Rushden & Diamonds 2 Stevenage Borough 1

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

27th December 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 5721)

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

Stevenage Team: Taylor, Harvey, Miller, Smith, Howarth, Kirby, Martin, King, Alford, Leadbetter, Morrison.

Diamonds Scorers:  Collins 17 minutes and Brady 79 minutes.

Webmasters MoM:  Jon Brady.

Diamonds went to the top of the table with a tough, gritty, but slick performance against the Boro at Nene Park. Brian Talbot was forced to shuffle his pack with David Town suffering from a hamstring injury – in came Miquel De Souza, and Matty Stowell replacing Andy Burgess at number 3. Stevenage came to Nene Park with two ex-Diamonds in their ranks – Ian King and the “Pie Man” Carl Alford. Alford said before the game he expected to bag a brace but today he was to be unlucky.

A massive crowd of 5721 turned out to witness a tough top of the table clash. Diamonds came out of the blocks looking the brighter of the two sides, and Underwood found himself through with a chance on just three minutes, but his shot was well blocked by Smith. In the early stages Brady was finding acres of space, working well with Tim Wooding to put some lovely crosses into the box. Boro had their first half chance on 8 minutes, a flick header from Alford just clearing the crossbar. Diamonds had a great chance to take the lead on 13 minutes. Unders ran at the defence who were backing off. He played a great ball into Collins, Collins then laid in back into his path but the shot was blasted high over the bar. Diamonds though did not have to wait too long for their first goal. Superb play from De Souza found him getting to the bye-line and cutting back a great ball into the path of Collins in the box who swept the ball home. Boro tried to create some pressure then themselves, and Alford again had a header but this time it was well saved by Turley.On 24 minutes a long ball over the top of the Boro defence found Collins through and bearing down towards the goal. He was forced wide but cut back beautifully and then blasted a shot goalwards but it curled away from the goal for a goal-kick. Collins then turned provider on 27 minutes cutting a ball back to Butts who who took aim but he too blasted over from about 25 yards out. Diamonds were controlling the midfield with Butts and macca superb. We all know Macca likes to get forward himself and on 35 minutes he was put through by Collins, but was unlucky to see his shot hit the foot of the post and rebound to safety. Carl Alford found himself through and bearing down on goal on 38 minutes but the ever improving Jim Rodwell made a superb saving tackle. Just a minute later Boro had an appeal for a penalty turned down as the ball appeared to hit Razors hand in the box. The official in charge who had a very indifferent game waved away the claims. Then in the last seconds of the first half Underwood retrieved the ball from a Boro defender just on the half way line. He ran at the defence and then put in a sweet cross to De Souza who just had to touch the ball home into an empty net. In trying to place his shot the ball skewed off his boot and ended up going wide of the far post. So Diamonds went in at half time with a 1-0 lead when it could so easily have been three goals up.

Diamonds started the second half in a similar vein to how they finished off the first half. Macca went close just two minutes into the half when his flick header went agonisingly wide of the post with the keeper scrambling across his goal despairingly. Diamonds were playing neat football, football to feet. The front men were holding up the ball well – waiting for support – and then making darting runs behind the static Boro defence. Then on 51 minutes Turley was called upon to make a superb save, at full stretch, pushing the ball behind for a corner. Gary Butterworth had a speculative shot from the half way line, seeing the keeper off his line. The keeper managed to save it but fluffed his catch putting the ball behind for a corner. On 59 minutes another great ball over the top saw Collins just beaten to the ball by the out-rushing keeper. Then against the run of play Boro equalized. A debateable free kick was given. The ball was launched into the box and with Turley impeded the ball came loose and there was Alford on hand to tuck it away. As he tucked it away and darted towards the corner flag it looked for a second as though there was going to be an assault on the snack-wagon in the corner, but hsi celbration was curtailed with a few gestures being made towards the De Banke terrace. Just three minutes later Macca was again unlucky seeing his flicked header from a free-kick again hit the post. On 66 minutes in was Collins turn to flick a header goalwards but the keeper saved well. Miller for Boro was finding a lot of space out on the right, and balls were being floated high into the box towards Alford. Very predictable but also very effective. On 69 minutes Matty Stowell was replaced by Burgess. On 76 minutes Butterworth burst through but was just beaten to the ball by the keeper. Then a minute later Collins laid the ball off in the box to Unders who again had his shot saved by the keeper. Then on 79 minutes Nene Park erupted. Underwood got the ball wide on the left, half way in the Boro half. He put over a superb cross , way over to the far right of the Boro box, and there was Jon Brady running in to power a superb header into the net. It flew in like a bullet.On 85 minutes great work from Burgess wide on the left found De Souza in some space. He jinked and fired in a shot that the keeper tipped over the crossbar. Our indifferent referee decided that no touch was made and awarded a goal-kick – quite amazing! Diamonds for the remaining minutes tried to play out the game by keeping possession, but it so nearly turned sour for them as a back pass to Turley suddenly hit a large divot as he took his clearance kick. The ball skewed wide 5 yards to the nearest Boro attacker but a glorious saving tackle by Rodwell saved Billy’s blushes and the game was now won.

