VERDICT '“ Diamonds have some early issues to address
It's proving to be a tricky start to the new season for AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
Missed chances and an inability to turn possession into goals proved to be their undoing in Saturday’s opening-day defeat at Newcastle Town.
And, on their return to the Dog & Duck, Andy Peaks’ side were eventually well beaten by an impressive Chasetown side.
It is a new life for Diamonds in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South.
Perhaps it’s going to take time to adjust? But the truth is, Diamonds will need to be better than they were on this occasion if they are to make an impact.
For 45 minutes, they were in a real game of football. It was end-to-end stuff with both sides giving it a real go.
But the concern for Peaks will be the way his team faded after the break while Chasetown grew stronger and eventually ran out worthy winners.
It is, of course, very early days. But there are clearly a few issues that will need ironing out to enable Diamonds to get their season going.
They more than played their part in the opening period.
Nabil Shariff had an early shot blocked while Matt Finlay was forced to help Nathan Rooney’s 20-yard effort over the crossbar at the other end.
Liam Dolman brought a decent save out of visiting goalkeeper John Bateman with a 25-yard free-kick but there was nothing the Chasetown stopper could do when Diamonds took the lead on 36 minutes.
Sam Brown’s long throw into the area was only cleared as far as Richard Bunting. His shot struck his own team-mate Brad Harris but it sat up perfectly for Dolman who thumped the ball into the far corner.
But Diamonds were unable to hold on until the break and the way they conceded the equaliser would have left Peaks fuming.
A corner came in from the right, Mitchell Piggon rose at the far post to head it back and no-one in a white shirt reacted as former Kettering Town man James Dance nodded home from close-range.
That proved to be the start of Diamonds’ downfall as they never really got going after the break.
Paul Sullivan curled one narrowly wide for Chasetown but they did go in front when Dolman was adjudged to have handled Matthias Curley’s cross in the area. And Rooney stepped up to hammer home the resulting penalty.
The hosts were unable to produce a reaction to that and the game was up with 19 minutes to go when Rooney’s good run and cross was finished off by Ryan Wynter with a header back across goal and into the corner.
It could have been worse if someone had got on the end of Rooney’s strike across the face of goal but Chasetown didn’t need to add to their lead.
Diamonds may well have seen the standard that this league has to offer on this night.
There’s no need to panic but there will be a need to address some issues in a bid to get things on track as soon as possible.
Perhaps a quick change of competition could be the perfect tonic. We’ll find out on Saturday when Sileby Rangers come calling in the FA Cup.
Diamonds: Finlay; Bradshaw, Dolman, Ashton, Brown; Bunting (sub Parsons, 72 mins), Harris, McNulty (sub Evangelinos, 57 mins), Leslie; Lorraine (sub Orosz, 83 mins), Shariff. Subs not used: Joes Haynes, Harvey.
Chasetown: Bateman; Till (sub Jonathon Haynes, 86 mins), Ashman, Slater, Curley; Dance, Langston; Wynter (sub Ruff, 83 mins), Rooney, Sullivan; Piggon (sub Keimbi, 78 mins). Sub not used: Banks.
Referee: Richie Watkins.
Goals: Dolman (36 mins, 1-0), Dance (42 mins, 1-1), Rooney (64 mins, 1-2), Wynter (71 mins, 1-3).
Bookings: McNulty (deliberate handball), Dolman (foul), Shariff, Ashman (unsporting behaviour).