Rushden & Diamonds 0 Telford United 1

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

McMillan Trophy

23rd November 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 1451)

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

Webmasters MoM: Butterworth

Diamonds went into the second of their week of Cup games, this time in the McMillan Trophy, changing to a 4-4-2 formation due to the injury to Mark Paters last weekend. In came Kenny Cramman for a rare First Team start. The importance of this game was highlighted by the nights attendance – 1451 – a big thumbs down by the faithful who I am sure see this competition as a distraction to the League.

The first five minutes was played in Diamonds half, Telford taking the initiative to push forward. Diamonds first chance of the game came from one of Ray Warburton’s specials, but he headed down too sharply and the ball bounced in front and then over the goal. For the next ten minutes we were treated to some neat passing play from Diamonds, something that was to continue for most of the night, but the final ball to the front men lacked vision and quality. On 16 minutes Macca had a speculative shot from 35 yards after a poor clearance from the keeper, but it was no trouble. Time and time again the Diamonds approach play was good but the final ball of poor quality. Totally against the run of play Telford took the lead, a mix-up in the Diamonds defence gifting them a goal which Turley could do nothing to stop. Cramman, Underwood, Wooding and Brady were seeing so much of the ball, crosses were going into the box, but either Collins and De Souza were too static or the crosses went straight to the keeper. It looked as though if anyone was to score again in the half it was more likely to be Telford, catching Diamonds on the break. This was almost the case on 40 minutes when a good break down the left was only averted when Wooding got his back in the way to deflect a goalward shot with Turley scrambling across for the save.

If the creativity in the first half was rare, it was rarer in the second. Diamonds were constantly being caught offside, We made little in road to the deficit and never really put Telford under pressure – in fact I can barely remember one save that the keeper was forced to make, only a couple of challenges to crosses into the box. It was Telford who were causing Turley to make the odd save, low down on his goal-line on a couple of occasions. A half chance fell to Macca after De Souza did well to hold the ball under pressure and lay it back into his path. But once again the shot was deflected for a corner, and the corners posed no threat to the Telford defence. On 65 minutes Burgess and Town came on for Cramman and Collins but the game remained in the same vein – loads of Diamonds possession, good going forward to the final third and there it stopped! This was one of those evenings when even the free-kicks were not getting past or over the defensive walls. The only bright spot of the last fifteen minutes was to see Andy Burgess shimmy past a defender to the bye-line but again the final ball in was deflected away clear.

The final whistle must leave Brian Talbot with a headache! To have so much possession, good possession, in a game and fail to test the keeper must be worrying. His forwards, who must be one of the quickest pairings in the Conference, are failing to get into scoring positions and get shots in on goal. The midfield, although busy and working hard, are failing to create the killer ball to the front men. In short we are not scoring and don’t look like we will score. Many people will be glad that we are out of this Cup, but this was a game that Brian Talbot still wanted to win. The substitutions upfront made no impact to the game. In defence other than the one lapse we looked reasonably comfortable – Jim Rodwell had a good game, as did Ray Warburton, but then pressure was scarce. The midfield and the wing-backs created a lot of space and put a lot of ball into the box, but put the Telford defence under no pressure. Attention now turns to the F.A.Trophy on Saturday against Havant & Waterlooville. I am sure that this is a Competition that the Club want to win and the game on Tuesday against Ilkeston a Competition that the Club want to progress in. But it gives very little time to solve the goalscoring problems that we are having.

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