Rushden & Diamonds 1 Kettering Town 0

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

Vauxhall Conference

25.11.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3867)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Hackett, Cramman, Kelly, Branston, Whyte, Butterworth, Bradshaw, Barnwell, Collins, Underwood, Subs: Capone, Rodwell and Rawle.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report : This was a match that was always going to be of great importance to both teams. Not just because it is the most eagerly awaited clash of the season, but because in this instance Kettering needed three points to ease their relegation worries, and three points for the Diamonds would leap frog them over Southport and into sixth place in the Conference.

Unfortunately for Diamonds, although they collected all three points thanks to a Darren Collins goal on 43 minutes with a low shot driven hard into the net, after a clinical pass from the right edge of the box to his feet, it was Kettering Town who came away from the match with all of the credit. Throughout the game they outplayed and outfought Diamonds. It was only the lack of a clinical finisher and the width of the woodwork that saved this game for the Diamonds.

In the first half it was twenty minutes before Diamonds saw anything of the ball. Kettering battled away in midfield, hustling and bustling Diamonds for every challenge. Diamonds, as always, content to be second to the ball. Chances were spurned by Pearson upfront for Kettering which were later to prove costly. Diamonds must have felt slightly lucky to be going in to half time one nil up.

The Diamonds defence it the first half had looked ragged. They had been exposed by the nippy Pearson on many occasions and this continued in the second half. Capone and Rodwell came on for Underwood and Kelly, the shape of the team changed, but the performance did not. Again all of the pressure was from Kettering. Diamonds looked good going forward on a few occasions, but the final ball always let them down. Indeed Hackett could have scored Diamonds second when clear through, but he shot at the keeper.

Kettering hit the woodwork again, and it looked as though the Diamonds were leading a charmed life. Diamonds only had one other shot of note on the Kettering goal, a free kick from Cramman that the keeper saved brilliantly. A poor statistic indeed for a team that is now lying in sixth position.

Where do Diamonds go from here? Team changes forced on BT don’t help matters, but there seems no consistency of performance from the team OR individuals. Last season Gary Butterworth was man of the match on numerous occasions. His passing this season is poor, and he seems to lack concentration. However Gary is Gary and still warrants his name first on the teamsheet. Brendan Hackett doesn’t seem to want to get involved in the game, telling team mates to pass to someone else, and unwilling to even take or receive a throw in.

Jamie Barnwell, after the euphoria of his goals against Kiddy has settled down, has not yet proved that he is worth keeping after his loan period is up, and Julian Capone scores one wondergoal, but is not yet upto scratch at Conference level. Results have gone well in the main for the Diamonds as their League position bears out. But wouldn’t it be nice to see some good team performances on a regular basis. However the defence is tweaked, they always look shaky and lack pace. They are certainly not strong enough to grind out results away from home, as the lack of draws achieved by Diamonds this season demonstrates.

Full marks to Kettering though after last nights performance. They certainly look too good to go down, they probably need a good striker though. And, though I hate to admit it, their fans deserve a good mention. They cheered their team all through the game, cheered them off at the end, and their noise during the match swamped any whimperings from the Diamonds supporters. Well done Kettering. Any suggestions on how to get some atmosphere into the Stadium. Maybe a big bass drum beating out from the half way line, like the old days at Loftus Road.

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