Hereford United 4 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

28th September 1999 – Edgar Street (Attendance 1724)

Rushden Team : Turley, Brady, Wooding, Peters, Warburton, Butterworth, McElhatton, De Souza, Mison, Collins, Underwood. Substitutes Rodwell, Cooper, Smith, Heggs.

Webmasters MoM: Paul Underwood

Diamonds came to Edgar Street knowing that a win would take them top of the table for the first time this season. Unfortunately it was not to be, as Hereford inflicted Diamonds worst defeat since losing at home to Gateshead three seasons ago by the same score. The scoreline would indicate that Diamonds were played off the park – this was certainly not the case.

Diamonds pushed the self destruct button as early as the second minute, in a fashion similar to Hednesford last Saturday. This time a corner from the Hereford left , deep into the area, found a Bulls player who had lost his marker and his header was clinically placed past the keeper. Diamonds took a while to settle down after this shock, and for the next ten minutes created no real chance of their own to level the scores. In fact on 10 minutes Razor lost his footing on the slippery surface and it was only a good save by Turley that kept the deficit to just one goal. On 13 minutes Diamonds had their first chance, albeit a half chance. A flick by Macca from an Unders cross was saved by the keeper at his near post. Diamonds first real chance came on 17 minutes as they started to play the ball about and put pressure on the Hereford defence. Underwood crossed deep into the box, the keeper fumbled and though the ball fell to Mison, he was just unable to stretch and make a clean contact and the ball ended up going the wrong side of the post.

Then came one of Diamonds best moments of the game, Collins found himself through but while cutting back across the box he was tripped. Up stepped Unders to curl a beautiful free kick round the wall, and with the keeper beaten the ball bounced off the inside of the post and spun across the face of the goal and clear. Hereford had a half chance themselves on 33 minutes when a poor clearance from the Diamonds defence fell to a Bulls player on the edge of the box but he blasted high and wide. Then on 38 minutes Mison picked up a loose ball on the edge of the Bulls box, dribbled into the area, past four players, got the ball to the bye-line and cut it back to Collins in at the near post but he stabbed the ball agonisingly just past the upright. A glorious chance wasted. Turley was called upon on 45 minutes to tip a cross/shot from wide on the left over his crossbar to give Diamonds some hope going in to half time to pull back the goal.

The second half started in a continuing vein, Diamonds pushing forward for the equalizer but looking suspect to Hereford hitting on the break. On 55 minutes Turley again made a save tipping a rasping header over the bar for a corner.On 59 minutes Razor was booked for kicking the ball away having a free-kick given against him. Then in a ten minute spell it all turned sour for Diamonds. On 60 minutes another cross into the box saw a lone striker rise un-challenged for Herefords second, another well executed goal but terribly slack marking. Macca had a chance to claw a goal back almost immediately but his shot was deflected for a corner when it looked certain to be in the net.

Then on 63 minutes a long ball over the top found both Razor and Rhino chasing back to clear from a chasing Bulls forward. Rhinos header back to Turley was not strong enough, and the forward intercepted and put a sweet ball past the outrushing Turley for Herefords third. Brady was then booked on 65 minutes as Diamonds stepped up the pace but the match was already lost. Brian Talbot brought Heggs and Hamsher on for Collins and Butterworth on 65 minutes, but just 3 minutes later Hereford made it four, terrible defending again and another beautifully taken Hereford goal, flicked over the advancing Turley who stood no chance with his defence floundering in front of him.

If anything good can come out of a game such as this it was the fact that at no time did this team lay down and roll over. Even after the fourth goal they continued to play the ball about, pushing forward, urged on by the still singing Diamonds supporters behind the goal. On 73 minutes Hamsher shot over just getting on the end of a Brady cross, and two minutes later good work by Heggs out on the right gave De Souza a chance in the box but his shot was blocked. On 75 minutes Cooper replaced McElhatton. Still the half chances came Diamonds way, Mison having a header saved on 81 minutes, and on 83 minutes a goalmouth scramble in the Hereford box but the bobbling ball would just not fall kindly to a Diamonds player. Diamonds had a shot cleared off the line by a Hereford defender on 85 minutes – the ball was just not running for Diamonds tonight. Then right at the death Turley made another great save to keep the score at 0-4.

