AFC Rushden & Diamonds go into the 2nd Round of the FA Carlsberg Vase after defeating UCL Premier side Yaxley 2-1 at Leading Drove on Saturday afternoon. In an even first-half, Deven Ellwood had given the Diamonds the lead after 25 minutes, only to see the home side equalise within a minute. The Diamonds dominated the second period but had to wait until the 90th minute to get the reward for their performance when Ben Morgan stooped to head the ball home after the home keeper had failed to deal with a long ball into the box.
Mark Starmer made a single change to the side that won in the league at Hayden Road last weekend, with the injured Alfie Taylor being replaced by Ben Morgan. Jake Newman returned from his break to take a place on the bench, but with Ashley Foulger ill and Peter Okechukwu a late withdrawal the Diamonds only had four substitutes.
Once again the Diamonds fans were treated to a pleasant Autumn afternoon, as well as the hospitality of their hosts and top quality pre-match music.
Before the game there was a minute of silence in memory of Peterborough Northern Star stalwart David Pearson.
It was the home side who started the brighter, with Odain and Hipwell finding space down the right for Odain to force the first of several saves from Quincy Shorunmu during the first quarter. A Murphy free kick was headed wide by Odain before the Diamonds created their first chance from a Brown throw, but the Séan McBride shot was caught by Lowndes.
Aynsley McDonald received a yellow card for a tackle with studs showing after 16 minutes as the home side continued to threaten.
After surviving the early pressure the Diamonds took the lead after 25 minutes when Sam Brown pumped a clearance from a Diamonds free-kick back into the box, where Chris Hope flicked on to Ben Morgan, but and his flick back across goal was headed home by Deven Ellwood from close range.
The Diamonds lead only lasted a minute as a misunderstanding between McBride and McDonald presented the ball to Adam Rothery, who quickly fed Luke Hipwell who had plenty of space to compose himself and fire past Shorunmu.
For some teams this setback might have been a significant blow, but to the Diamonds credit it seemed to increase their resolve, and they went on to dominate the remainder of the half – and indeed the match.
Home keeper Jamie Lowndes was then the star of the last 25 minutes of the half as he saved from Ben Morgan, Deven Ellwood (twice) and Jack Wisniewski as the Diamonds took control. Jake Gillingwater and Joe Merrill started to create things down the right to rival the threat of Jack Wisniewski on the left, with the two interchanging positions as the opportunities arose. The half ended with Gillingwater seeing one shot saved and another hit Ben Morgan to give Jack Wisniewski a chance which he fired wide.
Half-Time Yaxley 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
The second half followed the pattern of the second quarter of the game, with the Diamonds well on top for the whole period.
Efforts from Merrill, Gilsenan and Ellwood threatened the home goal before the Cuckoos had their first opportunity mid-way through the half, when Quincy Shorunmu was adjudged to have misjudged his distribution and handled the ball outside of the area.
Jamie Gilsenan was having a fine game in midfield, and he picked up a loose ball outside of the box and his ball forwards was flicked on by Chris Hope to Jack Wisniewski whose shot was deflected wide. The resultant Merrill corner flicked off the head of Chris Hope well inside the six-yard box.
Other Diamonds efforts saw Deven Ellwood have a shot saved, Séan McBride shoot wide and then Jamie Gilsenan fired a close-range free-kick over the bar after he had been tripped on the edge of the area.
As extra-time was a possibility, both managers delayed any changes until fairly late in the game, with Jake Newman replacing Deven Ellwood with 10 minutes left. The Diamonds substitute had one of the best chances of the half when he was alert to a neat clip forward by Ben Morgan, but his outstretched foot flicked the ball over the bar.
The game was in the 90th minute when a long ball forwards from Chris Hope saw the determined Ben Morgan challenge home keeper Lowndes who failed to grasp the ball, and as it fell behind the keeper, Morgan was able to stoop forwards to head the ball into the unguarded net.
The Diamonds survived some late pressure from the Cuckoos to cement their place in the next round of the FA Vase, with the draw to be made on Monday morning.
Full-Time: Yaxley 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
The Diamonds return to UCL action at the Dog & Duck next weekend when they host Burton Park Wanderers. Before then there is a Ladies game (Sunday), U18 game (Monday) and a Diamonds XI game at Lutterworth on Thursday.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match: Ben Morgan
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Jamie Lowndes
2. Jacob Smitheringale
3. Marc Welcher
4. Kyle Nolan
5. Matt Holland(Capt)
6. Andy Coleman
7. Ondre Odain
8. Adam Rothery
9. Luke Hipwell
18. Luke Ferrer
11. Samuel Murphy
12. Jack Raynor
14. Craig Norman
15. Daniel Jenkins (for Ferrer 89)
16. Connor Murphy
19. Ashley Brand
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Jake Gillingwater
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
6. Aynsley McDonald (Capt)
7. Jack Wisniewski
8. Jamie Gilsenan
9. Ben Morgan
10. Deven Ellwood
11. Joe Merrill
12. Jake Newman (for Ellwood 80)
13. Louis Smith
14. George Cox (for Morgan 90+2)
15. Alex Deakin
Goals: Hipwell (26)
Goals: Ellwood (25), Morgan (90)
Yellow Cards : Holland, Nolan, Smitheringale
Yellow Card: McDonald
Referee: James Thorold
AFCRDTV highlights are available here
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2012 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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