Rushden & Diamonds 1 Hayes 3

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

Vauxhall Conference

29.11.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2167)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Cotterill, Cramman, Kelly, Branston, Whyte, Butterworth, Bradshaw, West, Collins, Hackett, Subs: Capone, Chapman and Rawle.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : o.g mins.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Gary Butterworth

Match Report : Another disappointing performance from the Diamonds team, and yet another lesson to the team on how to pass accurately and move forward quickly from defence to attack. The frailties of the Diamonds defence were again highlighted after only 5 minutes when Nathan Bunce put the visitors ahead. Call it a lapse in defence if you wish, but Diamonds players again standing heavy footed in their own penalty box, letting opposing players get first to the ball. We don’t seem to learn from previous mistakes however often we make them. Diamonds pushed forward to get the equaliser and had a few chances, the best falling to Gary Butterworth with a superb header that the keeper saved with his foot when the ball looked destined to hit the back of the net. As usual Diamonds were punished for not taking their chances as immediately Hayes pushed forward, some neat interpassing and in the blink of an eye the ball was nestling in the net and Diamonds found themselves two down and struggling. Only Gary Butterworth seemed to be having a reasonable game, and even he gave away some loose possession that could have been even more costly against better opposition. The Hayes right back pushed forward at every opportunity and the front men, Boothe and Randall proved a handful for Chris Whyte and Guy Branston.

At half time Hackett was substituted and Mark Rawle entered the fray. Diamonds proceeded to make their chances, with new boy West shooting just over the bar from outside the box, and Butterworth and Collins coming close with volleys. In fact midway through the half Collins had a shot cleared off the line by a defender with the keeper for once beaten. Gary Butterworth had a couple of screamers whistle past the post but it looked as though Diamonds were down and out when a quick break down the left from Boothe again left the defence split and lacking for pace. The ball was crossed superbly for Randall to ram home an unstoppable shot and a great goal. Diamonds were given a life line with seven minutes to go as Hayes conceded an own goal, but a result for Diamonds was never in question.

Over a couple of jars afterwards the talk was about how far away from being a good side are Diamonds. We have now used nearly forty players this season, and the team looks nowhere near a settled format. Possibly due to injuries and suspensions, but nevertheless not functioning as a team. There seems a lack of vision within the team as the opposition know exactly where the next pass is going and intercept easily. We move forward to slowly and when chances do arrive we spurn them. I set off back to Bedford knowing exactly what to write in this report, heard what the new lads had to say on Radio Diamonds and then pulled over to hear Brain Talbots comments on the game.

I have great faith in Brian, in what he is trying to achieve at Diamonds, and we all know that he doesn’t pull his punches or his words. Though my opinions differ from some of his, he persuaded me that this defeat could have gone either way if chances had been taken early on. The plan has always been to have a team capable of challenging for promotion in 3 years. He urges patience as the rebuilding continues. Brian also answered his critics who think that Carl Alford could do a similar job to that which Colin West has been brought in to do, ie hold up the ball and act as playmaker.From Brian’s comments its unlikely that we will see Carl turn out again for the 1st Team. Most of the fans that I speak to would suffer the defeats like todays if they could see a better performance from the players. We have lost some great games where the performance deserved a win, but which didn’t happen, and the players have been cheered off the pitch. We saw what looked like a gelling of the side in the first half against Kidderminster, but this has been followed by more inconsistency. I think we have all got faith in Brian’s ability to sort out the problems but it gets rather hard to pick out a man of the match these days at Nene Park. Its a good job we’ve still got Butter’s.

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