Rushden & Diamonds 4 Forest Green Rovers 0

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

27th April 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 1618)

Rushden Team: Collett, Underwood, Branson, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Brady, McElhatton, Butterworth, Cooper, Collins, De Souza.

Subs: Berry, Wooding, Ndekwe.

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza, Collins, Brady, Cooper.

Webmasters MoM: De Souza

Match Report:

With Diamonds struggling to attain a reasonable final league position, a win and more importantly a good performance were going to be essential tonight. Previous performances lacking any drive and commitment had seen attendances start to tumble, and just over 1600 had made it to Nene Park to see Forest Green.

Forest Green are one of the form teams for the second half of the season, and had made their way to Wembley in the FA Trophy, so they were no mugs. But in a good first half for Diamonds they tore them to shreds. Whatever BT had said to the team after Saturdays game at Hereford it must have shaken them up, because back in the team was the spirit that has been missing for so long. Heggs had been dropped for this game, not even making it on the bench – his current performances or lack of performance obviously the cause. This was a night when the players showed what can be expected when they put there minds to it. Players who had been criticised in previous weeks chose this game to shine. Brady as wing back had a great first half, and De Souza looked quick and sharp – opening the scoring with a great header that gave the keeper no chance. Collins followed suite with a goal, and Brady as well as Diamonds romped to a three goal lead at half time. The men at the back, Rodders, Brads and Pickle were superb clearing any thing thrown at them. To be honest it was a choice of Brads, Rodders, Macca and De Souza for M.O.M. as neither put a foot wrong. Unders on the left tormented the defence, the only disappointment was that once again Darren Collins seemed lethargic and un-interested.

In the second half FGR came back into it a little, hitting a few shots at Collett which he had no problem gathering. He looks very confident in goal, agile, takes crosses well and equally important distributes the ball quickly. This gives an extra pace to the game, a pace at which Diamonds feel much happier playing. Cooper added a fourth after superb interplay and from there on Diamonds played keep ball. McElhatton who has picked up the Website Player of the Season Award was again superb. His commitment cannot be faulted. If he loses a ball he fights back to regain possession, wanting to give nothing away. You always know with Macca that you get 100% plus, and a few goals thrown in as well. In midfield Butterworth had another good game, but I must be missing something in his play because for the last two games he has been voted the Sponsors M.O.M. which I cant see. He has certainly got his enthusiasm back, and his tackling in midfield is superb, but too often I feel he gives away cheap ball with slack passing.

So a performance which was very much improved and must put the team in a happier position going into our last game of the season against the Poppies. We are all desperately disappointed not to have won the Conference, but the season must finish on a high by beating our local rivals and finishing above them. So lets get fully behind the lads on Saturday. Incidentally it was interesting to hear the 10 or so Rovers fans cheering for Cheltenham – I am sure that I could imagine no situation at all where we would cheer on the Poppies! Also weren’t the De Banke quiet, leaving all the singing and cheering etc to the South Stand singers. Well done South Stand!

Hereford United 3 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

24th April 1999 – Edgar Street (Attendance: 2018)

Rushden Team: Collett, Wooding, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Branson, Cooper, McElhatton, Butterworth, De Souza, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: Heggs, Brady, Berry.

Diamonds Scorers: Cooper, Collins.

Webmasters MoM: Bradshaw

Match Report:

Diamonds travelled to Hereford for their last away game of the season hoping to end a run of five games without a win. In the games since the defeat at the hands of Cheltenham the games have lacked passion, commitment and pride (Woking excepted). Cheltenham may have ended up worthy Conference winners but Diamonds handed them the title by giving up too easily. Passionless games against Yeovil, and Kingstonian have given Diamonds the hard task of trying to finish higher this season than last seasons fourth place. On the evidence of today’s game it looks unlikely that Diamonds will get another win from the remaining two games.

The first half was a very even affair, though marred by some bad tackles from De Souza and Cooper. That being said Hereford did a great impersonation of Kettering Town by falling all over the place like powder puffs. Neither side really impressed though, Unders looked sharp on the wing and Collins seemed a bit more lively. It was at the back that we had a few problems, Tim Wooding getting skinned by the winger every time he ran at him, and Guy Branson not looking the commanding player that he was in the first few games of his return to Diamonds. Rodders looked strong at the back with Bradshaw and they coped with everything thrown at them. Macca, Coops and Butts worked hard in midfield and it was no surprise when Coops put Diamonds in front just before half time.

BT brought Heggs on for De Souza for the second half but Diamonds seemed to lack any invention, or commitment to try and increase their advantage. It was Hereford who dominated the next 35 minutes. They were more skillful, ran off the ball better, were quicker, to be honest were better in every department. It was not long before Diamonds meekly surrendered their lead to three superbly taken goals. It was only when the third went in that Diamonds came to life. In the last ten minutes Diamonds got a goal back through Collins and from then on all of the pressure came from Diamonds but the equaliser never came, and to be honest would not really have been deserved.