So the scoreline not really reflecting the game. Hereford without doubt the better team on the night, they took their chances superbly well, and capitalized on Diamonds defensive slip-ups. Diamonds on the other hand had chances, and had they gone in all square at half time maybe it would have been a different game. Underwood worked tirelessly and was the most skilful player out on the pitch tonight. De Souza worked his socks off and put in another workmanlike performance and was very quick. The defence seemed to lack pace tonight, but with the ball zipping about on the slippery surface that was highlighted with all four goals coming from defensive slip-ups. Turley in goal kept the scoreline down with some superb saves, having no chance with at least three of the goals. Mison upfront worked tirelessly and showed great skill in patches, and held up the ball superbly well. But the Collins runs, turning the defence, running at them, were not there tonight – and we must take chances when they come. I am sure that over the next few days in training the lads will be working on their set-pieces, but if we bounce back on Saturday at Altrincham I am sure that six points from these three away games will still be a handy total to take into October. What we need is to get some consistency in our performances and get a small run going. It will come and lets hope it starts next Saturday.

Hednesford Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

25th September 1999 – Keys Park (Attendance: 1608)

Rushden Team: Turley, Brady, Rodwell, Peters, Warburton, Butterworth, McElhatton, De Souza, Mison, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes: Cramman, Wooding, Smith, Heggs, Cooper.

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza 49 minutes and Peters 90 minutes.

Webmasters MoM: Miquel De Souza

Fifth placed Diamonds came to fourth placed Hednesford today with both teams requiring a win to keep in touch at the top of the table. For Diamonds this was the first in a week of three away games. Brian Talbot stayed true to his word and started with the same attacking 3-4-3 formation that had entertained so well against Southport last weekend. But he did bring Carl Heggs back into the squad, albeit starting on the bench this afternoon.

Diamonds could not have got off to a worse start. They went behind after only two minutes. A mix up in the defence, the ball not cleared effectively by defence or keeper, and Robinson was first to react to a rebound to stab the ball home, in at the far post. Diamonds though almost hit back immediately, both De Souza and Collins having a chance to get to the ball in a similar scramble, De Souza outstretched to get there first saw his shot cleared off the line, but was adjudged to have fouled the keeper anyway and a free kick was given. So the first half had got off to a frantic start, with both teams showing their intent on playing attacking football. Despite Diamonds pressure to hit back it was Hednesford who nearly increased their lead on fifteen minutes, hitting the post from the edge of the box. Paul Underwood had a good right footed shot, but unfortunately hit it straight at the keeper, and on 26 minutes Darren Collins intercepted a poor back pass , reading the play superbly, he managed to get a toe to the ball but his shot was smothered by keeper Jon Brady had a chance to test the keeper on 29 minutes from a free kick but unfortunately his shot went straight over the bar. On thirty six minutes Diamonds had a penalty claim turned away by the referee, McElhatton brought clumsily down to the floor in the area, but the referee waved away Diamonds claims. This should take nothing away from the Officials today who were excellent in their interpretation of the game compared to recent performances that have been witnessed at Conference level. In fact the only yellow card was shown to a Hednesford player for a foul on Darren Collins down by the touchline. The first half then slipped away, with Diamonds trying to claw their way back into a level position.

Diamonds came out in the second half raring to go, and determined to pull back the deficit.  Brian Talbot made just the one change at half time bringing on Tim Wooding for Jim Rodwell. Hednesford almost increased their lead straight from the whistle, Turley found himself in a one on one situation but made a superb save, staying on his feet and smothering and then spreading himself well – deflecting the shot with his legs – to keep Diamonds in the game. On 49 minutes a great cross into the box by Jon Brady found De Souza who headed past the keeper to bring the scores level. This was just desserts for De Souza who only a minute earlier had a header blocked on the line from a corner.  On 53 minutes Mison came close with an un-marked header, just failing to score from an Underwood cross from the left. Then there was another appeal for a penalty as Mison tumbled in the box, but not given. Hednesford continued to put up stern opposition and on 69 minutes they again hit the post, the ball rebounding out and Turley making the save to keep the scores level. Another save by Turley to keep Diamonds in the game. The second substitution for Diamonds came on 70 minutes, when Carl Heggs came on to replace Michael Mison.  Mison had had a great game and offered a great physical and an aerial ability. Carl Heggs was to offer a more mobile and more intricate passing style of play. Heggs put a header just past the post on 77 minutes, connecting to a Paul Underwood cross, and then three minutes later shot into the hands of the keeper with the goal beckoning. All the pressure now came from Diamonds, looking for the elusive winner. Collins had a shot saved on 82 minutes, a volley on the turn, and then two minutes later he passed to Heggs only for the keeper to again make a great save. Then in injury time the Diamonds supporters were sent in to ecstasy when in a goalmouth scramble, the Hednesford keeper dropped the ball and Mark Peters tucked the ball away to score a late winner to give Diamonds all three points. There seems some confusion as to how it was actually scored, but none of the travelling supporters cared how!

