VERDICT – A change in fortune is most welcome for Diamonds

Claudiu Hoban is mobbed by his AFC Rushden & Diamonds team-mates after opening the scoring in the 2-1 win over Aylesbury United. Pictures by Alison Bagley
Claudiu Hoban is mobbed by his AFC Rushden & Diamonds team-mates after opening the scoring in the 2-1 win over Aylesbury United. Pictures by Alison Bagley
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It looked like being the same old story for AFC Rushden & Diamonds before fortune turned in their favour at the Dog & Duck.

Three draws from the first three games was, by no means, a disaster even though there had been some frustration after two of those had come after Diamonds had held winning positions.

Claudiu Hoban celebrates his goal during AFC Rushden & Diamonds' 2-1 victory over Aylesbury United

Claudiu Hoban celebrates his goal during AFC Rushden & Diamonds' 2-1 victory over Aylesbury United

But it’s amazing how good things can look if you put a win on top of a trio of stalemates from the first four games of the season.

And that’s the position Andy Peaks’ side now find themselves in after a dramatic finish saw them record their first win of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central campaign.

The theme looked like it would continue. Diamonds led and then they conceded towards the end. But this time, there was another twist to come.

Aylesbury United provided Peaks and his team with another stern test. Indeed, they could confidently argue that their overall display was worth at least a point.

But the 2-1 victory that eventually went the way of Diamonds was most welcome and now gives them a real platform to build on.

The visitors were the better side in the early stages and Stacey Field headed wide from a good position before the same player was denied by a smart save from Matt Finlay after he had been sent through on goal.

Diamonds weren’t helped by the early withdrawal of Jack Ashton through injury but that meant a return for Liam Dolman following a calf problem. It was a substitution, which would later pay dividends.

Diamonds gradually grew into the game and skipper Richard Bunting clipped the post with a fierce 25-yard strike before Tom Lorraine struck the inside of an upright.

If the hosts thought their luck was out, they had to think again as they took the lead on the half-hour.

Sam Brown’s ball forward sent Claudiu Hoban racing away down the left channel. And the winger produced a composed finish across Aylesbury goalkeeper Alex Tokarczyk for his second goal in as many games.

Finlay tipped Billy Adcock’s long-range effort round the post but Diamonds went close again before the break with Dolman having a header cleared off the line before Lorraine was unable to direct a header from Hoban’s cross on target.

The second period started quietly with Hoban almost doubling the lead when his corner was tipped over by Tokarczyk.

Slowly but surely though, the Ducks began to apply the pressure and Finlay had to be at his best to deny Steve Hatch following a corner with 11 minutes to go.

However, it looked like being yet another draw when Aylesbury did draw level on 85 minutes. A cross came in from the right after a free-kick had only been half-cleared and unmarked centre-half Alex Collard beat Finlay with a powerful header.

Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, Diamonds gave it go and, as the game ticked into stoppage-time, their luck changed.

A ball forward deflected perfectly into the path of Dan Quigley and he was chopped down by Tokarczyk, the most blatant penalty you will ever see.

Dolman, who has become something of a talisman for Diamonds, took on the responsibility and confidently sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to seal the points.

They did it the hard way but at least they did it this time. Diamonds have their first win and an unbeaten record after four matches.

A half-decent start now looks like a pretty good one...

Diamonds: Finlay; Harris, Gordon, Ashton (sub Dolman, 18 mins), Brown; Bunting, Quigley; Spriggs (sub Lamb-Johnson, 79 mins), Berwick, Hoban; Lorraine (sub Joseph, 70 mins). Subs not used: Redding, Butt.

Aylesbury United: Tokarczyk; Wood, Collard, Hatch, Grace; French (sub Owens, 54 mins), Adcock, Williams (sub Morgan, 74 mins), Collins; Casey, Field (sub Edgeworth, 79 mins). Subs not used: Stillitoe, Bewley.

Referee: Grant Taylor.

Goals: Hoban (30 mins, 1-0), Collard (85 mins, 1-1), Dolman pen (90 mins, 2-1).

Bookings: Collard, Bunting, Casey, Tokarczyk (all fouls).

Attendance: 361.