Town Downed by a Double at Diamonds
By Andy Chilton
A depleted but spirited Town fail to convert chances as they fall to play off rivals in Northamptonshire
Match Report by KEVIN HAND, Match Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS, Photographs by GRANTY
AFC Rushden and Diamonds 2 Stratford 0 HT (0-0)
Tuesday 19 February, 2019 7.45 pm
EvoStik Premier Division Central
• I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver
On a deceptively cold evening Stratford were given a warm reception both on and off the pitch! AFC R&D is a well-run, friendly club and, on the night, their team oozed class and pace all over the park. Not that Town was far behind but a patched up team with 2 significant suspensions their efforts weren’t quite enough.
Lewis Wilson and Albi Skendi filled in at the centre of defence and let no-one down. Mid-field saw the return of club captain, Jimmy Fry. Wilson and Oulton, are ex-Diamonds players fondly remembered by the home fans but they still gave Ross some ‘stick’ when he was booked on 19 minutes following a series of crunching tackles. Oulton walked the tight rope for the rest of the game to put in an outstanding display.
Town had the advantage of the slope in the first 45 minutes that the locals saw as significant. And so it nearly proved on 10 seconds as Wilson Carvalho broke from the left and drove forward only to finish with a tame shot from just outside the area that was easily gathered by keeper Ben Heath. The opening exchanges were open; Diamonds fluid and pacey; Town neatly-intricate.
On 6 minutes Cox hit a fierce goal-bound drive that was blocked but generally defences were proving stubborn to break down. Cox was then to make an outstanding tackle on 14 minutes when the dangerous Tom Lorraine broke into the area. But it was Town who enjoyed marginally more of the game with Grocott combining well with Carvalho. Town’s best chance came on 40 when neat inter-passing down the left saw Grocott play in Shariff whose shot was turned away for a corner by Heath.
The second half continued as a feast of open football with Diamonds taking control. Zak Reynolds began to get the measure of Wilson Carvalho. Samuel Johnson, Tom Lorraine and Ben Diamond impressed with their pace and fluidity. Not that Town didn’t threaten. On 52 minutes Shariff and Creaney both had shots blocked as Town piled on the pressure. At the other end Etheridge had to save from Hicks and Diamond. The opening goal came on 60 minutes from the unlikely source of defensive rock, Liam Dolman. Diamonds won a corner on the right and Etheridge clawed away Ben Diamond’s header only for Dolman to pop up and power home from an acute angle.
Albi Skendi now pressed forward as Town fought for an equaliser. Inevitably, gaps were left and on 70 minutes Samuel Johnson raced clear through the middle and made no mistake for a second and decisive Diamonds’ score. Town battled to the end as Creaney saw a header loop onto the bar and a Carvalho swerving free kick was tipped over by Heath.
It’s really tight at the top now with probably up to 6 teams (including Diamonds) vying for a play-off place. The next games at Hitchin and Barwell may well define Town’s play-off aspirations. If so, the return fixture against Diamonds at the Arden Garages Stadium could be tasty indeed.
• I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver. Othello - Act1 Scene3
Man of the Match: Ross Oulton
| 9||Goal Attempts|| 13|
| 7||On Target|| 5|
| 0||Blocked Shots|| 0|
| 0||Hit Woodwork|| 1|
| 5||Corners Won|| 4|
| 5||Crosses into Box|| 8|
| 13||Fouls Conceded|| 13|
| 2||Off Side|| 0|
| 0||Yellow Cards|| 2|
| 0||Red Cards|| 0|
Saturday 23 February 3.00pm Hitchin (A) EvoStik PDC
Saturday 02 March 3.00pm Barwell (A) EvoStik PDC