Northwich Victoria 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

30th January 1999 – The Drill Field (Attendance: 1850)

Rushden Team: Smith, Wooding, Bradshaw, Wilson, Rodwell, Brady, McElhatton, Butterworth, DeSouza, West, Underwood.
Subs: Hamsher, Heggs, West.

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza

Webmasters MoM: Michael McElhatton

Match Report:

Three lost points from a game which we should have won, and the heads were down last night. The team had put last weekends performance behind them and were looking forward to todays game, but things did not go to plan. A glance at the pitch told you what sort of game it was going to be, it was sodden, heavy, bumpy and well sanded in areas. A glance in the local papers showed that Vic would be raring to get at Diamonds. The papers had whipped up the same mass hysteria about Max and his money, how its allegedly thrown at the Clubs who have none, how the players allegedly earn £1500, how the Luxury Coach has waitresses, its own masseuse, chiropodist, open-heart surgeon etc etc etc. Its no wonder that anyone stupid enough to believe all this hype will raise their game against the Diamonds to turn them over. This is exactly what happened yesterday with the Vics, and Diamonds are not that good to remain ahead of teams when they raise there game that much. This was the Vics Cup-Final, or if you look at the way their team, coaches and fans behaved you would have thought so. But what about the match!

Diamonds had the worst possible start, going behind after only four minutes. Not yet adjusted to the awful pitch, they were run ragged down the right and gave away a free kick. They allowed a great whipped in cross to reach the opposing centre forward and the ball fizzed just in between Smudger and the post. The crowd erupted, sensing a walkover but Diamonds are much better coming from behind. Gradually after a couple more scares from the right winger they became more accustomed to the pitch and settled. An equaliser came midway through the half, a header from Miquel of sheer class, and from then on Diamonds tore the Vics defense to shreds. The best chance went to De Souza who had a free header that went over the bar when it seemed easier to score. There were five great chances that were all spurned, and this was to prove costly. To add to Diamonds first half problems Brads pulled up early on with a hamstring gone, and was replaced by John Hamsher, who has been suffering from a lack of confidence recently. It was unfortunately to continue. So Diamonds went in at half time level, but disappointed not to be out of sight!

The second half it all went awry. Probably feeling the match was there to be won, BT took Wilson off for the second half, bringing on Heggsy. Paul Underwood was pushed back deeper to cover the left back area, and Diamonds seemed to lose momentum. Vics started the second half the more confident and this grew as the first touch seemed to desert Diamonds. Early on a great move down the left by Vics, superb interplay – quick and neat – and a great shot that flew past Smudger before he could move. A magnificent goal, one of the best you will see this season. With their back against the wall Diamonds lost their cool. A few bookings for needless challenges, and De Souza lucky not to be sent off for a head butt, reacting to an elbow in the face, that the referee did not see on their number four. A lot of pushing and shoving resulted, which finished with the big Vics number 5 being booked for shoving and swearing, Miguel and the number four escaping without a caution. Another case of poor officiating at Conference level. From here on it was all Diamonds pushing forward, making the keeper work, but squandering chances and half chances. Fossy had been brought on to replace West, a strange move as West looked dangerous upfront, but Fossy failed to make the dramatic impact that Diamonds needed. Visc held on and at the whistle raced on to the pitch as if they had won the European Cup, the crowd went mad, and Diamonds had missed a great chance to cement their challenge. One point of note, that raised itself yesterday. De Souza was the subject of awful RACIST remarks from the Vics supporters. WE have seen last week remarks on this website about the subject and lets hope it is not creeping back into the game at this level. Hopefully the Vics Officials will be made aware of the situation and react accordingly.

Performance wise, this was an average Diamonds performance. They need to be scoring goals again. The defence looks sound, even coping without Brads for most of the game. Macca in midfield was a giant, John Hamsher is struggling at the moment as is Heggsy.  Heggsy looks as though he is being played out of position and is obviously not happy in the role he is currently playing. Unders and Brady had good games, the running crosses put in were superb, but the corner crosses were dire. Upfront Miquel had a great first half as did Westy, but second half was a struggle.

The statistics tell a tale, Diamonds sixteen shots, Vics five. Second half Vics one shot (the goal). Smudger had virtually nothing to do, we just cant get it in the back of the net often enough. Lets hope it all click on Tuesday against Kiddy and we get back into winning ways.