So Diamonds go to the top of the table – just where BT wanted us for the turnaround into the New Year. Confidence will now be high for a result at Broadhall Way next week. Hopefully we can take a great crowd along to cheer the lads on to another victory. The whole team performed superbly today, but my Man of the Match goes to Jon Brady just ahead of Macca or Butts. He must surely be playing the best football of his career at the moment, and long may it continue. Razor and Rodders had a touch time at the back but did everything asked of them. Tim and Unders worked hard and Darren Collins and De Souza ran their socks off. Matty Stowell had a good game but possibly his distribution not as crisp today, but then he was put under pressure more than in previous games. All in all a massive result, and a nice run of results now will set things up nicely – especially if our friend at Yeovil and Nuneaton keep slipping up. Its not very often a Kettering win gets a cheer at Nene Park but there was a massive one at 4.45 today!

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Sheffield United 1

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

FA Cup Third Round Replay

Final Score: 1-1 United Win 6-5 on Penalties

21th December 1999 – Nene Park (Attendance: 6010)

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

Sheffield United Team: Tracey, Sandford, Derry, Murphy, Quinn, Woodhouse, Hunt, Devlin, Bent, Smith, Kozluk.

Diamonds Scorers: Warburton ;

Webmasters MoM:  Jon Brady ;

A full house at Nene Park were not disappointed with the game witnessed tonight. Those who thought that Sheffield would easily turnover Diamonds on their home patch were proved to be very wrong. By the end of the game it was hard to imagine that one of these teams played in Non-League football. Diamonds were magnificent – no other word for it! Back into the team came young 18 year old Andy Burgess, back from suspension came Butts and Braids and the scene was set for a titanic battle. Warnock, United’s Manager had commented in the press that he hoped the pitch was up to scratch. At this stage of the season you would be hard pressed to see a better pitch anywhere. There were going to be no excuses tonight!

