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Stratford Town hand AFC Rushden & Diamonds first win since September

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Stratford Town 1

Magunda 47

AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2

Shamsi 22, Hughes 55

Southern Premier Central

FORMER Stratford Town man Ravi Shamsi came back to haunt his old club as he scored one and set up another to guide AFC Rushden & Diamonds to their first win since 25th September.

Joe Magunda gets to the ball ahead of Diamonds striker Tom Lorraine. Photo: Mark Williamson F46/10/21/5376
Joe Magunda gets to the ball ahead of Diamonds striker Tom Lorraine. Photo: Mark Williamson F46/10/21/5376

Shamsi opened the scoring with a fine left-footed free-kick in the 22nd minute, but the Bards were back on level terms just a couple of minutes into the second period when Ashley Sammons’s corner was bundled over the line by Joe Magunda.

Eight minutes later the Diamonds bagged the decisive winning goal, with Shamsi’s in-swinging set-piece headed home by Ryan Hughes.

Defeat for the Bards means they have won just one of their last five Southern Premier Central games, but the exertions of a hectic fixture schedule combined with the two Boston United games has clearly had an impact.

As for Diamonds, victory brought an end to a seven-game winless run in all competitions.

Head coach Paul Davis made two changes to the team which claimed a 1-0 victory at lowly Hitchin Town on Saturday, with Kynan Isaac and Enoch Andoh coming in for Owen James and William Dawes, both of whom dropped to the bench.

There was little to separate the two sides in the opening 20 minutes at the Arden Garages Stadium, with neither team able to threaten, although the visitors looked more composed on the ball while the Bards often went in search of the long ball up to Jaanai Gordon or the diagonal to Andoh.

Jaanai Gordon gives chase. Photo: Mark Williamson F46/10/21/5346
Jaanai Gordon gives chase. Photo: Mark Williamson F46/10/21/5346

But it was the visitors who opened the scoring from a free-kick conceded by Isaac. Former Bards man Shamsi eyed up the shot and his stunning left-footed effort flew over the wall and into the back of the net despite the best efforts of Liam O’Brien who was scrambling across his line.

There were very little chances that followed, but the Diamonds always looked deadly on the break, with the pace of Connor Furlong giving Dan Vann a little trouble on the left wing. Despite that, Magunda and Jordan Williams looked solid at the back, making it difficult for lone striker Tom Lorraine to make an impact.

Diamonds keeper Dean Snedker had little to do in the opening 45 minutes, but he may have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Sammons’s long-range free-kick flew just wide of his near post five minutes before the interval.

At half-time Davis made his second change of the evening, with Dan Lafferty making way for James as the Bards sought a fast start to the second period, and that’s exactly what they got.

Sammons saw a free-kick from the edge of the area deflect behind for a corner and the midfielder’s subsequent delivery on the left-hand side was bundled over the line by Magunda to bring the scores level. Almost immediately the visitors had the chance to go back in front, but Alex Collard could only blaze over from close range.

Stratford had looked as though they were starting to assert some dominance on proceedings, but they found themselves behind again in the 55th minute. After winning a free-kick on the far side Shamsi whipped the ball into the box and the unmarked Hughes rose like a salmon to head home into O’Brien’s opposite corner.

Enoch Andoh sizes up his man. Photo: Mark Williamson F46/10/21/5362
Enoch Andoh sizes up his man. Photo: Mark Williamson F46/10/21/5362

Snedker had spent the majority of the match untroubled, but in the one moment he was called upon, the Diamonds shot-stopper was there to deny the Bards from drawing level with 17 minutes remaining.

With Jesse Akubuine earning a yellow card for pulling the shirt of James who was seemingly racing away, the subsequent free-kick in a central position was arrowed towards goal by Sammons, but Snedker managed to get down low quick enough to push the ball behind.

Diamonds thought they had a third with 11 minutes remaining, but Collard saw his ‘goal’ ruled out for offside. That came just moments after O’Brien had pulled off a stunning save to deny Shamsi from bagging his second goal of the evening.

O’Brien was once again pulling off heroics between the sticks with just two minutes remaining. A swift counter-attack saw Shamsi break free and after squaring the ball across to Furlong it seemed as though it would be 3-1. However, O’Brien had other ideas and a strong trailing leg prevented Furlong’s shot from nestling in the corner.

The Bards huffed and puffed to get the equaliser, but eventually came up short.

BARDS: O’Brien, Vann, Isaac, Fry, Magunda, Williams, Lafferty (James h/t), Gordon, Sammons, Andoh (Wakefield 80), Wilson (Dawes 41). Unused subs: Awadh, Wakefield, Turner.

DIAMONDS: Snedker, Casey, Warburton, Akubuine, Hughes, Collard, Tshikuna, Bell-Toxtle (Slinn 80), Lorraine (Jones 77), Shamsi, Furlong. Unused subs: George, Dolman, Nixon.


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