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.

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