Ford Sports Daventry 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2 (AET)

The first of the Northants Hillier Senior Cup Quarter Finals took place on Tuesday evening when Tony Godden took a mixture of youth and senior players for the short trip to Ford Sports Daventry. It was the first ever meeting between the two sides, Diamonds having overcome Cogenhoe United in the first round at Nene Park, while the Motormen had beaten Stewarts & Lloyds, Corby at the Royal Oak.

On a cold October evening, Rushden made hard work of what should have been an easy win with a lack lustre performance. Michael Rankine’s spectacular winner in extra time after a goal-less 90 minutes however, gave those visiting supporters something to remember.

The first half was a pretty dismal affair, with very little in the way of clear cut chances. Ford Sports best chance fell after just 4 minutes, when Paul Currier was given a clear run at Scott Tynan in the Diamonds goal. He failed to take advantage of the opportunity, and pulled his shot wide of the post. Sports seemed to be very physical in the opening exchanges, and an early foul by Jonathan Crockett on Ben Reynolds left the youngster limping with a damaged ankle. After trying to run off the injury, he had to be withdrawn on 18 minutes, with Sean O’Keefe taking his place in the defence.

Although Diamonds had more of the play, they seemed unable to penetrate through the Sports back four. Chillingworth moved forward early on to join Pearson and Rankine up front and it was Chillingworth who headed over the bar on 23 minutes from Daniel Grainger’s free kick after Rigby had been flattened. Diamonds continued to press, but a poor final ball meant the Sports keeper had little to deal with. Rankine was showing good strength in attack, and a good move just before the half hour freed Ugo Udoji down the right wing, but as with so many of the Diamonds attacks, the Sports defence stood firm, and were able to clear the danger. As the game progressed, the Sports challenges were becoming more reckless, and with little protection from the referee, it was starting to rattle several of the Diamonds players.

Half-time: Ford Sports 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

The second half started the same way as the first half had finished, with a succession on fouls. After 52 minutes, Pearson tried to break the Sports defence, but his shot was blocked and went behind for a corner. From the corner, the ball came back to Daniel Grainger, but his shot from a tight angle failed to find the target. Andrew Rigby took several knocks early on in the second period, and had to be replaced by Anthony Weston on 57 minutes after another foul. Grainger’s free kick was aimed at Chillingworth, but he was just unable to get any contact and the ball drifted behind for a goal kick.

Every time Rushden tried to move forward, Sports got everyone behind the ball, and Diamonds seemed to be getting more and more frustrated. Lambley came on after 65 minutes to replace Chillingworth and try to inject some pace and urgency. Sports had another rare opportunity a few minutes later when Currier went up for a cross with the Diamonds keeper, but the Sports player ended up needing treatment after the clash with Tynan.

On 71 minutes, Sean O’Keefe put a good ball through to Greg Pearson, but his shot went straight at the keeper and was easily saved. Diamonds tried to use Lambley’s speed to get behind the Sports defence but they managed to keep their goal intact. During the final 10 minutes, both sides pushed for the winning goal and there was probably more action than there had been in the previous 80. First, Rankine shot just wide and moments later, Udoji put Lambley through on the goal. The keeper managed to scramble to ball away from Lambley’s feet, only for the ball to fall to Greg Pearson who missed the target from some 10yards out. In the final 5 minutes, Sports also had a couple of good chances to win the game. First, Currier beat the offside trap and raced towards Scott Tynan, but the Diamonds keeper managed to get the ball away for a corner. Just before the full time whistle, two Diamonds defenders collided with each other on the edge of the penalty area, with the ball falling to Sports defender Timmy Clack. To Diamonds relief, he fired his shot over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Full-time: Ford Sports 0 – 0 Rushden & Diamonds

With several of the Sports players suffering from cramp, Diamonds started the extra time looking the stronger of the two sides. After 94 minutes, a Grainger free kick went over the top of the Sports defenders, but Callum Reynolds was again unable to get the ball on target. Moments later, Grainger tried his luck, but his shot went over the crossbar. It was Sports who finally broke the deadlock on 98 minutes, when Udoji lost the ball close to the penalty area. Lewis Waldock unselfishly switched the ball across to the unmarked Timmy Clack, who this time made no mistake and fired a shot into the top right hand corner of the net to send the home bench delirious.

However, the lead was short lived as on 101 minutes, Udoji made amends for his mistake and sent a delightful cross from the right into the Sports goalmouth. As Rankine went up to challenge, Chris Trill got to the ball first, and headed past his keeper for an own goal.

As the first half of extra time came to a close, a moment of magic from Michael Rankine gave Diamonds the lead on 105 minutes. Having received the ball on the halfway line, he ran direct towards goal and let off a thunderbolt from 30yards that left Ian Brookes in the Sports goal with no chance.

During the second half of extra time, Diamonds had the chance to make the tie safe after Greg Pearson was brought down following a cross from Lambley on 110 minutes. Pearson got up to take the penalty himself, but fired it wide of the target and into the advertising boards. Sports pressed everyone forward for the final few minutes, and had a strong appeal for a penalty of their own turned down by the referee. Instead, he awarded Diamonds a free-kick much to the disgust of the Sports players. After allowing so many reckless tackles earlier in the game, the referee finally produced a yellow card as Ian Waldock was booked for dissent. As Diamonds played out the final few minutes, Alex Bolt also received a yellow card for kicking the ball away.

After Extra Time: Ford Sports 1 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

So Diamonds go into the draw for the semi-finals, although with the other three quarter finals not due to be played until later in November, we will have to wait to see who we get to play next.


Ford Sports Daventry line-up:
1/Ian Brookes, 2/Timmy Clack, 3/Stephen Thompson, 4/Duncan Harris, 5/Alan Haynes (15/Liam Hynes 74), 6/Frank Maher, 7/Paul Currier, 8/Ian Waldock, 9/Paul Eden (14/Lewis Waldock 77), 10/Jonathan Crockett, 11/Richard Crockett (12/Chris Trill 94).

Subs not used: Nil.

Rushden & Diamonds Line-up:
1/Scott Tynan, 2/Ugo Udoji, 3/Ben Reynolds (14/Sean O’Keefe 18), 4/Andrew Rigby (16/Anthony Weston 57), 5/Callum Reynolds, 6/Dominic Langdon, 7/Michael Rankine, 8/Daniel Grainger, 9/Greg Pearson, 10/Dan Chillingworth (12/Lawrence Lambley 65) 11/Alex Bolt.

Subs not used: 15/Jake Beecroft, 17/Martyn Margarson.

Booked: I.Waldock 116′ (dissent), Bolt 120′ (unsporting behaviour).

Referee: S Cheney (Northants)

Attendance: Approx 90


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