Eastwood Town 4 Rushden & Diamonds 3 (after extra time)

Rushden & Diamonds lost 4-3 to Eastwood Town at Coronation Park after extra time the FA Carlsberg Trophy. Alan Power missed a penalty with the last kick of the game with a chance to take the game to penalties. The Diamonds had taken the lead just after the half-hour mark when an Aaron O’Connor shot was flicked past the keeper by Craig Farrell. The hosts equalised on the stroke of half-time when Adam Muller broke down the right from what looked like a clear offside position, but he was allowed to run on and cross for Lee Stevenson to slot home. Stevenson added two further goals in the second half to complete his hattrick and make the score 3-1, but the Diamonds fought back bravely, and two goals from Ryan Charles sent the game into extra time. Early in extra time Matt Rhead scored the Badgers fourth goal, when he tapped in a low cross, but the Diamonds had a chance to take the game to penalties when Aaron O’Connor was felled in the area with seconds left on the clock – but Alan Power skied the spot-kick.

Justin Edinburgh made three changes to the starting line-that faced Altrincham at the weekend, with the three recent loanees being ineligible he brought in Ryan Charles, Matt Johnson and Justin Miller.

Eastwood manager Paul Cox fielded made just a single change to the team that played in the original tie.

Before the game there was minute’s silence in memory of both Richard Butcher and Dale Roberts.

The Diamonds were playing Curtis Osano at centre back, alongside Michael Corcoran, with Justin Miller at right back for this game.

After the Bedgers had the better of the first ten minutes, the Diamonds dominated much of the first period.The hosts were forced into an early change with the dangerous Lindon Meikle having to leave the action, but his replacement Adam Muller immediately presented a threat, as he, Lee Stevenson and Andy Todd were always eager to get forwards to support Matt Rhead.

Craig Farrell was involved in much of the action, alongside skipper Aaron O’Connor, starting with an excellent turn and shot saw a fine save from keeper Danby after 15 minutes. Craig Farrell then put the Diamonds ahead when he flicked an Aaron O’Connor shot past Danby after 32 minutes, following good work by Jamie Day to find O’Connor with a cross. Shortly after his goal Farrell made a run from inside his own half, breaking clear of the defence, but a bobbling ball took his shot over the bar. He then hit the bar from a narrow angle as the Diamonds threatened to increase their lead.

As half-time approached it looked like Diamonds would be ahead at the break, but substitute Muller made a break down the right despite looking two yards offside, and was allowed to cross to present midfielder Lee Stevenson with a simple tap-in for the equaliser.

Half-Time: Eastwood Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

The Diamonds were forced to being on Aaron King at the break, as Michael Corcoran had picked up a knee injury. The change meant that King took Max Porter’s place in midfield, with Porter dropping to right back, and Justin Miller moving to Centre Back.

Lee Stevenson scored his second goal six minutes into the half, when a cross from the right by Andy Todd saw Joe Day challenging for the high ball with Adam Muller, and Muller was able to flick the ball to the left of goal where Stevenson slotted home with the Diamonds appealing for a foul on Day.

Lee Stevenson then netted his hattrick five minutes later, and once again it was a simple build up down the Badgers’ right with a low ball across the box from Anton Foster that was not cut out by the Diamonds defence, flicked on by Matt Rhead, and Stevenson netted from close range.

The Diamonds might have let their heads drop at this point, but to their credit they kept battling, and were rewarded with their second goal four minutes later when Max Porter went on a raid down the right, crossing for Craig Farrell to flick back across the box over his head to Ryan Charles who volleyed home to make the score 3-2.

Farrell was then replaced by Sam Smith, and he immediately gave the tiring defenders problems with his pace and power. However, at the other end Matt Rhead looked to have made the game safe with a fourth goal for the Badgers, but his powerful shot hit the inside of the post, but bounced away to safety.

Aaron O’Connor then beat three men in a great run into the centre of the area, but his shot was well saved by Danby.

A minute later the Diamonds were level. They won a free kick about 30 yards out, and the impressive Sam Smith took over free kick duties from Day and Power on this occasion, and his effort was only parried by Danby, and Ryan Charles was on hand to volley home.

With just under 15 minutes left it looked like the Diamonds might go on and force a winner, but despite some excellent runs from Smith and Charles they ended up with efforts going wide or over the bar. Other opportunities from free kicks and corners also produced little to threaten the home goal.

After 90 minutes: Eastwood Town 3 Rushden & Diamonds 3

With it being a non-segregated game, the Diamonds fans were getting plenty of exercise as they swapped ends twice more at Coronation Park, after the game paused for a few minutes for the managers to issue instructions prior to the two periods of extra time.

The Badgers got the winner through Matt Rhead early in extra time when he tapped home a cross from Sam Duncum. The Diamonds looked to have equalised when Aaron O’Connor appeared to break clear, but a controversial offside flag from the linesman halted play.

The Diamonds then had a number of chances from corners, free kicks or from Justin Miller long throws to force an equaliser, but Power and Day failed to find the target on several occasions, and the Badgers defence won the aerial battle in defending the Miller long throws.

After Chris Shaw was sent off in the last minute of extra-time for bringing down Aaron O’Connor as he chased an excellent through ball from Sam Smith – with Shaw also appearing to handle the ball as he fell in the challenge. It was left to Alan Power to take the vital penalty – and he blazed over with literally the last kick of the game.

Final Score: Eastwood Town 4 Rushden & Diamonds 3

Eastwood will now meet AFC Telford United on Saturday, whilst the Diamonds have a County Cup game on Wednesday evening before their trip to Hayes and Yeading next Tuesday.


Eastwood Town: John Danby, Adrian Hawes (Jonathan D’laryea 84), Chris Shaw, Michael Simpson, Mat Bailey, David Haggerty, Anton Foster (Sam Duncun 88), Lee Stevenson, Matt Rhead, Lindon Meikle (Adam Muller 11), Andy Todd

Subs Not Used: Paul Riley, Joe Ward

Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Curtis Osano, Jamie Day, Justin Miller, Michael Corcoran (Aaron King 45), Max Porter (Lewwis Spence 117), Alan Power, Matt Johnson, Aaron O’Connor, Craig Farrell (Sam Smith 60), Ryan Charles.

Subs Not Used: James Broadbent (GK), Morgan Phillips,

Goals: Farrell(31, 0-1), Stevenson (44, 1-1), Stevenson (51, 2-1), Stevenson (56, 3-1), Charles (60, 3-2), Charles (76, 3-3), Rhead (93, 4-3)

Yellow Cards: Corcoran, Foster, Muller

Red Card: Shaw (120+1)

Referee: Mr P Hodskinson

Attendance: 314 (away approx 60)


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