Slough Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

FA Trophy Third Round Proper

25th January 1999 – Wexham Park (Attendance: 779)

Rushden Team: Feuer, Wooding, Bradshaw, Wilson, Rodwell, Cooper, McElhatton, Butterworth, DeSouza, West, Underwood.
Subs: Brady, Whyte, Heggs, Corry, Hamsher.

Diamonds Scorers: West (2)

Webmasters MoM: Colin West

Match Report:

At last this match finally took place, no rain this evening but a bitterly cold wing forcing temperatures down below freezing. It was so important for Diamonds to get a result that maybe the performance was going to be secondary – a replay on Wednesday would no Diamonds no favours at all. BT had shown his displeasure after Saturdays embarrassment by having the squad in for training at 9.30 on Sunday morning, and then proceeding to make changes in the team for the game at Slough. Out went Heggs and Hamsher who were very disappointing at the weekend. They were replaced by Mark Cooper and Paul Wilson. Fossy has picked up a calf strain, so his place was taken by the ever faithful Colin West.

Willow has not figured so much recently in BTs plans following one nightmare game he had earlier in the season. He must have regretted getting on the coach as after 11 minutes he was caught in possession, robbed of the ball, and a neat pass across the box was laid into the path of the incoming forward who rattled the shot past the Fuhrer. “Mein Gott” were we now on our way out of the FA Trophy? Thankfully Diamonds started fizzing the ball about, bringing Unders and Macca more into play, and it was not long before a great Unders cross was met by the head of Westy and there was only one place the ball was going to finish – in the Slough net. Slough to their credit played the ball about well, their number 7 in particular looked useful as Wooding held off him and allowed him too much room. Slough probably had the better chances in the first half, and at times made Diamonds look very ordinary. So 1-1 at half time was probably about right.

The second half Diamonds edged and probably deserved Westy’s headed winner. The pitch cut up badly as the match wore on, getting heavier by the minute. Diamonds fitness started to tell, and their ability to create space down the flanks worked well, always looking dangerous on the break. Diamonds fluffed a few chances to make the game safe, Mark Cooper missing the easiest after being set up by the un-selfish West, who could have made his hatrick. So Diamonds got the win they wanted, but what about the performance?

This was really another display where certain players looked good, others just did enough without flattering. Ian the Fuhrer in goal looked safe, having to make one good save with his legs. Tim Wooding and Willow were so-so and Brads and Rodders held the defence together well. Probably Rodders had another better game than Brads tonight but they both looked sake. The Diamonds midfield had come in for justifiable criticism after Saturdays game and I thought they looked better tonight ( Tony may disagree). Butts and in particular Macca worked very hard, and one could sense that Macca fancied getting on the scoresheet as headers and shots were un-leashed but ended up off target. Maccas cross for Westy’s winner was sheer class, and in my opinion he ran Westy close for Man of the Match. At least it was easier to think of someone tonight who would warrant M.o.M.

Up front Unders worked hard, got in some telling crosses and mazy runs but the final shot always lets him down. Miquel also grafted up front but again failed to have a decent shot and test the keeper. But he is quick and fast on the turn, so I think we will see his best upfront partnering Darren Collins on his return. But what can you say about Westy – almost drawing his pension but a true competitor and a craftsman with the header. When he was on for a hatrick he was running about like John Hamsher. His goals were taken superbly.

I think the pitch had a lot to do with the performance tonight. It was not a pitch for playing fancy football, it sucked on the stamina, and the game reflected that. I have read Tony’s report on the Forum and think that its a bit harsh. It was a team containing changes, it was a team picked to graft out a result, and it worked. It was not pretty but the conditions would not allow that style of football. I think they did just enough as was necessary to get the result. At times they did not look much better than Slough, but at other times they played it about quickly and crisply and looked quite sharp. I am sure we will see a different and much stronger side turn out against Woking in the next round.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Doncaster Rovers 3

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

23rd January 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 4577)

Rushden Team: Feuer, Wooding, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Rodwell, Heggs, McElhatton, Butterworth, DeSouza, Foster, Underwood.
Subs: Brady, Cooper, West.

Diamonds Scorers: Nicol o.g.

