Rushden & Diamonds 5 Hayes 0

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

31.08.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3208)

Diamonds Team…Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Wilson, Rodwell, Brady, Vandervalden, Foster, Collins, Underwood. Subs Archer, McElhatton, Hanlon.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins (2) Foster(2) Wooding (1).

Webmasters Man of the Match award : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report :

Diamonds unbeaten run, and maximum points from six games, continues as this afternoon we saw the demolition of Hayes. Last season Hayes came to Nene Park and took our backline to the cleaners. There were no such mistakes today, as Diamonds eventually ran away with the game. But it could have been so different if Hayes had of stuck away a penalty that they were awarded in the first half. That would have brought them level, to a Darren Collins header superbly tucked away at the near post following constant pressure down the right, and a resultant corner taken by Unders. Instead we witnessed one of the worst penalties seen at Nene Park for many years. It was hit so wide and high that it was laughable. That miss came at a point where Hayes were actually starting to threaten a little, and make you nervous that Diamonds had only achieved a one goal lead. That lead saw Diamonds go in at half time obviously confident in their ability to play a passing game that would eventually wear down the Hayes midfield and defence. And that was how the game proceeded in the second half.

Other than a header that skimmed the crossbar with 2 minutes to go, and one fine save by Mark Gayle, the second half belonged solely to Diamonds. Foster and Collins upfront looked sharp, Fossy bagging a second half brace, Darren grabbing a second, and even Tim Wooding claiming a goal (his third this season). This now gives Diamonds 20 goals scored so far this season and only 2 conceded. And doesn’t it show. The defence look rock solid, with Bradshaw controlling things, Tim pushing forward on the right, Paul Wilson finding acres of space on the left, and Rodders coming into the team and doing a superb job in the Centre. Rodders didn’t put a foot wrong and in my opinion was nudging Darren for the MoM award. I thought Vandervalden and Brady looked very good in patches, Brady in particular putting in some excellent crosses, Even Michael Mison had a good game today – maybe being substituted on Saturday against Southport has hit a nerve with him. Upfront Fossy and Darren worked their socks off. I don’t think Darren is firing on all cylinders yet, so watch out when he is.

Next week sees a difficult game away at Yeovil, one of the possible contenders for the “hot spot”.But with confidence running so high who would bet against a result for the Diamonds. Hopefully there will be a large support travelling down to cheer on the lads. Also with regards todays game it was great to see a better crowd attendance, and I feel a better atmosphere. With regards the “anthem” on scoring a goal, my family class it a hit, and I am sure that most of the South Stand feel the same. Maybe its a bit “razz a ma Tazz” but the De Banke must admit that this noise is better than no noise. Keep it going Dean, and we may even start singing next!

Southport 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

29th August 1998 – Haig Avenue (Attendance: 1650)

Rushden Team: Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, Foster, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: Archer, McElhatton, Hanlon.

Diamonds Scorer:  Collins 6 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Darren Bradshaw

Match Report:

This match proved to be as hard as expected, and though not as entertaining as the Kingstonian game, the three points gained were just as sweet. Diamonds fielded an un-changed team, and it showed as they looked calm at the back and quick up front early on. They went ahead as early as the sixth minute when Collins beat the keeper and defender to a neatly flighted cross and headed into the net. He took a nasty crack on the nose and for the next ten minuted Diamonds played with ten men. But the first half totally belonged to Diamonds. They had two shots hit the woodwork and one goal disallowed. They looked strong at the back, with Bradshaw controlling things superbly. Foster worked hard upfront with Collins and Brady and Vandervalden looked skillful in midfield. In truth there was nothing to worry Diamonds in the first half, but the solitary goal was scant reward for the hard work put in.

Southport put Diamonds under a bit more pressure in the second half but it was always Diamonds who looked the more likely to score, and more chances went begging. It was really only in the final minutes that Southport could have snatched an undeserved equalizer, but first the woodwork and then Mark Gayle kept the ball out of the net. The game was a hard, tough game but not a dirty game as you would imagine from the referees book. None of the bookings were for really bad challenges from either side, and the referee probably put in the poorest performance on the pitch. He booked players after being intimidated by the opposing players, blew up at every opportunity and did not help the flow of the game at all. Towards the end of the match he appeared not to want to end the game until Southport had managed an equaliser, but in the end realised it was not going to happen so blew up. How he managed to add on all those extra minutes I will never know. Even though Collins had extensive treatment on a number of occasions after head clashes, there was no need for all that amount of extra time.

