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.

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