Webmasters MoM: Paul Underwood

Match Report:

Well it looks like we are back to the Jeckyl and Hyde performances after this inept performance from Diamonds. This was a game that Diamonds needed desperately to win, to cement their challenge at the top of the table, and Donny had to win to move out of the bottom three. Unfortunately for the large crowd that turned up today it was Doncaster who fought hardest for the result, and deservedly got all three points. They scored four times – one on their own goal – and should probably have had more. Diamonds went through the whole game without causing the Donny keeper to make a save, in fact I don’t think they really had any shot at goal whatsoever. This is itself a disgraceful statistic.

We were poor in all departments, the only players doing themselves justice were probably Bradshaw and Underwood. Ian Feuer in goal looked indecisive today, the defence in front of him looked jittery in the extreme, especially from dead-ball situations. The midfield – well did we have one – were poor in the extreme. John Hamsher and Gary Butterworth were very poor, and their first touch abysmal. Carl Heggs did not manage to beat his defender once, and was continually having to play the ball backwards.  Miquel De Souza made a few good turns with the ball but continually ran too far and in to trouble.

Fossy had a nightmare, and I am sure his confidence has deserted him at the moment. He had a glorious chance to put Diamonds level, Donny having grabbed two quick goals after the break, shortly after half time but wasted his effort with only the keeper to beat. Diamonds opener came from a De Souza turn, a hard low shot across the box that Nicol could only turn past his keeper and into the net. But once Donny were in front there was only ever going to be one winner. They looked solid at the back, more creative in midfield, and were much quicker and direct going forward.

Roared on by their magnificent support they strolled through the second half, and it looked like it was Diamonds who were fighting near the foot of the table, not the top. Luckily for Diamonds Cheltenham were also beaten at home today, but both results proved great news for the Poppies whose game at Woking was postponed at half time due to a flood-light failure. So are Diamonds Championship contenders? Certainly not on today’s performance, especially with Yeovil creeping up behind them. The next game for Diamonds in the Conference is against Northwich Victoria, conquerors over Cheltenham today, and they also are tucked in nicely just behind Diamonds. Diamonds have some mouth watering home fixtures still to come, but I don’t see a team winning the Conference having lost as many home games as Diamonds, though I hope I am proved wrong.

Well done Donny and their supporters – you deserved it today!

Leeds United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

F.A. Cup 3rd Round Replay

13th January 1999 – Elland Road (Attendance: 39159)

Rushden Team: Feuer, Wooding, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Rodwell, Heggs, McElhatton, Butterworth, DeSouza, Foster, Underwood.
Subs: Brady, Whyte, West.

Diamonds Scorers: Heggs

Webmasters MoM: Ian Feuer

Match Report:

What a magnificent evening from start to finish. Sure – we lost, but we lost in style, we performed wll on the night, superbly over both games, the support was brilliant, and we gave Leeds United the shock of their lives. The Conference should be proud!

The Diamonds fans had taken over all of the South Stand, both tiers. And were they in party mood! To a man they were cheering and shouting throughout the game. It must have inspired the team, because from the kick off they showed their intentions.

Diamonds, I imagine must have lost the toss, and for the first half played with the wind behind them. Diamonds attacked from the start, putting pressure on the Leeds defence. For the first ten minutes Leeds had great difficulty controlling the ball, the first touch was abysmal, and didn’t the Diamonds supporters let them know it. Then the unthinkable happened. A quick move down the right and a cross flashed in to the Leeds area, hard and low. The crowd were up from their seats in expectation. First a shot from Fossy – blocked on the line by Radebe, it fell to Heggs -saved by Martyn, back to Foster and off the post, then back to Heggs who crashed it past Martyn and into the net. The Supporters went crazy behind the goal, craning their heads to watch it again on the large TV on the scoreboard. Leeds were stunned, the Leeds support were stunned, and suddenly you believed that maybe dreams can come true. The Chants ” One Nil to the Conference” rung out from the Diamonds Supporters, to no response from the quiet Leeds support. Would Diamonds sit on their lead, no way. They continued to press forward, but gradually Leeds sensed that they needed to go up a gear, and quickly. The passes suddenly started to find their man, the first touch improved, and we now saw the true Leeds United. Quick on the ball, deft touches, superb running off the ball and the pressure was now on Diamonds. Ian Feuer was forced to make some great saves, and if Max wants to know what to do with the money the Club have made from this game, then look no further than ensuring that Ian Feuer stays at Diamonds. He is a great keeper, and already has a great rapport with the fans. Any way back to the match. It was really no surprise when Leeds equalised, neat passing and a clinical finish from young Smith. The game was now on, but it was now Diamonds turn to find the first touch leave them. Fossy in particular was totally in-effective upfront, getting hustled off the ball, committing needless fouls to give away possession. But Diamonds made it through to halftime on level terms, and a standing ovation from the fans.

