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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