“Individual mistakes cost us dear.”
.....bigger than 20 in the Southern, Northern Premier or Isthmian League first-team matches on Saturday and more all in the United Counties League Premier Division – including our own – in fact more than double most of them in the UCL!
The only other positive I can think of is the performance in the opening 25 minutes or so – the rest against a decent AFC Rushden & Diamonds side was a real battle.
In truth we shouldn`t be beating sides like Diamonds. They get to train every day, work on set plays, shape etc., while we have some of the squad for an hour and a half on a Tuesday night, and because some work that night, we cannot work on those things.
Having said all that, as in our FA Youth Cup defeat at Biggleswade Town earlier this season, it was individual mistakes that cost us.
We started the game really well and it came as little surprise when we took the lead after 13 minutes when our best move of the game involving James Lea, Ben Fitzjohn and James Bishop ended up with Callum Dench putting the ball into the back of the net, only for the linesman`s flag to be raised.
We all assumed on the bench that he`d given offside, but in fact he had waved for a penalty, which, following a lengthy delay when the over fussy and overall rather poor referee talked to Diamonds` defenders, skipper Ben Fitzjohn duly converted the resulting spot-kick.
Diamonds put us under pressure for the final 10 minutes of the half, but good handling by keeper Sam Curtis and some decent defending kept us in front at the break.
We expected Diamonds to come at us in the second half and they did, but we held them – well at least for 5 minutes!
A defining moment in the game came on 49 minutes - a fine through ball from Lea saw Harvey Bland race clear of the visitors` back four, but when one-on-one with the keeper, chipped the ball wide.
Diamonds immediately broke straight up the other end and a mix-up between centre-back Jordan Holmes - who has been outstanding all season - and keeper Sam Curtis gave the Diamonds forward an open goal.
Conceding a goal like that takes time to recover from, but we gradually got ourselves back on track with Harvey Lewis, who came on early for the injuted Callum Harley, causing problems with his powerful runs and we so nearly restored our lead when a cross from the left saw right wing-back Jaydon Taylor just unable to get a decisive touch six yards out.
But on 67 minutes, the game turned in Diamonds favour with a terrific solo effort, although we could and should perhaps have got in a few better challenges on the lad.
A couple of minutes later and it was game over as after Sam Curtis had punched a corner to the edge of the box, the ball was fired past him in a flash.
And a third goal in 8 minutes made it 4-1, although by this time we had gone to three up front and were pushing forward and therefore vulnerable to breakway - a shot from a narrow angle when again we failed to get our challenges in, made it a rather cruel final scoreline on us, but took Diamonds to their third final in four years.
So one down, three to play for as we`re favourites to retain the title, still in the League Cup and Jaymann Shield.
Updated 11:41 - 30 Jan 2018 by Steve Whitney
Sam Curtis; Alex McGeehin, Jordan-Lee Holmes, Dante Memoli; Jaydon Taylor, James Bishop, James Lea, Frankie Hayes, Callum Harley; Callum Dench, Ben Fitzjohn. Subs used: Harvey Bland, Harvey Lewis, Lewis Starmer. Not used: Callum Herring, Lloyd Blanks.