Cheltenham Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

28.11.98 – Whaddon Road (Attendance: 4051)

Diamonds Team: Gayle, Wooding, Bradshaw, Mison, Warburton, McElhatton, Butterworth, Heggs, West, Collins, Underwood. Subs Hanlon, Rawle, Brady.

Webmasters Man of the Match award : Mark Gayle

Match Report :

Diamonds can feel disappointed not to come away from Whaddon Road without at least a point. Thats the fact – but they did NOT deserve a point. They can feel aggrieved at missing a penalty to a superb save from the keeper, and a 35 yard shot from Tim Wooding that some how the keeper managed to keep out, only for Brady to miss the open goal with the rebound. In between Cheltenham had taken the lead from a slightly scrambled goal – hotly disputed by the Diamonds defence, but well deserved none the less. So what went wrong for Diamonds? Probably a case of what went right! In the first half the defence looked shaky at the back. The normal ever dependable Bradshaw and Warburton had trouble clearing their lines. Grayson upfront for Cheltenham was superb, fantastic workrate, great skill, and a tidy touch. He epitomised everything that Diamonds upfront were not.

BT had taken a flyer playing Darren Collins, something we all desperatly wanted to happen. But it backfired terribly as Collins took a bad tackle early on, lay crumpled for nearly five minutes, and from then on was a passenger. Yet it could have been a perfect start for Diamonds as Heggs was brought down in a seemingly inoccuous tackle, and was awarded a penalty. The spot-kick was placed hard and to the keepers right, but he saved superbly. That lifted Cheltenham, and demoralised Diamonds.

With Collins struggling and West in the main in-effective it was left to Heggs to do all of the running. In the first half, other than the penalty the Cheltenham keeper had nothing to do. His defence and midfield controlled the game, and Diamonds long ball tactic failed miserably. Cheltenham took their goal after pressure from corners and free-kicks around the box, and slack Diamonds marking.

The second half saw Diamonds open with much more urgency. Collins went off to be replaced by Brady – a strange move, West came off and was replaced by Rawle, and then minutes after Brady missed his open goal he was himself substituted by Hanlon for a 20 minute run-out. Diamonds huffed and puffed but never really looked capable of scoring. Mark Gayle was forced to make two superb saves in the latter stages that kept the scoreline respectable, but it was not Diamonds day.

So where are the problem areas for Diamonds. Today they matched Cheltenham for strength and competitivness, but lacked skill on the ball. It was Cheltenham who played the ball around and looked more like Championship material. We have to admit that we played today without a strikeforce. The problem is who is going to score us goals? West is too slow to cause worries and hardly has a shot on goal these days. A fully fit Collins is as good as any, but I suspect he will now require a long lay-off. Mark Rawle is not ready for the arena yet and was totally in-effective in his run out in the second half. Heggs caused problems when he managed to stay on his feet but again I cant remember him having a shot. We have sold Mehew this week to FGR, and Fossy is still mysteriously absent – injured, Heggsitus, whatever it is we need him back now! We have to admit that we need class upfront and we have not got it. If you cant score goals you dont win prizes, and this team/squad is not good enough to get out of the Conference on the showings so far. It is still lacking in too many areas, and is finding that it is no better than most of the teams in the Conference. It has the individuals but they dont appear to gel well enough as a team. BT has to do something about a class striker now, before we slip too far behind the frontrunners.

Individuals like Underwood, Warburton, and Bradshaw will continue to impress – but Mison is still struggling to get a grip on a game, Brady is in-effective and possibly lightweight, and Butts has not got up to speed yet. Tim is still lacking pace and when put under pressure gets careless with his passing. Doncaster next week! Its going to be very hard to get a result up there. Lets hope its settled one way or the other because we need to get back to Conference winning ways as quickly as possible.

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