VERDICT – Coalville the latest to fall to impressive Diamonds

Jack Ashton heads home the winning goal as AFC Rushden & Diamonds beat Coalville Town in the FA Trophy. Pictures by Alison Bagley
Jack Ashton heads home the winning goal as AFC Rushden & Diamonds beat Coalville Town in the FA Trophy. Pictures by Alison Bagley
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Coalville Town became the latest higher-ranked team to fall at the Dog & Duck as AFC Rushden & Diamonds sprinkled some more knockout magic on their season.

A bullet header from the returning Jack Ashton on the hour settled a very watchable contest as Diamonds booked themselves a place in Monday’s Buildbase FA Trophy second qualifying round draw.

Jack Ashton heads off to celebrate after scoring Diamonds' goal

Jack Ashton heads off to celebrate after scoring Diamonds' goal

And, overall, Andy Peaks’ side had a strong argument that they were well worth the 1-0 success.

The task of taking on an Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division side certainly didn’t faze them and, for long spells, they were the better team.

They did, as you would expect, need goalkeeper Matt Finlay, to make a couple of decent saves to secure the result.

But they were never really hanging on for dear life after Ashton had headed them in front.

Indeed, they could have been well in control before that key moment arrived after they created the better openings in an even opening period.

Matt Coton was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half as he tipped an Ashton header over the crossbar.

And he was called into action again just before the break when Nic Evangelinos took down a ball beautifully and then saw his shot palmed away by Coton.

Things were a lot more open after the break and Nabil Shariff should have done better when he skipped past a defender. He looked destined to have a shot at goal but instead his cross evaded the outstretched boot of Tom Lorraine.

Finlay pushed a Jack McMillan shot onto the top of the bar, earning himself a dislocated finger in the process, which by the way, was politely put back in its place by a visiting supporter!

Chances continued to come at either end with Lorraine dragging a shot wide after the ball broke for him while Finlay made another good stop to turn Alex Troke’s 30-yard strike round the post.

But the breakthrough did come on the hour. Evangelinos was the provider as he sent a free-kick in from the left and Ashton rose at the far post to power home the header.

And from there, Diamonds really never looked like losing.

There were a few other half-chances to add to their lead but they defended their lines with relative ease to ensure the closest Coalville came was six minutes from the end when Troke blasted over the bar from 10 yards.

Job done and another higher-ranked victim to add to the list.

As has been previously observed, things are ticking along very nicely for Peaks and his men at the moment, especially with the injuries now clearing at a rapid pace.

And the timing couldn’t be much better with a trip to Northern Premier League Division One South leaders Spalding United coming up on Tuesday night.

That should be another intriguing test...

Diamonds: Finlay; McNulty, Dolman, Ashton, Brown; Orosz (sub Ford, 73 mins), Harris, Bunting (sub Winters, 90 mins), Evangelinos; Lorraine (sub Newman, 80 mins), Shariff. Subs not used: Parsons, Lee.

Coalville: Coton, Bryant, Freeman, McAteer, Torr; McMillan, Munn (sub Demidh, 41 mins), Towers (sub Thorpe, 67 mins), Woodward; Troke, Watson. Subs not used: Fyfield, Bowles.

Referee: Simon Brown.

Goal: Ashton (60 mins, 1-0).

Bookings: Dolman (foul), Watson (dissent).

Attendance: 448.