Gateshead 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

14.02.98 – Gateshead International Stadium (Attendance: 616)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Cramman, Hamsher, Whyte, Mison, Butterworth, Collins, C.Smith, Underwood, Subs: Cooper, Capone and Foster .

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins 12min and Bradshaw o.g 90 mins.
Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Gary Butterworth

Match Report : Darren Bradshaw and Mark Smith have been two of Rushden’s outstanding performers in the surge towards the top of the Conference. But at the International Stadium on Saturday it was their un-characteristic mistakes that blew a huge hole in the promotion ambitions and handed bottom of the table Gateshead only their third win of the season.Gaffe number one came three minutes into the second half. The ball was knocked in from the right and as it landed Bradshaw fatally hesitated. He couldn’t cope with the bounce and it skimmed clear for substitute Paul Proudlock to spot Smith fatally stranded in no-mans land and he beat him with an astute 15 yard lob. Then in injury time Proudlock got over a centre from the left, Smith mis-timed his punch and allowed Nick Peverill to hook the ball onto the post where it rebounded off the unfortunate Bradshaw and into the back of the net.

It was indeed a cruel blow for the Diamonds. But they only have themselves to blame as they scorned a string of chances. One goal from 18 on target chances is hardly the stuff that aspiring champions are made of. Gateshead’s defence was a shambles when it was at its best, and in only the sixth minute John Hamsher cut in from the right but shot weakly at keeper Dean Williams. And it came as no shock when the visitors took a 12th minute lead. A flowing move from deep released Gary Butterworth on a forceful run, and when his shot was deflected it gave Darren Collins the opportunity to volley his 22nd goal of the season. Gateshead retaliated with Smith forced into spectacular saves from long range efforts. But most of the action was confined to the home half as Diamonds constantly carved holes into a static back-line – the best chance falling to Collins who robbed Kenny Lowe only to side foot tamely over.

And so it continued after Gateshead had pulled level. Collins beat the keeper to a through ball but fatally checked his shot and Paul Marquis was on hand to block. Tim Wooding volleyed inches over the top from a glorious position, Paul Underwood blazed over the top, and Collins again got clear to slide the ball wide of the advancing Williams – but also past the far post. Underwood then saw his goal-bound header hit a defender and substitute Adrian Foster’s deft turn created an opening at the near post but Williams was down quickly to get his body in the way. Having used all their substitutes in a desperate throw of the dice Diamonds were reduced to ten men when Butterworth was stretchered off five minutes from time.

And then came the last gasp killer blow. It wasn’t exactly what the doctor had ordered in front of the cable TV cameras….

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