VERDICT - Five-star Diamonds hammer Barton

Ben Farrell scored twice for AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Ben Farrell scored twice for AFC Rushden & Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds returned to winning ways in the Evo-Stik South League East in emphatic fashion as they thrashed Barton Rovers 5-0 at Hayden Road.

Most of the damage was done in an explosive first 25 minutes as Diamonds stormed into a 3-0 lead as they wasted little time in getting over Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Hayes & Yeading United.

And they added a couple of late goals to ensure they signed off for an 11-day break from action in perfect style.

Diamonds included John Dean among their substitutes after his arrival on a dual registration from United Counties League Premier Division high-fliers Desborough Town had been confirmed ahead of the game.

Andy Peaks made no fewer than four changes to his starting line-up following the weekend loss with Cameron Gilchrist, Ben Ford, Darryl Smith and Tom Lorraine all coming into the team while Sam Brown, Callum Westwood and Claudiu Hoban were all absent from the squad.

The first 10 minutes were fairly uneventful before Diamonds opened the scoring in fine style.

A corner from the left was only half-cleared and it fell to Ben Farrell on the edge of the box and he gave Adam Harpur no chance as he thundered a fine strike into the corner.

Diamonds took full control from there and Dolman almost caught Harpur out as he attempted an outrageous 40-yard effort from a quickly-taken free-kick, which went just over the bar.

But the centre-half made no mistake as Diamonds took the game away from their visitors with two goals in the space of 60 seconds.

First, Dolman curled home a fine free-kick with Harpur only able to help it in as the stiff breeze caught hold of it.

And, in the next attack, Lorraine sprinted away on the right and his square pass was dummied by Nabil Shariff and Farrell arrived on cue to lash home from 18 yards.

The midfielder scooped one over the bar as he chased a first-half hat-trick and the onslaught continued with Lorraine being denied by Harpur after he had gone through on goal.

Lorraine was out of luck early in the second half as he connected with Joel Gyasi’s cross from the right but saw his effort crash off the underside of the crossbar before Barton cleared.

Farrell sent another shot just over from a good position as Diamonds continued to pose the bigger threat and they went desperately close again to a fourth when Ford found himself in the area but saw his strike cannon off a post.

The woodwork came to Barton’s rescue yet again when Gyasi cut in from the right and fired a left-footed shot against the other post before Ben Heath was forced into his first save of the night as he denied Andrew Phillips.

But there was to be a final flourish from Diamonds as they added some gloss to an impressive display.

Shariff nodded home from a Ford corner for a well-deserved goal and it was five with seven minutes to go when Jack Keating put through his own net after good work from Smith on the left.

There were further chances but, in the end, Diamonds settled for a five-star show.

This was much more like it from Peaks’ men. An enforced break now arrives and next up, it will be leaders Moneyfields heading to Hayden Road. Another performance like this will make that game an interesting one...

Diamonds: Heath; Gilchrist, Punter, Dolman, Ford; Gyasi, Farrell (sub Bell-Toxtle, 83 mins), Bunting (sub Curtis, 83 mins), Smith; Shariff (sub Dean, 80 mins), Lorraine. Subs not used: Fairlamb, Swailes.

Barton Rovers: Harpur; Smaldone, Andrews, Quarrington-Carter (sub Newton, 70 mins), Reverell; Longe-King (sub Keating, 58 mins); Phillips, Nichols, Watson, Carney (sub Lannon, 80 mins); A Cathline. Subs not used: Payne, K Cathline.

Referee: Robert Hathaway.

Goals: Farrell (11 mins, 1-0), Dolman (23 mins, 2-0), Farrell (24 mins, 3-0), Shariff (78 mins, 4-0), Keating og (83 mins, 5-0).

Attendance: 355.