Ilkeston Town 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

FA Cup 2nd Round

20th November 1999 – The Manor Ground (Attendance: 2700)

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

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza 55 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Butterworth

Diamonds came to the first of three Cup games this week wanting to bounce back after last weeks defeat at Yeovil. Ilkeston had knocked Carlisle out of the FA Cup in the previous round so would be no pushovers, in fact it was Diamonds that had everything to lose. Brian Talbot changed his team, leaving John Hamsher on the bench and playing both Jim Rodwell and Tim Wooding in the defence. A capacity crowd turned up to watch the game on a bitterly cold but bright afternoon.

Darren Collins almost gave Diamonds a dream start, getting on the end of a Jon Brady free-kick, but his header after just 45 seconds was well saved by the keeper. Ilkeston demonstrated their intentions early on as after just two minutes a tackle on Paul Underwood tossed the player well into the air. Diamonds had started brightly, Collins having a second early half chance taking a ball from Wooding but allegedly hand-balling as he was about to shoot. Ilkeston had to wait until the 14th minute for their first chance of the game, but Butterworth managed to block and clear the shot with ease. Diamonds continued to exert the early pressure, Macca forcing a corner after 17 minutes which was unfortunately wasted by Jon Brady. Against the run of play Ilkeston took the lead on 19 minutes with a quickly taken throw in, Peters lost his marker, and a tame challenge left the ball bobbling nicely for the Ilkeston attacker who shot superbly over Turley and into the net. Just a minute later they broke through again and nearly increased their lead but stoic defending averted any serious trouble. Diamonds almost levelled the score on 25 minutes, when an Unders free kick caught the keeper napping, but he recovered enough to tip his shot round the post. The large number 9 for Ilkeston was causing Diamonds no end of problems. He won everything in the air, flicking neat headers on for the chasing forwards. Butts hit a shot high and wide on 33 minutes, but wasted opportunities. A free kick on 35 minutes was totally wasted from a great position, and on 40 minutes Diamonds best chance of the half occurred as De Souza wriggled his way down the left, cut the ball back well but no-one was coming in to support him. Even so the ball seemed to take a ricochet and ran just past the far post and away from Collins coming in. So half time came with Diamonds failing to impress, and Ilkeston the better team in the half.
Diamonds started the second half with more urgency. Peters went into the book after an awful refereeing decision as he stood his ground and the Ilkeston forward just clattered into him. On 53 minutes Macca hit a rebound from 25 yards, a wickedly dipping shot that just cleared the crossbar. He also had a chance a minute later, combining well with Collins ,and firing in a shot which the keeper saved comfortably. Ten minutes into the half and Diamonds pulled level from a De Souza shot, whipped into the net, with the keeper possibly un-sighted as the ball was fired through a ruck of players in the 6 yard box. De Souza’s receiving pass from Collins following great interpassing was superb. For some reason then Butts was booked – over celebrating? something said to the referee? who knows, but a strange booking. On 58 minutes Diamonds almost took the lead as a Brady cross into the box was headed superbly by an Ilkeston defender towards his own goal and only a superb save from the keeper managed to keep the ball out at the expense of a corner. De Souza followed Peters and Butts into the referee’s book after 66 minutes when he carried on with play after the referee had blown for offside, and kicked the ball goalwards – a needless booking. Ilkeston started to come back at Diamonds and a great block save from Turley prevented them from taking the lead. Turley’s save rebounded and the incoming shot was cleared from the near post at the expense of a corner. Macca had a header saved low at the post on 75 minutes after another goalmouth scramble. In a bid to put more pace in the attack Brian Talbot introduced David Town into the fray, replacing Jon Brady. The last 15 minutes belonged to Diamonds who always looked the more dangerous and most likely to score.

So Diamonds into the hat tomorrow, and hoping for another plum tie. Ilkeston come to Nene Park in the replay on Tuesday week, and I am sure will come across a different Diamonds team – especially if there is a name draw at stake. Before that game though there is the matter of Telford at home on Tuesday in the McMillan and Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Trophy next Saturday. With Conference results favouring Diamonds today there was not too much ground lost in the League battle at the top of the table, and its two weeks before Diamonds return to league action away at Hayes on Saturday week.

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