Rushden & Diamonds 1 Marine 0

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

FA Trophy 5th Round

26th February 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3094 )

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding,Cramman, Rodwell, McElhatton, Butterworth, Warburton, Brady, Lowe, Town, Underwood.
Substitutes: Peters, Heggs, Burgess, Hamsher, Smith

Diamonds Scorers: Lowe 32 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Lowe

Some games are easy to write reports for, packed with incident, lots of goals, excitement, but unfortunately this was not one of them. The result was all important – a Diamonds win and into the last eight of the FA Trophy. However the performance was under-par, possibly due to injuries being carried by some of those players on the field, enforced absences due to suspensions, and dare I say it – a poor pitch. Marine came to Nene Park with a reputation at stake – they had only lost two games this season and were riding high in the Unibond. But today they looked a very average side, and unfortunately Diamonds had an off day and could not take full advantage of playing a mediocre side.

The first half however was a bright one for Diamonds. The first five minutes as you would expect saw Diamonds exerting all of the early pressure, commanding the midfield but not really putting the Marine keeper under pressure. In fact for the first ten minutes all of the play was in midfield. The first shot of the game fell to Diamonds on 11 minutes when Butts hit a shot from 20 yards that unfortunately went high and wide of the keepers right hand post. David Lowe had the first half chance for Diamonds just a couple of minutes later – an Unders cross into the box which the keeper fumbled fell to Lowey who was just unable to pop it into the net. In the next ten minutes chances fell to Towny and Unders but both chances went the wrong side of the post. On 25 minutes Jon Brady was put through but shot at the keeper and on 26 minutes Jim Rodwell headed just wide after connecting his head to a Jon Brady corner. Marine were not in the game at all and Diamonds were playing at a canter, but without putting an urgency into the game. Diamonds went ahead on 32 minutes following great work by Jon Brady, regaining possession on the bye-line and putting a great cross onto the head of David Lowe in the box and Lowey finished off superbly. Further chances in the half fell to Unders and Rodders but both were wasted. It was very much a low key affair, little enthusiasm generated by the crowd, in fact just before the half time whistle blew we were treated to ” De Banke, De Banke give us a song” by the South Stand singers, and you don’t hear that very often. There just seemed a total lack of atmosphere both on and off the pitch.

The second half had nothing of note at all to write about. Early pressure from Marine forced a succession of corners in the first five minutes, which all came to nothing. Kenny Cramman hit a screamer from 25 yards in the 55th minute which was always rising over the bar. Brian Talbot decided changes were the order of the day, taking off Towny and replacing him with Heggsy. The match proceeded to turn into a scrappy affair, not helped by the referee who made some petty bookings on both sides. David Lowe and Jim Rodwell both went in to the referees notebook – David Lowe for a bit of “argy bargy” with a defender which was really just a handbag job, and Rodders for a handball on the edge of the box. Macca was clearly struggling all through the game, and he was eventually substituted on 81 minutes, being replaced by John Hamsher. Again the Southstanders chanted ” Can you hear the De Banke sing” but it was one of those games where it needed something to happen on the pitch to lift the crowd, or the crowd to lift the players.

So Diamonds easily through to the next round of the FA Trophy and surely hoping for a home tie when the draw is made on Monday. The plus points to come out of this game against Marine! Well Billy Turley had a good game, commanding his area well and taking some difficult crosses with ease. The central defenders did all that was asked of them with Rodders again superb. The midfield was obviously struggling with injuries and lacked pace. Jon Brady had a competent game as did Unders considering that he too was carrying an injury. Upfront Towny looked as though he had been out for a while, being off the pace of the game at times and finding that his first touch had left him. As for Lowey, another great game running all over the pitch, holding up play and getting in positions to cause problems in the box. With a week now to recover lets hope that some of the injuries are sorted out before next weeks important game at Kingstonian.

