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.

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