With other results going Diamonds way today this puts Diamonds in a great position, and they can now move into their second away game of the week next Tuesday at Hereford full of confidence where a win will take Diamonds to the top of the table for the first time this season. This result should not be under-estimated, it was a big win, and hopefully one that will springboard the Diamonds title challenge. Congratulations to all concerned today for a great performance.

Rushden & Diamonds 4 Southport 2

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

18th September 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance 2690)

Rushden Team : Turley, Brady, Rodwell, Peters, Warburton, Butterworth, McElhatton, De Souza, Mison, Collins, Underwood. Substitutes Cramman, Wooding, Smith, Mills, Town.

Southport Team: Dickinson, Clark, Formby, Guyett, Bolland, Ryan, Elam, Gouck, Arnold. Woods, Stuart.

Diamonds Scorers: McElhatton 8, 59 minutes, Peters 51 mins, Collins 19 mins (Pen)

Webmasters MoM: Jon Brady

Diamonds desperately required a win today to keep in touch at the top of the table. After a performance of grit and determination against the Poppies last Tuesday, that sort of display had to be carried over to our home form after the disappointment of the Woking game. The final result turned out well for Diamonds but it was a nerve racking first half that we saw.

A sign of things to come was that in the first two minutes there were two balls booted outside of the ground. Things could have started disastrously for Diamonds when on 3 minutes indecision in the Diamonds defence resulted in Rhino Peters having to clear off his line with a despairing lunge, the ball almost crossing the line but no Southport player being able to get to it to touch it over. Gradually Diamonds seemed to settle and Collins had a header saved by the keeper on 5 minutes. Just a minute later Diamonds were awarded a free kick just outside the area, but intricate play totally confused our own players at the kick and a shot on goal was wasted. Then on 8 minutes up popped “Super Mac” to blast home his sixth goal of the season from 20 yards high into the roof of the net when the ball was not cleared properly by the Southport defence.

On 12 minutes Southport almost equalized as a cross into the box from a free kick was left by Turley for his defenders, left by his defenders for the keeper, and the Southport striker rose unchallenged and missed a free header. On 13 minutes Butts got booked for a tackle from behind, and this started a farce of bookings by the referee – some ridiculous decisions. On 17 minutes Southport drew level. They had always looked dangerous from free kicks , corners and crosses into the heart of the Diamonds penalty area. The usually resolute defence looked jittery, and from a corner a Southport striker rose higher than any marker and planted a superb header over Turley and into the net.

Diamonds almost hit back immediately but a Mison header, in a lot of space, landed weakly at the keepers feet. On 19 minutes though Diamonds regained the lead, the referee adjudging a push in the back of Mison in the box and Collins tucking the resultant penalty away with ease. But Southport again levelled the score on 24 minutes when this time it was Rodwell seen as the bad boy, tripping Arnold in the box and the player experienced enough to do a swallow dive with magnificent grace to earn a penalty. The penalty was superbly taken and Southport were level again.

On 27 minutes Collins was booked for one of his usual sliding challenges. Warburton was then booked on 30 minutes for handball, and then on 32 minutes Mison was booked for an innocuous tackle way out by the corner flag. Diamonds had a chance to regain the lead on 38 minutes after great work by Mison, Brady flicking De Souza through only for the striker to mishit under pressure. Diamonds had a great chance on 41 minutes when a brilliant cross into the box saw Collins and Mison both rising to get in a header – unfortunately for both the keeper flapped the ball away to safety. Then right on half time a Butterworth shot had the keeper rocking back on his goal-line, he looked to have carried it over but the referee waved play on much to the annoyance of fans down that end. Then right at the death, in time added on, De Souza rose to loop a header over the keeper, but unfortunately just over the crossbar as well. So the first half ended level but Diamonds seemed frightened to play the ball on the ground, the defence looked shaky at times, and chances were not being taken upfront.

