Rushden & Diamonds 2 Woking 0

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

28th December 1998 – Nene Park (Attendance: 4306)

Rushden Team: Corry, Wooding, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Hamsher, McElhatton, Butterworth, Heggs, Foster, De Souza, Underwood.
Subs: West, Whyte, Brady.

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza and Foster 90 mins

Webmasters MoM: Jim Rodwell

Match Report:

Diamonds chose today to silence their critics by turning on a superb performance in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd. The pre-match build up though couldn’t have been worse for Diamonds. New keeper Ian Feuer had rang in this morning suffering with a bad bout of flu, and was unable to travel to the game. The Club desperately tried to contact Mark Gayle, but to no avail. The only alternative was to bring in Youth Team keeper Steve Corry for his debut, so the phone call was made to Corry this morning telling him he was playing. Fifteen minutes before the kick-off the Club Doctor was still working on a nasty black eye on Darren Bradshaw, the eye was closing and impairing his vision. Thankfully he made it and proceeded to play a stormer.

Diamonds started the first half impressively. A looping header from Fossy bounced back off the woodwork, an overhead kick on the turn from John Hamsher was also denied a goal by the woodwork. Diamonds really turned on the style, the midfield suddenly clicking into gear and totally dominating. John Hamsher was superb as again he covered every blade of grass, joining the attack when he could and giving great support to his defence. Today the defence stood proud. Whether it was protective of the rooky keeper or not they were magnificent to a man. Jim Rodwell was a tower of strength, as must surely have earned himself a place in next weeks game against Leeds United, even though Chalky White was brought back to the substitutes bench for today’s game. Tim Wooding made marauding runs down the flank, though it must be said his crossing let him down today. Unders and Heggs tormented the Woking defence, and yet another shot rattled the woodwork. Eventually though the pressure paid off and De Sousa stuck a ferocious shot past the Woking keeper. The first half ended with Diamonds totally dominant, but surprisingly only one goal ahead.

The second half was pretty much the same, although Woking did manage to exert some pressure on the rookie Diamonds keeper, most of it unfair challenges. The only thing that let Corry down on his big day was his kicking, but when he needed to gather the ball he did it with confidence. Pressure down the flanks and dangerous crosses into the box continued to cause Woking problems. Goalmouth scrambles and the Woking keeper somehow managed to keep Diamonds at bay until the last minute when Fossy got on the end of a De Sousa and Heggs link-up to secure the points for Diamonds.

This was one of the best performances seen at Nene Park from Diamonds this season. It goes to prove that they can perform as a team and look like Championship contenders. Speaking to De Souza after the game he said that he could feel the support of the crowd today, and I think that worked both ways. The crowd reacted to a great performance, and the players reacted to the crowd. It must also be said that the Woking support, particularly in the second half was superb, really getting behind their team, and it did visually lift the team for a spell. De Sousa was a little disappointed with his performance, feeling he should have stuck another couple away, but he enjoyed playing upfront with Fossy. It was great to see Fossy back today, working hard, showing enthusiasm, and his goal was just reward for his effort. Macca also had a great game, and was himself unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, twice being put through. It was nice to see the confidence running through the team, confidence to have a shot, or make runs forward – something that has been lacking for so long.

So now we look forward to the Leeds game with some confidence. This performance must surely have given David O’Leary sitting in the Stand something to think about. I would be very surprised if BT changes this winning team other than to bring in Mark Gayle or Ian Feuer for Steve Corry. In the last couple of months we have now seen three of our Youth Players brought into the first team squad, Paul Kyriacou, Andy Burgess and now Steve Corry, so the future looks quite rosy for Diamonds. Now we all need to get behind the team for Leeds, it was good today but must be ten times better if we are to compete with the noise from the Leeds fans. Come on you Whites!!!


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