Halifax Town 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

Vauxhall Conference

21.03.98 – The Shay (Attendance: 3951)

Diamonds Team : Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Cramman, Whyte, Mison, Butterworth, Hamsher, West, Foster, Underwood, Subs: Mehew, Capone, Rawle .

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Mark Smith

Match Report :

The Shaydown turned out to be the letdown, as Diamonds failed to put in a performance against Halifax Town this afternoon. When Halifax came to Nene Park they let themselves down badly, and Diamonds did the same at the Shay. Halifax pressed Diamonds back from the first whistle, with Bradshaw peppering the Diamonds penalty area with superb crosses for the two front men to get on the end of. Mark Smith was kept extremely busy making at least three first class saves in the first half that kept Diamonds in with a shout at half time. Diamonds were second best throughout the first half. Whyte and Bradshaw looked solid at the back and Cramman and Wooding tried to push forward along the flanks, but it all went disastrously wrong in midfield and upfront. Butterworth, due to his injury has lost all pace and bite and was found lacking. Time and time again Diamonds failed to clear their lines and passed to the opposition. We couldn’t find any quality ball for the forwards, and although Fossy worked hard he had only one opportunity on goal that he blasted into the side netting. West was in-effective and gave too much ball away to the opposition, and Underwood struggled as he did last week against Woking. How Diamonds managed to go in level at 0-0 at half-time is a mystery. They should have been 3-0 down at least, and would have had no complaints.

When the referee blew for the end of the first half, you thought at least Brian Talbot would be able to gee them up for the second half, but the game resumed as it had finished with Halifax in total control. Diamonds forced a couple of corners in quick succession, but never put the defence under pressure. West was substituted by Mehew, who had a lot to prove, but things went from bad to worse for Diamonds. On 70 minutes a mix up in the Diamonds defence and Wooding put into his own net. Time and time again Halifax ripped the Diamonds defence apart but poor finishing kept the score to the single goal. Mehew was then substituted himself which is a mystery, as I cant make out whether he got injured or BT thought he was no better than West. Then on 85 minutes, with the faithful 500 starting to drift away, Halifax got their second after great interplay up front, that left Smith floundering. Diamonds only attempt on goal came with three minutes to go, and Julian created an opening only to blast high and wide. That summed up the game for Diamonds.

A great performance from Halifax that will surely see them playing League football next season, as the other Conference results all went in their favour. Good luck to them, as on this performance they will more than hold their own in the Third Division. For Diamonds its more of a case of what might have been. The supporters around me were more disappointed that we went down without much of a fight. We didn’t seem to want the result as much as Halifax, we were not as quick as Halifax, we had no penetration, gave the ball away cheaply, and deserved nothing from the game. Having said all of that we are still in second place, and whatever the outcome at the end of the season, the season is a success for Diamonds. The race for the title was never lost at Halifax, (yes I know that its still mathematically possible to catch Halifax), it was lost against Gateshead, and Hayes at home, and Slough at home. The lessons have been learn from those games. So now we move on the Hednesford on Monday night and another tough game. Congratulations again to Halifax on a superb performance and a well deserved victory.

Ps. When the Shay is finished it will be a very good stadium.

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