Rushden & Diamonds 2 Dover Athletic 2

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

16th March 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2734)

Rushden Team: Smith, Heggs, Whyte, Rodwell, Wooding, Brady, McElhatton, Cooper, Foster, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: Hamsher, West, De Souza.

Diamonds Scorers: Cooper, Heggs.

Webmasters MoM: None

Match Report:

A disappointing result and performance from Diamonds, who let slip a two goal lead when they were cruising through the first half. Injuries to Razor and Brads meant BT having to shuffle his defence and bring in Chris Whyte and Tim Wooding. The first thirty minutes saw Dover in disarray and Diamonds attacking at will. A beautiful free kick from Coops and then a scrambled goal off his knee by Heggs, and you could be forgiven for assuming a rout was on the way. But Dover were brought back into the game by a superb 35 yard goal from Wormull. Diamonds still pressed forward and when Collins was through with only the keeper to beat, and three defenders trailing in his wake, an outstretched leg up-ended him. Never has there been a more blatant foul , but somehow the referee only booked the offender and the chance to increase the lead gone. A header that hit the bar seconds from the end of the first half would have made it a realistic scoreline, but it was not to be.

The second half was a totally different ball game. The Dover manager made tactical changes that limited the ball to Collins and Foster from midfield, and suddenly there was no width and no midfield. Coops who had an excellent first half drifted out of the game, Unders and Brady were kept playing towards their own goal, and Heggs failed to make any impression. The defence then showed that they had not played together for a while and looked jittery, and it was no surprise when Chris Whyte fluffed a clearance, was left trailing as the attacker steered the ball into the net past Smudger.

For the next twenty minutes Dover looked by far the better team, and had the better chances to take the match. The jitters crept into the team, who started arguing amongst themselves. De Souza was brought on to add some pace upfront replacing Fossy, and in the last five minutes Hamsher was brought on to replace Heggs, who showed his disgust at the decision by storming past the dug-out and down the tunnel. In those last five minutes and injury time Diamonds should have taken all three points as shots rained in, were cleared off the line, and De Souza had two great chances to secure the points but wasted them.

So two points dropped, but Cheltenham and Kettering only picked up a point a piece as well. The Robins must be even more disappointed than Diamonds as there point at home to bottom of the table Farnborough ended up with Farnborough only having ten men on the pitch. The Poppies would normally be pleased with a point at Woking, but they probably needed three to sustain their title aspirations with games now running out for them. I think the title will be won and lost over the next two weeks, when Cheltenham play the Poppies, Diamonds then play the Poppies and Diamonds then play Cheltenham. Exciting games ahead!

With Razor probably out for the rest of the season, BT desperately needs Brads to play on Saturday at Morecambe, though he looks extremely doubtful at the moment. As for new signings before the transfer deadline – forget Tillson from Bristol, its a non starter. He is a friend of Andy Collett, lives in Sawtree, and was being shown the facilities. With Wycombe and other Nationwide Clubs after his services he is not willing to drop out of the League, and Diamonds would not break their pay structure.

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