Liam Dolman scored both goals as AFC Rushden & Diamonds claimed a 2-1 success in the all-Northamptonshire clash to inflict a bit more misery on Corby Town at the Dog & Duck..
It may have only been an Integro League Cup first-round match, which was finally played at the fourth attempt after three previous postponements, but both Andy Peaks and Gary Mills will have learned plenty from it.
Both made changes after their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League exploits at the weekend with plenty of minutes being thrown into those who needed it.
For Diamonds, things are looking bright. They maintained their momentum from their Division One South exploits and there were some notable displays, not least from new signing Ben Farrell who anchored the midfield in impressive fashion.
Good news has been at a premium for Mills and his rock-bottom Steelmen. But this certainly wasn’t a poor display as they paid the price for some missed chances.
They handed Dan Farrell a debut in goal after he signed from Brackley Town while the second half brought the welcome sight of Ben Milnes making his return after a long injury lay-off.
Diamonds started brightly enough but it was Corby who had the first real shot in anger when Steven Leslie’s effort was comfortably saved at the near post by Ben Heath.
Lewis Wilson was unable to connect with Ben Farrell’s cross at the other end while Jordon Crawford’s cross-shot was agonisingly wide for Corby, Crawford having come on after an early injury to Danny Draper.
Heath made a decent save to turn Jordan Smith’s shot round for a corner after it had taken a nick off Dolman but the half descended into a scrappy affair before Diamonds broke the deadlock two minutes before the break.
And it couldn’t have been much simpler as Ben Ford sent over a corner from the left and it found Dolman and his header looped over Dan Farrell and dropped into the net.
The Steelmen came flying out of the blocks in the second half and they had the ball in the net when Connor Kennedy followed up after Heath had half-saved a Stefan Moore shot, but an offside flag had already gone up.
Moore clipped the outside of the post with a fizzing strike soon after and then Heath helped Leslie’s volley over the bar before denying Nathan Fox with his feet after the left-back had been played in by Moore.
And Corby were made to pay for those missed chances as Diamonds doubled their lead on 57 minutes.
Jake Newman cut in from the right and was clipped by Phil Trainer in the area. There were few complaints and Dolman stepped up to beat Dan Farrell from 12 yards.
Dan Farrell saved from Newman at his near post as Diamonds chased a third but the Steelmen were given late hope when Kennedy, who didn’t look out of place in a holding midfield role, curled a wonderful shot home from fully 30 yards.
Heath made a double save to deny Smith and then Trainer as Corby hunted a late equaliser.
But it never came as Mills’ men slipped to another defeat.
So it’s Diamonds who advance to take on Rugby Town in the next round of this competition.
But both clubs have much bigger fish to fry in the weeks to come...
Diamonds: Heath; McNulty, Dolman, Lee, Ford; B Farrell, Curtis; Orosz (sub Wreh, 82 mins), Leslie (sub Baird, 82 mins), Wilson; Newman (sub Maki, 76 mins). Subs not used: Finlay, Harris.
Steelmen: D Farrell; Bell (sub Marshall, 69 mins), Anton, Trainer, Fox; Jepson (sub Milnes, 58 mins), Kennedy; Leslie, Draper (sub Crawford, 11 mins), Smith, Moore. Subs not used: Connor, Frisch.
Referee: Gareth Hubbard.
Goals: Dolman (43 mins, 1-0), Dolman pen (57 mins, 2-0), Kennedy (87 mins, 2-1).
Bookings: Leslie (foul), Orosz, Crawford (both unsporting behaviour).