Rushden & Diamonds 1 Hereford United 1

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

26.09.98 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3521)

Team…Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, McElhatton, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Vandervalden, Foster, Collins, Underwood. Subs West, Rodwell, Hanlon.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Collins

Webmasters Man of the Match award : Tim Wooding

Match Report :

A superb game saw Diamonds held 1-1 by a very good Hereford United team. Though we have not yet seen Cheltenham play against Diamonds, both these teams will be there or thereabouts come May. Overall, and looking at the chances created Diamonds probably shaded it 55% against 45% but there was really not much in it. It was a hard game physically but not a dirty game, with both teams giving 100%.

Hereford went ahead with a dubious penalty decision. The players after the game thought that firstly any challenge was outside the box, and secondly Smudger who was judged the guilty party in a three player collision, actually pulled out of the challenge. But the penalty was given and Hereford superbly stuck it away. Diamonds hit back just before half time, with Darren Collins planting a superb header past the despairing keeper, who was diving full stretch in an attempt to keep the ball out. Half time came with honours even, neither team deserving to be behind.

Diamonds though probably shaved the second half, with Collins twice and Foster once coming close to getting that all important second goal. Smudger also made a superb save late on, and when BT took off Foster and brought on West it always looked like any goal would come from Diamonds. Collins and Brady both blasted over, Collins had a header skim the crossbar, but the game ended all square. Possibly Hereford will feel happier with the result, but Diamonds played relatively well and must consider this as two points dropped. There is not much between the top three or four teams and you must win your home games. On the day the Bulls support was magnificent, baiting of Foster apart. They made themselves heard throughout the game, and were a credit to their Club. We are a young team and a new crowd, but the support shown by the Bulls fans demonstrated what we must aim for.

Individual performances of note came from Carel Vandervalden and Tim Wooding. Tim is having a superb season, and I was surprised that he was not given the sponsors MoM today. He did not put a foot wrong. Wilson and Bradshaw had good games, Chalky was steady, and Smudger did not really have that much to do. Upfront, I think Fossy let the atmosphere get to him and was not firing on all cylinders today. Darren Collins went over on his ankle early on, and coupled with his knee strain, was not as effective as in previous games. The disappointment comes from the lack of quality crosses being put in by Jon Brady and Paul Underwood. This has to improve, if Collins and Foster are to be served better.

Next week sees the visit of Northwich Victoria and nothing less than three points will be good enough.

Leek Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

Tue 22.9 Away Leek Town Void 1-0 Underwood(18) 927

Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, McElhatton, Wilson, Whyte, Brady, Van de Velden, Foster, Collins, Underwood.

Subs used: ?? (West, Hanlon, Rodwell not known if used)

(Match abandoned after 86’ due to fire at adjacent chemical factory)

 

Article from the Independent Newspaper

JUST OVER six years old and life is looking pretty good for Rushden & Diamonds. Promotion twice in our short lifetime leaves us now just one step short of Football League status.

The club was formed at the end of the 1991-92 season when Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds joined forces. A local businessman, Max Griggs of Dr Martens fame, was one of the men behind the merger and he has financed the club heavily over the past few seasons. It is rare that someone can build a football club and make it such an outstanding success after inheriting two local sides with uncertain futures, but this is what Max and his fellow directors have achieved.

Nene Park stadium is often compared to a miniature Old Trafford and the facilities are not usually found outside the Second Division of the Football League. It comes complete with an electronic scoreboard and covered stands on all four sides.

The club, in its third season in the Conference, has had a chequered history in this division. In 1996-97 it was the timely appointment of Brian Talbot (formerly of Arsenal and Ipswich Town) as head coach which coincided with five straight league victories and 12th position after looking like relegation certainties for much of the campaign. Last season we started poorly again, losing the first three matches but rallying to become the main challengers to Halifax. However, due to injuries to key players we finished fourth. This season began with seven straight league victories, but we have been jinxed over the past two matches, with minutes to go.

Last Saturday, away at Doncaster, an injury-time equaliser by Hume saw two points dropped, while on Tuesday night at Leek Town, a chemical fire at a neighbouring factory resulted in the game being abandoned after 85 minutes with the score 1- 0 to Diamonds. Today sees Diamonds at home to Hereford United.

Many of the supporters have either supported Irthlingborough Diamonds for years, or have stood on the terraces cheering Rushden Town at their old Hayden Road ground. One thing is for sure, though: Diamonds are now gathering support from disillusioned League club fans and have people travelling to home games who up until recently may have have been regulars at Tottenham.

The fans are buzzing with anticipation this season and it’s not unusual for more than 500 of them to travel to away games. One thing you won’t find is complacency, though:after leading the Beazer Homes Premier League by 13 points in February 1996 we eventually won the championship by two points.

So what of the squad? Although most people will have heard of the evergreen Chris Whyte (ex-Arsenal and Leeds) and Colin West (ex-Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland), there are others who deserve special praise. Darren Collins and Gary Butterworth ) are two of the best players to have graced the Conference, while Darren Bradshaw, Carel Van Der Velden, Adrian Foster, Tim Wooding and Jon Brady always put in consistent performances.