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Rushden & Diamonds 1 Hednesford Town 1

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

22nd February 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3714)

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding,Burgess, Rodwell, McElhatton, Butterworth, Bradshaw, Hamsher, Lowe, De Souza, Underwood.
Substitutes: Peters, Cramman, Town, Heggs, Bertocchi

Diamonds Scorers: Lowe 23 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Lowe

The coming weeks are going to be difficult for Diamonds as the list of injuries and suspensions piles up, and Brian Talbot had to shuffle his side around tonight – bringing Brads in for his first full game for three months, and Tim Wooding in as Daz faces the first game of his three match ban watching from the stand. This match turned out to be a real “game of two halves” which unfortunately for Diamonds finished with the dropping of two vital points as the run-in to the Championship starts to gather pace. Possibly the points dropped could be less significant as who would have expected back to back away wins at Dover and Doncaster and a maximum six points gained?

Diamonds in the first half were superb, and should have gone in at half time with at least a three goal advantage. They were denied by some bad-luck, some good defending, and the woodwork. Macca had Diamonds first chance of the game after just five minutes when his shot went just wide of the post with the keeper rooted to the line, watching and hoping. Just a few minutes later Andy Burgess found himself free in the box, his shot was parried by the keeper, the ball rebounded to Lowey whose shot then hit the post and rebounded back to Burge who could not direct his shot past the outstretched keeper. Then after more frantic defending a Rodders header was cleared off the line and to safety from a John Hamsher corner. The first 10 minutes was all Diamonds and Hednesford were just hanging on grimly – the manager shouting from the dugout to stem the flow of crosses into the box. But they were incessant and Diamonds were pegging Hednesford back in their own third. Migs actually got the ball in the net on 17 minutes with a powerful header but the ball was adjudged to have crossed the goal-line before Burge put the cross over.

Diamonds broke the deadlock on 23 minutes when as a result of a foul on Migs just outside the box, Unders put across a superb ball into the box and there was Lowey to grab another goal for Diamonds. This was no more than Diamonds deserved, and they continued to pile on the pressure. Chances went begging as Hamster put in a great cross that Migs flicked just wide of the post, Unders flashed a screamer just wide of the far post with the keeper left standing rooted to the spot, and then on 29 minutes after great work from Rodders putting a cross into the box Lowey uncharacteristically put a free header wide of the post. Just before half time we almost saw another Migs wonder goal – reminiscent of Donny. He picked up a clearance from defence well in his own half and ran at pace, leaving defenders trailing in his wake. He crossed superbly on the run but John Hamsher just had the ball nicked off his head with the goal beckoning. This half was superb play by Diamonds, looking every part the Champions elect. But how things changed about in the second half.

Hednesford must have had a good half time talking to because they came out much more positive and for the first five minutes of the second half they pegged Diamonds back. They got their equalizer on 54 minutes, poor defensive marking, Burge failing to get in a tackle, a bit of misunderstanding between Rodders and Brads all contributory maybe but take nothing away from a great cross into the box and a header buried with aplomb by the Hednesford attacker. Migs picked up a thigh and back strain in the first half and was replaced by Heggsy on 57 minutes. The shape of the team changed and so appeared did attacking capabilities. Butts had a shot on 60 minutes when in a lot of space, but it went high and wide. He was obviously suffering with an injury and was replaced by Kenny Cramman on 67 minutes. The team shape had to change again – out went Burge to the right, up went Unders to more of a wing back role and Kenny dropped back into the left back slot. The flow of the game was now turning Hednesford’s way, they were starting to control the midfield, looking sharper on the brake and probably sensed that an upset could be on the cards.

Diamonds were hitting back in short spurts, an Andy Burgess shot was curled just the wrong side of the post on 72 minutes and a John Hamsher free kick was saved well by the keeper with Lowey coming in for the rebound, just a minute later. Diamonds best chance to take all three points though fell to Unders who unfortunately missed a free header with the ball ending up well wide of the goal – but in his defence it was a low header that he probably did well to get down to in the first place. Lowe had another header go wide of the post on 79 minutes as Diamonds continued to press Hednesford back again – searching for the elusive winner. But sometimes things just don’t run right for you, and this was not going to be Diamonds night. On 84 minutes Billy Turley kept Diamonds in with a share of the points when he made a magnificent double save from two point blank shots with Diamonds defence nowhere to be seen. In the last five minutes Towny came on for Burge but there was to be no storybook ending to this game and Diamonds had to be content to settle for a point.

