VERDICT '“ Job done as Diamonds bounce back
AFC Rushden & Diamonds wasted little time in bouncing back as they comfortably saw off Rugby Town 3-0 at the Dog & Duck.
This one won’t go down as a classic but for Diamonds boss Andy Peaks and his players, it was very much a case of job done.
Having had their 19-match unbeaten run in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South ended in devastating fashion at the weekend, Peaks demanded an immediate response from his side. He got exactly that.
Indeed, he got the sort of performance that has been lacking in Diamonds’ home games this season.
There was nothing particularly spectacular about it but they rolled their sleeves up, worked hard, defended well and finished the game strongly as they finally ended Rugby’s stubborn resistance.
Peaks made three changes following the 5-2 defeat to Kidsgrove as Kyal McNulty, Joe Curtis and Tom Lorraine all came back into the side.
And it was the ever-reliable Lorraine who opened the scoring with just seven minutes on the clock.
Sam Brown launched a trademark long throw into the area, Rory Winters flicked it on and Lorraine rose highest to nod the ball into the far corner.
But if anyone was hoping that would open the floodgates, they were wrong.
Despite their struggles, Rugby battled their way back into it and they were out of luck when Tre Braithwaite’s free-kick cannoned off the crossbar and went out for a goal-kick.
Diamonds continued to pose a threat and Dan Jezeph saved from Fazel Koriya while Nabil Shariff almost bundled home a second from close-range before the break.
Rugby’s task was made harder on the hour when Mitchell Thomson saw red for a second bookable offence but the visitors stood strong until the latter stages when Diamonds finally finished them off.
It wasn’t to be for Shariff on this night as he had a header from a corner cleared off the line and was then denied by a brilliant reflex stop from Jezeph.
Shariff eventually departed and it was his replacement Taylor Orosz who sparked a final flourish.
He was sent clean through on goal and Jezeph could only parry his shot into the path of Koriya who scored into an empty net.
But Orosz did have the final say as his impressive cameo ended with a fine low finish after he once again raced away from a tiring defence.
It’s not a win that will live long in the memory but the importance of it can’t be underestimated.
Diamonds took just three days to get over the disappointment of having their unbeaten run ended.
Now they must find a way to put another sequence together to ensure they have a shot at the play-offs when the end of April rolls around.
Diamonds: Finlay; McNulty, Winters (sub Harris, 75 mins), Dolman, Brown; Bunting (sub Leslie, 89 mins), Farrell, Curtis; Shariff (sub Orosz, 83 mins), Lorraine, Koriya. Subs not used: Heath, Parsons.
Rugby: Jezeph; Westwood, Burgess, M Rowley, K Rowley; Thomson, Quinn (sub Fura, 71 mins), Braithwaite, Sterling; Kolodynski, Philips (sub Campbell, 81 mins). Subs not used: Connor, Punter, Moran.
Referee: Wayne Chalmers.
Goals: Lorraine (7 mins, 1-0), Koriya (89 mins, 2-0), Orosz (90 mins, 3-0).
Bookings: Winters, Thomson (both fouls).
Sending-off: Thomson (second bookable offence).