EGHAM TOWN 2 AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 0
By Tempest Ward
Bas and B penalties secure valuable win.
EVO-STIK SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
TUESDAY 19 APRIL 2016
EGHAM TOWN 2 (0)
BAJRAM PASHAJ (49, pen), BRENDAN MATTHEW (90+6, pen)
AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 0 (0)
Kings Langley (3-1 at North Greenford United)
P41 Pts 84 +38 (at Petersfield Town 23.4.16)
EGHAM TOWN (2-0 home to AFC Rushden & Diamonds)
P41 Pts 82 +41 (at Royston Town 23.4.16)
Royston Town (3-1 home v Ware; Aylesbury away Thursday)
P40 Pts 79 +52 (home v Egham Town 23.4.16)
St Ives Town (2-0 at Aylesbury)
P41 Pts 75 +29 (at North Greenford United 23.4.16)
AFC Rushden & Diamonds (0-2 at Egham Town)
P41 Pts 74 +35 (home v Godalming Town 23.4.16)
Potentially salient facts:
Egham are the first side to do the double over AFC Rushden & Diamonds this season. Godalming Town ended the Diamonds’ twelve game unbeaten run at the start of the campaign. Godalming Town, at home to the Diamonds on Saturday won 4-1 tonight at home to Petersfield Town, who entertain Kings Langley on Saturday. Kings Langley’s win at North Greenford United signalled the end for the Middlesex side who have struggled every year since they joined the Southern League as Combined Counties League Champions in 2010. Royston Town’s trip to Aylesbury on Thursday sees the Crows facing a Moles side whose 0-2 home reverse against fourth placed St Ives end their play-off hopes.
Egham will be praying for Aylesbury to beat Royston on Thursday. If Royston win Egham will be pushed into third place, level with Egham on points but ahead on goal difference. That would mean that both Egham and Royston would be hoping for Kings Langley to do no more than draw at Petersfield and, if it is a draw the winner of the Royston v Egham match would be champions, on goal difference. Egham beat Royston 3-1 recently and not drawn away in the league this season. If Kings Langley win then Egham and Royston will be scrapping it out for the runners-up slot and a home draw in the play-offs, potentially against AFC Rushden and Diamonds.
All of this does absolutely nothing good for the nerves of Egham Town as an entity, but it does make this the most exciting end to a season since they rejoined the Southern League in 2013.
Elliott Carey was back in midfield in the absence of Wes Daly, crocked against Fleet last week, and Jake Cass, who had been involved in a road accident on his way to the Fleet game. AFC Rushden & Diamonds brought a good many supporters with them, hoping for revenge after Egham won 1-0 with a Brendan Matthew goal on 22 December at their Dog & Duck home. The travelling support would have been happy with the first half in which the Diamonds penned Egham back into their half for large periods, with Jon Stevenson stretching home keeper Jamie Norris in the 12th minute and Andy Hall forcing a full length save from the home custodian four minutes later. Egham hit back with Ollie Jones’ free kick being nodded back by Chris Moore for Carey to blast the ball goalwards, but the defence stood firm. Reece Yorke, up from the back, headed a Bajram Pashaj corner towards the Diamonds’ goal but again the ball was blocked. As the home side began to gain control in midfield the visitors had only Lewis Leslie’s off target drive to bother the Sarnies before the break.
The second half was but three minutes old when Egham took the lead from the penalty spot, Pashaj hammering in the kick awarded for a foul on Elliott as the midfielder ran into the box. Very soon after Pashaj was himself fouled in the area but the referee waved play on. Referee Peter Killip let a fair bit go; Brad Harris clearly swung at least two fists at Carey and how Jack Bowen only picked up a yellow for a man-flattening lunge on Sarnies’ skipper Luke Neville is one to ponder. Chris Henry replaced Goldy Capela up front, and Pashaj went off to be replaced by Matthew in a double substitution. Egham were defending stoutly as Diamonds looked for an equaliser but did not do as much as they could when they counter attacked. Henry’s superb run in the 88th minute might have been finished better with a pass instead of a shot that, nevertheless, Carey chased as it curled out of play. Henry survived Dan Quigley’s heinous assault, with the referee seeing fit to award only a yellow, again. Egham were more eloquent, and when Matthew was fouled in the area deep into injury time the Sarnies’ top scorer comfortably rolled the ball past keeper Matt Finley. Now for Thursday and Saturday. Fingers could hardly be more crossed.
EGHAM TOWN: Jamie Norris, Hassan Sulaiman, Ryan Parsons, Reece Yorke, Luke Neville (Captain), Kurtney Brooks, Ollie Jones, Elliott Carey, Chris Moore, Goldy Capela, Bajram Pashaj. Substitutes: Ryan Phillips (Jones, 86), Callum Webb, Brendan Matthew (Pashaj, 62), Romaine Walker, Chris Henry (Capela, 62).