Rushden & Diamonds 0 Welling United 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

28.04.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 1459)

Diamonds Team…Smith,Wooding,Bradshaw,Hamsher,Cramman,Kelly,Whyte,Cooper,Mehew,Collins,West Subs: Rodwell,Foster, Capone.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Never looked like scoring.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Chris Whyte????
Match Report :

This will be one of the shortest match reports that I have written to date. A totally inept performance from a Diamonds team lacking in basic skills, inventiveness and commitment. An end of season game where Brian Talbot seemed to be the only one wanting a runners-up spot. None of the passion shown at Hereford was on display tonight, and again we have seen Diamonds failing to beat a lowly side at home. Memories of Leek, Slough, Hayes etc immediately spring to mind. We will undoubtedly be starting next season on the back of a run of defeats and draws, instead of confidence boosting wins. With the visit of Telford on Saturday needing all 3 points who would bet against them achieving their target? The heroes tonight were the De Banke Choir who even managed to sing in the 90th minute as the fans were streaming out of the ground in disgust.

High points of the game -none!!!!

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Hereford United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

25.04.98 – Edgar Street (Attendance: 3055)

Diamonds Team…Smith,Wooding,Rodwell, Hamsher, Cramman, Whyte, Kelly, Cooper, Mehew, Collins, Hackett Subs: West, Foster, Capone.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Colin West

Match Report :

At last we have seen a bit of aggression, grit and fightback from a Diamonds team, that has been missing for a couple of months. Finally there seems to be some pride in wearing a Diamonds shirt. Yesterday saw Diamonds fight back from the disadvantage of giving a goal away in the first five minutes of the game, to feel justifiably unlucky to come away from Hereford with just the one point.

Diamonds fell behind to a strike from the lively Agana after just three minutes, a long range shot that caught Smith cold, but the original mistake came from Wooding looking too casual in clearing his lines. For the next twenty minutes Diamonds were lucky to keep the game to a 0-1 deficit as Hereford squandered chances, but as the half wore on Diamonds clawed their way back, and had some chances to equalize but poor finishing from Wooding/Cooper and Collins assisted the slow Hereford defence. The conditions played a major part in this match, a strong whirling wind made it difficult to clear your lines with the wind against you, so most of the game was played in the Diamonds half. With a 0-1 scoreline there was always going to be a chance in the second half but changes were needed to the team as the usual players were again failing to impress.

The second half saw Talbot make two changes, West on for Mehew ( who struggled again to make an impression ) and Capone on for Cooper (likewise). From here on it was nearly all Diamonds. Constant pressure brought the Hereford midfield way back in their own half leaving only Agana and Pitman up front. Chances for Diamonds went begging as West proved again what a strength he is holding the play upfront and providing class passes to the on-running attackers. As time crept on Talbot brought Fossy on to give an additional option up front, and the best chances of the afternoon fell to him, but were squandered when it would seem easier to score than to miss, at least if they were on target the keeper would have had to save. But they were screwed wide of the posts by a long way. Possibly the heckling of the crowd and their short memories affected him, but there is no excuse not to hit the target from that range. When the equaliser came it was just desserts, and it naturally fell to Darren Collins, who tucked it away nicely. It the remaining minutes it would always be Diamonds who looked the most likely to score again, and the spirited effort was rewarded by just the one point, that now sees Diamonds slip into third place behind Woking.

So at last a performance of note, thanks to a great substitution from Brian Talbot. Capone had a good performance as substitute for Diamonds, Westy was superb, and Collins also worked very hard upfront and back in defence when needed. The defence still flatters to deceive, as Cramman and Wooding did little wrong but something is missing in their game. At the centre Rodwell and White were steady, and Smithy in goal looked srong except when foraging way outside his area trying to dribble past oncoming attackers. Kelly had a strong game and did everything that was asked of him, but never seems to impress himself on the game as you might expect. Brendan Hackett is mentioned in this report as often as I saw him in the match – nuff said!!!!

