Rushden & Diamonds 0 Slough Town 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

1.11.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2193)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Wooding, Cramman, Mison, Branston, Whyte, Kelly, Bradshaw, Foster, Collins, Underwood, Subs: Capone, Hackett and Jamie Barnwell.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Nil
Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Guy Branston

Match Report : One is tempted to just repeat the match report from the Boreham Wood game and insert it for this game against Slough Town. Brian Talbot introduced to the squad two new signings, Darren Bradshaw from Blackpool who has a one season contract and Jamie Barnwell who is on a loan period with the Diamonds from Cambridge United. Bradshaw was brought straight into the side to replace the injured Gary Butterworth.( I spoke to Gary before the game and he was fairly buoyant that the matter was not too serious although it was a mystery what the problem with his knee is.) Barnwell was on the bench and Brian Talbot spoke at his pre-match talk saying that he hoped having a rated striker on the bench would spur Foster and Collins on to good performances.

The first half was a fairly even game, a few scrambles in the Slough goalmouth, ricochets of defenders etc, but not a great deal to trouble the keeper. Smith coped well with anything thrown at him, the central defence of Diamonds looked adequate though Lloyd Owusu for Slough looked to have great pace and skill and would prove to be a constant threat. Bradshaw on his Conference debut struggled to get in the match in midfield where Butterworth would have taken control. Foster and Collins worked hard upfront with Foster covering every blade of grass as usual, never giving up a lost cause. He had a couple of half chances which were blocked, and it looked as though the first half would end up goal-less. But enter the Diamonds Kamakazi show again, a collision on the edge of the box between two Diamonds players not looking where they were going let in the Slough winger who whipped a cross into the box, an initial block of a great shot from a Slough forward fell to Paul Hardyman who finished sweetly. Diamonds go into half time one goal down.

The second half was another inept performance from the Diamonds. Brian Talbot brought Brendan Hackett on for Tim Wooding at half time and within a few minutes of the restart took Collins off and brought on Barnwell. Foster continued to work hard upfront but similar to the Boreham game Diamonds seemed to lack any punch going forward. The Slough keeper was never put under any pressure from shots, and if you don’t shoot you don’t win prizes. Capone came on for Cramman but made no impact other than a few stupid challenges. Slough looked much the better team, in defence and going forward. The back three seemed solid, the midfield strong and the front players looked sharp and skilful. As the match wore on there was only going to be one winner and Diamonds deserved nothing from the game. I said in a report earlier in the season that Slough were likely to hover in or around the relegation zone, but on this showing again today it is Diamonds who need to worry about their league position.

Sure they are sitting in ninth spot at the moment, but it looks as though the confidence is draining from the team. Talbot admits the wins against Woking and Hereford were fortunate and one should not read too much into them. The Diamond team without Butterworth lacks vision. The team is still carrying players who have not proved that they can perform at Conference level. In the latter stages of this game Slough could have wrapped up the game well and proper if they had not come up against an in-form Mark Smith who saved a twice taken penalty after the Diamonds central defence up ended Owusu after he had turned them inside out. Talbot is having to change his team to resolve injury problems, but we have fielded 30+ different players in the Conference this season and dont really look like having a settled side, especially in the back/right positions. Two weeks running now we have seen sides attack us down the flanks and pull the side apart at will. Warren Kelly looks a good buy at £8000 from Stevenage, and I think we need to look at spending more money to solve the problem on the right.

Three points today would have set us up nicely for the coming weeks. With four home games in November we could have pushed nicely up the table, and todays game should have been the platform to build on. Brian Talbot has got a hard job on his hands to sort out these problems. One thing is for sure, he will not shirk any hard decision making. And I think the time for hard decision making is now as there are players who are not performing for him or the club!

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