Hednesford Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

07.11.98 – Keys Park (Attendance: 1387)

Diamonds Team…Gayle, Hamsher, Bradshaw, Mison, Rodwell, McElhatton, Brady, Butterworth, West, Collins, Underwood. Subs Hanlon, Rawle, Wooding.

Goal scorers and time of goals: RDFC : Hanlon

Webmasters Man of the Match award : Paul Underwood

Match Report :

Diamonds did a smash and grab at Keys Park this afternoon, and were somewhat lucky to get away with a point after a below par performance against Hednesford. This game only sprung Diamonds into life when they fell behind in the second half to a well taken, but hand assisted goal. Whether the control of the ball was deliberate with the hand or accidental we will never know, but certainly the skill in burying the ball through a crowded box and past Gayle in goal was no fluke. Yet things had started brightly for Diamonds, being forced to play in Hednesford Shirts and socks after someone forgot that an away strip was required. Even BT had to suffer as part of his kit was also omitted from the bus. Diamonds looked cool at the back in the first half. Hamsher, Bradshaw, Macca and Mison soaked up any pressure from the opposing forwards, with only Rodders seeming lacking in pace. Macca was surely lucky that the referee was the only person in the ground NOT to see him kick a Hednesford player up in the air just because he was frustrated that he did not get the ball.

Diamonds problem however was trying to get West and Collins into the game. For the most part the service to the front men was appalling. Butts showed today that he is nowhere near his best yet as time and again passes to the front men only found opposing defenders. Even the immaculate Bradshaw was found slightly lacking today, though we were treated to some mazy runs out of defence on a few occasions. Paul Underwood had a superb half, tormenting the defence, tackling back when required, as did Jon Brady – although some of his crossing left a lot to be desired. Diamonds went in to the break with a 0-0 scoreline, from a half of fits and starts, and the inevitable poor refereeing that we have grown accustomed to this season. In his favour though Mr Cooper was equally poor to both teams.

Hednesford started the second half seeming more determined to get a result, and it was no real surprise when their effort was rewarded with a goal. From here on in the game sprung to life, with Diamonds exerting more and more pressure. Off came West to be replaced by the quick and sometimes skilful Mark Rawle. This was followed by Mison being replaced by Richie Hanlon. These two players added a greater urgency to the game. How Hanlon is not a regular in the team I and many others cannot understand. He shows all of the qualities and skill that the team cries out for. Crunching tackles, hard headers upfield, the vision to play long or short ball, and to move into dangerous positions, he has it all. It was down to Hanlon to get his head on the end of a beautiful ball into the box and head low and hard into the net for the equalizer. From here on in there were chances at either end to nick the winner, probably the best falling to Hednesford.

The Town supporters at the end thought that this was a great game and a great Town performance. So maybe its me who is out of touch. I thought this was a performance from two teams who were playing as though they were mid-table. It was certainly not a performance from a team that looked like Championship material. They grafted and worked very hard, but there is something lacking. There’s no fluency in the play, not enough directness. Maybe Heggs and Warburton will add the missing touches to the squad. We now know Smithy will be out for 8 weeks, and VanderValden probably until February. Kenny is now fully fit, so expect a few surprises against Leatherhead. I think Kenny may play, and BT may play Heggs, West and Collins upfront. I also expect Warburton to push himself hard to be fit for Saturdays game if they overcome Leatherhead. With Smithy out for a long time expect BT to move into the transfer market quickly for replacement cover for Mark Gayle.

I don’t think a point was a bad result here today, but performances must improve quickly. Oh and before I forget lets all say a big thank you to the Spiffs for a great result against Cheltenham.

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