So a hard grafted performance, not a footballing spectacle, but another three valuable points. I don’t think there were any really outstanding performances, just hard grafting performances. We now have a Diamonds team that are prepared to knuckle down and work to grind out the points when necessary. Halifax last season won a number of games 1-0 and I can see Diamonds doing the same this season. Sure its nice to win three and four nil each week but that isn’t going to happen. This team gives the impression they will work their “butts” off for a draw this season away from home, but give them a sniff of three points and they will take them. Congrats to all of the Diamonds Supporters who made the trip up this afternoon. They enjoyed themselves and the long journey home was worth it knowing that we still have maximum points from the campaign so far and records will be tumbling.

Kingstonian 1 Rushden & Diamonds 5

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

25th August 1998 – Kingsmeadow Stadium

Rushden Team: Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, Foster, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: Mehew, McElhatton, Hanlon.

Diamonds Scorers: Foster 12, 60, and 80 mins Wooding 73 mins and Collins 89 mins.

Webmasters MoM: The Team

Match Report:

There are times when you run out of superlatives. And last night at Kingsmeadow was one of those occasions.

Rushden & Diamonds simply blew previously unbeaten Kingstonian apart with a four-goal second-half blast – Adrian Foster helping himself to a hat-trick in the process – and there was nothing they could do about it.

Make no mistake, Kingstonian aren’t a bad side. Certainly before the interval they traded blow for blow.

But once Diamonds upped the pace as their full-time status told it was a whole different ball game and the hosts couldn’t handle it.

Diamonds had taken a 12th-minute lead just seconds after Darren Collins fired an angled shot on to the base of the post. It was cleared to Jon Brady on the right and from his measured cross Foster looped a 15-yard header beyond the stranded Scott Barrett.

But within three minutes Kingstonian were level. The visitors failed to clear their lines from a throw-in and the ball bounced down kindly for the former Nene Park man Dave Leworthy to blast into the top corner.

The action was frantic after that as both sides pressed forward. And twice Foster came close to breaking the deadlock when he headed just over and was then denied by Barrett.

But on the hour he made no mistake when Paul Wilson was released on the left and slung over a measured cross for a 12-yard volley to do the rest.

Diamonds stepped up a gear after that. Michael Mison began to assert his authority in midfield alongside Carel van de Velden and full backs Wilson and Tim Wooding were only too willing to get forward and put the Kingstonian back line under pressure.

And it was Wooding who made it three in the 73rd minute-stepping up to curl a 25-yard free-kick into the top right-hand corner with the hosts desperately trying to organise their wall.

The carnage continued unabated with Diamonds pouring forward in ever-increasing numbers and at the same time stroking the ball around in the fashion head coach Brian Talbot demands.

Five minutes from time Foster completed his treble when he fired home from close range after Darren Collins laid the ball back from the right following Tim Wooding’s fine ball down the line.

And it was fitting that the ever-willing Collins should complete the nap-hand in the last minute, released by Wilson and rounding Barrett before slotting the ball home.

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Barrow 0

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

Date: 22.08.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2259)

Diamonds Team Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, Foster, Collins, Underwood. Subs Mehew, McElhatton, Hanlon.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Brady, Mison, Foster and Underwood.

Webmasters Man of the Match award : The Team

Match Report :

Barrow, recently promoted to the Conference, came to Nene Park with two losses under their belt but talk of being unlucky in their defeats. There was no such bad luck today. They were trounced by a superior Diamonds team that scored four and should have scored double figures. They were beaten by a team that oused flair and creativity, especially in the second half. The whole team deserved to take a lot of credit from todays performance. The last two games I have been judged to have been too critical of the teams performance. But today they came good, and got better and better as the game wore on.

