Rushden & Diamonds 3 Southport 1

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

23rd February 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2135)

Rushden Team: Smith, Heggs, Bradshaw, Warburton, Rodwell, Brady, McElhatton, Cooper, Foster, Collins, Underwood.
Subs: De Souza, Whyte, Butterworth.

Diamonds Scorers: Foster, McElhatton, Cooper

Webmasters MoM: Paul Underwood

Match Report:

Diamonds continued there good run with another win tonight, and a much better performance particularly in the first half. Unfortunately for Southport they had their keeper dismissed for handling the ball outside the area after only three minutes, and from that point the outcome was never in doubt. The first half saw great goals from Foster, McElhatton and Cooper. The latter were goals of real class, and come after all of the complaining that our midfield was not getting on the score sheet. The first half was all Diamonds, with Brady and Underwood tearing the defence to shreds and getting in great crosses. The defence again looked solid and the midfield started to make use of the space and spray some ball about. Collins and Foster worked hard upfront, while Heggsy ran his socks off but allowed his final ball to be a bit indifferent. But at last we were seeing a footballing game from Diamonds as the confidence visibly returned.

The second half was much harder for Diamonds as they fought to breakdown a re-organised defence of seven across the back playing a well orchestrated offside system. It worked well for them, and Diamonds eased off the gas well content with an easy win. Unfortunately the only real blemish on the game a 90th minute error from Smudger who allowed a relatively easy chance to slip under his body.

Diamonds then picked up the points from their crucial game in hand on Cheltenham, and now looked poised to push all of the way. Brian Talbot made a great gesture in spending 15-20 minutes in the terrace chatting to fans, explaining a few misrepresentations, which I am sure went down well. WE have no game this weekend so the players get a chance to prepare for the run in, loads of points to be won, and some great games coming up. With confidence and results returning who would bet against us now! It was also interesting to see the scouts in the South Stand again – Ian Dowie of QPR and Roy McFarland of Cambridge. The interest seems to centre around Paul Underwood, remember Leicester City were interested earlier in the season. Lets hope we can hang on to quality players like Paul as they will be needed next season in the Third Division when we are there!

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