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.

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