We knew that the second half would one way traffic, especially with Leeds now having the wind in their sails, and we were not disappointed. Westy had come on for Foster in an attempt to hold up the ball, and gain some possession. And it worked superbly – one has to admit it was a good tactical substitution, something we have missed seeing recently. Leeds swept forward in waves, shots rained in, and after a few scares and saves from Feuer, the inevitable happened and Leeds took the lead, thanks to Smith again – another clinical shot past the diving Feuer. But still, with the support behind them Diamonds continued to play neat passing football and even had a couple of chances themselves to pull level. But it was not to be and Hassailbank tucked in Leeds third and the game was over. Diamonds continued to impress, but knew the tie was past the point of no return. Brady came on for Hamsher, and did well weaving his way down the right and putting in some great crosses. Then with a minute or so remaining BT brought on Chris Whyte, to a standing ovation from the whole stadium. A perfect end to a near perfect night. As the whistle for full time blew the stadium erupted. We had all witnessed a great Diamonds performance, and another chapter in Diamonds history. The lads took a lap of honour and gained great respect from the Leeds fans who had stayed behind to applaud. We had witnessed a great team performance, and it would be unfair to highlight too many individuals, but for me Feuer, Bradshaw and Rodders were magnificent at the back. De Souza, Heggs and Unders also had great games.

Now its back to normal, and a tie away at Slough in the FAT, and followed by Conference action against Donny and Kiddy. Its the old cliché but lets say it – Now we can concentrate on the League.

As a footnote lets mention the Leeds fans. Quieter than expected in the ground, no bare chests to be seen at half time, but as friendly as you could wish to meet, and great for a banter before the game in the pub opposite the ground. Well done Leeds United and good luck against Pompey. Lets hope we can say that we were at least knocked out by the eventual FA Cup winners – Please!!!

See here for video highlights of both games in this tie.

Barrow 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

9th January 1999 – Holker St

Rushden Team: Feuer, Wooding, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Rodwell, Heggs, Cooper, Butterworth, DeSouza, Foster, Underwood.
Subs: Brady, Wilson, West.

Diamonds Scorers: Cooper and De Souza

Webmasters MoM: Paul Underwood

Match Report:

Maybe it was too much to ask that we see another scintillating performance, but what we did see was a gritty performance, hard working, where Diamonds were always playing within themselves against a poor Barrow side. BT had to change his side slightly today with McElhatton out through suspension for one game. He chose to bring in Mark Cooper for a rare start, Cooper who a few weeks ago had been linked with a move to Boro.

The first five to ten minutes Diamonds looked a bit nervous at the back, due more to the un-predictable pitch than the opposing forwards. With the struck for cash Barrow situation, and Rodders and Brads continually managing to kick the ball out of the ground in clearances, one wondered whether Barrow would have enough spare footballs. Gradually Diamonds settled, started their passing game, and to be honest there were long spells where Barrow could not get the ball back. The pressure eventually paid just before half time when Cooper got his head to a floating cross and planted the ball into the corner, which was no more than Diamonds deserved. Cooper had a chance to put Diamonds ahead earlier but a rasping 25 yarder skimmed the upright and threatened to smash through the Clubhouse window behind the goal. Other chances fell to De Souza and Foster, but were squandered.

The second half started similar to the first. Barrow made a few substitutions which livened up the attack in an effort to get back in to the game. However the pressure they were attempting to exert would always leave them prone to a quick break. Foster was the first to find himself through with only the keeper to beat, he delayed, missed the opportunity, and fell to the ground in an attempt to gain a penalty. He was again through against the keeper after a long ball over the top evaded the defender, but again the keeper saved the day. BT decided to take Fozzy off and replace him with West. To be honest, it worked and shortly after West brought down a ball superbly on the half way line, turned and headed for goal. Not noted for his pace he shrugged of a despairing tackle from a defender, saw the keeper approaching, and laid an un-selfish pass across goal for De Souza to do the honours. There was no way back for Barrow, and the team received a great ovation from the Diamonds fans who had made the long trip.

