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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