Rushden & Diamonds 3 Gateshead 2

Match Report courtesy of Unofficial Rushden & Diamonds Website (1997-2001)

Vauxhall Conference

30.8.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2211)

Diamonds Team : Cherry , Hamsher, Cramman , Mison, Rodwell, Peaks , Crosby , Butterworth , Collins, Ndah , Hackett . Subs: Underwood, Cann , Alford .

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC Mison 5mins, Ndah 19mins , Collins 37 mins , Visitors: Bowey 70 mins and Robinson 76 mins.
Webmaster Man of the Match : Michael Mison.

Diamonds finally got their first three points of the season after an impressive first forty five minutes. From the first whistle Diamonds put Gateshead under pressure. The game was only five minutes old when Michael Mison put the Diamonds in front with a shot into the roof of the net after a mix-up in the Gateshead defence left the ball at his feet. For once his shot had power and direction and gave the goalkeeper no chance. The whole side seemed to breathe a large sigh of relief and from then on it was full steam ahead. Neat passing and great running off the ball from Collins and Ndah tore the Gateshead defence apart time and time again. On nineteen minutes a free kick outside the box, taken by Kenny Cramman found the head of Ndah and the header nestled in the back of the net. Gateshead had a few half chances, but all were wasted as Diamonds proceeded to snatch a third from Darren Collins. As the half drew to a close Diamonds were coasting and a large score seemed on the cards. The Gateshead goalkeeper looked unsure with crosses and the defence looked very jittery when Collins and Ndah took them on.

The second half started well enough for Diamonds until Gateshead decided they would put the Diamonds back four under a bit of pressure. A couple of corners and then on 70 minutes the first Gateshead goal came from slack marking. Robinson added a second on 76 minutes, the ball creeping over the line after rebounding from the post after another Diamonds defensive blunder. This ten minute spell of indecision in the defence could have cost Diamonds the game if Gateshead had taken advantage of a few half chances. But Diamonds then regained the grip in midfield after bringing on Carl Alford for Ndah and Paul Underwood for Brendan Hackett.

Diamonds held on to the ball well after the substitutions with Gary Butterworth calming things down in midfield. Though Michael Mison got the Man of the Match for his strength, and skilful midfield performance, credit should also go to Andy Peaks who had a very accomplished game, John Hamsher who looked solid and showed great vision with some of his passing out of defence, and Jim Rodwell who after the big number 9 of Gateshead went off injured missed nothing in the air all of the game. Collins also deserves special mention for his tireless running and he was unlucky not to score more than his one goal today.

Brian Talbot would probably have mixed feelings about the game. Three points were very welcome, eighty minutes of the game Diamonds dominated, but oh how those ten minutes lack of concentration could have lost the game. But performances are improving, and we now go forward to the Slough game on Tuesday with confidence of a win under our belts, and a small move up the table.

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Rushden & Diamonds 1 Hednesford Town 1

Match Report courtesy of Unofficial Rushden & Diamonds Website (1997-2001)

Vauxhall Conference

25.8.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2468)

Diamonds Team : Cherry , Hamsher, Cramman , Mison, Rodwell, Peaks , Capone , Stott , Collins, Ndah , Cramman . Subs: Chapman .

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC Collins 66 mins
Bookings (Diamonds) Rodwell.

Webmaster Man of the Match Gary Crosby.

Match Report :

Diamonds came out fighting against Hednesford, in what proved to be a tight and physical encounter. With Brian Talbot blooding two of his new signings, John Hamsher from Fulham and Gary Crosby the ex Forest player, the Diamonds looked to have put their shaky start to the season behind them. They put Hednesford under pressure from the off and shots from Collins and Ndah whistled past the posts. However it was Hednesford who took the lead on 10 minutes, a delightful cross dissecting the Diamonds defence and a rocket header from O’Connor hit the back of the net. Diamonds continued their passing game and were unlucky to be behind as the first half drew to a close. Continual pressure was let down by the old problem of poor finishing.

The second half started as the first finished, with Hednesford looking very sharp in attack but seemingly able to hold out for a draw, as Diamonds wasted more chances. But the match turned on a bizarre incident following a twenty minute floodlight failure. Minutes after the match re-started the Hednesford goalkeeper was bundled by Collins as he collected a ball on his goal-line. The ball was dropped and forced over the line by Collins. The referee gave the goal to the astonishment of the Hednesford players and officials, and the relief of the Diamonds team and supporters.

The referee was bombarded by abuse from the Hednesford players, but the goal stood. Tempers flared minutes later as Norbury was sent off, and it was then a case as to whether Hednesford could hang on.

Brian Talbot must have been pleased with this performance after the debacle of the Leek game, a couple of days earlier. Performances throughout the team were much improved, probably due to the return of Gary Butterworth after his suspension. There seemed to be a good understanding between the two Gary’s, Crosby and Butterworth. Crosby was quick, skilful and showed urgency throughout the game both going forward and helping in defence. He took players on, and put a number of accurate crosses into the box, something lacking in previous Diamonds matches. Hopefully the tide will now turn.There still looks to be weaknesses at the heart of the defence and in attack, but the return of O’Shea and Foster should solve the problems. As we are only one point behind Kidderminster and four behind Stevenage its still all to play for at this early stage.

