Altrincham 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

2nd October 1999 – Moss Lane (Attendance: 1114)

Rushden Team: Turley, Brady, Bradshaw, Peters, Warburton, Butterworth, McElhatton, Mills, Town, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes: Rodwell, Cooper, Bertocchi, Heggs, Cramman.

Altrincham Team: Coburn, Hodson, Adams, Timons, Talbot, Pickering, Gallagher, Trees, Russell, Power, Ellison.

Diamonds Scorers: Town 16 mins, Brady 37 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Paul Underwood

Diamonds continued on their travels, three away games in a week, with a difficult final game against Altrincham. This game even more difficult as it came on the back of a 0-4 result at Hereford just a few days earlier. Brian Talbot had injury problems so had to re-shuffle the team, back came Brads to replace Tim Wooding, in came David Town for Miquel De Souza, and in came 18 year old Gary Mills to replace Michael Mison. On the bench Michael Bertocchi was drafted in to replace Smudger who was also injured. Altrincham , like ourselves, were proving to be inconsistent in their performances and a below par performance today could move them into the bottom three should Diamonds take all three points.

Diamonds came out of the blocks very slow, neither side showing much at all in the first six or seven minutes. The pitch was extremely slippery, in fact the match was in doubt even at ten o’clock that morning. Diamonds first chance came on 8 minutes when a Paul Underwood cross into the box found Collins unmarked but he somehow failed to connect to the ball and the chance had gone. Diamonds though got to grips with the surface and then started to play the ball about. On ten minutes good work down the right between Macca and Collins saw a resulting cross deflected for a corner. The corner was placed deep into the box and the in-rushing Warburton had a free header which ended up wide of the goal. Alty had their first chance of the half on 15 minutes, a header in the box saved low down by Turley. The Alty keeper was having an awful game, not knowing whether to come out or stay back, catch or punch, he was all over the place, and on 16 minutes he was made to pay dearly. Diamonds were awarded a free kick way out on the left which Unders placed in the box. The ball was punched out by the keeper to Mills, twenty yards out. Thinking quickly he lobbed the ball back goalwards over the keeper. The keeper raced back and punched/flapped at the ball which fell invitingly to Town who buried the ball into the net. On 18 minutes Brady went into the referees book for a supposed late tackle, caused more by the conditions I think. On 21 minutes a shot by ex-Diamond Simeon Hodson was deflected over for a corner but Diamonds seemed to be well in control. Any trouble from Alty seemed to stem from the tall Ellison wide on the left. On 24 minutes Brady lifted a shot on goal high and wide from 30 yards, but at least it showed a willingness to have a “pot”. Brady seemed to be involved in everything at this point, putting a great cross in on 34 minutes that was flicked on and ended up just missing the far post. On 37 minutes Diamonds justifiably increased their lead. A free kick was awarded just on the “D”. Brady took the kick but the defenders presumably had not retreated enough so it was requested to be re-taken. Brady made no mistake tucking the ball superbly in to the net to the keepers right. In the closing stages Diamonds nearly increased their lead when Town found himself through but the keeper saved at his feet just inside the box, managing to cling on to the ball at the second attempt. Just before the half time whistle went Macca joined Braids in the book for a late tackle. So the first half ended with Diamonds cruising and looking good for three points, with Alty putting up only scattered resistance, their problems seeming to stem from their keeper.

However in the second half, one wondered if the keepers must have exchanged jerseys, because within a minute it was Diamonds Turley who looked out of sorts gifting Alty a quick goal by fumbling the ball with no pressure or players around him at all, the Alty attacker taking the chance gleefully. Brian Talbots displeasure was there for all to see. But Diamonds almost regained their cushion of a two goal lead immediately as Warburton again missed a free header from a corner on 3 minutes. Just nine minutes into the half Millsy was booked for a late tackle. On 58 minutes Jim Rodwell was called in to action to replace Rhino, who has now got a hamstring problem that will keep him out of action for a while. Alty now sensing a shaky keeper started to pile on the pressure an a header flew just past the upright in a scare for Diamonds. All of a sudden the keepers lapse of concentration was putting Diamonds under un-necessary pressure. On 62 minutes Unders picked up the ball on the half way line and ran at the Alty defence, despite being fouled and held he managed to shake of his pursuers and get in a rasping shot that just rose over the crossbar. It was a run that deserved a goal. On 64 minutes it was Alty who had a great chance to draw level as Brady, back defending in his own box, slipped and allowed a free shot to the Alty attacker who fortunately blasted well wide. A minutes later another chance for Diamonds, great work by Town, and his wicked cross across the goal evaded all of the in running players – defenders and attackers alike. On 75 minutes Coops came on for Millsy who had taken a battering from the much stronger, physically, players of Alty. From here on in it was all Diamonds, with the Alty keeper – so poor in the first half – pulling off a string of magnificent saves. On 76 minutes a Brady free-kick was headed over the bar by the unmarked Macca. On 77 minutes Diamonds nearly went ahead thanks to a bad back-pass from an Alty defender that the keeper managed to save well. On 85 minutes a Collins header, just the faintest of touches, went wide. Then with the pressure mounting still great work down the right by Town, a flick on by Macca and Coops almost scored but the keeper saved. A minute later Collins found himself through one on one with the keeper who again denied him a goal. Cooper managed to rob a defender just outside the Alty box on 89 minutes but his shot on goal was just wide of the post with the keeper beaten. The final chance of the game also went Diamonds way, Collins cutting the ball back on 90 minutes for David Town to crack in a great shot which again was saved by the keeper.

So a good performance, three points, and a move up to second place in the table. I think we all know that we can play better than this, but six points from these three away games is very satisfactory. The problem for Diamonds at this point is now injuries, with Peters, Mison, De Souza, Sale, Smith, Berry and Wooding all injured. There are some difficulties in putting out a strong team at St Albans on Wednesday, so its likely that BT and Jeff Vetere will take along their boots, along with a couple of our schoolboy players. Everything is now gearing up for the biggest game of the season next Saturday against the “K’s”. BT has praised the away support again, but I think a special mention should also be made to the Alty supporters and Officials who made us all very welcome – even the burgers were pretty good! We will return the compliment when you visit Nene Park later in the season.

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