Rushden & Diamonds 1 Kettering Town 2

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

1st May 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 4700)

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

Subs: Wooding, Berry, Ndekwe.

Diamonds Scorers: McElhatton

Webmasters MoM: Bradshaw

Match Report:

With second place in the Conference the possible prize for the winner, this was always going to be a hard fought affair that had to be more open than the last dour encounter at Rockingham Road. And so it proved.

Diamonds for most of the game were far superior to Kettering, especially at the back and midfield. It was upfront and on the wings where we suffered and let Kettering get the better of us. The first half belonged to Diamonds as we played some great football, being rewarded by a superb goal from Macca, 20 yards at least out. The passing looked neat and quick and the crosses in to Collins and De Souza were very good. But once again those few chances that we had were squandered. Kettering hit back right on half time. Underwood headed out a ball for a corner which he could have easily cleared for a throw. The resulting corner was superb and was glanced in to the net. A superbly taken goal but woeful defending really! Diamonds then went in at half time level when they should have been taking a lead into the second half.

It was Kettering who started the second half the better of the two sides, hustling Diamonds at every opportunity. The second goal of Ketterings was however a travesty of justice. So often we had seen Kettering tactics of going in for a challenge with the elbow in the face go un-answered and unseen by the referee. On this occasion a deliberate elbow in the face left Underwood sprawling on the floor. AS Diamonds appealed the referee waved play on only for a speculative shot from 30 yards, not hard, catch Collett out of position and roll into the net. OK I leave myself open for the “blame the referee when you lose” brigade to write in. But too often this season we have seen such appalling Officials and their decisions or lack of them. Its interesting that the F.A.s Official watching the Referee and his linesmen refused to go down and see the Officials after the game, commenting that he thought they had a bad game! From that point on Diamonds huffed and puffed but it was left to the midfielders, Butts and Macca to come closest to getting Diamonds the equaliser that they deserved.

It did not come and Kettering won the game. The front men of Kettering played well enough, better than our front two. Their tactics were dubious to say the least but you have to expect that of the Poppies and be able to raise your footballing game to over come it. We are simply not good enough – yet! We have the nucleus of a very good team but it needs three or four new players, and the introduction of a few faces who are currently either out of favour or injured. The Championship was not lost against Cheltenham, or the runners-up spot lost today, they were lost against Northwich, Telford, Doncaster, Yeovil, and other home games where we dropped mega points – most games when we were actually at one point leading. We need to get a few more players with fire in their bellies like Brads and Macca.  We desperately need strikers who can perform consistently well. We need Transit in midfield – he is being wasted in the reserves and past differences and personality conflicts must be put aside.

Personally, after the disappointment of the Cheltenham game this defeat just does not compare, and pales into insignificance. I am happy to have got it out of the way against Kettering when it means so little other than a bit of personal pride. Rather today than next season when there could be more at stake. Let the Poppies rejoice in their moment of glory, no-one remembers second place or fifth place once the dust settles. We have learnt a lot from this seasons campaign and will move on from here in our quest for the Third Division, unfortunately for the Poppies now there is only one way to go – down

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