AFC Rushden & Diamonds 7 Fleet Town 1
Fleet made this long trip north to play the divisions leading side, made all the slower by the Bank holiday traffic, breakdowns on motorways, queuing to pass accidents, albeit nothing in comparision to the disaster further up the M1.
The game started with the hosts pouring forward and looking especially dangerous every time Joel Gyasi got the ball. His pace and close control setting up a string of openings. It took 8 minutes for one of these to lead to Rushden’s first corner, which turned out to be the first of many, this ne played into the box brought Beach into action as he punched the ball away off the head of an R&D attacker. A minute later and corner number 2 needed Wales to intercept and clear. Gyasi back in the thick of the action, showed he could shoot as well, only denied by a fine tip over from Beach in the Fleet goal. A rare attack down the left saw Ben Farrell cross, the ball running all the way to Gyasi on the right to play the ball straight back in, but Fleet cleared and survived. After 18 minutes, Nabil Shariff had the ball and drove up to the box, with the whole Fleet back line between him and the goal, he still found a gap to shoot through and put the hosts ahead. From the restart Fleet launched an attack and the chance to shoot fell to Will Efambe, his effort being cleared by Brown. Then suddenly the whole afternoon changed as in the space of three minutes, Shariff scored again, followed by two goals from Darryl Smith to make it 4-0, with over an hour still to play, the home supporters, of which there were over 500 present, started thinking of how many can we score today. Fleet though did not let their heads drop or give up, another fine run from Danilo Cadete, down the left and a cross, with Fleet players closing in, it was cut out by R&D’s man mountain and captain Liam Dolman. After another R&D attack comes to nothing, Liam Beach kicks the ball up field, one bounce and it is collected by Danilo Cadete, for Fleet’s best chance of the half, only the keeper to beat, he shoots to one side of the goal but the ball drifted harmlessly wide of the post. A quick break from Rushden with only one defender in position to cover the attacker running in, Liam Beach makes the decision to come and collects ball and player, this looked to be well outside the box, but the referee awarded a Penalty, which was converted by Dolman to make it 5-0 to Rushden and Diamonds at the break.
The second half started as badly as it could when Daryll Smith made it 6 within a minute, to complete his hat trick. After this Fleet were getting more of the ball, taking the game to Rushden and creating better chances. A good run by Efambe, he cut into the box, as he started to fall he played the ball to Danilo to shoot, bringing a fine save from Heath. When Rushden attacked it was still Gyasi looking to be the man most likely to open up Fleet, but the closest he got was one effort deflected for a corner. Shariff was still looking for ways to complete his hat trick, his powerful hit from the middle of the box, brought a briliant diving save with the out-stretched hand by Beach, the sort of save any Premier League keeper would have proud to make. Then the moment of magic happened, from a Throw-in, Dormer played the ball on to Efambe his wonderful delivery back into the box was met by Bradley Wilson to slot in, thus making Fleet Town the first side to score against Rushden in League or Cup this season. Without looking as threatening on their attacks Rushden were still keeping Beach busy, getting down to make two more saves, before another Fleet chance, Efambe brought down just outside the box, giving Fleet a dead ball kick in a dangerous area, Rushden packed their wall, the free kick taken, proved to be too close to get the ball up and down as it landed on the roof of the net. With 15 minutes left, a long kick from Heath found Shariff in space, on the right of the box, he cut the ball back and sub Claudio Hoban fired home for Rushden’s seventh. Wilson did slide the ball into the net again but only long after the whistle had blown for an offside. Some good build up between Kiye Martin and Efambe saw a dangerous ball in be turned goalward, get palmed down by Heath, only for Chris Wales to snatch his shot over the bar. The game ending with a final Fleet chance, a shot from Nick Sowden being collected by Heath and the final whistle blew before he could kick it away.
In the end another defeat, but there will not be many teams coming away from Rushden with any points, a good experience for the younger players who would never had played in front of as large a crowd before, especially one so partizan for the home side. Onto Monday and shows how unfair the fixture fairies were went they drempt up these early games as Fleet will entertaain third place Moneyfields at 3pm.
Fleet Town : 1 Beach, 2 Wales, 3 Garstang, 4 Dormer, 5 Greg Haydon, 6 Musgrove, 7 Efambe, 8 Soden (N), 9 Wilson, 10 Oshilaja, 11 Cadete.
subs 12 Pekun (on for Cadete 64 mins), 15 Martin (on for Dormer 69 mins), 16 James Smith (on for Garstang 52 mins)
not used 13 Button, 14 Toye.