Another road trip ends in defeat for The Marketmen!!
By Paul Munn
Despite an early superb Jamie Griffiths free kick the Marketmen succumbed to Rushden in a blustery affair
Rushden’s blustery Hayden Road welcomed the Marketmen who were hoping to break their bad run of form. With Dan Morphew and Russell Short suspended and Adam Mills unavailable meant some shuffling around had to be made to the starting XI. James Baker went into the back four once again, with Jamie Griffiths taking his place at centre forward. Jeremiah Kamanzi took up the number 10 shirt, whilst Nick Ingram earnt himself a place on the bench.
The elements were going to more than played their part as a gale-force wind swept across the ground throughout the game, making it extremely tricky conditions for both sides.
The home side had the wind at their backs in the first half and were looking capitalise on that early on. They had a lot of early possession, putting together a couple of moves resulting in two decent crosses that gave the Marketmen defence an early test. They also created the first opportunity when a Sam Johnson cross, which was originally too long for the oncoming attackers found its way back to Jack Westbrook, who let fly with a fierce drive that just went over the top
Despite the best efforts for both teams the conditions were making it difficult for either team to get into any sort of rhythm, making the entertainment value hard to come by.
However, with twenty minutes played the Marketmen capitalised on a mistake in midfield that allowed Joseph Marsden to run at the Rushden defence. Twenty-five yards out from he was bundled over following a challenge. Up stepped Jamie Griffiths to take responsibility for the free kick, he struck it superbly beyond the reach of the Rushden keeper Ben Heath and it flew into the top corner. 1-0 NMFC – 20 mins
Could the Marketmen build on this? Unfortunately Rushden’s response to say at least was swift. When just two minutes later a Sam Brown long throw from the left was flicked on by Alex Collard, and it fell into the path of Declan Rogers who lashed a right-footed effort from ten yards out past Jake Jessup. 1-1 – 22 mins.
Jake Jessup was called into action soon afterwards when he saved a Ben Farrell effort. His counterpart at the other end was also called into action a couple of minutes later when he had to make a good stop from a Joseph Marsden shot, following a good Marketmen move.
It was the home side who began to look the more threatening and kept the Marketmen’s defence relatively busy without really creating any meaningful chances.
A bit of bad luck then struck the Marketmen four minutes before the break when Luke Ingram battling well went down injured following a challenge. Although at first it didn’t look too bad, but it turned out to be serious enough to end his afternoon. The injury itself was later said to be an ankle one. His place on the pitch was taken by Regan Pelling.
Not much than a minute later Rushden sent a long free kick from the back deep into the Marketmen’s half where the unfortunate Jeremiah Kamanzi, in the act of trying to clear it, inadvertently flicked it across his own area. Rushden’s Jack Bowen seized on the opportunity and he managed to loop a header over the Jake Jessup to give the home side the lead. 2-1 AFC R&D – 42 mins.
Half Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 vs Needham Market 1
The Marketmen now playing with the wind were hoping to use it to their advantage. A few minutes after the restart Jake Jessup sent a long ball up field where Joseph Marsden got to the ball before Rushden’s keeper Ben Heath and directed it goal wards, but unfortunately for the Marketmen Rushden’s defender Alex Collard was on-hand to tidy up the danger.
Moments later Joseph Marsden linked up well with Jamie Griffiths to produce a shooting opportunity, but his effort was blocked once more by the Rushden backline.
Meanwhile Rushden were finding it difficult to come forward and to be fair the elements did have a hand in this. However they did have their moments like a free kick out wide from Declan Rogers that forced Jake Jessup to dive full stretch to punch the ball away from the danger zone.
A little while later having scored a beauty already Jamie Griffiths tried his luck from another long range free kick. Alas this time it did not produce the same result as his first one, as he his effort sailing over the top.
Midway through the half a good interchange between Gareth Heath and Joseph Marsden resulted in the former being brought down as the home side tried to stop the attack. Gareth Heath got up to take the free kick himself and a nice short one out to Callum Sturgess on the left wing. He sent in an inviting cross, but frustratingly it just went behind the two Marketmen attackers at the far post.
Rushden made the first change of the afternoon when they replaced the aptly named Ben Diamond with Tom Lorraine to see if he could help improve their attacking options. He did make a few decent runs but the Marketmen defence dealt with these adequately.
As the half progressed the Marketmen, continued to have a lot of possession in the Rushden half, but were struggling to find a way past the home sides defence and the strong wind meant that a lot more passes were going astray.
However they nearly did late in the game in a form of a gift. The provider of this gift was the Rushden skipper Liam Dolman, who nodded a ball back towards his keeper, but the wind caught hold of it and he could only watch in horror as it left his keeper beaten, but luckily for him it just drifted past the post.
Before that, having taken a facial knock earlier Jake Dye was replaced by Nick Ingram with six minutes to go.
The final few minutes saw the Marketmen press on searching for the equaliser. Callum Sturgess went down the left once more and put in a cross, which the Rushden defence half cleared, allowing it to drop to Joseph Marsden who struck it well but it was blocked well.
The Marketmen nearly gained a point right at the death thanks to Regan Pelling when his cross to the far post was taken by the wind and looped over the keeper, but agonisingly for the Marketmen it also just managed to loop over the bar.
Agonising times indeed for the Marketmen’s players, management and supporters alike at this moment in time, but I’m sure we will all stick together and get through it.
Full Time: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 vs Needham Market 1
AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Heath, Hicks, Dolman, Collard, Brown, Westbrook, Farrell, Diamond (Lorraine 67 (Curtis 88)), Rogers, Johnson, Bowen.
Needham Market: Jessop: Dye (Ingram (N) 84), Sturgess, Squire, Morphew (K), Baker, Ingram (L) (Pelling 41), Heath, Griffiths, Kamanzi, Marsden