AFCW 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4 – FA Vase

A bumper crowd were treated to a fantastic afternoon of football as 10-man AFC Rushden and Diamonds battled to overcome AFC Wulfrunians after extra-time. The game was all-square at 2-2 after 90 minutes before the visitors pulled away with two extra-time strikes.


Rushden showed their quality right from the off, Matt Gearing’s early free kick evaded everyone before hitting the post and they then took the lead after 16 minutes. Russ Dunkley flicked a throw in straight to Alfie Taylor who calmly volleyed past Paul Evans.


The game fell heavily in Wulfs’ favour after 25 minutes; Rushden’s Jamal Clarke was sent off after he wrestled Andy Thompson to the ground off the ball.


The personnel advantage immediately paid off for Wulfs as Thompson met Scott Stevenson’s corner with a neat volley at the front post to draw them level.


Even though they were a man down, Rushden still pushed to regain the lead, with two of their best efforts coming on the stroke of half-time. First, Gearing hit the post with a powerful effort before Aaron King shot horrendously wide of a near open goal.


Substitute Jake Webb had an instant impact when he came on after 62 minutes. With his first touch he took the ball past a defender before seeing his cross turned into the net by Rushden’s Aaron Parkinson.


Both ‘keepers kept their sides in the game in the space of five minutes- Evans did excellently to turn King’s shot behind for a corner and Diamonds’ stand-in, Jake Gillingwater, pulled off a miraculous save to deny David Howells from close range.


It was Dunkley who provided Rushden with the goal that forced the game into extra-time, he met Merrill’s cross with a powerful header that left Evans with no chance.


Webb had the chance to win the game for Wulfs when Nathan Rose-Laing played him through in the 88th minute, but his low shot flew agonisingly just wide of the upright.


The decisive goal came in the sixth minute of extra-time; Gearing squared the ball to Taylor on the edge of the area, who grabbed his second with a simple finish.


Parkinson then made up for his earlier own-goal by scoring one at the right end as he met Gearing’s corner to prevent any hopes of a Wulfs comeback.


AFC Wulfrunians line up: Evans, Sedgemore, Burd, Palmer (Piggott 94), Spittle, Asbury, Perks (Rose-Laing 79), Howells, Gregg, Thompson (Webb 62), Stevenson


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