Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stevenage Borough 0

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

Vauxhall Conference

26.12.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3527)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Hamsher, Bradshaw, Mison, Wooding, Whyte, Butterworth, Capone, West, Collins, Hackett, Subs: Underwood, Kelly and Ndekwe.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : West 67 and Capone 90 minutes.
Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report : Another three points for the Diamonds in a match which was never as exciting as previous meetings, but then we never got any points from previous matches against Stevenage. A well organised Diamonds team, which is now unchanged for the last three games, swept aside a rather inept Stevenage team, missing the strike power of previous seasons. Diamonds looked solid in all departments, although both Capone and Butterworth gave possession away needlessly on many occasions.

In the first half Brendan Hackett tore the Stevenage defence to shreds down the left, with support from Hamsher who seems to be fitting into his new role quite nicely. Darren Collins missed a half chance early on and the fact that Diamonds had so much time on the ball caused both Hackett and Capone to spurn good chances by taking one touch too many. Stevenage had a few half chances that better teams would have stuck away, but these days Diamonds seem to ride their luck well. The main surprise was that Diamonds failed to go in at half time with a good lead, as they were by far the superior team in all departments.

The second half continued with Diamonds exerting all of the pressure, although Stevenage came out fighting for the first ten minutes. It was therefore no surprise that after persistence from Collins and Capone in pressuring the keeper and the defence that the ball was threaded back to West who delicately chipped the ball over the flailing keeper into the Stevenage net, to put Diamonds one up. What was surprising was that it took so long for the second goal to come as most of the pressure throughout the second half was exerted by Diamonds. In injury time Capone clinically shot past the keeper after being put through by Collins to round of a good performance from the Diamonds.

Darren Bradshaw was outstanding in defence and Smith coped well with anything thrown at him. Colin West persevered but found it hard today and his first touch was a little slow. Whyte, Mison, and Wooding all did well at the back, but the surprise again is how much confidence Brendan Hackett now has. He appears willing to take players on again, and get past them, but also sticks rigorously to the role that BT has set for him. The encouragement that BT gives him during the game appears to be working wonders and long may it continue.

One interesting quirk in the game was how the referee managed to let the match start with Stevenage wearing shirts that were almost as pale as the Diamonds shirts. After protests from BT the team were ordered to change, had no other shirts themselves so had to wear the blue Diamonds away strip. At the start of the second half Stevenage came out wearing their white and red shirts which were also a poor distinguishing shirt from the Diamonds white, so were ordered to change back again to the Diamonds blue away shirts. What a cock-up on the part of the officials, and Fairclough for bringing his team un-prepared.

Though Diamonds failed to move up any places after this win it puts increased pressure on Hednesford and Halifax who only managed to draw against lowly opposition.

Hayes 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

Vauxhall Conference

20.12.97 – Church Road (Attendance 679)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Hamsher, Bradshaw, Mison, Wooding, Whyte, Butterworth, Capone, West, Collins, Hackett, Subs: Rodwell, Kelly and Ndekwe.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins 42 and , Hackett 55 minutes.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report : This was always going to be a big game for the Diamonds. Hayes have been a bogey team, with Diamonds failing to beat them since both teams came up to the Conference. Indeed three weeks prior Hayes had given Diamonds a lesson in quick attacking play and strong defence. For the first twenty minutes it looked as though the match was again going to go the way of Hayes as slick passing caught the Diamonds defence out on numerous occasions.

Collins missed a one on one against the keeper early on but Diamonds seemed lacking in midfield. John Hamsher had come in to the team for the suspended Guy Branston, and in these early exchanges there was certainly a lack of understanding in the heart of the defence. It therefore came as no surprise when Hayes took the lead with a looping shot that crept over Smith and under the bar from 20 yards. But all credit to Diamonds as they battled to get back into the game. The break came just at the right time with a couple of minutes to go to half time. Collins was put through on the right, and squeezed the ball past the keeper and into the net. The Diamonds supporters went crazy after having to endure taunts all through the first half about Talbot requiring his cheque book again.

