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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Hednesford Town

Glover (78)

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Ben Kaninda



Basford United (H) 25.2.23

Hednesford finally ended their nightmare run of five defeats in succession in this afternoon’s wooden spoon clash against fellow relegation-haunted hosts AFC Rushden & Diamonds as a late Danny Glover goal claims three crucial points for the visitors


Having lost their past five games, player/manager Danny Glover elected to drop himself for today’s trip to Northamptonshire as one of two changes to the side that had started Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat as Chat Tilt replaced Glover up front, whilst Kemy Agustien came back into the side in place of Stanley Asomugha 


Diamonds started proceedings sitting at the foot of the league table, also in the midst of a five-game losing streak themselves. Diamonds manager Chris Nunn made one change to his side from the one that were beaten at 2-0 at Needham Market in midweek as Miguel Lopes De Matos came into the side in place of Jenson Cooper

On an overcast afternoon in Northamptonshire and in front of their second sub-300 crowd of the week, Hednesford started quickly through the recalled Tilt, who made a run down the left flank in the second minute and got himself in behind Joyce, only for his low, driven cross into the danger zone to skip harmlessly away as no-one in sky blue could react in time to turn the ball home

It was to prove to be a scrappy opening to proceedings, with both sides struggling to keep hold of possession for any length of time, perhaps highlighting further their relative positions in the league table. On-loan MK Dons winger Joel Anker made a darting run down the flank in the fifth minute, getting away from Agustien and lining up a cross that was blocked by Derricott and took a double bounce off the young winger before going out for a Hednesford throw-in

A bout of head tennis inside the Hednesford penalty area two minutes later saw Anker's intended cross for James Burnside headed up in the air by Ethan Patterson and flicked on by two more Hednesford heads before the visitors could finally complete the clearance

Diamonds captain Luke Massingham made a timely interception in the eighth minute to deny Jordan Graham a clear header at goal as he got across the on-loan former Rushden man to head Tilt's curling cross away from the forward after Tilt had turned Joyce inside out once more out on the Hednesford left

Massingham was again on hand to snuff out the danger sixty seconds later, hacking the ball clear from his own penalty area after neat play down the left from the Pitmen saw skipper Steph Morley's cross was flicked on by Tilt into the path of Graham, whose first touch was a little heavy and allowed the former Slough Town man to clear

The Pitmen were quick to counter after clearing a Rushden corner kick on eleven minutes, breaking quickly from Anker's inswinging corner through Max Brogan down the right. The on-loan midfielder set up Mark Derricott, whose right-wing cross was aimed at the incoming Tilt at the far post but was claimed by recent dual registration signing from St. Albans City, goalkeeper Loris Marcimain

On-loan Watford midfielder Bogdan Marian was looking to pull the strings for the hosts in the centre of the park, making a run deep from midfield to latch onto a pass from De Matos in the thirteenth minute but was denied a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box by Ethan Patterson's sliding challenge

Some neat and patient play from the Pitmen two minutes later saw Todd Parker and Tom Thorley link up well in midfield to lay the ball off to Brogan on the edge of the penalty area, only for his long-range effort to be blocked by Ryan Hughes

On seventeen minutes, it was Rushden's turn to put together a neat move down the right as Joyce and Charlie Pattison combined to cross for Burnside, who was just caught on his heels slightly and gave Ben Kaninda the chance to clear

Anker did have the ball in the net for the hosts a minute later as Pattison's through ball played Burnside in behind Kaninda, only for an offside flag to be raised against the striker in the build-up, despite Anker turning the loose ball home on the rebound

Midway through a keenly contested but low-quality first period, Marcimain made his first save of the afternoon as he turned Graham's rising shot over the crossbar. It would not have counted however had the Kettering Town loanee had found the net, as the striker had moved into an offside position in the build-up. Marian had gone down in the midst of this move off the ball and had to receive a bout of treatment before continuing

De Matos was proving to be an effective outlet for the hosts down the left, giving Derricott plenty to think about in the right full-back position for the Pitmen. He picked up a deep cross from Pattison that had drifted out to him on twenty-three minutes and drove past the on-loan Hereford man, but was denied by a last-ditch block from the youngster, who managed to get back goalside of his marker

Luke Jackson had not been sufficiently tested in the Hednesford goal thus far despite Rushden's dominance in possession but was called into action three minutes later as the hosts broke down the right through Fraser Corden, whose intended cross towards Burnside was snuffed out by the on-loan stopper, claiming the ball ahead of the striker after Kaninda had done enough to put the experienced step five striker off

The best chance of the game so far came the Pitmen's way just before the half-hour mark as Agustien took a free-kick just outside the Rushden penalty area and floated in a fine free-kick to the far post that was somehow missed by both Graham and Kaninda at the far post, either of whom would have had a tap-in

