Pre-season for AFC Rushden & Diamonds is well under way, and Radio Diamonds started its own pre-season campaign on Saturday at AFC Wulfrunians.
We brought you second half coverage from the wonderful Black Country as we got back up to speed with the kit and equipment and with describing football again. With a number of changes in playing personnel it was good to get used to the new boys and to the new formations/partnerships in the team.
We saw a fairly lacklustre first half display to be honest in scorching heat that prompted a World Cup style drinks break in each half, but Diamonds upped the intensity and accuracy of their play in the last half-hour and it was pleasing to see them finish the stronger fitter looking side against Step 5 opponents.
It was my second pre-season game after the Corby match and it was good to see:
- Mark Hewitt looking sound at centre half at Wulfrunians, unfussy but good positioning and good organisation alongside Aaron Parkinson.
- Elliot Lamb-Johnson keeping trying to run at defenders and be positive despite it not always working out for him…but he was involved in most of our good attacking play and was being encouraged by the rest of the team to keep trying things
- Jason Turner who struggled to get into the game early on playing up front with Fazel Koriya in front of a team that struggled to put meaningful possession together in the final third…but he finished strongly, showing good energy closing down and harrying in the second half, and he was unlucky not to bag a couple of goals with some real skill in the penalty area
- Matt Pinder the MAA scholar who was offered a place on the bench and took his chance of half an hour’s play with an energetic approach, a great finish for dream debut goal, missed a probably easier chance for a second, and showed physical presence and really helped energise the side in the last half-hour
- Rhys Redding making a fabulous one on one save after replacing Matt Finlay for the last 20 minutes. Not the tallest but showed presence and his positioning and anticipation for the save was excellent.
In the Corby game we saw Adam Confue look solid in central midfield and show a real desire to get forward with the excellent Brad Harris covering well…so good signs from all the new boys.
It was also good to see Richard Bunting on top form at Wulfrunians, he was my man of the match with great energy, superb ball control, solid passing and great experience and organisation. It was noticeable how he was encouraging Elliott Lamb-Johnson when things occasionally didn’t go right for him.
As I said Brad Harris was excellent alongside Bunting in central midfield…bar the misplaced pass that lead to the second goal. He is so hard to dispossess sometimes, strong in the challenge, and often plays the easy ball to make sure we keep possession. And he so nearly had a Van Persie moment in the final minute with a flying header just wide.
Matt Gearing also got stronger as the game progressed and made a series of excellent runs down the centre in the first half creating a chance for Turner that came back of the bar, and down both wings, with some great through balls and crosses and he always looked dangerous.
We have just two more pre-season games left, both at the Dog & Duck, with the Supporters Direct Shield on Wednesday 30th against Hinckley, and the final game against Rugby on Saturday 2nd August.
We’ll be aiming to cover second half again on Radio Diamonds on Wednesday, and the full game on Saturday against Rugby. So tune in about 9.00 on Wednesday for the latter stages of our second attempt to win the Supporters Direct Shield, and 3.00 on Saturday for the final pre-season game.
The season proper starts in just 12 days time!!
Radio Diamonds Presenter