The link to view the highlights of the game is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vNG_XSkPKs
AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 1 STOURBRIDGE 2
Gary Hackett’s men booked their place in the play-offs with a deserved win away at AFC Rushden & Diamonds – a result that effectively ended the Northamptonshire side’s own hopes of a top five spot. The Glassboys had to come from a goal down though to earn the points with Luke Benbow having a near immediate impact after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Stourbridge were paying their first visit to Hayden Road for the first time since a 1 – 3 loss to the old Rushden Town club back in March 1992. A sunny, but cool afternoon greeted them with a chilly easterly wind taking the edge off the temperatures.
Callum Powell and Leon Broadhurst returned to the Stourbridge starting eleven in place of George Forsyth and Brad Birch, while there was welcome news for the travelling faithful with Benbow fit enough to be named on the bench after coming through training in the week.
The visitors played up the slope in the first period and it took both teams a while to settle. After a quiet start to proceedings Stourbridge were first to genuinely threaten a goal with 16 minutes played. Jordaan Brown and Greg Mills combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Aaron Forde and he cracked in a stinging shot from 25 yards that home stopper Ben Heath saved somewhat unconvincingly, rather spilling the ball round his left-hand post for a corner. The resulting flag-kick taken by Robert Thompson-Brown found Aaron Hayden at the near post, but he pushed his side-foot volley wide.
Diamonds hit straight back, however, to take an 18th minute lead. Tom Lorraine found Nathan Hicks close to the centre-circle and he drove forward on a steely diagonal run, which went unchallenged, and having out-paced Paul McCone, he advanced into the left-hand side of the box before finding the net with an eloquent finish. He flicked the ball with the outside of his right boot from eight yards beyond Wren for the opening goal of the afternoon.
The response from the Glassboys was positive though and they began to assert themselves more on the game. In the 25th minute Powell dribbled into the Diamonds box before coming up a challenge and the ball rolled to Kaiman Anderson who turned and clipped a left-foot shot narrowly over.
Two minutes later some sterling work from Greg Mills saw him provide a teasing cross from the left-hand side of the area across the face of the six-yard box, however neither Powell or Anderson had gambled on the ball coming in and there was no-one there to get a decisive touch.
Stourbridge continued to push and on 31 minutes Aris Christophorou received the ball from a throw-in on the left and with the home defence switching off momentarily, his deep cross found McCone who directed a header back across the area where Broadhurst got in an unorthodox flick with his foot that saw the ball loop goalwards and required Heath to touch it over for a corner.
The Glassboys were back on level terms, however, in the 35th minute. Anderson turned and laid a short sideways pass inside to Thompson-Brown. He took a touch before striking a driven low 30 yard shot that went under the outstretched arms of the diving Heath to nestle in the bottom corner. In truth, the keeper should have kept it out, but the visitors were delighted to be rewarded for a strong passage of play by finding the equaliser.
Thompson-Brown certainly had the taste for it now as three minutes later he embarked on a dribble before hitting a 25-yard shot that deflected off Alex Collard for a corner.
HT AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1 Stourbridge 1
Stourbridge started the second-half brightly, but it was the home side who first had a sight of goal in the 54th minute as Zack Reynolds produced a run before laying a pass off to Hicks, but this time he sliced his effort well wide. The visitors quickly replied with Mills sending a 25-yard shot from the left channel area over the bar. A minute Powell should have done better after beating the offside trap. He advanced into the right-hand side of the box, but delayed getting a shot away and this allowed Sam Brown to recover and ease him off the ball. Powell was involved again on 58 minutes as he linked up with Forde just outside the Diamonds penalty area, but his 20-yard volley lacked the power to trouble Heath unduly.
The Glassboys might have got their noses in-front with 59 minutes gone when Thompson-Brown sent in a long free-kick from the right and Hayden got free of his marker but couldn’t direct his header on target.
The Northamptonshire hosts hit back four minutes later with Lorraine chasing a long ball into the far-left corner before turning it back into the path of Hicks. He cut inside and let fly with a shot that drew a fine parried save from Wren away to his left.
Stourbridge were soon back on the attack though with Powell providing a low cross from the right for Anderson and he turned to get a shot away but was thwarted by a good block by Collard.
The Glassboys introduced Benbow for Powell with twenty minutes remaining with Anderson moving into a wider attacking role. They continued to make most of the running with Thompson-Brown seeing a low 30-yard shot run wide and Benbow was soon in the thick of the action with a curling 20-yard shot that deflected off the head of Jack Westbrook for a corner.
In the 76th minute, however, Benbow marked his return with a goal. It was a scruffy goal from a home perspective but a significant one for the visitors. A long throw-in on the right from Christophorou bounced into the near post area where Collard miscued a clearance straight up into the air. It took a while to come down and then Dolman inadvertently turned the ball against Aaron Forde as he tried to bring it under control and the ball then broke the way of Benbow and he thumped a shot high into the roof of the net, despite the efforts of Westbrook on the line.
Andy Peaks’ side tried to respond with Ben Acquaye flashing a shot wide from the edge of the area on 79 minutes before Stourbridge made their second change of the afternoon three minutes later as Birch took over from Forde in midfield. Mills picked up a booking soon afterwards as the clock continued to click down.
Benbow threatened twice more in the closing stages as gaps appeared. His shot on the turn from 25 yards on 88 minutes was saved by Heath and a minute later he cleverly created room for a shot that fizzed just wide.
Diamonds had one last half-chance in stoppage time as a long throw-in from Brown on the right wasn’t cleared properly, However Ben Farrell’s long-range shot was straight at Wren and Stourbridge were soon able to celebrate their first away win since early January.
Stourbridge – Wren, Hayden, Brown, McCone, Christophorou, Forde, Powell, Broadhurst, Anderson, Thompson-Brown, Mills
Subs – Benbow (for Powell 70 mins), Birch (for Forde 82 mins), Forsyth, Lilly, Pierpoint (not used)
Booked – Mills
Att - 519
Scorers – Thompson-Brown and Benbow