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.

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