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.

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