Rushden & Diamonds Youth 1 Manchester United Youth 2

By Steve Brown

A brave effort from Rushden & Diamonds’ youngsters ended in heartbreak as two late goals from the current FA Youth Cup holders Manchester United booked their place in the fourth round.

Diamonds were on course for a major shock when Eric Manangu’s first half goal looked as if it might be enough to progress in the competition.

Manchester United threw everything at Diamonds and only some fantastic goalkeeping from Karl Daniels had put the visitors at bay.

However, two goals in the final 12 minutes, one from Mark Howard and a composed finished from Ramon Calliste, broke Diamonds hearts.

Diamonds lined up without the services of Jason Taylor who was out through suspension. Simeon Jackson began in attack with Manangu, who made his first senior appearance during the senior side’s 4-0 win over Colchester.

Manchester United, under the guidance of former midfielder Brian McClair, included Chris Eagles in their starting line-up, the youngster who made his first senior debut in the club’s Carling Cup victory over Leeds United.

As expected, United made a solid start and Diamonds goalkeeper Karl Daniels was called into action after two minutes keeping out Floribert Ngalula low drive.

The visitors’ flowing football was breathtaking at times as United’s youngsters carved open the Diamonds defence with ease.

Eagles showed his credentials as a first-team player with his pace and darting runs, as the United midfielder continued to cause problems for the home-side.

Diamonds won their first corner of the match on nine minutes and surprisingly opened the scoring. Marcus Kelly sent a cross to the back post where Magnus Okounghae’s header was stabbed home by Manangu.

Despite their early goal, the visitors continued to threat the Diamonds goal and Daniels showed great bravery when he saved at the feet of Calliste.

AFTER 15 MINS: Diamonds 1 United 0

A physically stronger United side continued to cause problems for Diamonds and Eagles should have found the target on 21 minutes when the striker found space but lofted a shot over the crossbar.

Scott Wark’s ambitious long range effort a minute later was a rare chance for Diamonds but, to their credit, the home-side continued to play good football despite the visitors’ superior possession.

Chibuza Chilarka’s solid defending was keeping Calliste quiet as the United youngster, on more than one occasion, found openings in the Diamonds defence.

AFTER 30 MINS: Diamonds 1 United 0

Sylvan Blake was gifted a free header on 33 minutes but the young striker failed to test Daniels, firing wide of the target.

United continued to play patient football and it was the visitors who continued to look the more likely to find the next goal.

With Manangu playing as the only striker, Diamonds struggled to threat the United goal.

Jonathan Spector went close before the half-time whistle with a header which hit the roof of the net but it was Diamonds who went in at the interval with a moral boosting one goal lead.

AT HALF TIME: DIAMONDS 1 UNITED 0

Daniels continued to be busy in the Diamonds goal and made quick saves early in the second-half from Calliste and Adam Eckersley.

United started the second-half much in the same fashion they had dominated the opening 45 minutes as Diamonds were quickly put on the back foot.

Daniels produced the save of the match on 49 minutes when he somehow got his body behind a low drive from Calliste, who had carved open the Diamonds defence with ease.

The Diamonds goalkeeper was enduring a busy evening and Daniels displayed safe handing on 56 minutes when a further effort from Calliste was thwarted.

AFTER 60 MINS: Diamonds 1 United 0

As Diamonds began to tire, United continued to look more likely in grabbing an equaliser. Eagles’ darting run on 60 minutes, unchallenged, should have finished in the youngster striking the target but flashed a shot over the crossbar.

Diamonds’ chances were few and far between but a dangerous corner from Kelly on 70 minutes caused some nervy moments in the visitors defence.

Daniels’ busy evening continued on 73 minutes when he blocked a goal bound effort from Eagles.

AFTER 75 MINS: Diamonds 1 United 0

Diamonds were edging towards a famous victory and in a last bid ditch to salvage something from the game the United management team threw on an extra striker for a defender.

The visitors thought they had got themselves back on level terms but Daniels’ marvellous evening continued when he somehow tracked back and caught a near shot from Eagles.

However, Diamonds’ hard work was finally undone when Howard’s powerfully headed home an Eagles corner.

It was probably what United deserved but it was a set back for Diamonds who had held their own for a long period of the game.

Diamonds then suffered heartbreak on 82 minutes when United took the lead. Calliste, who had threatened all evening, calmly slotted past Daniels following a well worked moved by the visitors.

Diamonds finished the second-half strongly and had chances to take the game into extra time but the final whistle put Neville Hamilton’s side out of their agony.

AT FULL TIME: DIAMONDS 1 UNITED 2

Diamonds: Daniels, Clark, Burndam, Grant, Okounghae, Chilarka, Kelly, Shaw, Manangu, Jackson (Ahmed 63, ), Wark

Subs not used: Stevens, Watson, Grainger, Wilkinson

Bookings:

Manchester United: Heaton, Picken, Eckersley, Howard, McShane, Spector (Marsh 76), Ngalula, Hogg, Blake, Eagles, Calliste.

Subs not used: Jones, Crockett, Flanaghan, Simpson.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr G Muge

Attendance: 5,214

Diamonds’ MOTM: Karl Daniels (Some outstanding saves)

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