Welling 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

8.11.97 – Park View Road / San Siro

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

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Underwood 19 mins.

Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report : Diamonds crept away from Welling somewhat fortunate to have sneaked a 1-0 win, but in this game the all important factor was coming away from Welling with the three points and an improved performance. Results from previous weeks had been disappointing not just from the fact that we were beaten convincingly, but that we were lacking any commitment. Today at Welling the commitment was there from most players, particularly the defence. Chris Whyte , Guy Branston and Warren Kelly all had good games, though MIchael Mison again looked out of sorts. A personal view is that his game has been suffering knowing that just one more booking and he will suffer a three match suspension. Unfortunately for Mison he collected his 5th booking in the second half for kicking the ball away. A senseless offence which now means that he misses three matches commencing two weeks Monday. With Warren Kelly also now missing for three games as of this Monday, Brian Talbots players are letting him down with their poor disciplinary record. But on to the match itself.

The first half opened with Diamonds playing the ball around on the floor and looking sharp and impressive going forward. Barnwell was winning good ball in the air and holding up play well, while Underwood was pushing deep into the Welling half down the left flank. In the first fifteen minutes Diamonds had chances to be three up as first Underwood, and then Collins twice failed to capitalise on poor defending from Welling, and either blasted wide or over. Another one on one between Collins and the goalkeeper ended with Collins shooting lamely and missing the target.

The front runners appear to put a lot of effort into their running, without actually getting anywhere. It seems sometimes that as the ball evades them they stick out a leg now and again to make it look as though they made the effort. In the early stages the Diamonds midfield were in control, Bradshaw showing why BT has faith in his ability. Bradshaw suffered a lot of criticism last week but put all of that behind him at Welling with an impressive display. The goal came on 19 minutes and was somewhat fortunate as it came off the thigh of Underwood and flashed into the net. The remainder of the half was in the main dominated by Welling who had chances to go in to the interval with a lead after they hit the bar, and blasted at least three shots either high out of the ground or way wide of the goal. The very tight ground necessitated the introduction of numerous new balls throughout the half, much to the amusement of the crowd. There were also a number of occasions when the ball was rejected by the referee for being soft, and shouts from the crowd that the Manager should check the pressure of his balls went un-heeded. The half finished with the Diamonds going in rather undeservedly one up.

The second half proved to be more entertaining than the first and more nerve racking as Welling put pressure on to peg back the score. As we all know Diamonds are never safe at 1-0 up, even at 4-1 we have problems. So this was always going to be a strong test for the Diamonds defence. The Welling front runners were a constant threat and on a few occasions were clean through but wasted chance after chance. They hit the woodwork again and you just started to feel that Diamonds had someone looking after them today from “Up High”. The final 15 minutes were very shaky. Chris Whyte was forced to retire after a knock on the head. Julian Capone was brought on and a slight re-organisation took place at the back to try and stem the tide of Welling pressure. The Welling made their three substitutions in the latter stages in a last ditch effort to rescue a point, but it was all to no avail. Diamonds sneaked it.

Diamonds problem now has got to be how to improve things up front. Whilst it is easy to criticise Darren Collins, you can bet that if he had tucked away his first opportunity, the others would probably have followed. He seems to lack confidence now, and few other players on the pitch in the last few games have been willing to take the responsibility and have a crack at goal. Brendan Hackett was conspicuous by his absence for most of the game, though BT had obviously given him instructions of how and where he wanted him to play, Kenny Cramman drifted in and out of the game, while Barnwell up front never really had an opportunity to put the keeper under any pressure. His approach work looked good but who is going to score goals for the Diamonds?

We now have a great opportunity over the next two weeks to pick up mega points from the next two games. A position in the top six must be what we are to aim for this season, and to do that we must get some consistency in our performances. The signs were there today, but we can do without losing any more players due to suspensions the result of which is an unsettled team.

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