Marian's mystery injury/illness was to end the Romanina youngster's afternoon a minute later, as the eighteen-year-old was taken off after failing to shake off his earlier issues and was replaced by Cooper

Marcimain had to be alert three minutes later to boot the ball away from danger, coming out of his goal to deny Tilt after good play from Morley and Parker had sent the winger away in behind Joyce

Burnside was left ruing a good chance that came his way a minute later as De Matos was again the creator for him down the left, crossing into the box and finding the former Real Bedford man, who dwelled on his shot a little too long and allowed the excellent Kaninda to make the tackle

Another narrow offside call denied the Pitmen once more ten minutes before half-time as Parker played the ball out to Morley on the left, whose fine cross into Graham was headed goalwards by the striker but denied by Marcimain. However, play was pulled back as Graham had once again strayed offside in the build-up to the cross

Thorley - not known for his goalscoring expertise - was handed a good chance on thirty-six minutes as he started and ended a quick counter attack by playing the ball out to Morley on the left, who in turn found Graham with a cross. The on-loan forward mis-controlled the ball but managed to lay it off to Thorley on the edge of the penalty area, with the veteran put under pressure to shoot early by Massingham and skied his effort high over the crossbar

A cheeky back-heeled effort from Graham a minute later saw him attempt a shot at goal facing the opposite way as Tilt's cross fell to him, only for Marcimain to make an easy save inside his six-yard box

Massingham was probably lucky not to pick up the game's first booking four minutes before the break as he upended Brogan in full flight and was spoken to by referee Mr Perry but avoided a yellow card. Agaustien's resultant free-kick was easily headed away by the Diamonds skipper, once again highlighting the dreadful set-piece deliveries that had been the bane of the Pitmen's season

Kaninda did brilliantly to deny Burnside an almost-certain goal a minute later as he stretched to divert a superb cross from De Matos away for a corner kick as the striker bore down on him just six yards from goal

The final action of the half saw the Pitmen quickly counter through Parker and play Brogan into space, with the Solihull Moors man taking a couple of touches before drilling his twenty-five-yard effort high over the crossbar

It had certainly been a keenly contested opening forty-five minutes from both sides, who were looking to bring their own relative losing runs to an end but both lacked any real bite in the final third to be able to grab that all-important opener. The Pitmen could be happy at not having conceded early on as they had done in many of their recent games, with young defenders  Kaninda, Derricott and Patterson doing well to keep it tight at the back

The heavens had opened at the break and the two sides were greeted with drizzly conditions at the start of the second half. Kaninda's battle with Burnside was reignited straightaway as the Wycombe Wanderers loanee did well once more to deny the striker with the first attack of the half, making an important last-ditch challenge to take the ball off Burnside before he could pull the trigger just inside the penalty area

Marcimain was forced into an early save on forty-nine minutes as Morley tried his luck with an angled drive from the left-hand corner of the Rushden penalty area that was brilliantly turned away by the stopper for a Hednesford corner kick. Another dreadful corner kick from the Pitmen allowed Diamonds to counter, with the ever-willing De Matos breaking down the left and playing in Cooper. Kaninda once again came to the club's rescue with another timely interception, blocking the shot and clearing 

Patterson breathed a sight of relief two minutes later as his overcooked backpass towards Jackson was cleared by the goalkeeper as he was put under pressure by Burnside

Rushden struggled to clear their lines twice in quick succession on fifty-three minutes as Morley's deep cross from the left was punched away by Marcimain but only as far as Agustien, whose recycled cross caused Joyce some real issues as he failed to clear his lines. Marcimain got involved once more and finally managed to hack the ball clear from the clutches of Graham

The hosts went close to breaking the deadlock on fifty-seven minutes as Cooper picked up a pass from De Matos and attempted a cross-cum-shot from just inside the penalty area that flashed just wide of Jackson's far post with Burnside a touch behind play

The Pitmen's first substitution of the afternoon came right on the hour mark as the inconsistent midfield man Parker was replaced by the more attack-minded Asomugha down the right

Two minutes later, the bright and tricky Anker found a pocket of space once more, turning past Derricott just inside the penalty area  but striking a tame effort straight into the arms of Jackson

Midway through the second half, Glover had seen enough from his misfiring side and elected to bring himself on up front as he came on for Graham, who had once again offered plenty early on before fading out of the game

As soon as the game restarted, a long ball forwards from Massingham was flicked on by Burnside, who ran onto his own backwards header as he finally got the better of Kaninda, only to be denied by Jackson's presence of mind to claim the bouncing ball

