Yaxley FC 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1

AFC Rushden & Diamonds reached the semi-finals of the UCL Knock-out Cup for the first time after a well fought 1-0 win at fellow UCL Premier high-flyers Yaxley FC on Tuesday evening.

Manager Andy Peaks chose a strong line-up to take on a Yaxley side that had only been beaten twice at home all season. The back 5 were unchanged from Saturday’s trip to Eynesbury, while Adam Confue came into central midfield in place of Richard Bunting. Elliot Lamb-Johnson started with Matt Gearing dropping to the bench, and joined Tom Lorraine, Jason Turner and Scott Joseph (37 goals between them this season) in a fluid front four. Two U21 players were on the bench and would have game time – recent signing Sam Donohoe, and Joe Ackroyd.

There was energy and intensity from both sides from the start confirming it would be a full on contest between sides taking the competition seriously.

Tom Lorraine had the first chance for Diamonds turning his man superbly on the edge of the box on 3 minutes to be one on one with the keeper but he was unable to force the ball past the quick closing Yaxley keeper Butcher.

Yaxley were moving the ball well in midfield but unable to fashion much in the way of clear chances against a typically energetic and aggressive Diamonds defence. They did fire in free-kicks and dangerous crosses early that were well cleared by the Diamonds defence.

Scott Joseph had a chance to add to his excellent goals to appearance ratio on 9 minutes. A right wing cross was dropped by Butcher under pressure from Jason Turner allowing Joseph to fire in a quick half-volley from 15 yards with the keeper prone but it went just wide.

Diamonds were playing with a fluid forward 5 in front of the holding Brad Harris with Adam Confue breaking forward, Elliot Lamb-Johnson appearing as often centrally as out wide, and Joseph, Turner and Lorraine regularly inter-changing.

It was Tom Lorraine who looked most likely to open the scoring first turning in the rebound on 20 minutes after Lamb-Johnson’s shot at the end of a good run had come back off the post only to see the off-side flag as he peeled away in celebration.

He then flicked a close range header from a trademark Sam Brown long throw on 23 straight at Butcher from 5 yards. And came even closer on 35 latching on to a great through ball, rounding the keeper but being forced wide and from a ridiculously tight angle firing in a shot against the post as he was falling.

Adam Confue was raiding forward on a regular basis and he got onto an Elliot Lamb-Johnson cross-shot on 28 heading just over from 10 yards.

Diamonds had dominated a lively good quality half but it remained goalless at half-time.

Half-time: Yaxley 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0

Yaxley started the second half with a sustained period of pressure that first half play had promised but not really delivered and they crafted two good chances in that early period.

First a dangerous run and cross on 46 produced a near post header which Matt Finlay batted away, the ball breaking to the edge of the box where a free-kick was conceded by Diamonds. The resultant shot was curled firmly into the top corner at some pace but Finlay got up superbly to tip the ball over.

Tommy Berwick had come on at half-time to replace Adam Confue with Tom Lorraine dropping into a forward midfield roll, and he was into the action straight away driving in an excellent cross from the right hand side on 53 that found Jason Turner in space but was just too high for him to be able to control his header from 15 yards.

As Diamonds continue to run at pace at the Yaxley back-line Elliot Lamb-Johnson received his xth yellow card of the season on 57 for his reaction to a poor challenge which was also punished with yellow. He stepped up though and fired in a powerful effort from the resultant free-kick that Butcher held down by the near post.

He was close again on 59 with a shot at the end of pacy run which keeper Butcher held at the second attempt before Diamonds finally opened the scoring on 62.

Great work from Jason Turner who had been excellent all night allowed him to feed the ball to Scott Joseph on the right hand side of the penalty area. He fired home on the volley just inside the near post from 15 yards for his 11th goal of the season to his and his teammates obvious delight.

Yaxley reacted really well to falling behind coming very close just a minute later getting deep into the box at the end of a great run and finding a close range effort blocked by Matt Finlay’s legs. Soon after another great chance came from the a right wing run where the ball was cut-back to around 15 yards out but fired well over when surely a shot on target would have troubled Finlay.

Sam Donohoe, an U21 debutant on Saturday, made his senior debut on 76 in place of Elliot Lamb-Johnson and looked lively and confident from the off and got forward on 83 to hit a lobbed effort just over after good work by ever willing Jason Turner.

Yaxley really upped the tempo as the clock ran down and dominated the final stages of the game. Chances were limited but a cushioned header from a ball forward into the path of on rushing forward on 87 looked to be the chance they needed but an offside flag halted their progress. Finlay came to collect a dangerous cross under pressure just a minute later, and collected a fierce effort well on 89 that bounced just in front of him.

As the game went into added time another good Yaxley run down the left hand side of the box had Liam Dolman under pressure and his challenge on the forward seemed a really good penalty shout but the referee waved away the Yaxley appeals.

It was the final action of an entertaining evening and the final whistle was greeted gleefully by Diamonds whose performance had merited a place in the UCL KO Cup semi-finals.

Final score: Yaxley 0 – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1

It was an enterprising performance from a strong Diamonds side playing in a fluid formation that had Yaxley under pressure all night. Yaxley were excellent opposition and the 153 crowd were well entertained on a night that cooled noticeably in later stages but served up a game doing credit to the UCL KO Cup competition. Starters Jason Turner, Tom Lorraine, Scott Joseph and Elliot Lamb-Johnson will have pleased Andy Peaks with their effort and application, and cameo appearances for Sam Donohoe and Joe Ackroyd will have boosted the view of squad strength on this title run-in.

Title contenders Wisbech will be Diamonds semi-final opponents at the Dog & Duck on a provisional date of March 31st. Potton take on Lutterworth in the other semi-final.

Next up for Diamonds is the start of a run of 7 home league games in the last 9 with the visit of Huntingdon Town to the Dog & Duck on Saturday.

Man of the match: Liam Dolman

Attendance: 153

Match Report: Paul Judd


AFC Rushden & Diamonds


17. Matt Finlay

2.   Charlie Butt

3.   Sam Brown

4.   Jack Ashton

5.   Liam Dolman

6.   Brad Harris

7.   Elliot Lamb-Johnson

8.   Adam Confue

9.   Tom Lorraine

10. Jason Turner

11. Scott Joseph


12. Matt Gearing

13. Rhys Redding

14. Sam Donohoe (for Lamb-Johnson 76)

15. Joe Ackroyd (for Joseph 89)

16. Tommy Berwick (for Confue 45)

1.   Aaron Butcher

2.   John-Paul Duncliffe

3.   Luke Hipwell

4.   Dalton Bettles

5.   Gavin Cooke

6.   Wayne Morris

7.   Liam Hook

8.  Luke Thurlbourne

9.   Kyle Nolan

10. Ricky Hailstone

11. Dan Cotton


12. Casey Logan

14. Lewis Stone (for Cotton 63)



Goals: Joseph (62)


Yellow Cards: Lamb-Johnson (53)

Yellow Cards: Hook (53)

Red Cards:

 Red Cards:

Referee: Paul Cooper

Assistants: William Hardie, Shaun Gregory



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