Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 3 Northampton Town

Saturday 4th August 2007 at Nene Park

(NFA Maunsell Cup Final)

Diamonds finished off their pre-season schedule with the chance to gain some silverware, but the honours went to neighbours Northampton Town as they showed their superiority to lift the NFA Maunsell Cup. First half goals from Brett Johnson and Ian Henderson gave the Cobblers the half time lead, while Colin Larkin added a third to seal the 3-0 win.

Garry Hill named the side likely to start next week’s Blue Square Premier campaign with Rankine and Jackson leading the attack. New signing Andy Burgess was still recovering from injury and was unavailable. Chelmsford City keeper Paul Nicholls was on trial and was named on the bench.

Northampton manager Stuart Gray named midweek loan signing Daniel Jones from Wolves in the starting line-up, while captain Chris Doig had recovered from injury to start. Summer signings Ian Henderson (Norwich), Colin Larkin (Chesterfield) and Danny Jackman (Gillingham) also started. Danish striker Paul Hubertz was signed earlier in the week having been released by Millwall and was named on the bench together with Brett Johnson, still trying to get some match fitness.

Diamonds started the game promisingly with Woodhouse testing the keeper in the opening moments, but as the game progressed, it was Northampton who began to take charge. Colin Larkin headed over from a Daniel Jones cross, while after ten minutes, Larkin provided a cross for Andy Kirk to slot the ball into the net. Luckily for Diamonds, the linesman flagged was raised for offside and the goal was disallowed. Within a minute, Larkin crossed again for Kirk in an almost identical move, this time forcing a one-handed save from the Diamonds keeper.

Diamonds chances were few and far between. Rankine fired over before Challinor broke free down the right, but he was unable to pick out a Diamonds player in the centre. Town took the lead on 22 minutes when a cross from Daniel Jones was only half cleared by Wayne Hatswell. The ball fell to Bradley Johnson whose fierce 25yard volley left Bastock rooted to the spot.

Johnson tried another volley moments after the restart, but the Diamonds keeper was alert this time. Diamonds had to be careful when attacking as the Cobblers broke quickly from defence. Henderson went close, before putting Town 2-0 up after 38 minutes. A mix up between the keeper and Hatswell allowed Ian Henderson to turn and shoot from ten yards.

Curtis Woodhouse came tried to get Diamonds back in the game with a fierce free kick, but keeper Mark Bunn saved well and smothered the ball before the midfielder could get another chance. Martin Foster had to go off just before the break after an earlier clash with Daniel Jones, with Tom Shaw taking his place.

HT: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 2 Northampton Town

 

Northampton started the second half strongly, with a Jason Crowe shot being tipped past the post by Bastock. Larkin also had a couple of chances. Dean Howell sent in a good cross for Diamonds, which was forced out for a corner, Rankine’s header being saved by Bunn. Diamonds best chance came after 54 minutes after Jackson was fouled on the edge of the area. Chris Hope fired a free kick which Bunn touched onto the bar and despite a goalmouth scramble, Diamonds were unable to force the ball over the line. Almost immediately, Town broke away and Paul Hubertz low cross evaded everyone except Colin Larkin waiting at the far post to shoot past Bastock to make the score-line 0-3.

With Northampton’s three goal cushion, Diamonds were unable to find a way back. Hubertz should have scored on the hour after being set up by Bradley Johnson, but shot over the bar. Diamonds brought on Paul Watson and Lawrence Lambley for Wayne Hatswell and Dean Howell on 64 minutes, but their introduction had little impact. Simeon Jackson was fouled on the edge of the area again a few minutes later, Chris Hope firing his shot straight at the keeper.

As the game entered the final fifteen minutes, Tom Shaw shot wide, but Town had little difficulty dealing with Diamonds attack. Phil Gulliver was stretchered off three minutes from time after a collision in the Cobblers area as Diamonds tried to get on the score-sheet.

FT: Rushden & Diamonds 0 – 3 Northampton Town

 

So Diamonds failed to regain the Maunsell Cup they last won in January 2006. With Andy Burgess not expected to be fit for another three weeks, Garry Hill has a further two injury concerns. Martin Foster went to hospital for an x-ray on a leg injury, although thankfully, there are no broken bones. Phil Gulliver suffered from concussion but should be fit for the trip to Woking next Saturday. After a relatively successful pre-season, it was perhaps a good thing that some of the defensive frailties became evident in today’s match giving him seven days to solve the some of the problems.

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds – Bastock, Osano, Gulliver, Hope(c), Hatswell (Watson 64), Challinor, Woodhouse, Jackson, Foster (Shaw 44), Rankine, Howell (Lambley 64).

Subs not used: Tomlin, Nicholls.

Northampton Town – Bunn, Crowe, Jackman, Bradley Johnson, Hughes, Doig (c) (Dolman 75), Henderson (Hubertz HT), Kirk, Larkin, Gilligan, Jones (Brett Johnson 56).

Subs not used: Dunn, Burnell.

Goals:              Brett Johnson 22 (0-1)

Ian Henderson 38 (0-2)

Colin Larkin 56 (0-3)

Booked:            -.

Sent off:            -.

Referee:            Mr Richard Beeby (Northants)

Attendance:      1669 (570 away).

By Dave Mason

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