VERDICT - Off-colour Diamonds receive a wake-up call

The AFC Rushden & Diamonds players look dejected after Beaconsfield Town grabbed their winning goal at Hayden Road. Pictures by Alison Bagley
The AFC Rushden & Diamonds players look dejected after Beaconsfield Town grabbed their winning goal at Hayden Road. Pictures by Alison Bagley

AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ unbeaten start to the new season came to a shuddering halt as they received something of a wake-up call at the hands of Beaconsfield Town at Hayden Road.

The visitors hit back from a goal down at half-time to secure a 2-1 success and send Andy Peaks’ team tumbling to defeat.

The ball is in the net after Elliot Carey headed home the visitors' equaliser

The ball is in the net after Elliot Carey headed home the visitors' equaliser

And, in the end, there really could be no arguments.

Aside from a 20-minute spell in the first half, Diamonds were surprisingly lacklustre and desperately lacking a spark.

No team can win every game, of course, but sometimes it’s not about losing, more the way you lose and Diamonds really didn’t do enough on this occasion.

The warning signs of what was to come were there as Beaconsfield started brightly.

Charlie Losasso, who was the best player on the pitch, curled a free-kick wide and then went even closer with a fierce 20-yard drive before Ben Heath produced a superb point-blank save to deny Spencer Bellotti who looked certain to head home from an Andre Costa cross.

But Diamonds did work their way back into the contest and they were awarded a penalty just before the half-hour when Nabil Shariff was bundled over in the area by Jerome Eccleston.

It looked soft and Beaconsfield would probably say justice was done when Liam Dolman’s spot-kick cannoned off the outside of the post.

But Diamonds kept the pressure on and, after Dolman had headed just off target, they did get in front when Darryl Smith flicked Joe Curtis’ corner home.

Nabil Shariff and Claudiu Hoban were both denied by visiting goalkeeper James Norris before the break but the hosts were unable to maintain their momentum in the second half.

Instead, it was Beaconsfield who played their way back into the contest and they drew level on 64 minutes when Losasso’s inch-perfect cross was headed home at the far post by Elliot Carey.

Shariff was denied by Norris and substitute Fernando Bell-Toxtle was just off target with a 25-yard effort as Diamonds looked to get their noses back in front.

But it was the visitors who took the points when they grabbed the winner with six minutes to go. And Losasso got the goal he deserved as he worked his way into the area and beat Heath with a cool finish.

The simplicity of the two goals will be a major concern for Peaks as his team failed to hit the heights that had seen them make such an impressive start.

They now have a week to get over this and pick themselves up before heading to Vanarama National League North side Alfreton Town in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup next weekend.

And they will have to be a lot better than this if they are to pull off an upset...

Diamonds: Heath; Punter, Dolman, Brown (sub Bell-Toxtle, 70 mins), Ford; Hoban (sub Fairlamb, 70 mins), Farrell, Curtis, Smith; Dillon (sub Lorraine, 84 mins), Shariff. Subs not used: Bunting, Finlay.

Beaconsfield: Norris; Vassell, Neville, Eccleston, Cousins; Costa (sub Lockhart-Adams, 84 mins), Powell, Daly, Losasso; Bellotti (sub Morgan, 29 mins, sub Ajanlekoko, 90 mins), Carey. Subs not used: Mapley, Minhas.

Referee: Oliver Mackey.

Goals: Smith (37 mins, 1-0), Carey (64 mins, 1-1), Losasso (84 mins, 1-2).

Bookings: Smith, Ford (both fouls).

Attendance: 429.