Rushden & Diamonds 4 Cheltenham Town 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

07.03.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3857)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Cramman, Whyte, Cooper, Butterworth, Capone, Collins, Foster, Underwood, Subs: Rodwell, Hamsher, Rawle .

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Cramman(Pen) 33 mins, Collins 65 mins , Foster 88 mins and Cooper 87 mins.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Mark Cooper

Match Report :

This was always going to be a difficult match for the Diamonds, as Cheltenham had turned them over twice already this season, and probably looked the best team in the Conference. The first thirty minutes the teams were very evenly matched, each playing hard and not shirking any tackles. Diamonds probably just had the better of this opening spell, and Underwood and Collins both went close, Underwood in particular missing with an unmarked header, similar to those that in previous weeks he had tucked away.

Julian Capone was finding a lot of space on the right and when he was sent clear in the 32nd minute with only the keeper to beat he was tugged to the ground and a penalty awarded. The referee had no option but to send off Knight. Kenny Cramman took a great spot kick that put Diamonds in front, but the arguments continued from the Cheltenham players who felt that the foul didn’t warrant a sending off. I must admit that if it had gone the other way I would have been very disappointed. Diamonds continued to exert pressure and had chances to go further ahead but the chances were squandered.

Diamonds could feel slightly lucky to go into the break 1-0 up, but they were playing against a tricky wind when it was difficult to clear the area.Cheltenham came out in the second half looking rather dejected. Diamonds started to play the ball around, and Collins and Foster started to cause more and more problems to the Cheltenham defence, making the extra man tell. Foster is always a handful for any defender and it was on 54 minutes that the game took another turn as Freeman clattered into Foster from behind with a vicious tackle that warranted a red card on its own.

With Cheltenham now down to nine men Diamonds had only to play the ball around and not let Cheltenham into the game, but slack marking allowed Victory to pull a goal back on 81 minutes which could have hurt Diamonds but straight from the restart a mix-up in the Cheltenham defence allowed Foster space to round the keeper and prod the ball home. Diamonds finished the game as a spectacle on 87 minutes when Foster was put through but failed to knock the ball past the advancing keeper. The keeper failed to clear the ball, Foster challenged and won the ball back, passed back to Cooper who shot from 30 yards into an empty net.

So another great result for Diamonds, and some great performances in the afternoon from players who have received criticism from me in some games. Julian Capone had one of his best games for Diamonds as did Paul Underwood. Both players gave 100% and covered every blade of the pitch. Kenny Cramman had another blinder as did Chris Whyte and Darren Bradshaw. Tim Wooding has developed into an accomplished right back. On the down side one worry must be for Gary Butterworth who limped off on 81 minutes with an ankle injury. Diamonds now move on to next weeks game with Woking, unfortunately missing the suspended Darren Collins and possibly Chris Whyte. Michael Mison however will return to bolster the defence.

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