Corby Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 5

Wednesday 3rd October 2007

Rockingham Triangle, Corby Town FC

(Northants Hillier Senior Cup – Round 1)

Diamonds cruised to a 1st Round victory in the Hillier Senior Cup, securing their biggest win for over six years. Corby Town play in the British Gas Business (Southern League) Premier Division, and with Diamonds putting out a number of first team players for the fixture, the gulf between the two sides was evident by the 5-0 score-line.

Kevin Hales took charge from the touchline with Garry Hill taking a view from the stands. The only youth team player to make the starting eleven was full back Ben Nunn, although Sean Calcutt, Lewis Hilliard and striker Sam Smith were on the bench with Jake Beecroft. Abdelhalim El Kholti had the chance to start for the first time since his debut at York last month having recovered from injury, while Phil Gulliver and Jon Challinor played as central defenders. Michael Malcolm partnered Michael Rankine in attack.

Corby Town manager Kevin Wilson made a number of changes from the side that beat Ramsgate at the weekend. In fact, it would be fair to say that most of their first team squad were rested for the game. Former Diamonds Danny Crane, Tom Bonner, plus on loan Lawrence Lambley were all missing, together with regulars Derek Brown, Adam Wykes, Liam Daly, Darren Lynch and Wayne Diuk.

As a result of each managers selection, the game turned out to be a very one sided affair with Diamonds having time to control the match from the kick-off. Lee Tomlin was enjoying freedom on the right of midfield as the home side allowed him time to show a few tricks. Tomlin’s early cross from the right picked out Michael Malcolm to shoot just wide of the upright. Diamonds had a number of corners in the opening period and on 7 minutes, Abdelhalim El Kholti’s corner allowed Jon Challinor a free header, but Michael Evans was well placed in the Corby goal.

Tomlin and Rankine were combining well, and Rankine was fouled just outside the area while running onto a Tomlin through ball. Marcus Kelly shot over from the free-kick. On 18 minutes, Diamonds had another good opportunity when El Kholti sent the ball in from the left to Michael Malcolm. He in turn laid the ball off to Tom Shaw who tried to place a shot past Evans, but the keeper managed to turn the ball away for a corner. Rankine headed over from Kelly’s corner kick.

It seemed only a matter of time before Diamonds took the lead and on 26 minutes, Tom Shaw played a ball from the halfway line which just cleared defender Dominic Hallows. Lee Tomlin pounced and chipped the ball over the advancing keeper.

Just seven minutes later, Tomlin turned provider when he slipped the ball over the last man into the path of Michael Rankine who made no mistake firing a low shot under the keeper for a two goal lead.

Diamonds were able to prise open the home defence at will and should have gone into the break leading by more than just the two goals. After 35 minutes, Malcolm’s flick gave Rankine another chance, but the keeper did well to block his shot, while on 41 minutes, Simon Rusk found Kelly on the wing. After bringing the ball in, his shot flew just over the bar. Corby failed to have any meaningful effort on Paul Nicholl’s goal as any attempted break from the home side was quickly snuffed out.

Half-time: Corby Town 0 – 2 Rushden & Diamonds

Lewis Hilliard came on at the start of the second period for his 1st team debut in place of El Kholti, playing on right midfield. Marcus Kelly dropped back to left back. Diamonds continued to tease the Steelmen with Rankine attempting an overhead kick early on. Rankine was through again on 49 minutes after a long ball from Challinor, forcing another good block from the keeper. As ball went loose, he got to his feet quickly and struck the ball against the post. The ball rebounded to Tomlin who shot just wide. Corby had their first chance minutes later as they won a corner. Jamie Paterson’s kick to the near post was palmed away by Paul Nicholls.

It seemed inevitable Diamonds would extend their lead and on 59 minutes, Lewis Hilliard’s right wing cross to the far side was inch perfect for Lee Tomlin to volley home.

Corby’s Ollie Wilkinson had to go off on 63 minutes after sustaining an injury, with Tony Cosgrove replacing him at the back. Tomlin was still tormenting the defence and his pass from the left found Malcolm in the middle. The former Kettering forward tried to manoeuvre into a scoring position, but sent a shot skimming past the far post. From the goal kick, Corby’s Robert Richie-Smith tried his luck from 30 yards, but Nicholls had little difficulty in plucking the shot out of the air.

Diamonds fourth came in the 69th minute after Tom Shaw had forced a corner on the right. Kelly’s cross found Michael Rankine at the near post to nod home from close range. The home side were unable to cope with the trickery of Tomlin and the strength of Rankine, and they were relieved when both players were replaced after the goal. Youth team striker Sam Smith came on for his debut with Jake Beecroft picking up in midfield. 

Richie-Smith was by far Corby’s best player and sent in a good ball into the centre for Scott Cross, but the striker shot over the bar. At the other end, Lewis Hilliard was showing what a great prospect he is for the future, and a one-two with the pacey Sam Smith ended in the keeper saving well. The home side were allowing Diamonds to pass at will and after some neat interplay between Malcolm, Shaw, Hilliard and Beecroft, Lewis Hilliard chopped the ball back for Tom Shaw to place the ball beyond Evans for number five.

In the final minute, Sam Smith missed a great chance to grab a goal for himself, firing wide from close range after Shaw had cut back from the by-line.

Full-time: Corby Town 0 – 5 Rushden & Diamonds

So Diamonds progress to the next round, with the draw expected to take place later this week. Diamonds have won the Cup on three previous occasion, 1994, 1999 and of course last year. Round 2 ties are due to be played week commencing 29 October and Kettering Town’s exit was a major surprise. Raunds Town, Rothwell Town and Stewart & Lloyds join the teams in the next round after receiving Round 1 byes.

Other results were as follows: Cogenhoe United 2 Desborough Town 0; Long Buckby 3 Wellingborough Town 3 (Long Buckby won 4-2 on pens); Northampton Spencer 2 Kettering Town 1. Woodford United’s game at Brackley Town was postponed due to the Reds FA Cup replay and should be played next week.

Teams:

Corby Town – Evans, Scott (c), Hallows, Paterson, Wilkinson (Cosgrove 63), Malone, Richie-Smith, Towers, Cross, Miller, Difante.

Subs not used: McIllick, Hall, Harman.

Rushden & Diamonds – Nicholls, Nunn, El Kholti (Hilliard HT), Gulliver (c), Challinor, Rusk, Tomlin (Beecroft 70), Shaw, Rankine (Smith 70), Malcolm, Kelly.

Subs not used: Calcutt.

Goals: Tomlin 26 (0-1); Rankine 33 (0-2), Tomlin 59 (0-3), Rankine 69 (0-4), Shaw 78 (0-5).

Booked: Nil.

Referee: Mr C.Miller (Northants)

Attendance:  Approx 250.

Reporters Man of the Match – Lee Tomlin.

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