At the other end of the pitch, Asomugha was denied his first Hednesfrord goal by Pattison as the Rushden midfielder slid in to turn the ball away at the far post after Brogan's fine cross looked to pick out the former West Brom man

Diamonds made their second change of the afternoon on sixty-nine minutes as Anker's eventful afternoon was brought to an end as the young loanee was replaced by fellow winger Andy Kanga

Brogan was off-target for the away side with nineteen minutes of the game remaining as he seized upon a lay-off from Glover twenty-five yards out but sent his half-volley just over the crossbar

Long throw expert Cooper was handed several of the home side's throw-ins during the second period and launched one such missile into the penalty area on seventy-three minutes that was headed out of danger by Kaninda to De Matos, whose ball back into the box was headed agonisingly the wrong side of the post by the late-arriving Massingham

Sixty seconds later, the men in sky blue made their final substitution of the afternoon as midfielder James McQuilkin came on in place of the tiring Agustien in a like-for-like swap

The Pitmen started to turn the screw on the Diamonds defence with another period of pressure, winning back-to-back corner kicks a minute later that were both dealt with by the head of Massingham 

Asomugha should have done better with a great chance presented to him on seventy-six minutes as McQuilkin stood up a fine cross from the left flank to the far post that was met by the head of the winger, who could only turn the ball into the side-netting as he caught Rushden napping around the back

A minute later, McQuilkin was guilty of wasting another good chance for the Pitmen as he got underneath the ball with his laces and lifted a shot from twenty-five yards out high over the crossbar

With the game looking like it was heading for an unhelpful point apiece, the Pitmen were handed one moment of fortune on seventy-eight minutes as Marcimain gifted the visitors what was to prove to be the winning goal; Brogan's initial cross was cleared back to him, with the midfielder electing to shoot from an angle the second time around and saw his effort fumbled badly by the Guadeloupe goalkeeper, spilling the ball straight into the path of the incoming Glover, who had the easy task of turning the ball home from close-range

Marcimain showed superb composure to sell Glover a dummy two minutes later as the Hednesford manager closed him down with the ball at his feet, feinting his clearance and taking it around the striker before clearing his lines

The home side made their final substitution of the game with seven minutes left as they attempted to rescue something from the game with the introduction of midfield man Mitchell White in place of Hughes

Kanga stung the palms of Jackson a minute later with a curling free-kick from twenty-five yards out that was pushed back to him by the stopper, with the substitute guilty of a bout of indecision as he lined up his rebound in the 'D' and allowed Kaninda to clear the danger

You could sense the desperation in the Rushden ranks as we entered the final five minutes of play, made more obvious by the presence of Marcimain in the Hednesford penalty area on eighty-six minutes as Rushden won a corner kick out on the left which was cleared by the nervy-looking away side

Another long throw from Cooper a minute later was dealt with well by Patterson, who headed the ball back into the path of Diamonds' man of the match De Matos; his cross was aimed at Massingham, who was once again denied by more excellent defending from Kaninda

Waller wasted a good chance for the hosts on eighty-eight minutes as he curled an effort from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area into the Peter DuBanke terrace, prompting frustrated shouts from the home fans

Having weathered the late Rushden storm, the Pitmen almost grabbed themselves a killer second goal in the first minute of added time as Brogan's brilliant run down the right saw the on-loan midfielder lay the ball off to Glover, whose shot was blocked by the recovering Massingham


In an attempt to stem the tide of any late Rushden pressure, Quilkin took one for the team as he picked up a late, late booking for blatantly kicking the ball away and denying the hosts a chance to take a free-kick quickly

Jackson was to deny the hosts in the final of the four added minutes as he firstly punched a cross from Joyce away from danger and then came out of his six-yard box to claim Pattison's recycled cross from the right that was aimed at Massingham

A morale-boosting win for the Pitmen that ends their recent slump of defeats and again gives them the slightest glimmer of hope in their unlikely battle for survival. Defeat for Diamonds essentially ends their hopes of staying up as they now sit fifteen points from safety with only twelve games to play. Another set of back-to-back home games is next up for the Piten as they play host to mid-table Basford United next weekend before hosting Leroy Lita's play-off chasing Ilkeston Town the following Tuesday night at Keys Park

AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Marcimain, Joyce, Lopes De Matos, Waller, Hughes (White 83), Massingham ©, Corden, Pattison, Marian (Cooper 30), Burnside, Anker (Kanga 69)       Subs Unused: Agemoh-Davies, Doorbar-Baptist

Hednesford Town: Jackson, Derricott, Morley ©, Agustien (McQuilkin 74 ), Kaninda, Patterson, Brogan, Thorley, Graham (Glover 65), Parker (Asomugha 60), Tilt      Sub Unused: Hartley, Williams

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