Rushden & Diamonds 2 Welling United 0

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

30th August 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance 2805)

Rushden Team : Turley, Brady, Bradshaw, Peters, Warburton, Cooper, Butterworth, McElhatton, Collins, Sale, Underwood. Substitutes West, Wooding, Smith, Mills, Town.

Diamonds Scorers: McElhatton (2).

Webmasters MoM: Michael McElhatton

Diamond’s opponents today, Welling United, came to Nene Park on the back of a great win last Saturday against Hereford United, and would prove to be awkward opposition this afternoon. Brian Talbot had the luxury of being able to retain an un-changed team from that which had won so convincingly away at Sutton United last Saturday.

The first half was at times a bit of a dour affair, particularly the first 30 minutes. Caused in the main by the referee being a bit whistle happy, and not letting the game flow. Diamonds had quite a few chances to take the lead though in the first half, in fact there were three good chances that fell to Mark Sale, on 16 minutes, 24 minutes and 32 minutes, that were either saved by the keeper or mishit. The chance on 16 minutes saw a header from Mark Sale from close range, saved by the keeper. On twenty four minutes Cooper played a great ball into the box, and Sale found himself one on one with the keeper. He rounded the keeper and touched a shot goalwards, but it lacked enough power and the ball was cleared off the line. On 32 minutes Sale had a header saved well by the keeper. Diamonds started to play some great football, Underwood in particular putting in some great crosses into the box, but the Welling defence, aided by a lot of luck stayed firm and resolute. On 35 minutes Jon Brady found himself free on the far right of the box but he hurried his shot, shooting wide of the post, claiming a slight bobble just as he was about to shoot. On 37 minutes Bradshaw took a free kick, the ball fell nicely into the box for Cooper, whose shot was not hit too firmly but slipped just the wrong side of the upright. Sale had a further chance late on in the half as Cooper took another corner, the ball was flicked on by Peters to Sale who knocked the ball high and wide. The last few minutes of the half were frantic. Diamonds were unlucky when a penalty claim was rejected – Collins brought down in the area. Within seconds a long ball upfront found Hanlon for Welling bearing down on Turley with Bradshaw trailing in his wake, but somehow Bradshaw managed to get in a great block tackle and the ball span away and out of danger. The cheers from the supporters singing ” you’ll never beat the Bradshaw” had hardly died down when Diamonds again put the Welling defence in all sorts of bother, the ball bobbing around like a pinball machine, but just would not enter the net as each rebound was hit by a Diamonds player and blocked by a Welling defender. So half time came, Diamonds being held despite Turley not having a shot to save all of the first half.

The second half started similar to the first, a lot of petty fouls and a lot of referee’s whistle, interrupting the flow of the game. On 54 minutes Collins found himself clear on the right, but found no support and the chance came to nothing. On 57 minutes Sale made a great knock down to Collins. He slid the ball across to Underwood free on the left hand side of the box but his shot was hit hard but unfortunately straight at the keeper. On 68 minutes Cooper took a corner, the defender cleared the ball 25 yards out to Brady, lurking dangerously. His quick shot, hit like a bullet, was heading goalwards only for the keeper to make a great save pushing the ball over the bar. It was now time for McElhatton to stamp his authority on the game. He had threatened to get on the score sheet again on a few occasions, making marauding runs forward from midfield, and on 76 minutes after a goalmouth scramble he slid the ball past the keeper and into the net for Diamonds first. It was Macca who popped up again on 80 minutes, slotting a header, down and wide of the despairing keeper for Diamonds second. Diamonds were well in control and the game was won. A header on 85 minutes from Sale ended up just wide of the goal. Mark Sale was then replaced by Colin West and Gary Mills came on for Mark Cooper. Paul Underwood was sent racing clear on 90 minutes but was just beaten to the ball by the advancing keeper. In the final seconds of the game Colin West had a goal disallowed after it was adjudged that he pushed the defender in the back.

So another three points for Diamonds who now find themselves sitting in second place in the table. This was a hard working, never give up, Diamonds performance that we saw today. There was never any panic that the goal would not come, everyone knew their job and just kept plugging away. Billy Turley had little to do, the back three looked solid – Rhino and Razor were never beaten in the air, and Brads was magnificent, distributing some great ball to the flanks. The midfield is just awesome, Macca is a human dynamo, Butts challenged and won everything and Coops has a never say die attitude that will put the wind up any other opposing midfield player. Upfront Darren and Sale worked really hard in the heat. Sale sometimes looks clumsy, maybe should have done better with a few shots, but he causes defences so many problems that Darren Collins will always find space from the knock downs. While Macca and Coops also continue to push forward I can see goals coming this season from all sorts of people. We ground out a result today against a team who would have been overjoyed at a draw – their defence was packed. But it was broken down by playing good football, and this Diamonds team have the guile and the commitment to grind out many more of these hard fought games. Its interesting as well that we had fourteen shots to three from Welling, so maybe the scoreline flatters Welling a little!


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