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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