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.

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