The second half had hardly started before De Souza found himself in the referee’s book. On 51 minutes Darren Collins found himself free just five yards out, the defenders looked for offside, but Daz fired hard but straight at the keeper who held on cleanly. On 52 minutes Diamonds regained the lead, a corner from Brady and Peters rose high above his marker and his downward header flew in to the net. In the next few minutes both Collins and Brady had chances to increase the lead, but Diamonds were sop dominant that chances were bound to come.

On 59 minutes Brady put in another great cross, the ball was half cleared but only as far as Macca who headed back the ball past the keeper and into the net. For a five minute spell then Southport exercised a bit of pressure, pushing Diamonds back, but the fourth goal gave Diamonds the confidence to start playing the ball about on the grass as we know they can. No hit and rush just neat clinical passing and quick breaks out of defence.

On 79 minutes Mison had a header saved by the keeper, once again from a super Jon Brady cross, deep into the area. On 81 minutes Town came on for Mison who received a rapturous applause from the fans as he left the pitch. Jim Rodwell had a header go inches wide on 87 minutes but poor David Town had a rocket shot turned away by the keeper for a corner on 87 minutes, with the crowd willing the ball into the net. Diamonds then played out the game for the remaining minutes and picked up the three points for a good second half performance that must give them great confidence for the next three away games coming up.

So a nervy performance in the first half, loads of bookings – Southport had just as many booked as Diamonds – but a much improved second half. The Diamonds back three were rarely troubled in the second half. Butts and Macca were as usual superb, Unders and Braids put in some quality ball for the front three, who themselves worked tirelessly throughout the game. Daz still looks not to be 100% but Miquel had another good game and Mison worked his socks off and caused no end of problems, in particular bearing down on the keeper. Lets hope we can now put a run together and pick up some points on our travels over the next two weeks, though Altrincham, Hereford and Hednesford are all going to be tough games.

Kettering Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

14th September 1999 – Rockingham Road (Attendance 3744)

Rushden Team : Turley, Brady, Rodwell, Peters, Warburton, Cooper, Butterworth, McElhatton, De Souza, Mison, Underwood. Substitutes Sale, Wooding, Smith, Mills, Town.

Diamonds Scorer: De Souza 7 minutes

Webmasters MoM: Gary Butterworth

Diamonds needed to bounce back quickly from their weekend defeat, and keep the pressure on the chasing pack at the top of the table, and a game at Rockingham Road is always going to be difficult. Tonight was no exception. Conditions were poor – rain making the pitch very slippery – so tackling was going to be difficult, and defending a nightmare.

Diamonds had a dream start, seeing through the early Poppies pressure, and then taking the lead themselves after only seven minutes. A great ball in from Brady, Mison rose and got in a great header that hit the post. The ball rebounded out to De Souza who steered it home under no pressure. Just two minutes later McElhatton had a half chance, after great work again from Mison created space, but he shot wide of the goal. Diamonds had their first scare, yet another self inflicted, when a speculative shot from 25 yards, albeit low , caught out Turley and the ball slipped through his hand just the right side of the post as far as Diamonds were concerned.

Diamonds picked up their first booking on 17 minutes, with Peters going into the book for a body check. Mison had a half chance on 19 minutes but the keeper was quick out of his area to clear the danger with Mison bearing down on him. De Souza also had a chance to increase Diamonds lead just minutes later but shot wide of the goal. Kettering now started to push forward more, without causing the Diamonds defence too much trouble, and had De Souza not got in the way of a Macca strike, the ball hitting his back, Diamonds could have increased their lead.

Then luck ran out for Diamonds, Brady booked for a trip, the ball pumped into the Diamonds area, and there is stayed for what seemed ages – bobbling around, unable to be cleanly cleared, and the next thing the referee blows for a penalty. I could not see what it was for, though some Kettering fans suggested they thought the referee signalled a handball. Anyway the resultant shot was tucked under Turley and Kettering were level. Both teams then seemed to shut up shop for the half, not wanting to give away another goal, and apart from De Souza being booked the half ground to a halt.

Within second of the second half starting Mison went into the book for a tackle from behind. Kettering had also had players booked, but this was not a dirty game more the conditions contributing to some late tackles on both sides – Kettering also having I believe three players booked in the game. De Souza had another half chance just six minutes into the half but the referee adjudged him to have pushed so stopped play with De Souza just about to shoot on goal. A lot of Diamonds brightest play was originating from Brady and Underwoods work on the flanks. Too often the ball out from midfield and defence was overhit in the conditions, running through directly to the keeper.