The first five minutes were off at a hectic pace, both sides showing their intention to get forward at any opportunity. It was United who nearly drew first blood with a rasping shot after 5 minutes that had Turley diving, but the ball cannoned off the crossbar and away to safety. Sheffield United then forced two corners in quick succession but Rodders and Razor held firm and stifled the danger. On 7 minutes it was Diamonds turn to impress. David Town passed to Brady in the box after a great “Towner” dribble, but unfortunately Braids was unable to get a clean strike at the ball and it was hastily cleared to safety. United tried pumping everything in the air to Bent, who had caused so much danger at Bramall Lane. But tonight both he and Devlin were kept under control magnificently. Razor and Rodders were superb, winning everything in the air. On 10 minutes United had another scare as Brady, picking the ball up on the half way line , ran at the United defence. He then slipped a great ball through to Town but his hard low shot was well saved and held by the keeper. There was hardly time to catch your breath. On 16 minutes a free kick by Wooding was lofted into the box. Collins challenged the keeper but the bounce beat them both and cleared the keeper but unfortunately went behind for a goal kick. Town had another chance on 21 minutes but again the keeper denied him. Diamonds had more chances in the first twenty minutes of this game than the whole of the game at Bramall lane. They were certainly not going to be put in the shadows by their visitors tonight. Turley was then called upon to make a good save, low down at his right hand post. He held on with Bent coming in sniffing a rebound. The quality of the crosses coming in from Unders, Brady and Burgess was superb, constantly causing United problems. Burge started on one of his weaving ruins on 36 minutes but his shot was beaten down in the box for a corner. Just a couple of minutes before half time Diamonds supporters had their hearts racing as Marcus Bent picked up the ball on the half way line at ran at the Diamonds defence. As they backed off and let him close in on goal he unleashed a shot that went well wide and a sigh of relief swept over Nene Park. United continued to press and Macca gave away a silly free-kick just on the edge of the box, but the Diamonds wall help firm and danger was averted. With just seconds of the first half remaining Burgess ran at the defence wide on the left. He put in a cross to Brady who flicked the ball on to Collins. He got the faintest of touches but the ball rebounded safely into the arms of Tracey. So 0-0 at half time and Diamonds easily holding their own against the Division One opposition.

The second half started with all the early pressure coming from United. Diamonds were finding it hard to cope with the long throws of Kozluk, which are just like having a corner given against you. On 50 minutes after good work from Collins Diamonds were awarded a corner, taken by Brady onto the head of Collins but unfortunately directed straight at the keeper. Town was showing his pace upfront and a great bit of interpassing between himself and Unders almost let Collins in but the keeper just beat him to the ball in the box. On 60 minutes Smith for United hit a great shot on the turn that sailed just over the crossbar. Devlin now started to become more involved in the game, weaving his magic, but was always quickly closed down by the Diamonds defence. Macca and Butts worked tirelessly in the midfield battle. Gradually their hard work paid off as there was suddenly a lot of space being made available to Diamonds in the middle of the park. Brady was playing with so much confidence it was marvellous to see – taking people on, making space and putting in great crosses for the front men. On 65 minutes BT decided to replace David Town with Mequel De Souza to add a different dimension upfront. On 68 minutes we were treated to some great skill and trickery by Burge down the left. A couple of jinks, a subtle drag and he was past his marker bearing down on goal. He shot but the ball was blocked, it rebounded to him again, he cracked it in but unfortunately just the wrong side of the post. Sheffield United now started to make unforced errors, they started to look jittery. The booking started, and I think that possibly five United players ended up in the book for niggly tackles and petulance to the referee. Burgess continued to torment down the left, but unfortunately the final ball sometimes let him down. Brady was turning his defenders magnificently, time and time again. It was often Diamonds who were looking more like a First Division side. De Souza had a half chance with fifteen minutes to go, latching on to an Unders free-kick, but his header was off target. The final ten minutes of normal time it was Diamonds looking the most dangerous, the most likely to score. Then on 88 minutes Turley was called upon to make a glorious save, at full stretch to turn the ball away for a corner with the United supporters behind the goal thinking the ball had gone in. The fourth official decided two minutes of injury time and it was then United’s turn to try and avoid extra time, Bent missing a half chance. The ninety minutes then finished at 0-0 and a further 30 minutes of extra time and then if needed penalties was started.

Within seconds of the start Burgess hit a wicked shot that Tracey somehow managed to save low down at his post. On 98 minutes Jon Brady went into the book for a silly foul right on the edge of his box. Turley managed to flick away over his bar a great header from the resultant free-kick. Diamonds, with De Souza running everywhere then started some pressure of their own, and forced a couple of quick corners. Then on 104 minutes disaster struck for Diamonds. For once United managed to get behind the Diamonds defence. Turley raced out but the ball was squeezed past him and not even the despairing attempt of Rodwell racing back and sliding into his goal could stop United taking the lead. Diamonds pushed forward again, no heads dropping, and Migs forced a corner wide on the left. Brady took it, it came over to Warburton who headed into the net at the second attempt, a glorious goal to send the home fans wild. The second period of extra time was end to end, but neither team wanting to give anything away. With just a few minutes of extra time remaining, BT played his penalty card, bringing on John Hamsher for Andy Burgess, who was named the sponsors Man of the Match. The minutes ticked by and we were suddenly into the penalty deciders – a cruel way to go out of a competition but what drama.

