VERDICT: Brilliant Diamonds make a five-star start

AFC Rushden & Diamonds celebrate Ben Farrell's goal during the 5-2 win over Redditch United at Hayden Road. Pictures by Mike Capps/
AFC Rushden & Diamonds celebrate Ben Farrell's goal during the 5-2 win over Redditch United at Hayden Road. Pictures by Mike Capps/

AFC Rushden & Diamonds announced their arrival into the Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central in devastating fashion as they put Redditch United to the sword with a 5-2 success at Hayden Road.

Any concerns that the move up to Step 3 would be tricky for Andy Peaks’ side were dismissed inside the first eight minutes as Diamonds flew out of the blocks to open up a 2-0 advantage.

Ben Diamond's shot finds the net for his first and AFC Rushden & Diamonds' third goal

Ben Diamond's shot finds the net for his first and AFC Rushden & Diamonds' third goal

And they never really looked back as a shell-shocked Redditch side struggled to deal with the attacking onslaught from the hosts.

To be honest, for the first hour, Peaks’ team produced a pretty much flawless display.

They were aggressive in their approach, they stayed solid defensively and in Ben Diamond, Tom Lorraine and Jack Bowen, they seem to have a front three that, on this evidence, will be capable of giving most defences in the league a torrid time.

Diamonds were out of sight before Redditch could really do anything about it was only when Peaks began to rest some legs up after his team had gone 5-0 up on the hour that the visitors managed to get any sort of foothold in the contest.

Whatever the Diamonds boss said to his players immediately before they went down the tunnel certainly worked as the hosts tore into Redditch from the first whistle.

They got the dream start after three minutes when a corner from the left was punched clear by visiting goalkeeper Ben Pierce.

But the ball was popped back into the area by Nathan Hicks and Bowen met it with a cool volley which found the far corner.

And if that was good, Diamonds were in dreamland just five minutes later.

While everyone was expecting Sam Brown to launch a trademark long throw in to the area, he instead went short to Callum Westwood.

His cross to the far post was met by Jack Ashton who headed back across goal where Ben Farrell arrived on cue to head home.

That blistering start left Redditch rocked but, as the game settled down, they did carve out a couple of opportunities with Ben Heath saving from Joseph Stokes before Leam Howards fired high over the bar after nutmegging Ashton following a rare moment of hesitation.

But the game was all-but up two minutes before the break when Diamond conjured up a third out of almost nothing.

There looked to be little on when he picked up the ball wide on the left but the frontman drove inside and then beat Pierce with a fine shot inside the near post.

Job done. But Diamonds weren’t finished there as they put the game beyond doubt with two goals in three minutes after the break.

Diamond grabbed his second from close-range after Lorraine’s powerful header was parried by Pierce but the club’s all-time leading goalscorer did get in on the act, sweeping home number five after Diamond’s effort had been blocked.

That gave Peaks the chance to ring the changes as Tuesday’s trip to Biggleswade Town became the main focus.

Redditch did get on the scoresheet with arguably the goal of the game as Stokes curled home a magnificent 30-yard free-kick.

And, after Diamond had scooped one over the bar as he went in search of a hat-trick, the visitors grabbed another late on when Howards reacted quickest to find the net after Heath had tipped another Stokes effort onto the post.

Those two goals were never going to take the gloss of Diamonds’ day though.

It’s early days. It’s very early days. But Diamonds have set an early standard for themselves. Long may it continue...

Diamonds: Heath; Westwood (sub Reynolds, 66 mins), Punter, Ashton (sub Oulton, 72 mins), Brown; Westbrook, Hicks, Farrell; Diamond, Lorraine (sub Dean, 76 mins), Bowen. Subs not used: Ward, Clifton.

Redditch: Pierce; Ashmore, Mead, Ezewele (sub Davidson, h-t), Mills; Loveridge; Stokes, Benjamin, Winters (sub Gibson, 60 mins); Moore (sub Keen, 66 mins), Howards. Subs not used: Leach-Whittingham, Boyd-Munce.

Referee: Ben Cooke.

Goals: Bowen (3 mins, 1-0), Farrell (8 mins, 2-0), Diamond (43 mins, 3-0), Diamond (57 mins, 4-0), Lorraine (60 mins, 5-0), Stokes (73 mins, 5-1), Howards (89 mins, 5-2).

Bookings: Westwood, Dean (both fouls).

Northants Telegraph star man: Ben Diamond - On a day when it was almost impossible to pick out any one individual, the diminutive frontman was worthy of an extra mention. A constant threat alongside his two attacking partners, Diamond caused havoc all afternoon with his movement and close control. He scored two very different goals and showed just why Diamonds placed him on a contract before the season kick-off. Impressive start.

Attendance: 592.