What about Barrow? Well they tried to play football, to their credit. Unfortunately they were slow to distribute the ball and get it forward. When they got the ball to Andy Mutch, he looked dangerous, but he had no support. It would be a shame to see them go down, and I think they can survive in the Conference. The Barrow fans turned out yesterday for the game, and I would like to think we all had a good banter. However I think their fans were much quieter than when they were at Nene Park!

Performance wise, nothing spectacular, they always just did enough. Maybe they were thinking about the trip to Leeds on Wednesday, but the three points were won easily.  Feuer in goal kept a third clean sheet in a row, having hardly to touch the ball. The back four always looked in command, and Cooper performed reasonably well considering the few starts he has made so far. But the team visibly still lacked creativity in midfield – hurry back Carel. Upfront De Souza looked slower than usual, constantly being caught offside, Heggs worked hard but struggled to find form, and Fossy yet again wasted opportunities whilst working his butt off. Whether those missed chances will cost him his place on Wednesday remains to be see.

So yet another break from the Conference games beckons. Leeds on Wednesday in the FA Cup, away at Slough Saturday in the FA Trophy, and then a great game in prospect at home to Donny in the Conference.

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Leeds United 0

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

F.A. Cup 3rd Round

2nd January 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 6432)

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

Webmasters MoM: Darren Bradshaw

Match Report:

Following on from last Mondays performance, this was another great performance today against the “Mighty Leeds”.  You never know with the FA Cup what may happen, a giant killer win, an embarrassing drubbing, but today we saw an accomplished performance from Brian Talbots team. They did the Club proud and also the Conference. Today we saw a standard of play that matched Premiership Leeds for all but 20 minutes of the match. In fact Diamonds had chances to create a major upset, as Nigel Martyn made great saves from Butterworth, Rodwell and Hamsher. Right at the death Adrian Foster had a glorious free header, but seemed to take his eye off the ball, maybe amazed that he was un-challenged, and looped his header over the bar. But we should not dwell too much on the misses, more on the performance.

Diamonds started the first half the better of the two sides, and an early corner, a flick on by Macca, and Fossy headed just wide, spurning his first golden opportunity. Gradually the skill of Wijnhard and Hasselbaink started to tell. Kewell was a constant danger, and every ball fed to Hasselbaink’s feet, and Rijnhard caused Diamonds problems. But stoic defending rode out the storm. Bradshaw and Rodwell were magnificent, and Heggs and Underwood made numerous important tackles when helping out the defence. Wooding and Hamsher put themselves about with credit, the latter covering every blade of grass yet again. De Souza and Fossy upfront worked tirelessly, and created a few openings. Macca had a great 25 yard shot scream just over the crossbar, and Butts hit a great shot that Martyn just managed to tip over. If Leeds had have taken the lead when a shot from Wijnhard hit the post and rebounded to safety things may have been different. As the half wore on Diamonds grew in confidence as fully deserved to go in at half time on equal pegging.

The second half belonged to Diamonds. They were the better team and for the last twenty minutes Leeds were playing for a draw. Hopkin was never really in the game, Bowyer had flashes of skill and worked hard, but they were matched and improved on by Diamonds. With about 18 minutes to go Unders picked up a loose Leeds clearance and ran at the defence. Evading first one tackle and then skipping over Woodgate he was floored by a poor tackle. Woodgate, who had been booked earlier, was sent to an early bath and Leeds were now hanging on with 10 men. The best chance of the match then fell to Fossy with 3 minutes to go, but as we said earlier he squandered it. At the end of the day, Diamonds played as well as they could, to a man. This was a great team performance, that now earns them the right to go into tomorrows 4th Round Draw, and look forward to a replay at Elland Road on Tuesday week. I am sure that the lads will accredit themselves well at Leeds and hopefully make a few new friends.

We had expected the Leeds crowd to be noisy and they did not disappoint, even braving the bare chests on the terrace, but I think it was a great credit to our team that for large portions of the second half they were silenced by the Diamonds play, and outshouted by the Diamonds support. Well done the lads, BT, Max and the fans who turned up in force and were today heard!

See here for video highlights of this game and of the replay.

We now need a performance in the Conference up at Barrow on Saturday, with both Cheltenham and Kettering winning, nothing less than 3 points is acceptable. With another performance like the last two, who would doubt the points coming to the Diamonds?

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