Diamonds took the first penalty, Jim Rodwell volunteering, and smashing the ball home. United equalised. Then up stepped Tim Wooding who hit a great penalty home – 2-1 to Diamonds. United equalized. Up stepped Migs to take Diamonds third – slotted away superbly. United equalized. Diamonds fourth was to be taken by “King Pen” the Hamster. Another superb penalty to put Diamonds 4-3 up. United equalized again. The fifth penalty was taken by Daz, another great finish and all that was needed now was Billy T to save and we would be booking our seats for St James Park or White Hart Lane. But guess what? United equalized. Now its sudden death and up stepped MoM ( well mine anyway) Jon Brady. He aims to the keeper right and its saved. The ball though looks as though it will still struggle into the net but it passes agonisingly wide of the post. Who is going to take the all important 6th for United – Marcus Bent, goalscorer extraordinaire. A superbly taken penalty and United are through 6-5 on penalties. The United bench went wild – you would have thought they had won at Wembley. Jon Brady just had his head in his hands and walked back to the lads in the centre circle.

The result went against us but there was only one winning team – Diamonds. We were superb to a man. The whole team was a great credit to Max, BT and his staff. There are no recrimination against Jon Brady. He had a magnificent game and without his goal at Bramall Lane, and his corner that presented Razor with his goal tonight, we would have had none of this excitement. This performance tonight could now set up our season. With thirteen home games and nine away games to come in the Conference, and with the crowd behind the lads like they were tonight there could still be a lot of celebrations not too far away. We have had a great Cup run, we are in second position in the Conference and we are still in the FAT. What a season we are having! It was certainly nice to see the supporters getting behind BT and his team again – lets see a repeat next Monday against Boro. Well done lads!

Telford United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

18th December 1999 – Bucks Head (Attendance: 1414)

Rushden Team: Turley, Stowell, Wooding, Rodwell, Warburton, McElhatton, Mills, Hamsher, Town, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes:Mison, Smith, Heggs, De Souza, Berry.

Diamonds Scorers: McElhatton

Webmasters MoM: Mills

Returning back to Conference football after FA Cup games has always been difficult for Diamonds in the past. Add to this that Brian Talbot was forced to change his team about as injuries and suspensions hit the side and this could have been a banana skin for the lads to slip up on. Telford have been a bogey side of Diamonds for the past two seasons – could the tables be turned today?

The first half was a superb display from Diamonds, the only thing that was lacking were goals. Diamonds certainly had some chances. Two beauties fell to Darren Collins in the first fifteen minutes but were not taken, one being a free header that ended up just over the bar. Diamonds were absolutely dominating the play. Their passing was quick and crisp, movement off the ball superb, and crossing always a danger. Diamonds had a blatant penalty claim refused by the referee when Underwood skipped past his marker in the box and with the defender making a desperate tackle from behind Unders went down. Everyone in the ground knew it was a penalty but the referee waved play on. It was fully thirty minutes before Telford had a shot on goal such was the dominance, in fact it was six minutes into the half before they could really say they strung more than a couple of passes together. More chances went begging, the keeper was forced to make a couple of good saves, but when half time came and it was 0-0 you began to wonder whether this was to be Diamonds day after all. All that possession, all those chances, and nothing to show for it.