On 12 minutes Sollitt in goal pulled of a magnificent reflex save to deny De Souza a superb header, and just minutes later a quick clearance by Turley, to De Souza, flicked on to the overlapping Macca, whose shot unfortunately buried itself in the side netting. Kettering Towns first shot of the second half did not come until 23 minutes in to the half, putting Turley under little pressure. Butterworth crashed one of his specials high and wide after 70 minutes and from this point on the game started to fizzle out with the midfield tussle taking over again. Then right at the death, Diamonds almost sneaked the deserved three points when Rodwell rose majestically above his markers to head goalwards, only to see his header cannon off the crossbar, and the rebound was hastily cleared by the Poppies defence.

So not all three points that we would have wished, but a much better performance from Diamonds. With lady luck not with us at the moment the ball is not going into the net as often as we would like. The front men still obviously need sorting out, and I am sure this will be Brian Talbot’s priority in training. Diamonds now move on to a home game on Saturday against Southport, and hopefully three points in Brian Talbots quest for 28 points from the first third of the season. The team are going to have to get a winning run together now, so lets hope we start on Saturday before a run of difficult away games at Hednesford, Hereford, and Altrincham.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Woking 3

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

11th September 1999 – Nene Park

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

Woking Team : Flahavan, Wilkinson, Hollingdale, West, Smith, Danzey, Perkins, Gridelet, Akrour, Hay, Steele.

Diamonds Scorers: Peters 66 minutes

Webmasters MoM: Ray Warburton

Diamonds surrendered their unbeaten home record today at Nene Park thanks to an excellent second half performance from the Cards. But it could have been a different story had half chances that fell to the Diamonds been taken.

Diamonds had their first chance after seven minutes with Darren Collins hitting just wide of the post after good work from Cooper to create the chance. Woking then were denied on ten minutes by a fingertip save from Billy Turley, the shot coming from a well taken free kick from about 25 yards out. Diamonds were having a lot of the ball in midfield but failing to deliver the clinical pass in to the front men. On 12 minutes there was a scramble by the Woking defence to clear the ball from the edge of the penalty area, the loose ball fell to Butterworth whose shot was charged down, and McElhatton blasted the resulting rebound high and wide. Woking were giving notice of their intentions by Akrour and Hay causing concerns every time they had the ball, Akrour in particular pulling the Diamonds defence all over the park.

On 16 minutes Hay got clear of his marker only to be beaten by Turley, quickly out of his area, heading the ball to safety. Diamonds then raced away upfield, Collins put in a wicked cross to the far side of the box and the incoming Brady hit hard and low but saw his shot go just wide of the keeper and unfortunately the post. Woking continued to cause a threat down the left, and on 24 minutes Warburton was skinned but the resulting cross was unable to be met by the incoming Hay and the ball was cleared. Then on 26 minutes Diamonds came closest to scoring. A free kick touched by Cooper to Brady and tee-ed up to Unders whose beautifully placed shot just hit the wrong side of the post and rebounded away to safety.

On 34 minutes a Sale flick on found Collins, but under pressure from a defender he was unable to finish. The last ten minutes of the half were a lot of huffing and puffing with neither team gaining any initiative, so with chances at either end maybe a 0-0 was a fair end to the first half.

The first chance of the second half fell to Woking and it required a great clearance header from Razor to keep the scores level. On 51 minutes Paul Underwood picked up a booking for a late tackle, but though this was a traditionally hard encounter it was never dirty. On 55 minutes the Woking keeper made a great save from Collins after a bit of a scramble in the goalmouth, and Mark Sale was booked in the incident for a touch of pushing.

Then things started to go wrong for Diamonds. On 64 minutes Mark Sale gave away a free kick on the edge of his own box. The free kick was played deep to the far post, up rose Danzey and it was 1-0 to Woking. But it only took Diamonds two minutes to equalize as Mark Peters scrambled the ball into the net through a ruck of players. Unfortunately though the joy was very short lived and Woking regained the lead after a poor defensive display from Diamonds, failing to clear the ball and Woking took full advantage of the hesitancy.

