Morecambe 2 Rushden & Diamonds 3

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

20th March 1999 – Christie Park (Attendance: 1089)

Rushden Team: Smith, Hamsher, Whyte, Rodwell, Branson, Brady, McElhatton, Cooper, Foster, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: De Souza, Butterworth, Wooding.

Diamonds Scorers: Rodwell, Cooper, McElhatton

Webmasters MoM: McElhatton

Match Report:

Diamonds came to Christie Park determined to get a result, even though they would be without a few regular first team players. Bradshaw and Warburton, the heart of the Diamonds defence were still missing through injury, and Carl Heggs had appeared in front of the FA on disciplinary charges and received a one match ban and a fine. But in came new signing number one, Guy Branson – a familiar and popular face at Nene Park with staff and supporters alike. Foster was picked to play upfront even though he was still nursing an ankle injury.

Now, to be honest having watched the game I had my match report written in my mind. Similar to Dover I thought we had a good first half and then let it slip badly in the second. But coming back on the coach we watched a replay of the game on video and my thoughts changed somewhat – so here goes report number 2.

Diamonds looked very impressive in the first half, albeit against a poor Morecambe side who lacked any idea, and within a few minutes Morecambe had the home fans on their backs. Diamonds were quick to challenge, beating the Shrimps to the ball every time, dispossessing them easily. The pairing of Branson and Rodwell at the back coped well with any aerial ball thrown into the Diamonds half, and Macca and Coops controlled the midfield. Hamsher was like a terrier chasing the ball, and there was quick interplay between the wing backs and Fozzy and Collins upfront. Diamonds looked every bit a Championship challenging team. It was no surprise therefore when a free kick taken by Skippy on the right found Rodders unmarked 3 yards out and his powerful header shot past the keeper and into the net. Not content to sit on their lead Diamonds continued to press forward and Darren Collins had a couple of chances that were blocked, but each coming from the less favourable left flank. Diamonds found so much space down the left it was unbelievable. They increased their lead when a cross into the box was fumbled by the defenders and Coops was on hand to turn and fire into the net through a ruck of players. A couple more half chances were created but Diamonds finished the half well on top but under no pressure what so ever from Morecambe. Smudger had made a couple of saves but was rarely troubled.

My first viewing of the second half was that Diamonds had let it slip and Morecambe had the better of the half. But on watching the video this was not the case. Diamonds still had so much possession, but were failing to create the openings and chances required to increase their lead. Their quest was not helped when the Shrimps scored within 20 seconds of the restart. Poor defending from Chris Whyte, caught out of position left Morecambe with a one on one they took good advantage of. The goal going in off the post. Morecambe did admittedly then have a purple patch when they had the confidence to spray it around and work well down the left flank. Smudger was again called on to make important saves, but Diamonds still looked capable though a bit jittery. Maybe they were remembering Dover and being 2-0 up a few days before and surrendering the lead. The shock came mid way through the half when another defensive blunder let Dover equalise. This now sparked Diamonds into life, and BT decided to make his substitutions. Off came Fossy who had received a crafty knock on his injured ankle seconds before the Morecambe equaliser and on came De Souza. Off came Hamsher who had chased everything and on came Butts to add some stability and vision to the midfield. The tempo was upped and Diamonds pressurised the Shrimps defence in search of the winner. De Souza and Collins had great chances that were squandered but with minutes to go Diamonds forced a succession of corners. From a corner the ball was dropped into the box, the ball broke loose to Macca who rifled it into the net. Had the keeper got a hand to it he would have ended in the net as well. The players went crazy, the supporters went crazy, and Diamonds in the end got the three points they deserved and the battle continues to hot up for the Championship.

So now its off to Leek on Tuesday, god willing, and they the Battle of the Poppies next Saturday. Nine points from these away games essential – nine matches to go twenty seven points to play for. Diamonds are going for maximum points and promotion!

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