One other important note that for the second game running we have seen a great refereeing performance, a referee not intimidated into making needless bookings, and a referee with a smile and a sense of humour. Maybe there is hope…..

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Yeovil Town 2

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

Vauxhall Conference

21.04.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 1500)

Diamonds Team…Smith,Wooding,Bradshaw,Hamsher,Cramman,Whyte,Capone,Cooper,Mehew,Collins,Hackett Subs: Rodwell,Foster, Kelly.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins and Mehew

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report :

Poor Brian Talbot must be tearing his hair out. Diamonds have done another of their Kamikaze acts, surrendering a two goal lead after a great first half performance to a patchy but impressive Yeovil side. From the start Diamonds looked really up to the task and seemed to have put last Saturdays defeat behind them. They looked secure at the back, Darren Bradshaw again looking a class above the rest, midfield with the introduction of Mark Cooper (returning after suspension) looked lively and Mehew and Collins playing off each other well. It was no surprise when Collins added to his seasons tally after great inter-passing and deft touches from Mehew, and Cooper and Collins heading in from 5 yards. A brilliant team goal but one that was later surpassed by a magnificent chip over the keeper from outside the area by Mehew, scoring his first goal for the club.

There were a few anxious moments in the Diamonds defence as Yeovil, urged on by ex-Diamonds Stott and Hannigan, pushed forward. But Diamonds looked in complete control in the first half,there never looked any likelihood of any result other than an emphatic Diamonds victory.

The second half however was a completely different story. Yeovil came out fighting and tore Diamonds apart. In Ben Smith Yeovil have one of the most exciting Conference players seen this season at Nene Park. When he scored a brilliant opener for Yeovil it was fully deserved. He terrorised the right flank of the Diamonds defence (if one can call it a defence). Yeovil pushed the ball wide at every opportunity realising that Diamonds had no answer to the pace and skill of the Yeovil attack. It was no surprise when Yeovil drew level – it was a surprise however that Yeovil did not go on to win the match. The out-played and out-fought Diamonds in all departments in the second half. It proves how much more difficult it is going to be to get out of this league next season. It is obviously an impossibility with the current squad as it is now. There are just too many weak areas where there is not enough quality in depth cover.

What good points came out of the game for Diamonds?? There were very few but the partnering of Mehew and Collins worked well. In the second half they had no service but the first half was impressive. Darren Bradshaw showed what an abundance of talent he has, and Mark Smith made some great saves. Hamsher worked hard as usual and the long legs of Whyte come in useful. On the down side both Capone and Hackett proved in-effective, Hackett in particular seems to be a liability at the moment. Wooding in particular and Cramman were shown to be severely lacking in pace and were embarrassed on occasions.

Warren Kelly came on and had a reasonable game. I appreciate the injury problem that Diamonds have at present but we have to look forward, and next season it is going to be a more competitive league to get out of than it has been this season. The squad has to be strengthened and Brian has indicated that it will be. He has brought in some quality players to Nene Park and I am sure more will follow. Lets hope he can pick up some bargains like Darren Bradshaw, Mr Consistently Brilliant. ( Three or four should do nicely Brian). Congrats to Yeovil on a great fight back, and to their fans who made the long journey up and got their reward.

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Leek Town 1

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

Vauxhall Conference

18.04.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2064)

Diamonds Team: Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Cramman,Whyte, Capone, Rodwell, Foster, Collins, Hackett Subs: Mehew, Rawle, Kelly.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report :

Another inept performance from the Diamonds who had a great chance to consolidate their second place position, and move towards the season end with some confidence boosters against lowly opposition. This was a game in which Leek fully deserved their three points, and it should be enough to see them to safety. Diamonds were forced to change their team drastically as Mison, Underwood and Butterworth are all missing from midfield, and West is still missing from upfront.