From here on in Woking bossed the game, and Diamonds had a lot of trouble getting possession of the ball . Brian Talbot made substitutions, bringing Brady off and De Souza on, Westy came on for Mark Sale, and Millsy came on for Coops. With Diamonds pushing forward Woking killed off the game with a third goal, excellent build up and superbly executed. They were quick and neat and finished clinically. Macca almost made the score a bit more respectable on 88 minutes with a header than just ran agonisingly just past the post, and then got himself booked at the death for a trip on a Woking player. So a bad result today for Diamonds, but still only five points behind Boro and everything to play for.

This result is going to hit the pride of many Diamonds players, I would not fancy being in Kettering’s shoes on Tuesday when they fight back from this disappointment.

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Hayes 0

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

7th September 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance 2432)

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

Diamonds Scorers: Peters 18 minutes

Webmasters MoM: Ray Warburton

Injury to Darren Bradshaw, with ankle tendon problems, meant that Brian Talbot had to change his defensive line up tonight for the first time this season. Back into the team came Jim Rodwell, always an able deputy. Diamonds needed to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of last Saturday up at Northwich, so three points from this game in hand were the order of the day. They were achieved with a gritty, though sometimes less than pretty performance, against a hard battling Hayes team. Make no mistake, Hayes are always a tough, physical, well organised team so you have to compete in all departments. Diamonds achieved that tonight and the spoils were three valuable points that moved them up to fourth place in the league.

Hayes actually came closest to scoring in the opening minutes, a lob going over Turley but just wide of the far post. Cooper had a chance on 10 minutes after good work from Sale and Collins, but his shot was mis-hit and the danger cleared. Another chance just a couple of minutes later fell to Unders, but his hastily hit shot sailed high and wide. On 16 minutes a punch out from the keeper went straight to Brady, who hit the ball back into the box first time only to see Darren Collins steer the ball just wide of the target.

Then on 17 minutes came a superb Diamonds move. Great play from midfield found Sale on the edge of the box. With quick thinking he laid the ball sideways for the incoming Butterworth who brought out a great save from the Hayes keeper. But Hayes joy was short lived as Brady within seconds put a great cross into the box, and Peters rose to head down hard and low past the keeper. Diamonds were playing well at this stage, and further chances fell for Collins on 25 minutes – a shot over the bar, and Sale having the ball whipped from his boot when about to shoot on 38 minutes. But Hayes had their chances, the best on 41 minutes when hesitancy in the Diamonds defence almost gifted them an equalizer – the shot just going wide of the post. So half time Diamonds going in with a 1-0 lead and feeling comfortable.

On 50 minutes Diamonds actually had the ball in the Hayes net, a header from Mark Sale, but the referee awarded a free kick against Cooper for a foul on the keeper. On 54 minutes again a mix up in the defence almost gifted Hayes a goal, but the defenders managed to hastily make a clearance under enormous pressure from a goalmouth scramble. On 58 minutes Darren Collins hit a pearler, after great work from Macca, the ball flying inches wide of the upright. Jon Brady went into the book on 59 minutes for arguing.

The first thirty minutes of the second half Diamonds had a few chances, but were struggling to find a rhythm. Darren Collins and Mark Sale were working hard upfront but the service to the front men was lacking sparkle. Maybe the clinical cross park passes of Darren Bradshaw were missing, but the front men still worked tirelessly. Sale creates so many problems for defenders that it leaves space for Collins and the wing backs, but tonight the lay-offs and flick-ons did not seem to be coming off as well as in previous games. Maybe we should give some credit to Hayes, who marked him so tight that he was continually held and impeded in the close challenges. On 79 minutes Darren Collins found himself one on one with the keeper, but the keeper was brave and smothered knocking the ball out for a corner. On 88 minutes Tim Wooding came on for Jon Brady and in the last minutes Diamonds were put under extreme pressure as Hayes threw everything from set piece moves to grab the elusive equalizer – but Diamonds held firm.

Notable performances then from the back three in particular – Warburton, Peters and Rodwell, with Warburton outstanding and Rodwell doing everything that was asked of him. Butts , Macca and Coops ran the midfield, though Macca was unable to get himself forward as often as in previous games but he always gets you on the edge of your seat when he picks up the ball and runs at defenders – he has got the goal bug now! The crosses into the box did not seem so frequent tonight either, but the all important aspect was getting the three points and putting up a resolute performance. We played well at Northwich and came away with nothing, whilst tonight we played not up to our normal standard and took all three points. We can now look forward to Woking on Saturday at home and Kettering away on Tuesday. Two mouth-watering games and hopefully six points.

