Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brackley Town 2

Northants Hillier Senior Cup Quarter Final

A youthful Rushden & Diamonds side went out of the Hillier Cup to Brackley Town at Nene Park on Wednesday evening. A headed goal after 20 minutes from Anthony Thomas gave the visitors a 1-0 half-time lead. Tom Winters doubled the lead on the hour when he volleyed home a Thomas cross at the far post.

Paul Driver took charge of affairs, and he gave a start to Simon Evans, who had been with Dorchester Town, and Ryan Leonard who is on the books at Plymouth Argyle. Ollie Thorne and Luke Prosser played at centre back, with Leonard at right back and Aynsley McDonald at left back. In midfield were the returning Joe Keehan, Lewwis Spence and Aaron King with Liam Read, Jake Woolley and Michael Gash pushed forwards. Jake Woolley was making his first appearance at this level – he is with the first year group of Youth Team Players.

After a couple of early shots from Tom Winters that Evans gathered cleanly the game settled down until the 13th minute when Ryan Leonard made a good run down the right and was disappointed to see a well hit cross elude Gash and Woolley. Two minutes later Aaron King forced a good save from Turley when he took a pass from Michael Gash on his hip and then volleyed at goal.

After 20 minutes the visitors took the lead. A break down the right involving Magunda and Story appeared to have a hint of offside about it, but a deep cross was met by the head of Anthony Thomas who found space between Thorne and Leonard to loop a header over Evans for the opening goal.

Aaron King had to leave the field after 33 minutes after an accidental clash of heads, and he was replaced by 16-year old Jerry Nash, another first year Youth Team player making his first appearance at this level. Apart from a couple of powerful but wayward efforts from Lewwis Spence, and another that was blocked, the Diamonds didn’t really threaten again to get back on level terms before the break.

Half-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brackley Town 1

The Diamonds started the second half with increased attacking threat, and Lewwis Spence linked with Aynsley McDonald on the left, and McDonald’s dangerous looking cross was scrambled away for a corner. From the resultant corner Liam Read had two attempts on goal, the second of which drew a fine save from Billy Turley.

The game then settled back into a similar rhythm to the first half, with the visitors getting their second goal on the hour. Owen Story picked up the ball in midfield and appeared to be fouled by Lewwis Spence, but referee Knowles waved play on, allowing Anthony Thomas to break down the right and hit a deep cross that was met at the far post by Tom Winters. Although Winters was at a narrow angle to goal he was still able to fire past Evans and into the net.

The highlight of the last quarter was the introduction of Diamonds legend Darren Collins onto the Nene Park pitch he had graced a decade ago. Ollie Thorne showed little respect for Collins’ reputation with a crunching tackle soon after he joined the action, but was quick to apologise and referee Knowles took no further action.

The game ended shortly after substitute Lewis Wilson had headed over Diamonds final chance.

Full-Time: Rushden & Diamonds 0 Brackley Town 2

Brackley progress to the semi-final stage of the competition. The Diamonds now have six days to prepare for the trip to Hayes and Yeading United on Tuesday.

Teams

Rushden & Diamonds: Simon Evans, Ryan Leonard, Aynsley McDonald (Morgan Phillips 86), Lewwis Spence, Ollie Thorne, Luke Prosser, Liam Read, Aaron King (Jerry Nash 33), Michael Gash, Joe Keehan, Jake Woolley (Lewis Wilson 65)

Subs Not Used: Callum Earls, James Broadbent (GK)

Brackley Town: Billy Turley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Gould, Barry Quinn, Josh Green, Tom Kemp, Owen Story (Darren Collins 80), Paul Dempsey, Anthony Thomas, Michael Blackwood, Tom Winters (Jamie Clifton 67).

Subs Not Used: Stuart Dorrill, Jack Hartley, Jon Brady.

Goals: Thomas (20, 0-1), Winters (60, 0-2)

Yellow Cards : None

Referee: Mr C Knowles

Attendance: 149

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