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.

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