Northwich Victoria 2 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

4th September 1999 – Drill Field (Attendance 1231)

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

Diamonds Scorers: Collins 3rd Minute

Webmasters MoM: Mark Peters

Diamonds travelled to Northwich as one of only two unbeaten teams in the Conference, and but for some poor refereeing would have remained unbeaten, though maybe not victorious. This match turned on one moment in the 43rd minute – the sending off for a supposed foul by Mark Cooper. The video evidence proves different! But what about the rest of the game.

Diamonds got off to a dream start, taking the lead after only three minutes when Darren Collins got on the end of a Mark Sale knock down, and tucked the ball past the keeper. Diamonds looked dangerous at every set piece, Mark Sale a constant threat to the Vics defence. In the early stages the Vics actually played the ball quite well in midfield, but the ball into the final third was poor – the Diamonds defence never really troubled. But the referee was yet another of the “whistle happy” type. Not just blowing up for the slightest foul on a Diamonds player, but to the Vics as well. This was not a dirty game by any means but every couple of minutes, any slight contact and off went the whistle! Mark Cooper picked up his first booking in the 6th minute, a tackle that was possibly a bit clumsy, and probably he deserved his booking.

On 22 minutes Diamonds found themselves in a three on two situation, but a delayed pass and Cooper was adjudged offside when clear through. A couple of minutes later another half chance as a Sale flick on almost found Collins and Macca, but the ball bobbled difficultly and the chance was cleared by a defender. Then on 29 minutes Darren Collins had a great chance to increase Diamonds lead. A great free kick whipped in found the head of Darren Collins unmarked and unchallenged. He rose and headed downwards but unfortunately just the wrong side of the goal post. Diamonds seemed to be cruising, in no difficulty whatsoever.

The Vics supporters were giving their team stick and everything in the garden seemed rosy. Then up popped our friendly official, blowing up as Coops and a Vics player clashed. The video clearly shows both men jumping for the ball but Coops arms at his side. Had the referee , who first of all waved Coops away, then pulled him to the far side of the pitch for a word instead of towards the Vics dug-out, I am sure only a verbal talking to would have been the order of the day. But bowing to the wishes and shouts from the Vics bench, and supporters over by the touchline the referee appeared to change his stance and brought a yellow and then a red card. Coops was off, and Diamonds were down to ten. They played out the rest of the half, still looking in no trouble.

In the second half the Vics were inevitable going to push hard for the equalizer. But Diamonds again had a chance to increase their lead after just two minutes of the half as a cross from Brady fell to Mark Sale who chested it down but the ball just ran away from him three yards out. Just two minutes later Jon Brady had a half chance finding himself free on the right hand side of the box, but his shot finished just the wrong side of the post. Northwich pushed forward, particularly down the right, making their extra man count. Diamonds though were putting up a stern defence, and still looked solid, the back three in particular looked well able to cope.

The Vics had their first only real shot 11 minutes into the half, a shot blocked and then the rebound lobbed over Turley and over the goal. Seventeen minutes into the half and Mark Sale had a header go just agonysingly the wrong side of the post. Twenty five minutes into the half and with Mark Sale running out of steam Brian Talbot made a change and brough on David Town to add a bit more pace upfront. On 63 minutes Town picked up the ball just outside the box , ran at the defence and shot only to then see Macca free and in space to his right. Towners shot was saved by the keeper, and cleared upfield.

Thirty one minutes into the half the Vics equalized – Underwood receiving a small nudge in the back as he was about to head the ball towards touch, the ball was then squared back inch perfect for an incoming Vics player to slide the ball past Turley and into the net. Diamonds then held on looking good for a deserved point until one minute into the three extra added on by the fourth official. A clearance fell to a Vics player just outside the box. His attempted shot going well wide glanced off Razor straight to the feet of a man free inside the box and he took his chance well pushing the ball into the net past the despairing Turley. Agony for Diamonds then right at the death.

So Diamonds losing their unbeaten run but working extremely hard and they can consider themselves very unlucky to come away from such a hospitable ground empty handed. But I am sure that with other results going Diamonds way today that the team can bounce back in the right fashion and now look forward to the next two games, both at home, against Hayes and Woking next week.

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