The second half was totally different. Diamonds allowed Telford more space and time and all of a sudden it was match on again. Telford started to play down the flanks and get players into the box. Diamonds front men, Collins and Town were finding it hard to hold up the ball, and the first touch seemed to be deserting them. Suddenly it was Telford forcing a few corners, and Diamonds sitting back more, allowing them space. When they picked up the ball just outside the box and Diamonds players backed off, midway into the half, you almost expected Telford to sneak the lead, and thats what happened as their number 6 buried the ball hard and low past Turley from the edge of the box. Diamonds now had their backs up against the wall, and one thing you expect from the current Diamonds squad is a fight and passion, and we were not disappointed. Macca revved up the midfield, started to push forward on the foraging runs that we saw from him earlier in the season but which had departed as of late. Brian Talbot brought Migs and Heggsy on for Town and Hamsher and suddenly the pace returned upfront, the ball was held up better and it was Macca who found himself with a header in front of goal with about ten minutes to go. The keeper managed to save the shot but the ball just sat up nicely for Macca again and he made no mistake heading the loose ball into the net. From here on in Diamonds continued to press forward, looking for the goal that would give them all three points, but it was not to be. In fact Telford had a penalty claim themselves turned down late in the game, but thankfully for Diamonds the referee, who had an awful game, missed that claim as well – ably assisted by his linesman who was also pretty dire!

At the end then a well deserved point at a difficult venue. A special mention though must go to young Millsy. What a cool, intelligent footballing head on such young shoulders. He was superb, showing skill, passion and awareness. I am sure he has a great future at the Club. There were so many notable performances today – Matty Stowell had a great game, as did the other men in the back four. Razor and Rodders won evrything launched into the air, and Tim Wooding ran his socks off. Macca looked back to his best, and in the first half John Hamsher ran the wide position superbly and put some great crosses into the box. Unders worked tirelessly, but sometimes you just wish he would take on that last defender more often, particularly in the second half. Darren and Towny worked hard up front, but Towny found it hard against the big central defenders today. Migs when he came on seemed stronger and was able to hold things up awaiting support. Billy Turley had another good game and is now starting to command his box, and those crosses are now sticking. This must have been a good morale booster for Tuesdays game when we will be able to draw on Butts and Braids who return after their one match suspensions. With other results going Diamonds way today things are looking quite bright at the moment.

Hayes 0 Rushden & Diamonds 5

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

4th December 1999 – Church Road (Attendance: 901)

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

Diamonds Scorers: Brady 20 mins, Town 48 mins, 65 mins, Warburton 77mins, De Souza 90 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Town

Sticking to a 4-4-2 formation Diamonds ripped Hayes apart at Church Road this afternoon. Brian Talbot made only one change from the team that beat Ilkeston in the FA Cup last Tuesday, bringing Matty Stowell in for Andy Burgess. Hayes are a difficult team to beat, as they showed up at Nene Park earlier in the season, but they were no match for a rampant Diamonds team, eager to get a win in the Conference under their belts after their recent foray in the various Cup competitions.

Diamonds could have gone ahead as early as the second minute, when a weaving David Town run ended with a weakly hit shot that drifted past the post. As early as the fifth minute Diamonds picked up their first booking of the game, Butterworth falling foul of the referee for a two footed tackle that now leaves him with a one match suspension for the game at Telford in two weeks time. On 6 minutes we were given a hint of Diamonds intentions, as great interplay created a half chance for Wooding from 25 yards but his block-buster went just wide of the keepers right hand post. The first ten minutes of the game saw some beautiful passing around the park from Diamonds, that was to continue for a large part of the game. Diamonds were first to every ball, tackling was sharp, and the balls to the forwards were crisp and penetrating. From a Brady corner on 12 minutes Rodwell was unlucky to see his header just clear the bar. Brady was next in the book for supposedly diving under threat of a challenge. But on 20 minutes he replied in the best possible way, Collins on the left flicked on to Unders in the box, the ball was laid back and there was Brady to lash it into the net from 8 yards. Diamonds were fizzing and Macca almost increased their lead on 23 minutes but his shot was deflected for a corner. The only thing that Turley had to do was save at the feet of Charles after 37 minutes as a momentary lapse of concentration in the defence almost cost Diamonds dearly. Then just before half time another crashing effort from Brady smashed against the upright and rebounded to safety. So half time came with Diamonds well in control but only the single goal in front when possibly they could count themselves unlucky not to be three ahead.