Leek Town 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Match Report courtesy of Unofficial Rushden & Diamonds Website (1997-2001)

Vauxhall Conference

23.8.97 – Harrison Park (Attendance: 902)

Diamonds Team : Cherry , Hodson, Underwood , Mison, Rodwell, Peaks , Capone , Stott , Collins, Ndah , Cramman . Subs: Chapman .

Webmaster MoM:

Match Report :

Bookings (Diamonds) Rodwell. Man of the Match Kenny Cramman.
Yet another poor performance from the Diamonds team leaves them with no points from the first three matches and even worse having conceded six goals and scored none. What is even more worrying is that they really had only one good attempt on goal, and that was in the 90th minute from Kenny Cramman. The first half was atrocious with a total lack of commitment and no signs of any skill from the players. Leek took control of the midfield and bustled Diamonds aside easily. Leek could have scored three before the inevitable goal came. An attempt by the Diamonds defence to play an offside failed and left the Leek Town winger on his own to chip the ball over Cherry and into an empty net. The pressure showed on the players as they argued amongst themselves as to who was to blame, and the signs that confidence within the team is at a low was for all to see, and Leek to benefit from. Time and time again Leek created good running off the ball, creating acres of space that the final shot failed to exploit. Rodwell was booked for a scything tackle from behind as the half drew to a close with Diamonds hanging on and relief was expressed as the half time whistle went with the team in white only one goal adrift.

As Brian Talbot took to the bench for the second half he was visually extremely disappointed at the first half performance. He said that he was left with little option now to make changes in the second half.

The second half started brighter, and it can be said that Diamonds did take control of the midfield, and put Leek under a great amount of pressure. Corner after corner was achieved, but ignoring a couple of goalmouth scrambles Diamonds never made the keeper make a save.They played much better up to the opposing third and then seemed to lack any idea in front of goal. The introduction of two substitutes for Diamonds, Chapman and Cann , made little impact but showed the determination from Brian Talbot to blood the youngsters if the regulars don’t perform. The second goal from Leek came on 90 minutes and was a glorious shot from way outside the box that gave Cherry no chance. It almost showed Kenny Cramman was needed as within a minute he let fly a shot that the keeper tipped round his post. But why did it take that long to test the keeper. Players that in previous games had been commended for their “telling and accurate” crosses failed to put over one good cross at Leek, either from corners, deadball situations or from the wings. Players who have the ability to take great free-kicks, hoofed aimlessly over the bar or into the defensive wall.

The tide needs to turn quickly and hopefully a win over Hednesford on Monday night will lift the team and restore confidence. The supporters who travelled to Leek, and there were probably 150 plus deserved better than was seen against Leek, as does Brian Talbot and the Football Club. I am sure the tide will turn as the injured players and suspended players return to the first team. Gary Butterworth and Brendan Hackett should be set for a return against Hednesford, and Adrian Foster said after the game that he expects to play in the reserves on Wednesday and if all goes well be available for the first team against Gateshead on Saturday. Best of luck to the team on Monday night, as we will hopefully get those first points and start to move up the table where the club and the supporters deserve to be.

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Northwich Victoria 1

Match Report courtesy of Unofficial Rushden & Diamonds Website (1997-2001)

Vauxhall Conference

16.8.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2302)

Diamonds Team : Cherry , Hodson, Underwood , Mison, Rodwell, Peaks , Collins , Stapleton , Capone, Alford , Cramman . Subs: Stott , Chapman, Sterling.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC Nil.

Webmaster MoM

Match Report :

The scoreline tells only a small part of the story of the game. Diamonds fans were understandably dejected at the teams failure to convert an overall superiority into the goals that would have surely secured victory. To dominate so completely, as the Diamonds did for twenty minutes in the second half, yet get no reward was due to several important factors-the sustained brilliance of the Northwich goalkeeper, several instances of bad luck and undeniably poor finishing.

Deprived of injured striker, Adrian Foster, Brian Talbot elected to play Julian Capone in a central attacking position ,to avoid radical disruption of the line-up. The decision appeared sound when only a flying save by Greygoose denied Capone’s goalbound header in the first minute. For much of the first half however Northwich played with composure, particularly in midfield where the experienced Mark Ward showed calm authority, and clear Diamonds chances were restricted to a Paul Underwood shot that narrowly missed the far upright. In fact only Steve Cherry’s athleticism prevented Steve Walters free kick from giving the visitors a lead at the break.

Then came that period of Diamonds superiority. It appeared that a goal was inevitable but, as so often happens when chances are missed, it went to the defending side. A counter attack, a careless conceded free kick, poor marking from the resultant cross, hesitant goalkeeping, and a tap in at the far post and it was 0-1. Tactical switches followed, including the introduction of winger, Worrall Stirling, but with only 22 minutes remaining Northwich were too well organised to surrender the initiative again and the game petered out to a disappointing finish.

There were some positive signs though. Simon Stapleton worked tirelessly, Jim Rodwell betrayed few signs of his injury lay-off, Andy Peaks was tidy as ever and Michael Mison showed occasional, but all too rare, glimpses of his strength and deceptive skill on the ball. But how they missed the midfield presence of the suspended Gary Butterworth.

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