This game proved that Diamonds have little strength in depth within their squad, no players they can bring in of real quality to hold their own in the Conference, let alone push towards a Football League spot. Brian Talbot has almost all of his current squad signed up for next season and beyond, but the truth is that new quality players will be needed next season if Diamonds are to consolidate or progress in their aim of bringing League football to Nene Park. There are players of real class within this squad, Darren Bradshaw, Mark Smith , Chris Whyte, John Hamsher and Darren Collins automatically spring to mind, but there are some players who are not up to the task. There is no need to name names as their performances( or lack of performance) reflect the fact.

Diamonds had a few chances today, Hackett and Collins both missed good chances after good work from Mehew, who came on and replaced Foster at half time. Possibly Diamonds should have had a penalty in the last seconds as Mehew was fouled, but nothing was running right for Diamonds today. On another day Collins may have had another hatrick.

Brian Talbot desperately wants to finish in the runner up position, but the players are letting him down. He bawled them out after the debacle at Telford, and I am sure he will have a few things to say after this game. Excuses could be made with the lack of recognised first teamers in midfield etc, but Leek also were missing two key players today. We seemed to lack any invention – putting the high ball through the middle too often where it was swallowed up and dealt with easily by the tall central defenders of Leek. When we put the ball out to the wing men we looked dangerous, but both Capone and Hackett too often failed to put in a good cross. Kenny Cramman who up until the Halifax game was having a great season seems to have gone off the boil, Jim Rodwell and Warren Kelly both struggled to impress, and Fossy still has not got his sharpness back. To be honest Smithy did not really have that much to do, in fact he spent most of the game screaming at the Diamonds players in front of him. Leek were able to sit back and defend a great goal that they scored in the first half with relative ease.

Diamonds now face a tough two games, Yeovil at home and Hereford away. With Brian Talbot unable to alter this team much for Tuesdays game the players are going to have to greatly improve if they are to get a result from the game. With Woking and Cheltenham breathing down our backs we need to beat teams like Leek and Telford and we are now running the risk of letting the season fizzle out on a low unless the determination to win comes back into the team. We need to end the season on a high to give a boost to next seasons campaign which will undoubtedly be a much harder league next season. Lets hope Brian can entice some more quality players to Nene Park next season as this team is not good enough as it stands today.

Stalybridge Celtic 2 Rushden & Diamonds 4

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

Vauxhall Conference

13.04.98 – Bower Fold

Diamonds Team: Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Cramman,Whyte, Capone, Cooper, Foster, Collins, Hackett (Sub.Underwood 75mins) Subs not used. Mehew, Rodwell. .

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins (36, 69 and 80 minutes) and Cooper.

Diamonds Man of the Match : Darren Collins

Match Report :

Diamonds kept up the pressure on the pack chasing a second place spot behind Halifax with an emphatic win over Stalybridge this afternoon. The other results went Diamonds way as Cheltenham, Woking, and Hednesford all lost, with the main contender for the runners-up spot possibly being Hereford United, who Diamonds play in a crunch game in two weeks time. Diamonds now have a run-in to the season end with four home games and one away game, and the Runners -Up spot is now in their own hands.

Darren Collins to his goal tally to 25 with a clinical hat-trick at Stalybridge last night. It brought him to within two goals of leading conference scorer Geoff Horsfield of Halifax. Brian Talbot’s charges were made to work hard for the three points they obtained after Stalybridge were reduced to ten men as early as the 7th minute. What lee trundle had in mind when he deliberately elbowed Tim Wooding in the face beggared belief. Referee Bisa Bellow had no alterative but to send him packing.

Diamonds were stunned when the home team took the lead after 21 minutes. A deep free-kick from Mark Powell sailed over the Diamonds markers, and although Mark Smith blocked Brendan Burke’s initial attempt the ball spun back over the helpless keeper and burke was able to walk the ball into the empty net. In the 36th minute when a patient four-man build-up released Julian Capone down the right, his measured cross met Collins eight yards out and he side footed a volley into the net for his first goal. Collins had a down header well saved by keeper cutler as diamonds finished the first half in the ascendancy.

