Rushden & Diamonds 1 Southport 0

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

Vauxhall Conference

17.01.98 –  Nene Park (Attendance: 2477)

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

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins 43 mins

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Gary Butterworth

Match Report : Three more points to Diamonds in a match that for the best part they dominated. Colin West returned to the line up in place of Carl Alford and Paul Underwood replaced Julian Capone as Diamonds re-shaped their team. The first ten minutes opened at a frantic pace for Diamonds. Collins had a great one on one against the keeper after 3 minutes but shot against the keeper, West had a shot deflected over on 4 minutes, West had a shot saved on 5 minutes, Cramman had a shot saved on 6 minutes and Hackett had a shot saved on 7 minutes. The Southport keeper played out of his skin, keeping Diamonds at bay single handed. Thought of “it will never go in ” sprung to mind.

On 19 minutes West was pulled to the ground just outside the box, but the Southport wall did its job on coping with a Kenny Cramman special. On 23 minutes Southport had their first shot at the Diamonds goal and on 24 minutes Smith came out to gather a high cross, dropped the ball and the attacker mis-hit his shot with only a defender on the goal line to beat. On 41 minutes Underwood was sent clear with only the keeper to beat and all the time in the world, but he tried chipping the keeper and the ball was conveniently placed in the keeper midriff. A terrible waste from a player of Underwood’s calibre. The breakthrough came on 43 minutes as a slick Diamonds move found Collins in with a chance, which he slightly mis-hit and the ball found the back of the net. A half in which Diamonds dominated saw them go into the break with a solitary goal lead.

Capone came on for Hackett at the start of the second half. Hackett who flits in and out of the game replaced by Capone who usually does the same. Neither player has really demonstrated that they can put in consistently good performances, maybe harsh but true.On 50 minutes a mix up between Bradshaw and Smith almost let the Southport attacker through but the run of the bounce favoured Bradshaw who made a hasty clearance. Just a couple of minutes later Southport had a free header at the far post which must have missed by a whisker. A further saved by Smith on 60 minutes saw Southport being allowed to get back into the game. There were a few chances at either end in the latter stages, a curler from Butterworth on 66 minutes and a shot from Capone into the side netting on 87 minutes, the best of the Diamonds efforts.

So three more points for Diamonds, unfortunately all of the top six teams won today, and a performance that sparkled for the first ten minutes and then proceeded to be classed as a normal Diamonds performance. At times looking the “biz” but at other times looking very average as possession was squandered and given to the opposition. Individual performances varied today. Collins still looks sharp up front, but West gave away needless possession on a few occasions. But he never gives up a chase. Capone looks great when running with the ball, but too often today was running towards his own goal. Darren Bradshaw, John Hamsher and Kenny Cramman looked solid, though Chris Whyte ( who has done a great job ) looks to need a break and is desperately lacking pace and vision. Smith made some crucial saves under pressure and is still struggling with his hernia problem. Underwood had a good game, but Butterworth who was voted Man of the Match, I thought at times lacked concentration, with passes going astray. But even Butterworth at 75% is a considerable asset to the team.

This week has seen Mark Cooper join the Diamonds and I am told that he will fill a central midfield role. I am also told that new arrivals will be imminent as long as the promotion push does not falter. I think that decision needs to be made now. We are in 6th position and in with a great chance. At this point in time we do not have a strong enough team, probably requiring another 4-5 top class additions to the squad. Lets get them now, give it our best shot, and if we fail this season at least they will be gelling for next season. Any comments?

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