Rushden & Diamonds 2 Rothwell Town 0

 

Rushden & Diamonds beat Rothwell Town 2-0 in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup game at Nene Park with goals from Dean McDonald and Michael Rankine. This game was originally drawn as a home tie for Rothwell Town, but had been switched to Nene Park.

The Diamonds gave a first team debut to Joe Day in goal, making him the 300th player to appear in an official first team game for the club, Day was behind a back four of McGuinness, Corcoran, Gulliver and Roberts – with Jamie McGuinness also getting his first start in a senior game. Marcus Kelly and Jake Beecroft were in central midfield with Sam Smith on the right and Dean McDonald on the left. Starting up front were Daryl Clare and Michael Rankine.

The first quarter was all played in the Bones’ half, with Dean McDonald looking a constant threat, although the link-up play between the midfield and the strikers was very disjointed. Michael Corcoran was dominant at the back, as was Jake Beecroft in midfield. Beecroft showed willingness to run at the opposition rather than always taking the simple option to spread ball wide, as well as making a number of excellent challenges for the ball.

Phil Gulliver was looking in need of match practice as he made a couple of errors that resulted in corners when there was little danger.

The first goal came on 22 minutes as Sam Smith got in a good cross from the right and Dean McDonald found space to head home low to the left of the Rothwell keeper.

McDonald created himself a further chance with a surging run and powerful shot, but Tom Smith did well to save.

Rothwell had a couple of attempts on goal from Kevin Byrne, the first of which saw an excellent save from Day, but, apart from some poor defending of corners, the Diamonds defence was largely untroubled during the half.

Half-time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Rothwell Town 0

Although neither side made any changes at half-time, the Diamonds had clearly instructed Jamie McGuinness to push forwards more, and this greatly increased the threat on the right, with McGuinness and Smith combining well, although the number of clear cut chances was still rather limited, and the Diamonds strikeforce was caught offside far too often.

After 55 minutes youngster George Cox replaced Dean McDonald, who must surely be in contention for a starting place in the team at the weekend. Cox moved into central midfield, with Marcus Kelly moving out left. After being overshadowed by his midfield partner in the middle, Kelly started to look a threat when afforded more space on the left, but he also created the Diamonds best effort on goal during the third quarter when he picked the ball up in the right channel, pushed the ball inside to the left past two defenders and hit a powerful shot that was only inches over the bar with keeper Smith struggling.

Rothwell were still creating the occasional chance with Byrne feeding Difante whose shot from a narrow angle was smothered.

Another youngster Lewis Hilliard replaced Daryl Clare, and he fitted in well to the right midfield role, with Sam Smith moving up front alongside Rankine, and it was this change that created the decisive second goal in the 84th minute, as good work by Hilliard found Smith on the right hand edge of the six yard box, and he was able to hit a low ball across the box for Michael Rankine to run onto and slot home.

There was still time for Lewis Hallford to be given a full debut as he replaced Marcus Kelly, and Joe Day to make a further excellent save as he spread himself running forwards to block an attempt by Kevin Byrne, the most impressive Rothwell player. The game ended without any stoppage time, meaning the Diamonds progress to the second round later in the year.

With McDonald looking impressive, as well as Corcoran at the back, and Daryl Clare managing 70 minutes there will be a number of options available to Garry Hill for the game against Burton Albion on Saturday.

Full-time: Rushden & Diamonds 2 Rothwell Town 0

Teams:

Rushden & Diamonds (White) : Joe Day, Jamie McGuinness, Michael Corcoran, Phil Gulliver (Capt), Justyn Roberts, Sam Smith, Jake Beecroft, Marcus Kelly, Dean McDonald, Michael Rankine, Daryl Clare

Subs : George Cox (for McDonald 55), Lewis Hilliard (for Clare 70), Lewis Hallford (for Kelly 85)

Subs Not Used : Alan Marriott, Grant Hill

Rothwell Town (Blue) : Tom Smith, Ollie Wilkinson, David Glass, Martin Flannigan (Capt), Rob Maddox, Danny Powell, Mark Hackett, Danny Marlow, Chris Difante, Kevin Byrne, Fazell Koriya

Subs : Peter Sneddon (for Pownell 66), Adam Bridgeford (for Hackett 66), Andy Brown (for Wilkinson 77)

Subs Not Used : Liam McInally, Stuart Marshall

Goals: Dean McDonald (22), Michael Rankine (84)

Referee: Mr I Rathbone

Match Attendance : 183.

Man of the Match : Jake Beecroft

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