Richard Bunting. With Bunting feinting another curler Russ Dunkley stepped up and smashed in a low shot that went under the wall hit the post and went in off keeper Lee Jordan’s leg for an own goal.

Just as Diamonds seemed to have the game firmly under control the first major setback came as referee Sam Anderson adjudged Richard Bunting’s lunging tackle in midfield as a red card offence. He was pressured in unseemly fashion by Wisbech players which would feature again in this dramatic game, and Bunting was clearly not happy as he eventually left the pitch.

The wind really strengthened in this period and the rain became little short of torrential making controlled play really difficult for the players. Wisbech did have their best effort at goal on 38 minutes a dipping volley from Reid just clearing Matt Finlay’s goal. But Diamonds also came close to extending their lead through a trademark Fazel Koriya curling effort after he latched onto a Russ Dunkley knock-down and cut inside.

Half-time: Wisbech Town 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

There had to be considerable doubt about the game continuing during the half-time break as the relentless downpour started to show in puddles on the pitch. The officials had a look and decided to continue and as the rain continued and the ball started to hold-up on the pitch in sometimes comical fashion it was very much touch and go on the game being completed.

10 man Diamonds continued to show attacking intent as they have done on previous occasions this season and were rewarded with what would be a crucial 3rd goal on 50 minutes. Russ Dunkley turned brilliantly onto a ball into the box only for Paul Cousins to make a great saving tackle with water splashing everywhere, but the ball broke to Fazel Koriya who took a touch and curled a superb shot over the retreating keeper Jordan into the far corner.

Any thought that goal had clinched the game were soon dashed though after Wisbech first tested the impressively secure Matt Finlay in the Diamonds goal with fierce 25 yard shot, and then on 60 minutes got Josh Ford clear on the edge of the box drawing a sliding challenge from Sam Brown. Wisbech initially appealed for a penalty which the assistants position lined up on the 18 yard line showed wouldn’t be given, and then for a sending off. After initially not seeming interested referee Sam Anderson was urged to consult with his assistant and duly produce the red card.

With Diamonds down to 9 men and the wall forced back at the resultant free-kick right on the edge of the box Jack Ashton received a yellow card for pointing out the correct distance. It was to no avail though as Josh Ford superbly struck the ball through the wall into the bottom corner to give real hope to Wisbech that they could get something out of the game.

Joel Gyasi was sacrificed to allow Jamal Clarke to come on at centre-half alongside Liam Dolman with Jack Ashton moving out to full-back. After a decent penalty appeal for holding on Russ Dunkley was turned down things got even worse for Diamonds after the big forward working hard as the lone striker received two yellow cards in quick succession for seemingly late challenges on defenders making clearances.

It meant Diamonds would play the final 25 minutes plus plenty of added on time with an unprecedented 8 men. They adopted a 4 – 3 formation with Tom Lorraine and Fazel Koriya having to work the whole midfield alongside the tireless Adam Confue with no-one further forward.

Matt Finlay was tested a number of times with shots from around the edge of the box as his 7 outfield players retreated under mounting pressure. His handling was superb though with Wisbech forwards closing in expecting him to spill the ball in difficult conditions but he disappointed them again and again.

The defending was heroic as play got more frantic and Wisbech sensed one goal would break diamonds resistance. Lunn who came on as second half substitute side footed wide from 15 yards, and then hit a daisy cutter from 18 yards agonisingly wide as bodies were thrown in his way.

The whole ground thought Wisbech must score on 83 minutes as Finlay again pushed a dangerous bobbling shot out only for Josh Ford to latch onto the loose ball and fire back across goal but a quite brilliant goal line clearance under incredible pressure saw Diamonds survive.

Then on 90 minutes with plenty of added time to come a great cross from Lunn found Milson whose header back across goal was superbly held at full stretch on the line by Matt Finlay. As he climbed to his feet he was covered in mud from head to foot like many of his colleagues who were giving everything for the cause.

There was time for one more piece of heroics as he took a deep cross right under his cross bar only to be clattered by the onrushing Josh Ford but somehow he managed to hold the ball and avoid being bundled into the net.

The large travelling army of Diamonds fans were the genuine 12th man throughout the game (or should that be 9th man) but particularly in those latter stages roaring the team on and cheering every clearance and every heroic tackle.

After seemingly hours of added on time the referee finally blew the whistle to an incredible reaction by fans and players who knew how crucial an away win against strong opposition in these circumstances was.

Final Score: Wisbech 1 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 3

It was a heroic performance by the 8 men who survived the final 30 minutes of play without conceding but manager Andy Peaks will be pleased with the way his team got control of the game early on in each half against strong opposition. He will lose Richard Bunting and Sam Brown for 3 games for straight red cards, and Russ Dunkley for 1 game for his two yellows which will test the squad he has put together over coming games.

Next up for Diamonds is a home game next Saturday against Yaxley, before a trip to Cogenhoe the following Tuesday.

Man of the match : Adam Confue

Attendance : 341

Match Report by Paul Judd 

Wisbech Town

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

1. Lee Jordan

2. Neal Spafford

3. Scott Johnson

4. Paul Cousins

5. Jonathan Fairweather

6. Adam Milson

7. Daniel Beaumont

8. Steven Reid

9. Joshua Ford

10. Stuart Cobb

11. William Smith

Subs

12. Mathew Lunn (for Cobb 59)

13. Thomas Treacher (for Cousins 56)

14. Luke Wilson

17. Matt Finlay

2.   Brad Harris

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Adam Confue

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Jack Ashton

7.   Joel Gyasi

8.   Richard Bunting

9.   Tom Lorraine

10. Russ Dunkley

11. Fazel Koriya

Subs

12. Jamal Clarke (for Gyasi 63)

13. Josh Thomson

14. Jason Turner (for Lorraine 84)

15. Matt Gearing

16. Scott Joseph

Goals: Ford (62)

 

Goals: Bunting (6), Own Goal (25), Koriya (50)

Yellow Cards: Cousins (9), Milson (18), Beaumont (76), Ford (89)

 

Yellow Cards: Koriya (31), Ashton (61), Dunkley (65 & 66), Clarke (79)

Red Cards:

 

 Red Cards: Bunting (37), Brown (60), Dunkley (66)

Referee: Sam Anderson

Assistants: Lukas Wood, Gabriel Rabatin

 

 

 

 

Updated player profiles with appearance and goalscoring details are now available.

 

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Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography (click on the link to access the Diamonds Photo Gallery for more images from this game and ecommerce options). Copyright Mal Swinden ©2014

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