To be honest the first half was not that exciting. In fact Barrow probably had their best, and only chance just before Diamonds scored their first goal. But at this level, as we found to our cost last season, you have to take your chances. After that chance went begging for Barrow, Unders started one of his mazy runs, evading a couple of tackles before being un-ceremoniously chopped to the floor. Brady shaped to take the free kick, and quick as a flash rocketed the ball into the net past the flailing keeper. Shortly after Darren Collins had a chance to put Diamonds further ahead but fluffed the opportunity. In fairness this was not to be Collins day. Maybe because he was more used to having Westy along side him instead of Fossy. But Darren had a couple of chances which were wasted. From the first goal until half time all of the play was in the Barrow half. Barrow put up a bit of resistence in midfield but looked short of strike power. Diamonds went in at half time 1-0 up, and with a satisfactory performance under their belt. Nothing stunning performance wise, but they had done their job well.

The second half was a superb performance. The Barrow fans behind the goal should have asked for their money back as all of the play was in the opposing half, and rarely did they venture past midfield. I cant remember Gayle having to save one decent shot all game. Shortly after the break Mison picked up the ball on the half way line. He headed for goal, and I thought – here we go again, those people by the corner flag are in danger of being “Mised”, and that hurts! But he kept going and unleashed a terrific shot that would have graced any stadium the length of the Country. The crowd erupted, and I am sure he will take a lot of ribbing from the players about that goal. It was a scorcher. And there was more to come, as the elusive Brady seared down the right and put over a brilliant cross for Fossy to head in for Diamonds third. This was shortly followed by a searing drive from the right by Unders that caught everyone by surprise. At 4-0 Diamonds were cruising and playing beautiful football. The whole team was pushing forward by now, Chris Whyte and Fossy had shots blocked, Unders had three chances that scorched the top of the bar, Collins had a couple of runs that unselfishly put players through only for the Barrow defence to scramble the ball away. Tim Wooding had one of the best games I have seen from him for a long while and Bradshaw and Wilson at the back looked secure throughout. It can only be said that it was a totally well deserved victory.

So three games gone, nine points, nine goals scored and only one conceded, and we are top of the League. Mison apparently regaining his form today, Fossy looking sharp up front, and the whole team performing well. Early days certainly, but with performances like this the future looks bright. Now comes a tricky week in which we play Kingstonian on Tuesday, ( See News for your travel details) and then the trip up to Southport on Saturday for what will be a tough game against another form side, and a team that has title aspirations themselves. But lets savour the moment – we can now forget the first three games of last season that cost us so dearly, and reflect on the first three games on this season which may be our springboard to success. Well done to BT and the lads, its just a shame that more supporters were not there to enjoy it.

One final note – We had been pre-warned about Barrow fans invading the pitch against Morecambe and bottles being thrown at the Boro, so it was with some trepidation that there visit was to be scrutinised at Nene Park. It must be said that they gave continuous support to their team throughout the game, were friendly in the bar before the game ( Rich even offered to buy me a drink!) and were welcome guests on the day. Well done lads!

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Welling 1

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

18th August 1998 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2400)

Rushden Team: Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, West, Collins, Underwood.
Subs: Mehew, Foster, Hanlon.

Diamonds Scorers: Collins(2), Foster.

Webmasters MoM: Paul Wilson

Match Report:

Diamonds picked up maximum points tonight, but put on a patchy performance for the home fans. Two goals for Darren Collins in the first half, and one for Foster late in the second half give a slightly flattering scoreline. Diamonds started off very well and in the opening minutes could have scored twice.  An early opener for Collins, one on one with the keeper, suggested this could be a high scoring game with lots of chances, but it turned out not to go according to the script. Welling played very well, particularly in midfield and upfront, but were susceptible to the quick break beating the offside trap. Collins added his second again with a one on one against the keeper after bright interpassing involving Mison. So a two nil lead at half time and the prospect of more to come.

But it was Welling who picked up the pace in the second half as Diamonds sat back too deep and let Welling come at them. There were a few scares before Welling got their deserved goal, a mistake by Gayle, a floundering defence, and a simple headed knock in. Sloppy defending allowing a lifeline to Welling and causing a few jitters at the Diamonds rear. West was replaced by Foster and the Diamonds attack suddenly was given the added dimension of pace and width. Fossie may not hold up the play as well as West, but you have more options up front with Fossies speed of thinking and lightening quick turns. Fossy got his just rewards with a goal to ease the nerves, being put through and managing to squeeze the ball between keeper and post. In fact the ball went in off the keepers right hand post, agonisingly slowly. From then on the game was killed off and the result never in question.

