Rushden & Diamonds 6 Northwich Victoria 0

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

29th January 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3468)

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding, Cramman, McElhatton, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Lowe, Collins, Burgess.
Substitutes: Aldridge, Peters, Mills, Heggs, Smith

Diamonds Scorers: OG 3 mins, McElhatton 30 mins, Collins 50 mins, Lowe 56 mins, Burgess 67 mins and McElhatton 76 mins

Webmasters MoM: Butterworth

This was a crucial game for Diamonds in light of their disappointing game last Saturday at Forest Green. Previous defeats this season have seen Diamonds bounce back well, but with Diamonds finding it hard to score goals in recent games it was expected that Northwich would provide stern opposition today. In came new boy David Lowe for his first game for Diamonds, in came Andy Burgess for the suspended Underwood and in came Kenny Cramman for a rare start these days.

Diamonds got off to the best possible start. After only three minutes Braids was fouled just outside the area. A superb free kick was floated into the box and a Vics defender turned the ball past his keeper and into the net. Diamonds demonstrated in the first five minutes an exhibition of slick, crisp passing movements. It was 12 minutes before Northwich mustered anything remotely looking like an attack, when they achieved their first corner of the game. Tim Wooding went into the referees book after just 16 minutes being booked for a late tackle just in front of the dugout. The referee would have just cautioned Tim had not the Vics bench shouted and remonstrated at the referee persuading him to book Wooding. Andy Burgess had a great chance to put Diamonds further ahead on 17 minutes when Brady wide on the right found space and crossed into the box to Collins. He swivelled round but was unable to connect properly, the ball fell invitingly for Burge whose control for once let him down and the chance was gone. On 22 minutes a back header from a Vics defender almost caught out his keeper as the ball almost bounced over his head with Lowe in close attention.

Northwich actually got the ball into the Diamonds net after 22 minutes – Turley made a magnificent save but could only deflect the ball out to a waiting Vics attacker, but luck was on Diamonds side as the linesman flagged for offside. Diamonds continued to push forward, and Macca shot wide of the far post on 29 minutes when Lowe was unmarked to his right and in a great position. But Diamonds did increase their lead after 30 minutes. Burge put a great ball into the box, Macca and Daz both rose for the same ball but Macca won the challenge and steered a header past the despairing keeper. Macca was certainly fired up for this game – maybe because he now is suspended for the game at Billericay and wanted to go out on a high. Two minutes later a crafty back heel by Burge set Butts on his way goalwards. He put a cross into the box and Daz was just unable to stretch enough to connect with the ball. The only danger to the Diamonds defence came in the last five minutes of the half when Northwich were awarded a couple of corners that put a little pressure on the defence.

Too often in the past Diamonds have gone in at half time and then sat back on their lead but there was none of this today. Collins found himself through on 48 minutes but the keeper saved well at his feet. But on 50 minutes Collins got his reward for a great performance today to silence his critics. Brady found space and set Wooding away down the right. His inch perfect cross found Daz who powered a header like a bullet past the Vics keeper. He nearly increased his tally just minutes later, running with the ball across the edge of the box he unleashed a shot that rose high over the bar. On 56 minutes Diamonds were awarded a corner after some great work by Lowe. Somewhat fitting then that Lowe got his first goal for Diamonds from the resultant corner, scoring well with a header. Diamonds were rampant, piling relentless pressure on the frail Vics defence.

On 57 minutes Daz had a one on one with the keeper but again the keeper denied him his second goal. On 63 minutes Simpson was sent off for a second bookable offence and Diamonds now ran riot. On 65 minutes a Wooding block-buster just missed the post and threatened to demolish the De Banke such was the power of the shot. Burgess was denied with a fine save from his header on 66 minutes, Collins had the rebound magnificently saved as well, and the ball was then blasted high over the bar. But Burge got his reward just a minute later when he picked up the ball just outside the box, shimmied past a defender and placed a superb shot into the corner of the goal past the keeper. So five nil and there was still more to come. Daz just failed to get his head to another great cross from Tim. Seventy six minutes and Macca got his second of the game, blasted in from the edge of the box. BT then decided to make a few substitutions. Peters and Mills came on for Braids and Razor. Lowe had a shot saved by the keeper on eighty and again on eighty one minutes. We then witnessed the save of the game from the Northwich keeper as he somehow tipped a header from Daz over the crossbar. On 86 minutes Heggs came on for Lowe and he almost made an instant impact when he picked up the ball in his own half and ran at the Vics defence, turning them this way, that way and inside out. His fierce shot unfortunately went just the wrong side of the post and into the side netting. The match finished and the players received a superb standing ovation from the crowd. A magnificent, clinical performance.

