Rushden & Diamonds 1 Havant & Waterlooville 0

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

F.A. Trophy Round 2

27th November 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 1835)

Rushden Team: Turley, Brady, Rodwell, Stowell, Wooding, Warburton, Butterworth, McElhatton, De Souza, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes: Smith, Mison, Sale, Heggs, Burgess.

Diamonds Scorers: Collins 50 mins

Webmasters MoM: Collins

Making his debut today at left-back was Matty Stowell, on loan for a month from Bristol City, replacing the injured Mark Peters. On to the bench Brian Talbot had included Carl Heggs as a replacement for Kenny Cramman who can count himself un-lucky to be dropped.

The first half was a pretty un-inspiring half. Havant came to defend and keep the score down, hoping for a goal on the break, and Diamonds struggled to break them down. Collins almost found himself through on goal after three minutes, but he was blocked un-ceremoniously by the defender. De Souza put a great cross into the box just a minute later which was hastily cleared for a corner. Brady took the corner and Macca at the near post flicked a header just wide of the upright.  Macca then had a 25 yard shot charged down after just six minutes – all the pressure was coming from Diamonds in these early stages. A few hearts must have been in their mouths on 10 minutes when a Havant attacker went down in the box, and I have seen penalties given for less but the referee thankfully waved play on. On 22 minutes De Souza put Collins through but though he shot well, he also shot straight at the keeper. On 23 minutes Jon Brady had a cross hastily cleared, the rebound fell nicely to Wooding but his shot rose over the crossbar. Diamonds best effort came on 27 minutes when a Jon Brady free-kick evaded the wall and his shot crashed against the crossbar and over for a goal kick. Diamonds best chances were coming from dead ball situations, another falling to Paul Underwood from a free-kick that the keeper managed to punch clear. Jim Rodwell on a rare sortie forward had a header well saved , low down, by the keeper late in the half. Havant lacked any ideas going forward, and apart from a few flourishes, seemed to have no intention of attacking. At the end of the half Darren Collins had a great chance to give Diamonds the lead, Underwood crossed and Collins found himself with a free header but his header went weakly past the upright.

Second half Diamonds came out showing more enthusiasm, and they took the lead on 50 minutes when Brady dummied a defender on the half way line and put a delightful ball through for Collins to run on to. He ran goalwards and un-leashed a wicked shot that the out-rushing keeper stood no chance of keeping out. Other than a couple of goalmouth scrambles Diamonds were now home and dry with Havant only intent on keeping the score respectable. Collins almost increased his tally on 54 minutes but his first touch let him down and he only won a corner having only the keeper to beat. De Souza had a chance to release Collins on 59 minutes but delayed and the chance was gone. Chances were at least being created today, falling to Brady, Collins and De Souza, but they were either blocked by defenders, saved by the keeper, or hit wide of the goal. As the game wore on the Havant players were getting frustrated, challenges were becoming dirty, and the referee seemed to be losing his grip on the game. On 77 minutes Carl Heggs came on for De Souza, not I think because De Souza had done anything wrong, more that BT wanted to give Carl a run-out. Maybe the better option would have been to keep De Souza on and bring Heggs on to sit just in behind, but the game continued with a few more chances but Diamonds could not break down the resolute defence of Havant. It was unfortunate for Havant that their number seven let them down, by constantly fouling and whingeing to the referee.  Heggs had a couple of half chances before the end of the game but both were squandered.

So Diamonds run of five without a win has come to an end, just before the crucial game against Ilkeston next Tuesday. Ilkeston will prove to be a lot more of a problem than Havant and the Diamonds performance will have to show a marked improvement over today’s. I think the lack of crowd, lack of support from behind the goal first half, contributed to an un-eventful first half but thankfully Collins goal sparked a bit of life into the game and the second half Diamonds commanded as their fitness came to the fore. Next stop Ilkeston and then a difficult away game next Saturday at Hayes.

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