After two minutes into the second half a cross by Capone caused confusion in the Stalybridge defence and mark cooper was first to react to hook the ball in from close range. Brendan Hackett forced cutler into a fine low save as diamonds strove to press home their advantage and they didn’t have to wait long before increasing their lead. Stalybridge failed to clear their lines and Tim wooding was able to release Hamsher down the right. And when his cross came over Collins was again on hand to meet the ball firmly in the centre of his forehead and leave cutler helpless.

Ten minutes from time Collins grabbed his hat-trick after fellow front runner Adrian Foster had skipped to the by-line and laid the ball on the plate just two yards out. Deep into injury time a stunning left foot strike from Mark Highfield caught Mark Smith off his line.

Telford United 4 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

Vauxhall Conference

04.04.98 – Bucks Head (Attendance: 900)

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

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins and Cramman.

Webmaster Diamonds Man of the Match : Mark Smith

Match Report :

The hardened Diamonds supporters are having to watch some pretty awful football at times from the current team of players. The problem being that the play is so erratic. Last week we were world beaters for the first 35 minutes and then pathetic for the remainder of the game. Today at Telford it was the reverse ( Well almost). We played like we didn’t care less for all of the first half and the first ten of the second, and then decided to take a bit of pride and could have got a result from the game. So lets put it all in perspective.

Diamonds came into this game in second place in the Conference, playing a Telford team languishing third from bottom. To be honest it was obvious who wanted the points more – Diamonds title challenge collapsed at home last weekend and Telford are desperately trying to fight the drop. In the first half there was only one team playing football and it wasn’t Diamonds. Telford looked sharper all round and tore the Diamonds defence to shreds. It was no surprise that they took an early two goal lead, the surprise being that at half time they went in only two up. Mark Smith again kept Diamonds in the match with a string of fine saves. Another disappointment for Diamonds was another booking for Collins for one of his usual rash tackles from behind. More worrying was a lack of discipline from Collins right in front of the dugouts that somehow the ref and his assistant both failed to see. I would imagine that the Telford Number 3 now talks in a very high voice. A similar incident also happened in the second half. “Can we have our balls back Mister” springs to mind.

Diamonds came out in the second half and at least tried to put Telford under some pressure. Foster and Hackett were brought on to replace Hamsher and Mehew from the start of the second half. The strong wind made it difficult for the Telford keeper to clear his area and Diamonds forced a string of corners. But it was Telford who were continuing to look the more threatening in attack. They took a 3-0 lead midway through the second half and it was really only then that Diamonds came to life. Collins put Diamonds back in the game on 74 minutes, and almost immediately scored a second as he challenged the keepers clearance but saw the rebound clear the wrong side of the post. Diamonds finally realised that there was the chance of something from the game, and the Telford keeper had to make three first class saves to deny Foster twice and Collins. But Telford scored a fourth on the break as Diamonds pressed forward. A late consolation goal from a free- kick by Cooper ended a sorry display for the Diamonds whose season now threatens to just fizz out with a whimper.

We all thought Diamonds would come on really strong at the end of the season, but its not happening. Where is it going wrong? In my humble opinion, and I am sure Brian Talbot wouldn’t necessarily agree (or would he?) our squad has been found lacking. We need a quality right back as Tim lacks pace, Chalky is lacking when exposed at the back for pace – and too often he is being exposed. Mark Cooper has not really settled into the team and seems to lack the quality required to move us further up the ladder, and David Mehew has failed to impress in all of his performances since joining last month. Even Fossy seems to have put on a bit of weight and does not seem as quick around the box. Diamonds still have a great chance of finishing in the top three, which will be a major achievement this season, but there need to be a major strengthening of the squad if we are to progress and achieve the dreams of Max next season. Lets be patient and I am sure Brian will bring in some more great signings, I am also sure we shall shortly see Ben Lewis making his debut in defence.

Well done Telford and the best of luck in the avoidance of the relegation trapdoor.

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