Individual performances – well they were all superb, even when the substitutes came on they looked class. Billy T had little to do but took his crosses well, punched confidently, and made that great save in the first half. Lowe in his debut added another dimension to Diamonds play. His vision of passing, his reading of the game and his work rate were superb. He held the play up well, played the simple ball well, and gave us something we had been lacking. Razor and Rodders were giants, Braids just gets better and better and is surely playing the best football now of his career. Kenny and Tim also impressed but for me the stars were Macca and Butts, who dominated the midfield and Butts was awesome today. To think that last season for a while he was struggling to command a place in the team. What we also witnessed today was the depth of quality in the squad. The substitutes came on and they all did superb, involved from the first to the last seconds of their game. When Burge manages a bit more strength, body wise, he is going to be an awesome player. Watch out Billericay – Diamonds are back!

Forest Green Rovers 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

22nd January 2000 – The Lawn (Attendance: 1302)

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

Webmasters MoM: Turley

A disappointing afternoon for Diamonds as they slipped behind in the title race, after putting up an inept showing at Forest Green Rovers. Brian Talbot had changed the side, bringing in Carl Heggs for a first start of the season and Martin Aldridge upfront replacing Miquel De Souza. Aldridge had been banging the goals in for the reserves but how would he shape up in his first Conference start? The truth today was that he was one of many players who struggled to impress the Diamonds supporters who had made the long trip south.

Diamonds started well and for the first five minutes had all the pressure, pegging FGR back in their own half. Diamonds also had a couple of half chances, falling to Brady who shot well wide, and Aldridge whose toe-punt also finished well off target. Gradually though FGR came into the game and started to pressure Diamonds themselves having ridden out the early flurry. Forest Green had their first real attack after 10 minutes and Turley was lucky to see the ball fly past his post. On 13 minutes Brady took a corner that Rodwell headed well but the keeper saved. The game then went away from Diamonds after 17 minutes when Razor gave away a silly free-kick wide and outside the box. The ball was lofted into the danger area and a free header, with not much power, took a wicked deflection off the pitch just in front of Turley and bounced 90 degrees into the net. On 21 minutes Macca was booked. FGR had a great chance to extend their lead on 24 minutes with the Diamonds defence flat footed. Daley on the wing was tearing Unders to shreds and all of FGR play was coming Daley out wide. Rovers then had a free header in the box that was luckily for Diamonds headed well wide. Diamonds best chance of the half came on 37 minutes when Razor headed a great ball goalwards only for the keeper to somehow tip it over the crossbar. Just before half time Unders had a chance to put Diamonds level from a free kich but the ball just drifted wide of the keepers left post. So at half time Diamonds were one nil down and thankful that it could so easily have been more.

Two minutes into the second half and Daz had a chance but headed straight at the keeper. Then 5 minutes into the half Billy Turley was called upon to make a magnificent save, tipping the ball over the crossbar. And it was not going to be his only crucial save of the afternoon. BT took Heggs off 9 minutes into the half and replaced him with Andy Burgess, and then Diamonds looked better shape wise. It was Burgess who worked his way down the left and set Aldridge up with a chance but he scuffed his shot wide, and was then substituted by BT and replaced by De Souza. Aldridge who is still not 100% match fit certainly seemed to be off the pace at this level, though its still early days and his reserve games have showed his capabilities. But like all front men they need good service, and today the service from Brady and Unders was inconsistent. Diamonds next real chance came 20 minutes into the half when De Souza worked his way across the box and had his shot deflected for a corner. Burgess just a couple of minutes later turned provider for Daz, but he headed over the bar. They it was down to Billy Turley yet again to pull off a magnificent save again, that received applause from both sets of supporters. He could do nothing though a few minutes later except watch as a FGR shot went across him and flew to safety ricocheting off his far post. Twenty nine minutes into the second half and Jon Brady put a dangerous ball into the box but again the final finishing was poor and Daz again headed wide. The Diamonds finishing in the box was poor, very poor and not testing the keeper. Then on 79 minutes Burgess found some space in the box by turning superbly, drew his leg back to shoot and had it whipped away from beneath him. No penalty was given, no flag from the linesman and play continued. Ironic that after the game the referee came into the dressing room and apologised for making a mistake with the decision – or lack of it. Games at this level hinge on these decisions and points are lost. With ten minutes remaining Brady had a shot from well outside the box saved by the keeper, but they were hustled so quickly each tme they got the ball, and the FGR front men held up play well when the ball was booted high upfield. With two minutes to go the referee again made a mistake when he missed a blatant handball in the box, one of two handball decisions that he missed during the game. So at the end a result which I feel was well deserved by FGR, though others disagree. With a little more luck they could have scored five or six, and Diamonds have to pick themselves up and drastically improve on this performance to achieve their seasons aspirations. The hard work will continue in training during the week, and the imminent return of Bradshaw – who may play a part on Tuesday – will boost confidence within the camp. Certainly Diamonds will be keen to bounce back next Saturday against Northwich and avenge an unlucky defeat earlier in the season and hit back at some of the poor press they received in the programme at that game in the best possible way – by taking all three points and putting in a good performance.