The second half sprung to life early, Town picking up a clearance after three minutes, just inside his own half. He sprinted towards the Hayes goal, defenders backed of, he drove into the penalty area avoiding two challenges, found a bit of space, beat the keeper pushing the ball wide to the right and swept the ball into the net. A magnificent goal. Hayes for a while were stung into life and Turley watched on 12 minutes as a shot rebounded just wide of his left hand post. On 61 minutes a Warburton header from a Rodwell free-kick shaved the upright. A long range effort from Macca just a few minutes later had the keeper stranded, but the shot dipped over the crossbar. Diamonds went further ahead on 65 minutes, a second goal from Town. A superb pass over the defence into space found Town bearing down on goal, he ran onto the pass and blasted an unstoppable shot into the net. The game was now well won, but Diamonds continued to push forward with ease. Warburton, suffering with a pull but refusing to come off the pitch took Diamonds tally to four with a powerful header, latching on to a superb Town cross from the far left. Thirty four minutes into the half BT brought on Heggs and Peters for Razor and Collins, who pulled a hamstring. Within a minute of coming on Heggs was forced to shoot just wide, being put under pressure from a strong challenge. On 811 minutes De Souza came on for the tiring Town. From a Brady corner on 82 minutes Mark Peters headed a fraction over. The 350ish Diamonds fans were sent home in high spirits as right at the death De Souza added Diamonds fifth, Heggs shot blocked, the rebound fell to Wooding who lashed a cross/shot into the box which fell for De Souza two yards out and his mis-hit shot looped over the keeper and into the far corner of the net. So a great end to a freezing cold day in Hayes.

This performance will give Diamonds great heart in their preparation for the trip to Bramall lane next Sunday. It also put Diamonds into second place in the table, one point behind Yeovil but with a game in hand. Diamonds next game in the Conference is a real test, away to in-form Telford United.

Rothwell Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

Diamonds played away at Rothwell Town last night, and narrowly won 1-0 thanks to a John Hamsher penalty in the 21st Minute. The team was: Henricksen, McShefferty, Wilson, Hamsher, Rodwell, Whyte, Brady, Cooper, Laight, Hanlon and Rawle. Subs were Foster, Archer and Challinor.

Rothwell threw everything at their illustrious visitors, but with three players making their debuts amongst a much changed team, Diamonds managed to hang on.

Rothwell 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

JOHN HAMSHER’S first-half penalty proved just enough to guide Rushden & Diamonds into the NFA Hillier Senior Cup semi-finals at Cecil Street last night.

But Brian Talbot’s back-up squad members where made to hang on for their victory as Rothwell came within inches of taking the second-round tie into extra-time with numerous chances in the final hour.

Early domination from Diamonds paid off on 21 minutes when Hamsher was pulled down as he broke inside the penalty area. He duly picked himself up and confidently sent his spot-kick into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Mark Rawle outpaced the home defence within seconds to almost double the lead. But Parsons was alert to block the goalbound effort with his legs.

Liam Heffernan provided a replay of that moment when he latched onto a through-ball but shot at giant Danish keeper Tony Henriksen.

The second half was one-way traffic without the finishing touch for the Bones.

Ben Lord’s barnstorming 50-yard run through the neart of the Diamonds side ended with Henriksen bravely diving at the feet of Heffernan and then Lord and Paul Wagstaff both fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box.

Andy Tiday’s long-range effort was saved at the foot of Henrtksen’s post, Wayne Spencer twice went close and substitute Richard Jowett looked to have scored only for a slight deflection to send the ball agonisingly wide.

There was still time for Heffernan to shoot inches wide and Dean Foley’s curling free-kick was acrobatically tipped wide by Henriksen. But there was no way through even when John Parsons came forward for a corner in the dying seconds.

DIAMONDS:

Henriksen, McShefferty, Wilson, Hamsher, Rodwell, Whyte, Brady (sub Archer 77 mins), Cooper, Laight, Hanlon, Rawle (sub Foster 69 mins). Sub (not used) Challinor. REFEREE: Mr R Beeby (Northampton).

GOAL: Hamsher-(21 mins pen, 0-1). ATTENDANCE:174.. DIAMONDS MAN OF THE MATCH Hamsher.

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