The team appear to have given up for this season and are going through the motions.  Yeovil and Hayes have character in their side that is desperately lacking in the Diamonds side, a few players excepted. Each season when we have a slip up we give up the chase! The supporters around me were of the same opinion that we look unlikely to win either of our remaining games, and will more than likely finish worse than last season in fifth place. A successful season – I think not! Brian stated while being interviewed after the game that he now has a clear idea in his mind which players will be leaving in the summer. On today’s second half performance I think the list could be extensive. That being the case where do we look to for next season – another rebuilding season? I hope not because as each season goes by it will become increasingly difficult to get out of the Conference. I still think we have the nucleus of a good team, but we must look to have Transit and Mison playing next season. Razor will also shore the defence up even more – Guy Branson has not delivered the goods but will probably not want to stay in the Conference anyway even if we did attempt to secure his services. As for Heggsy, I would imagine he has a get-out clause to his contract if Diamonds were not to be promoted so he may well depart. I think we all have opinions on who Brian will move on this summer, but the interest will be on who he can persuade to join Diamonds, and finishing fifth will not encourage to many players to move to Nene Park.

Having said all that they are our team so I am sure they will get maximum support in their last two games of the season – lets hope they respond in the proper way.

Ps BT has called all the players in for training tomorrow such was his dis-pleasure at the performance. Maybe he should show them all a picture of Max’s face and expression when the third Bulls goal went in.

Rushden & Diamonds 0 Kingstonian 0

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

20th April 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 1818)

Rushden Team: Collett, Heggs, Branson, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Brady, McElhatton, Butterworth, Collins, West, Underwood.

Subs: De Souza, Wooding, Berry.

Webmasters MoM: McElhatton

Match Report:

Another pretty dire performance from Diamonds, in a game which they started so brightly and finished reasonably well. But what came in between was easily forgettable. This was a game that turned quickly into a match where neither team had much inclination to win, though the K’s could have the excuse that they had only last week played three games against promotion certs Cheltenham Town. For Diamonds all that was at stake was a bit of pride, but the fans who turned out were let down by yet another passionless performance from some, not all, players.

The first fifteen minutes Diamonds looked very sharp, Heggsy had three good chances but squandered them, and WEsty had a great opportunity but the keeper saved. West got injured in the process and De Souza replaced him. From here on in Diamonds seemed to lose all shape and all idea. Passes went astray from both sides, even the normally reliable Bradshaw seemed to want to take the ball too far too often, getting caught in possession. The forwards had no idea at all and I don’t think Collins touched the ball more than a few times all of the first half. The crosses from Unders and Skippy constantly fell to the keeper or in to empty space. The half time whistle could not come quick enough for fans or players.

Unfortunately the second half turned out worse than the first. Diamonds lacked inventiveness and heart, other than Macca, Butts and Bradshaw. Guy Branson made some telling blocks late on and always tried, but some players should think very hard before picking up their wages this week. Some of the passing was embarrassing, and it seems strange with passing going so poorly for a few players that Steve Berry was again left sitting on the bench. with ten minutes to go Diamonds decided to have a crack, and a header from Collins was saved on the line, a header from Rodwell tipped over the bar, and a scorcher from De Souza soared past the upright.

It does seem as though Cheltenham will now get the title with no fight from Diamonds. I still think they will drop points against Yeovil, Hayes, Northwich and Welling (if they need points to avoid the drop) so it seems a shame that Diamonds gave up the fight after the draw at Woking. But then we did the same last season after the Halifax game. One can argue that the system of one-up causes these non descript end of season games, but there were nearly two thousand fans tonight, and over two thousand last week against Yeovil who deserve better than what they are currently receiving. Hopefully some of the passion that Brads and Macca have will rub off for next season on some of the other players.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Yeovil Town 2

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

13th April 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2367)

Rushden Team: Smith, Heggs, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Branson, Brady, McElhatton, Cooper, De Souza, West, Underwood.

Subs: Wooding, Whyte, Berry.

Diamonds Scorer: West

Webmasters MoM: West

Match Report:

Well done Yeovil. Well done Yeovil Supporters.

Nothing really positive to say about this game from a Diamonds perspective. Little urgency, which was surprising with the rewards at stake. Hard working performances from West and DE Souza upfront without any real penetration. A good first twenty minutes and chances to go into a lead, all missed. Two chances though that fell to Yeovil were well taken and from then on Diamonds were struggling to get back into the game. In the second half Diamonds had nearly all of the possession, but it was only in the last five minutes that they exerted any pressure in the box, resulting in a well taken goal for West and a goal disallowed for a supposed foul on the keeper. It does however seem a sorry state of affairs when we have to bring Chris Whyte on as a forward when we have a squad of 25+ players! See you next season Yeovil!

Woking 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

5th April 1999 – Kingfield Stadium (Attendance: 2808)

Rushden Team: Smith, Berry, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Branson, Brady, McElhatton, Cooper, De Souza, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: Wooding, Heggs, Foster.