Bath City 1 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

FA Trophy 3rd Round

15th January 2000 – Twerton Park (Attendance: 2034)

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

Diamonds Scorers: Collins 68 mins, Aldridge 75 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Ignoring the Bath Goal Mishap – Billy Turley

Diamonds came out of the tunnel to the tune “New York, New York” over the Bath tannoy system, not very original and I am sure this spurred the side on to be the first team this season to win at Bath City. Brian Talbot kept the same team as drew at Stevenage, but brought Mark Peters back from injury to sit on the bench next to new boy Martin Aldridge who has been banging them in for the reserves since his loan spell began a few weeks ago. Aldridge who has scored goals at all levels with ease was to have a magical debut, but lets look at the first 45 minutes.

Diamonds started very brightly and the first five minutes was all Diamonds. Long range shots from Brady and Butterworth were well wide but the build up play was slick and impressive. On seven minutes Stowell cleared from defence to Collins who swivelled and put Migs through in a one on one with the advancing keeper – unfortunately though the linesman’s flag was raised and he was adjudged offside. On 15 minutes Jim Rodwell became the first Diamonds player to go into the referees book for kicking the ball away when a free kick had been awarded. There then followed an almighty scramble in the Diamonds goalmouth for Bath City and their first attack of the game, and they should really have scored but eventually the ball ricocheted over the bar for a corner. Darren Collins had a half chance to tuck away a flicked header on 20 minutes but under pressure he headed wide of the upright. Then Bath City took the lead against the run of play, when a mix up in the Diamonds defence – caused by a Bath player coming back from an offside position – saw Paul find himself in a shooting position and with Turley too far off his line in no-mans land he lofted the ball superbly into the empty goal. A superbly taken goal but this must go down as another defensive blunder! It was then that we saw a concerted effort by Bath to increase the lead, and it was only two saving tackles and a flying header from Butts that saved the day for Diamonds. On 37 minutes Braids put a great cross into the box for Collins, but he had the ball whipped off his head for a corner. In general the crossing from the wide men into the box for Diamonds was below par and wildly in-accurate. Diamonds had a magnificent opportunity to draw level on 42 minutes. Macca put Collins in on goal but he mishit his shot and the chance was spurned. On 45 minutes it was Diamonds turn to ride their luck, as a wicked deflection in their box left the striker one on one with Turley. The keeper appeared to bring him down but the referee waved play on much to the relief of Diamonds players and fans alike. Matty Stowell did not have one of his best halves for Diamonds, with defenders managing to get behind him too often, and right on half time he was caught out by a slick Bath movement down the right and the resultant shot rose just over the crossbar with Turley beaten.

Brian Talbot made a change for the second half, bringing on Andy Burgess to replace Matty Stowell, and the change worked instantly. The emphasis of the game moved Diamonds way. They looked at ease on the ball, more inventive, and more dangerous. Unfortunately it was still a case of poor finishing in front of goal as a couple more half chances were wasted without putting the keeper under pressure. Razor joined Rodders in the book on 60 minutes for a foul and sixteen minutes into the half Turley was called upon to redeem himself, making a magnificent save to deny Bath a second goal. He was then put under pressure from short back header from Rodders but saved well at the feet of the attacker bursting through. At the other end the Bath keeper was also earning his money well – coming out and gathering every ball pumped into his area. Diamonds continued to exert pressure, with Underwood proving a slippery character down the left. Twenty three minutes into the half he was tripped just outside the box when in full flow. Brady took a great free kick putting it inch perfect into the box and Daz headed home. On seventy five minutes it was another change as Diamonds tried to force the initiative and score the second all important goal. Off came De Souza for Martin Aldridge to enter the fray. And what an entrance! Aldridge passed to Burgess wide on the left. He put in a superb ball onto the head of Collins in the box, his header was somehow knocked out and there was the predator Aldo to knock the ball back and into the net past the despairing keeper. On 77 minutes Turley was again called upon to save the day, diving and gathering at feet. Between 75 and 80 minutes it was all Diamonds but the last ten minutes was nailbiting. Brady got booked in the last five minutes as the pressure mounted. Aldo nearly grabbed a second, but on full time Bath were awarded a free kick just on the edge of the box, central, as a result of a Razor handball. With 18 players in front of him in a wall Turley could surely see nothing of the ball as it whistled sweetly over the wall and headed goalwards. Somehow though he managed to get a finger tip save to it and deflect the ball away for a corner. As the final whistle blew there were sighs of relief from the Diamonds fans, somewhat lucky to come away with a win from Fortress Bath! But yet again we have witnessed the battling spirit now within the side. Wembley beckons so lets hope its a home tie in the next round – draw on Monday.