For Foster the game against Hereford today will be extra special. He used to play for them, and after the barracking he received from their supporters last season, his name on the scoresheet would be poetic justice.

Finally, the one question we are often asked: is this the season when Diamonds will make it to the Football League? The answer to that is simple – maybe!

Doncaster Rovers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

19th September 1998 – Belle Vue (Attendance: 3800)

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

Substitutes: West, Rodwell, Hanlon.

Diamonds Scorers: Foster

Webmasters MoM: Chris Whyte

Match Report :

Whilst driving back home after this one various words spring to mind. Cheat, Inept, Embarrassing, Un-Professional, Biased – and all would have been directed at the poor imitation of a referee that was witnessed at Doncaster today. I have never openly criticised a referee before because we all know the general standard seen at Conference games in normally low, so it evens itself out over a season. But this was the pits! Today we saw senseless bookings, being conned by the clever antics of the Doncaster players. Weird one-sided decisions always in favour of Donny. Numerous players booked for Diamonds (Five or six at least) but not one for Donny players using elbows. It was a disgrace!

Right – that’s off my chest so what about the match. A very poor first half performance from Diamonds, where they were outplayed for long periods of the game by a skilful Doncaster team. The game unfortunately was not allowed to flow, due to you know who, and his lack of control often caused players to get close to boiling point as the senseless decisions disrupted the flow of the game. Steve Nicol at the back for Donny still looks a class players, and obviously still has a lot to offer the game. Diamonds were unable to unlock the offside trap with Collins and Foster both falling foul time and time again. At the back we looked jittery, other than Chalky who was in total command. Macca gives the side a strength and commitment which is unfortunately lacking from the side when Mison is playing. I also felt Darren Bradshaw is not playing to his usual standard, as too many passes are going astray. There was really little to talk about of note in the first half, other than Diamonds could feel lucky to be going in all square.

The second half though was totally different from a Diamonds perspective. They played the ball about well, looked sharper upfront, and started to gain space down the flanks. It was from a lack of concentration from Mark Gayle in goal that led to Diamonds goal. Gayle decided to try and dribble his way around an approaching Donny forward, but got tackled, the ball bobbled about and was finally cleared down the line to a chasing Darren Collins. A shot blocked, a second chance and he looped the ball across the goal and there was Fossy hanging in the air to nod it home. On a couple of more occasions a one on one with the keeper was thwarted and as the time ebbed on Diamonds looked comfortable to gain three points. Enter the scene again our friendly man in black. A free kick given outside the area for a non-foul.( Conned again ref). By this time we were so far into injury time – there had been no injury stoppages- that I was about to ring the wife and tell her I would be stopping over. A neatly taken free kick, slack marking from Diamonds, a simple cross, an even simpler tap in, and Donny get an un-deserved equaliser. Where the man in black got all that injury time from I will never know! Yet we saw the same at Southport a few weeks ago. The referee playing on for an in-exhaustible amount of time – apparently willing the home side to equalise. Today he got his wish.

So what about Diamonds team performance! Well it certainly was not Championship material. But to be honest there has only been one match this season where for 90 minutes we have looked Championship, against Kingstonian. Brady had a poor game today by his standards, but was helped whenever he was in trouble by the ever willing Vandervalden. Upfront Fossy and Collins had good games, but the crossing from Unders and Brady was again abysmal. Every corner that was taken fell straight into the un-challenged arms of the keeper. Wilson and Wooding were steady although Tim was often beaten for pace down the flank, and allowed the attackers to get in good telling crosses.

This leaves us still perched on top – just – but having picked up just two points out of nine for the last three games. Certainly not good enough but if you look overall, by the time we have played Leek Town on Tuesday, we will have played 11 games this season of which seven will have been away games. I think if we are still on top after Tuesday/Wednesdays games BT will be very happy. If we are on top and not playing yet to our true potential then the future looks rosy. Lets hope we turn on the style against Leek, and get some goalscoring practice to wipe the smiles off the visitors next Saturday.

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Telford United 3

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

12th September 1998 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2909)

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

Substitutes: West, McElhatton, Hanlon.

Diamonds Scorers: Foster and Collins

Webmasters MoM: Tim Wooding

Match Report :

By the law of averages, Diamonds were well overdue a poor performance and unfortunately for the good crowd at Nene Park today this was it. The tables and the statisticians all forecast an easy home win for the Diamonds. Someone should have told Telford the plot, because they came to Nene Park and thoroughly justified coming away with the three points, and inflicting Diamonds first loss of the season.

Diamonds started slowly, and allowed Telford a lot of space in the middle of the park. When Diamonds had the ball they were pressured all the way, and this seemed to upset the midfield. There were a few chances early on at both ends, but it was Telford who midway through the first half took the lead, after slack defending from Wilson and Whyte. But to their credit Diamonds then stepped up a gear and had a great final ten minutes of the first half, drawing level from a Fossy header and then going ahead from a cracking Darren Collins goal. This was one of the best seen at Nene Park for a while, as he picked up the ball out on the right, cut inside evading three lunging tackles and then unleashed an unstoppable shot past the keeper, high in to the top of the net. From that point on you could be forgiven for thinking that Diamonds would pull away and the second half would become a formality. But Telford had other ideas.