Diamonds Scorer: Foster

Webmasters MoM: McElhatton

Match Report:

Coming to Kingsfield is always a hard game for Diamonds. Coming on the back of such a disappointing result two days previously at the hands of Cheltenham was going to be a real test of the character of this Diamonds team. Remembering back to last season when we travelled to Halifax and got well beaten, the Championship gone, the lads last season lost interest. Although this Championship still has twists and turns to run, it was going to be interesting to whether this current squad has the character and commitment to bounce back. Today they showed that they have, and all is not lost!

Diamonds played well in the first half, showing more commitment and determination than Woking. Darren Hay looked a handful for Rodders and Bradshaw but he was stopped by fair or foul means from causing two much trouble early on. There were not too many chances early on, and crosses from both sides left a lot to be desired. But it was Diamonds who were taking the initiative. Shots from Cooper from 25yards and then Collins from 6 yards rocketed off the crossbar and were cleared to safety with no Diamonds players following in. But the main talking point of the half happened 5 minutes from the break. Guy Branson hustled his way into the box, the keeper came to meet him, the shot came and the ball bounced into the goal before being hooked out by a Woking defender. The ball was at least 2ft over the line, but the linesman who was not up with play kept his flag down and the referee waved play on. I am told that the television crew there confirmed the ball was well over the line. Diamonds run of bad luck continues, especially as within two minutes of the incident, and with Diamonds still fuming over the decision, Woking broke upfield and a great shot hard and low beat Smith. Diamonds went into the break 1-0 down when they could so easily have been 3-1 up.

The second half was a much more equal affair. With Diamonds having to push further forward at every opportunity space was left at the back and Woking played a greater part in the game. BT decided it was make or break, and took Branson, Berry and Brady off and brought on Fossy, Wooding and Heggs. From here on in all the pressure came from Diamonds. Fossy grabbed the all important equaliser and the team pushed forward looking for the winner, but unfortunately chances created for Rodders and Migs were squandered. When the final whistle went Diamonds could feel justifiably bitter at the twists of fate that are hampering their push for promotion.

The big plus from this result must be the character shown by the team today. They worked so hard, especially Macca and Coops in midfield. The central defence rarely looked in too much trouble, maybe the only thing letting them down still is the quality of ball into the box, and the lack of control in first touch from the men upfront. Diamonds have not yet given up on the title and will push Cheltenham all the way and wait for them to slip up.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Cheltenham Town 2

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

3rd April 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 6317)

Rushden Team: Smith, Heggs, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Branson, Wooding, McElhatton, Cooper, De Souza, Collins, Underwood.

Subs: West, Berry, Hamsher.

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza

Webmasters MoM: Cooper

Match Report:

Lack of concentration in the final two minutes lost Diamonds all three points where for 88 minutes they had looked reasonably comfortable.

The first half belonged to Diamonds. They took the lead mid-way into the first half when De Souza found himself in space in the box and he buried the ball past the keeper. Diamonds had looked composed at the back, strong in midfield, but unfortunately lacking up front despite a lot of running from Collins and De Souza. Cheltenham looked the opposite – a bit shaky at the back but with Grayson and Bailey prepared to run at the Diamonds defence there were always going to be a couple of chances, it was just a matter of who would take whatever came their way. Collins found himself being booked for one of those infamous tackles – clumsy and needless, but if you take that competitiveness out of his game he loses an edge. However the booking early on meant that he had to be careful and his game suffered as a result. In the first half Unders and Wooding put some good crosses into the box but rarely found a Diamonds player on the end of them. Heggs showed skill but again his final shot was poor, but he worked hard. Brads, Rodders and Pickle dominated the Central areas and rarely looked in trouble, but the second half proved different.

The second half opened similarly to the first but Cotterill soon saw that he would need to change it around if they were going to get anything from the game. He made three substitutions and gradually Cheltenham started to peg Diamonds back in their own half. Diamonds still looked dangerous on the break and Heggs missed three opportunities to get shots on target when running into the box. Crosses into the area went begging, flying across the goal un-hindered. Grayson came more and more into the game, some of it for the wrong reasons, and Cheltenham were suddenly in the ascendancy. Then in two mad minutes at the end of the game, slack play from Diamonds let in Cheltenham to steal all three points. No-one would have begrudged Cheltenham a draw, there second half performance warranted it. But taking advantage of “supposed” fouls and free kicks given around the box, was a bitter blow for Diamonds to take. Whatever the circumstances, the goals were well taken.

But Diamonds played well for 88 minutes, it was a very hard game, with too many bookings. It was never a dirty game which the number of booking would reflect. So the advantage now goes over to Cheltenham and Diamonds have it all to do. But we wont give up while its still possible to go up. Both teams still have some tricky games ahead and there are still points to be won and lost. Cheltenham still have to go to Hayes and Northwich, both games likely to be very hard, and Diamonds must bounce back positively at Woking on Monday. The fact is though that Cheltenham have done well to take all six points from Diamonds this season, but it is not over yet!

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