Performance wise in was an average team performance , though they are still gelling together. Individually there were no bad performances, but only a couple to excite. Paul Wilson in defence was superb, Brady in midfield shone, and Vandervalden so skillful a Contract must be offered. His skill on the ball, clinical passing, battling spirit, and willingness to have a crack on sight of goal is a welcome sight at Nene Park. There does however seem an in-ability sometimes from his fellow players to read the game as well as he does. This causes in my opinion an un-willingness on their part to pass to him as often as they should. On the down side, Michael Mison has still not got his act together and it can only be a matter of time before BT gives Ritchie Hanlon a run out. Although Mison is a firm favourite of Talbots, and he supports him to the end, his patience must eventually wear thin.

So another maximum points reward but a lack-luster performance overall. Saturday seems an opportunity for another three points at the expense of Barrow, and then comes a tricky away visit to Kingstonian.

Forest Green Rovers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

15th August 1998 – The Lawn (Attendance: 1200)

Rushden Team: Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, West, Collins, Underwood.
Subs: Mehew, Foster, Hanlon.

Diamonds Scorers: Whyte and and OG on 49 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Mark Gayle

Match Report:

What could be better, a nice little stadium, beautiful views, a bar and a cracking Diamonds performance. Well three out of four isn’t bad. Unfortunately this was not a cracking performance from Diamonds, particularly in the first half. Forest Green, in their first Conference game should have been three up after the first half hour, if they had not wasted chances. The Diamonds defence looked jittery and there was no creativity in midfield to give service to Collins and West upfront. Both Unders and Brady seemed lacking, giving ball away easy. But those wasted chances from the home team were to prove costly, as shortly before half-time a cross from the right, a scramble in the goalmouth, and there was Chris Whyte of all people to prod the ball home at the second attempt. This was totally against the run of play, but it seemed to settle down the Diamonds, and suddenly the backs and midfield came to life. That Diamonds went in at halftime 1-0 up was a travesty of justice to an enthusiastic Rovers side. But whatever BT told his players at halftime in worked, because the second half was a totally different game.

The second half saw Diamonds get their passing game going, and suddenly the ball was finding West and Collins upfront, to feet and head. Early in the second half a scorcher from Vandervalden, which was going well wide was deflected in off the defenders head, giving the keeper no chance. Diamonds were now 2-0 up and coasting relatively easily. Rovers huffed and puffed occasionally, but it was really only the FRG number 10 who looked to have much to offer. He was a credit to his team, covering every blade of grass, but too often found himself ploughing a lone furrow upfront. When he was called upon Mark Gayle performed some outstanding saves, and I think at this moment Smudger would have a job trying to oust him from the team. In the 89th minute Rovers had a player sent off, presumably for comments made to the linesman. ( They must have been some comments as normally a yellow card would suffice). The game had about half a dozen bookings, but it was never a dirty game. There were no nasty tackles or fouls, and the magic sponge only came on a couple of times throughout the game.

What about team and individual performances? As a team performance I would rate in a 6-7. But we got three points which was essential. The team, with a number of new faces was playing its first really competitive game, so players wont have gelled properly yet. Individual performances – well Wilson, Whyte, Wooding and Bradshaw had good games. Mark Gayle got my vote for MoM, and Vandervalden also showed class. ( Come on BT offer him a Contract). West and Collins had much better second halves, while Unders and Brady flitted in and out of the game. Personally I would have brought Ritchie Hanlon on mid second half to put a bit more life in the midfield. Michael Mison looked a little lost still. For someone of his stature, he seems to get pushed off the ball too easily and finds himself chasing from behind too often.

Now we look forward to two home games, and the first against Welling looks like it should be a good one after their great result today. As for FRG its too early to say whether they will survive in the Conference, but I think today demonstrated what a hard division it can be – you can play well and still get no points. At the end of today’s game the class showed, but the performances have got to improve quickly.

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