First Team vs. AFC Rushden and Diamonds (1 : 2)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
Sheffield FC had another fruitless on the road on Saturday, writes Stuart James, as they lost 2-1 to 10 man AFC Rushden and Diamonds at the Dog and Duck Ground. Club had raced into a 14th minute lead from an Alec Denton penalty, however they were pegged back in the 21st minute by Nabil Shariff, who compounded the misery with an 88th minute penalty to give the hosts all three points.
Club started the game brightly, and made use of the debutant full-backs Tom Rose and Fabian Bailey to exploit the flanks, getting behind the Diamonds’ defence with surprising ease.
The visitors were the first to really test at either end, as a Sam Finlaw free-kick found the head of Ross Goodwin, who flicked the ball onto Conor Hall who was denied by a very brave save by home keeper Matt Finlay.
It was pressure that was soon to result in a goal; another ball into Hall – this time from Reece Treasure – saw the bustling young striker bearing down on goal, only to see him pulled back by Rory Winters with the goal at his mercy. A penalty was rightly awarded, referee Reeves produced a red card for Winters, and DENTON made no mistake with the spot kick.
By rights Sheffield should have looked a lot more comfortable with the man advantage, a goal lead and dominating play, however it was an unforced error that gave AFC a lifeline.
On 21 minutes a ball over the top from Sam Brown looked to be meat and drink for centre back Damian Magee, however the back header to Chris Butt was under-hit, allowing SHARIFF to take the ball around the keeper and scoop the ball into the net after it had initially hit the post.
It was nearly a complete turnaround a few minutes later, as Brown picked the ball up on the edge of the area - and after twisting and turning to get a decent shooting position - his shot flashed inches wide of the post.
Club managed to take hold of things again, but were unable to make the advantage count, with the best effort coming from Ross Goodwin whose shot was inches over the bar.
The second half saw the visitors yet again in the ascendancy, however for all their domination chances proved to be few and far between, with Finlaw’s shot and Denton’s free header the best of the bunch.
Rushden started to take the upper hand soon after and created more in front of goal, with Taylor Orosz driving the ball over, and Chris Butt coming to the rescue to deny Shariff another goal by saving well with his feet.
The best move of the half came from the hosts yet again; a Richard Bunting free-kick was headed back across goal by Jason Lee, and despite Brad Harris and Nabil Shariff both sliding in – neither could get the touch to direct the ball over the line.
Of the two keepers it was Chris Butt that was being kept the busiest, and he came to the rescue once again, denying Jake Newman with another good save after the substitute cut in and found space to shoot.
Sheffield looked to steal all three points with the counter attack, however the closest they came was from a Matt Roney cross, which saw Conor Hall head just over the top.
The sting in the tail came in the 88th minute though; a long throw by Sam Brown was met in the box by an aerial challenge between Damian Magee and two Rushden opponents, unfortunately Magee was caught with his hands in the air with the ball clearly making contact.
Again referee Reeves had no trouble pointing to the spot, and making sure all three points stayed in Northants, SHARIFF tucked the ball into the corner.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Finlay, Deeney, Brown, Winters, Lee, Harris, Shariff, McNulty, Orosz, Lorraine ©, Evangelinos. Subs: Ashton, Newman, Wilson, Bunting, Dolman.
Sheffield FC: Butt, Bailey, Rose, Goodwin, Cooksey ©, Magee, Treasure, Finlaw, Hall, Lindley, Denton. Subs: Roney, Cusworth, Hamid, Hadfield, Ludlam.
|Lee Cooksey ©||more|