Stevenage Borough 2 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

3rd January 2000 – Broadhall Way (Attendance: 4373)

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

Diamonds Scorers: Collins 31 mins, Underwood 35 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Underwood

Diamonds came to Broadhall Way knowing that a win would set them up nicely at the start of their New Year while Stevenage were fully aware that a defeat to Diamonds would almost put pay to their challenge for promotion this season. At the end of the game it will be Diamonds who must be happy with the result, and the taking of four points from Stevenage over the Xmas and New Year. With David Town still injured Brian Talbot continued with De Souza and Collins upfront, while Matty Stowell kept the young Andy Burgess on the bench again.

Diamonds almost gave Boro a dream start as Jim Rodwell headed back goalwards after just one minute and Turley had to scramble to keep the ball out of the net. It was not surprisingly Boro who came out of the blocks the fastest but it was surprising that Diamonds took so long to settle. Diamonds almost took the lead against the run of play when the ball was held up well by De Souza in the box, he passed back to Unders who swivelled and tucked a shot just wide of the keeper. Unfortunately for Diamonds the ball hit the post and rebounded back into the keepers arms. Diamonds first booking of the game went to Gary Butterworth for a late tackle. Boro continued to push forward and it was maybe no surprise that they took the lead after jsut 13 minutes. A great ball out to the right found Harvey in acres of space. His superb ball into the box with pinpoint accuracy found Miller running in to head powerfully home – reminiscent of Brady’s goal last week. The first 20 minutes was almost continual pressure by Boro but Diamonds these days do not cave in under pressure but dig in and fight back. De Souza was booked after 23 minutes for a hasty tackle to join Butts in the referees book. The game came to life for Diamonds after thirty minutes. Gradually they fought their way back into the game, they started passing the ball with confidence. Butts had a half chance on 30 minutes that he hit well wide from outside the box. Then on 31 minutes De Souza was fouled out on the right, midway in the Boro half. A superb ball into the box found the head of Collins and Diamonds were spectacularly level. But there was better to come! On 35 minutes Diamonds were awarded another free-kick outside the box. Unders this time hit a pearler straight into the goal that stunned the Boro faithful. Boro tried to put pressure on to get back into the game but other than a small string of corners they were kept in place well by the Diamonds back line. Only Alford looked his usual tricky self. Right on half time he rose unmarked in the Diamonds penalty area but his header was directed just over the Diamonds crossbar. The referees fourth official some how managed to tot up an extra six minutes of first half injury time – unbelievable!

The second half was nowhere near as entertaining as the first. Turley was called upon to make a save on 7 minutes low down at his post, but the first 15 minutes of the second half was very scrappy from both teams. Boro were being forced to shoot from well outside the area, and their marshalling of the back line had Collins caught offside every time he ran for the ball. Twenty one minutes into the half Unders hit another long range effort that rose just over the bar, and then on 80 minutes Boro had a great chance to equalize but the substitute forward buckled under pressure and hit his shot wide of the goal. The referee adjudged an earlier foul outside the box and awarded Boro a free kick which Diamonds dealt with well. De Souza had a chance late on to increase Diamonds lead but the keeper saved well, managing to turn the ball away for a corner. The last ten minutes and the game came back to life. Diamonds seemed content to sit on their lead, and Boro seemed reluctant to take advantage of the fact. Then on 83 minutes Boro were awarded a free kick just wide of the box. The ball was whipped in and unfortunately for Darren Collins he turned the ball into his own goal, although the Boro announcer awarded the goal to Kirby. Brian Talbot brought Carl Heggs on for De Souza for the last 5 minutes but the game was closing to a draw, and a well deserved draw for Diamonds.

There is now a long break from Conference football for Diamonds, no game this coming weekend and then an FA Trophy game at Bath the following Saturday. But we would all have settled for a draw before todays game, and Diamonds remain on top of the table with other results going their way today.

The only downside of the day was possibly the apparent un-sportsmanlike behaviour of the Boro Manager, who following various altercations during the game refused to shake hands at the end with Brian Talbot and a further exchange of words ensued. I hope those people queuing to get Burgers and Drinks before the game actually managed to see some of the game! ( Glass houses and Stones spring to mind!!!!!)

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