Slack marking again within minutes of the restart and Telford drew level, and it was no real surprise then that they took the initiative, and started to believe that a result was on the cards. They went ahead after poor slack marking again, with the Diamonds defence in tatters. A defence that in all previous games had looked rock solid, looked totally out of sorts. A team can cope with a couple of players off form at the same time, but when virtually the whole of the back line decide to have a bad one, then you are in trouble deep. Bradshaw and Whyte were poor today, they seemed to lack vision and passes were regularly going astray. Michael Mison was eventually substituted and replaced by Macca, and the crowd showed their agreement with BTs decision. My feelings on Michael Mison have been said on many occasions, and I think that the time is now right to give either Macca or Hanlon a run out. The service from crosses to Collins and Foster was abysmal, as both Brady and Underwood failed to produce much of note. Vandervalden had another impressive game, controlling things when given the time, but the killer ball to Fossy and Collins was not there. This was one of those games where you knew that whatever you did you were fated not to score again. The last ten minutes saw relentless pressure, corners being forced, shots being blocked and cleared off the line. But Telford on the day played out of their skins and thoroughly deserved their win.

So lets hope that this is a “blip” and the show gets back on the road next Saturday up at Doncaster, which will be a difficult match, followed a few days later by a trip to Leek – the scene of some dismal displays in the past. Other than a win for Cheltenham, who look ominous again, results went in Diamonds favour today. Lets wish the lads well next week, and put this game behind us. After all we are still top of the league!

Dover Athletic 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

08.09.98 – The Crabble

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

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Foster 26 mins.

Webmasters Man of the Match award : Vandervalden

Match Report :

Table-topping Rushden & Diamonds were denied a record-breaking eighth straight Conference win by a Dover performance as good as any against the title favourites this season.

Adrian Foster’s 26th minute equaliser earned them a share of the spoils. The goal came after neat work through midfield and a telling flick from striking partner Darren Collins which allowed Foster to shoot home on the turn from the edge of the box.

Diamonds had the better of the opening exchanges with Carel van de Velden setting Collins up within a minute for a weak effort which barely troubled the Dover keeper and Paul Underwood crossing for Michael Mison to head wide.

Dover forced three consecutive corners and belief grew that they could stop the Diamonds bandwagon.

Giant pair Joff Vansittart and Ricky Reina caused the visiting back-four trouble in the air. But the opening goal came via a passing move down the right flank when Jimmy Strouts sent Jason Moore clear and his pin-point pass met the inrushing James Virgo to unleash a venomous drive which flew past Mark Gayle’s dive to his left.

But, stunned by finding themselves behind for the first time this season, Diamonds noticeably stepped up a gear with van de Velden playing a major part and soon got back on level terms.

Paul Underwood was guilty of spurning a golden chance to put the visitors in front at the interval when he fired high from close range after the ever-lively Foster set him up.

And with the Diamonds fans arriving during the break after being delayed on the M25 the second half proved noisier if not more entertaining.

Dover continued to press forward while Diamonds were content to retain possession and work their way out of defence.

Substitute Stuart Adams hit a 20-yard volley and Vansttart went close with a header to keep Gayle on his toes while two mazy runs by Mison ended without a telling pass.

A late opportunity fell to Collins, making an all-time high 212th club appearance, but a brave save at his feet snuffed out the danger.

The winning run, perhaps, had to end sometime. But against such hard-working opponents Diamonds can still claim to be unbeaten.

Yeovil Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

5th September 1998 – Huish Park (Attendance: 2876)

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

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Foster 18 mins.

Webmasters Man of the Match award : Darren Bradshaw

Match Report :

Rushden and Diamonds great start to their Conference season continued, with a record equalling seven straight wins. This record is also held by Wycombe Wanderers. Adrian Fosters simple tap in after a Darren Collins shot was the deciding goal.

According to Mark Stringer this match was relatively poor from a Diamonds team performance point of view. But then we have such high expectations from the team, with all of the quality players now at Talbots disposal. Again there were no poor performances, but the only exceptional performances were from Darren Bradshaw and the old campaigner Chris Whyte. Diamonds had chances to extend their lead, particularly in the second half where they caught Yeovil on numerous occasions on the break. The Diamonds defence held the line across the penalty area, and as such Yeovil were forced to take long range efforts, which were no problem to Mark Gayle. So a reasonable performance and yet another three points in the bag. We should certainly be clear of any relegation worries shortly.

Now the bandwagon rolls on to Dover next week, and who would bet against another three points. But Dover will certainly be very hard to beat, having a great season so far themselves. Personally I would be happy to relinquish thoughts of records being broken, in exchange for one point and a good Diamonds performance. The twenty one points so far this season have been gained with mixed team performances, either average or exceptional. Wait until the consistent good performances come and we will really have something to be proud of – a great stadium and a great team to go with it.

Well done lads.

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