Diamonds, who went in slightly lucky to be level, came out and dominated the second half. Ten minutes in Hackett scored a cracker from just outside the box which squeezed somehow between keeper and post. Diamonds from then on were supreme in midfield. Whyte had a cracking game as did Bradshaw. Mison seemed to have his mind on other things for the best part of the game, and we saw no telling runs only a steady defensive performance. Hamsher looked good and in the second half both he and Brendan Hackett tore into the heart of the Hayes defence. Bookings for Mison, who now misses two games through suspension, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Butterworth and Capone would make this game appear to be a dirty game, which it was not. Inconsistent refereeing was at fault for most of the bookings, and at least two were for innocuous offences.

The game ended with three precious points for the Diamonds. Points that keep Diamonds in touch with the leaders, and start to create a gap between the top seven teams and the rest. How far Diamonds can go remains to be seen, but the team spirit is now evident and in abundance, as scenes in the “refreshment house” after the game bear out. Even players not involved in this game came down to watch and support. There is a strong belief that Brian Talbot is possibly just a couple of players away from a very good team. His buys this season are now performing well, Bradshaw, Whyte, Mison and Smith in particular. Fossy is itching to get back and prove to Diamonds supporters that he is an asset. He assures all supporters that they have seen nowhere near his best, even against Farnborough. Current betting odds put Diamonds at 20/1 to go up. If you consider we still have to play Halifax twice, and that the fitness of the team will exert itself over the latter part of the season, that doesn’t appear too bad a gamble. Certainly six points against Stevenage over Xmas and New Year will come in handy.

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Dover Athletic 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

Date: 13.12.97 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2254)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Branston, Whyte, Butterworth, Capone, West, Collins, Hackett, Subs: Hamsher, Kelly and Ndekwe.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins 28 and 83 mins, West 31 and 65 minutes.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Collins

Match Report : At last a couple of back to back inspiring performances from the Diamonds. Following last weeks great win at Northwich, Dover were today played off the park by a strong and inventive Diamonds team. Brian Talbot kept faith with last weeks team and he was rewarded with an emphatic win, albeit against very poor opposition.

Diamonds started the match at a charge, and it was some surprise that they had to wait until the 28th minute to take the lead through Darren Collins. Diamonds controlled midfield superbly with Gary Butterworth orchestrating every move forward, with Bradshaw supporting. The front men could have had a brace at least each before half time but chances were missed. Martin Davies in goal for Dover looked as shaky as he used to last season for the Diamonds, and it was no surprise when Colin West headed a superb goal after a neat cross in from the right, his first goal for Diamonds. Mison looked impressive and Whyte controlled any threat from Diamonds ex loan player Sammy Ayorinde.

The second half started as the first finished, with Diamonds exerting all of the pressure. They went further ahead on 65 minutes with a superb goal from West. What was so pleasing was the confidence in which Diamonds played the ball around leading up to Wests strike. Indeed Collins had a couple of chances to increase the lead further as on one occasion he pressured Davies from a back pass, collected the shot that rebounded from him and then proceeded to lob the ball over the empty goal. He also put the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later only for Mison to be ruled offside. Dover pulled a goal back on 76 minutes after a deliberate handball was missed by the referee, with the Dover striker proceeding to put away a great strike. Whyte got himself boked for contesting the decision, and then Mison got himself booked for a late tackle after a bit of “afters” from a Dover midfielder. Collins scored his second, and advanced into the record books as Diamonds all time highest scorer with a goal on 83 minutes which killed off the game.

So a good game and a great performance that keeps Diamonds in fifth and in with the pack who are chasing Halifax who lost today. With Halifax still to meet Diamonds both home and away it could be an interesting season ahead. Diamonds now need to put up a good performance next week against bogey team Hayes to keep up the pressure on the leaders. After todays performance they should be well up for the game. Incidentally the atmosphere at Nene Park was better today, due mainly to a group of school children filling one part of the North Stand and making themselves heard all game. Maybe the management should get them along more often as it certainly gave some thing to the atmosphere that has been lacking. Well done lads.

 

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