VERDICT: Lorraine at the double as Diamonds ease through
In the end, it was fairly straightforward for AFC Rushden & Diamonds as they eased to a 3-0 victory over Deeping Rangers at Hayden Road.
Having been held to a 1-1 draw in Lincolnshire in the first Emirates FA Cup preliminary round clash, Diamonds would have been keen to ensure there were no slip-ups in the replay.
And they negotiated a potential banana skin pretty well to set up an intriguing clash at Hayes & Yeading United - a team they lost twice to in the league last season - in the first qualifying round at the weekend.
That’s not to say United Counties League Premier Division side Deeping didn’t play they part because they most certainly did.
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Diamonds were made to work for everyone and, for a good 15 minutes at the end of the first half, the visitors posed a very real threat as a couple of good saves from Ben Heath and a timely intervention from the referee’s assistant prevented them from getting on the scoresheet.
But Andy Peaks would have been delighted with his team’s second-half performance as an early goal put them firmly in control and they dominated the remainder of the game to ensure their progress was comfortable.
Diamonds enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening quarter-of-an-hour without really putting the Deeping goal under pressure but they did break the deadlock on 17 minutes.
Joel Gyasi came to life as he skipped past a couple of challenge and he laid it on a plate for Tom Lorraine as the striker converted a low cross from close-range.
Callum Westwood curled a free-kick just wide but Deeping did work themselves back into the contest and Scott Mooney drew a low save out of Heath to start the visitors’ best spell of the game.
They felt hard done by when David Burton-Jones’ header from an excellent Daniel Schiavi free-kick found the net, only for the celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.
But they went close again before the break as Mooney’s 35-yard special was palmed away by Heath.
But Diamonds were in no mood to let things slip after the break and any nerves were settled five minutes after the restart.
The ball sat up perfectly for Westwood 30 yards from goal and he took aim with a rasping drive which skidded off the surface and flew past Richard Stainsby.
Blaize Punter had to make a decent block to deny Mooney after a rare error from Liam Dolman but, that aside, Diamonds were fairly comfortable.
Ben Diamond hit the inside of the post just seconds after coming off the bench but it was another substitute, John Dean, who helped wrap things up.
He twisted and turned his way through the Deeping defence and then saw his shot parried by Stainsby. Unfortunately for the visiting goalkeeper, it landed at the feet of Lorraine who scored into the empty net.
That completed a job well done by Peaks’ men, who will face a much sterner test on the road at the weekend.
Diamonds: Heath; Westwood, Punter, Dolman, Hicks; Farrell (sub Diamond, 67 mins), Clifton, Westbrook; Gyasi (sub Ward, 79 mins), Lorraine, Hopkins (sub Dean, 67 mins). Subs not used: Reynolds, Lobjoit, Pickworth, Bowen.
Deeping: Stainsby; Flack, Hunnings, Stubbs, Andersen; Burton-Jones, Coulson; Dunn (sub Isley, 71 mins), Simpson (sub Allcock, 71 mins), Schiavi; Mooney (sub Carter, 87 mins). Subs not used: Fryett, Marsden, Bircham.
Referee: Joshua Crofts.
Goals: Lorraine (17 mins, 1-0), Westwood (50 mins, 2-0), Lorraine (80 mins, 3-0).
Booking: Stubbs (foul).
Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Jack Westbrook - as ever, there is an honourable mention and this one goes to right-back Callum Westwood who produced a decent display and scored a terrific goal. But Westbrook was excellent in the middle of the pitch. He did what was expected, he broke up play well and did all the dirty work you’d expect from a holding midfielder. But he also used the ball exceptionally well. He rarely wasted a pass and ensured there were few opportunities for the creative players in the visiting line-up to use their talents. A fine display that may well have gone unnoticed.