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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