AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 Newark 5 - Jon Dunham’s review

AFC Rushden & Diamonds suffered an embarrassing exit from the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of lower-ranked opposition at Hayden Road.

By Jon Dunham
Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 12:00 pm
It was a night to remember for the Newark players but one to forget for AFC Rushden & Diamonds at Hayden Road. Pictures courtesy of HawkinsImages
It was a night to remember for the Newark players but one to forget for AFC Rushden & Diamonds at Hayden Road. Pictures courtesy of HawkinsImages

Jon Dunham gives his observations from a dreadful night for Andy Peaks’ team.

It was a bad start and it only got worse from there

There’s some things you can’t vouch for.

Lorrell Smith runs at the Newark defence during the FA Cup defeat

Diamonds conceded a penalty inside the first 30 seconds and, in fairness, Jack Ashton was a bit unfortunate as he appeared to take as much of the ball as he did of the player.

But with the spot-kick being converted and then a cross looping over goalkeeper Richard Walton after just seven minutes, it left the majority inside Hayden Road shell-shocked.

However, there was no excuse for what followed.

Instead of finding a way to stay in the game and settling into the contest, Diamonds pretty much caved in.

Luke Fairlamb in action for Diamonds

It was 3-0 after 22 minutes, it could have been five by half-time. The simple fact is, Diamonds paid the price for a poor start and they never recovered.

A performance you wouldn’t normally associate with an Andy Peaks team

By all accounts, Diamonds were very good in the weekend’s league opener at Nuneaton Borough as they claimed a point in a 1-1 draw.

And that just made this display, all the more bizarre.

Newark were jumping for joy after booking their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup

If there is one trademark you could label an Andy Peaks side with during his time as manager of Diamonds it would probably be - fight.

Win, lose or draw, you can normally be assured that Peaks’ team would fight for everything from start to finish.

And the fact that it seemed on this night they were beaten by a team who simply wanted it more than them will be a concern for the manager.

The fight and battling qualities went missing just when Diamonds needed them and, as a result, they got exactly what they deserved.

Newark are a Step 5 side. They didn’t look like one.

I managed to find a few minutes during yesterday afternoon to do a little bit of homework on Diamonds’ opponents.

The first name that stuck out in their line-up was Craig Westcarr, who I managed to catch a quick word with when I arrived at Hayden Road having known him from his time at Kettering Town.

He, as you would expect, played pretty well and was part of an impressive attacking set up with Ben Hutchinson and, in particular, Kevin Bastos playing starring roles.

Newark, who play in the top division of the Midland Football League, are yet to concede a goal this season and have progressed to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup in their first-ever appearance in the competition.

You couldn’t help but be impressed by their intensity and work-rate. They will be a tough opponent for whoever draws them in the next round.

Now there must be a reaction, not an overreaction

The Diamonds players will have to take the criticism from this performance and result on the chin.

It was a bad, bad night but there really haven’t been many of those over the past few years.

And, in general, when Andy Peaks’ team suffered a setback in the past, they’ve usually reacted in a positive manner.

Now they must do it again.

While no-one gets carried away by a big early-season win, neither should they get carried away by a setback.

It is, of course, hugely disappointing for it to have come in the FA Cup.

But Diamonds can now look ahead to two home league matches, the first of which is against Barwell on Saturday.

They owe their manager, their fans and, most importantly, themselves a big performance.

If we go on past history, they’ll hopefully be ready to deliver just that.