Stevenage Borough 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Vauxhall Conference

01.01.98 -: Broadhall Way (Attendance: 3103)

Team : Smith, Hamsher, Bradshaw, Mison, Wooding, Whyte, Butterworth, Capone, West, Collins, Hackett, Subs: Rawle, Branston and Watts.
 
Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins 7 minutes. 
Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw 
Match Report : A cold and windy Broadhall Way greeted Diamonds and the hundreds of supporters who had travelled down the A1, in the hope of seeing their team move up the league and put pressure on the leaders. However it was not to be, and a good first half performance was followed by a very poor second half. Yet the first half had promised so much. Stevenage were pegged back from the first whistle and it was only seven minutes before Diamonds took the lead, a header from West saved by the keeper and Collins was there to score his one hundredth Diamonds goal. There were shaky moments in the first half when Stevenage pressured Diamonds, and the Diamonds defence faltered, but Diamonds spurned chances in front of goal that would have extended their lead to support the possession that they were getting. Mison in particular wasted a superb opportunity with only the keeper to beat, but he blasted high over the bar. The Stevenage crowd were quiet throughout the first half, and you would have thought that it was Diamonds who were the home team. The first half was probably shaded by Diamonds who just about deserved to go in with a lead.

The second half however belonged to Stevenage, apart from small patches during the game when Diamonds broke down the flanks, only for the final ball to be lacking. The match statistics will show that Diamonds attempts on goal in the second half were virtually non existent. Some players like Gary Butterworth ,Darren Bradshaw, Mark Smith and Darren Collins have good performances week after week but today there were too many players who were making elementary mistakes that cost Diamonds possession and eventually three points. Chris Whyte by his own standards had a poor game, giving the ball away and lacking concentration. Julian Capone constantly gave away possession and was later substituted, as was Brendan Hackett who also failed to live up to his recent performances in the Diamonds shirt. Colin West had a competent game without really getting up steam, and Michael Mison was rarely in the game, but still managed to collect another booking and was lucky that an earlier challenge that he made with both feet flying in escaped with just a warning. John Hamsher and Tim Wooding had good games but when at least five players are not performing up to scratch the writing is on the wall. At the end of the day not even a point was deserved over the full ninety minutes.

The first Stevenage goal was a cracker that gave Mark Smith in goal no chance, and the second knocked all of the stuffing out of Diamonds. Mark Smith of Stevenage had a good game and a great battle with Darren Collins, and in the second half had upper hand. Diamonds now go into their FAT match with Farnborough without Branston who returns to Leicester, there is a question mark over West whose loan period is now up, without Mison who is suspended, and without Foster and Cramman who are both still injured. Alford, who appears to be coming back into favour at Nene Park is also injured so expect the team to be makeshift in certain departments. Todays performance highlighted that the team still requires rebuilding in some areas if it is to sustain a serious challenge either this season or next season. New players are constantly being looked at, but the problem is that even with the superb facilities of Nene Park it is still extremely difficult to lure the Nationwide players into joining a Conference team, even one as far thinking as Diamonds.

So onwards and upwards (hopefully) and bring on Southport. Congratulations to Stevenage on their win. Its a shame that some of the moronic goading from a few of their "supporters" in the main stand threatened to spoil the game, but full credit to the stewards for stamping it out quickly and quietly.

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