Its hard to pick out individual performances of note as no-one had a bad game but no-one excelled other than Lowey. Unders worked hard but he too is now carrying an injury and is now doubtful for marine. Butts is the same, injured and doubtful. Macca is still obviously feeling his injury and must be looking forward to a short rest soon, but being Macca he probably wants to play through the pain barrier. With these injuries and suspensions it should be a an easier task for BT on Saturday to pick his team from the few fully fit players and the many walking wounded that are doubtful starters. Best of luck to the lads on Saturday and lets hope that the mighty “Welling” can do us a favour at Kiddy in the Conference and take a point away with them at 4.45pm.

Doncaster Rovers 0 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

19th February 2000 – Belle Vue (Attendance: 4100)

Rushden Team: Turley, Burgess, Rodwell, McElhatton, Butterworth, Warburton, Hamsher, Lowe, De Souza, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes: Peters, Cramman, Mills, Wooding, Bertocchi

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza 80 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Rodwell

Brian Talbot again tweaked his side against Doncaster, playing three upfront and dropping Tim Wooding to the bench, in this the second of Diamonds crucial top of the table clashes in seven days. The change paid off as Diamonds stormed back to the top of the Conference with a well earned and well deserved win.

The first half was a very even affair in terms of possession, though it was Diamonds who had the best of the few chances that were created. Burgess whipped over a pin point cross on to the head of David Lowe, but the striker could not get enough power behind his header and the keeper saved easily. Doncaster were forced to shoot from long range as Razor and Rodders were magnificent in the centre of defence. Billy Turley was called upon to make two saves from long range that he easily pushed over the crossbar and wide of the post. In fairness to Doncaster they looked dangerous from corners as the big men came forward, but weak refereeing saw them climbing all over the Diamonds defenders with the referee choosing to ignore the fouls. Unfortunately yet again we were forced to witness a team of officials whose decisions throughout the game were determined by the roar of the crowd. Butts and Macca dominated the midfield in the first half with Unders and Burge finding it hard to get time and space on the ball. It was Darren Collins who got booked for a late tackle but all too often Doncaster forwards came clattering in after the ball, recklessly, but the referee chose to ignore these fouls. Andy Burgess certainly found out today that football is not a game for the feint hearted, but he never shirked a run, a tackle or a trick! Diamonds then went in at half time well deserving not to be behind and probably unlucky not to have sneaked a lead.

The start of the second half saw much more pressure in possession for Doncaster, with Macca and Butts for a while starting to lose the supremacy of midfield. But this was to prove a real battling performance from Diamonds. De Souza was starting to fling more time and space than the first half, and was able to attack more. Slowly Diamonds got on top and started to create a few half chances. BT took David Lowe off and replaced his with Jon Brady to add a bit more width to the game and hopefully some quality ball into the box. Unfortunately for Jon Brady he had not been on the field long before he was booked for kicking the ball away after a decision went against him. The game sprang to life for Diamonds on the 80th minute. Migs picked up a loose ball just inside the Donny half out by the touchline. With two defenders closing in on him he flicked the ball forward, past the first defender and set off at pace goalwards. He cut inside, jinked back outside, bearing down on goal with the defenders now trailing in his wake. As the keeper came out to close him down he hit an exquisite shot across him and into the net. A truly magnificent goal that lifted Diamonds spirits both on and off the field. Diamonds should have increased their lead minutes later as Darren Collins broke clear and bore down on goal with defenders trailing behind. With the goal at his mercy he cut the ball back un-selfishly for the unmarked Macca, just 5 yards out with an empty net looming, but the ball went high and wide of the far corner. The low point of the afternoon for Diamonds saw Jon Brady dismissed, not as we first thought for hand ball , but for throwing the ball away for a second time. With Diamonds down to ten men Donny saw their chance and with the help of the referee and linesmen with some appalling decisions, piled on the pressure in the last five minutes. But Diamonds gritted their teeth and at the end of the game were worthy winners.

So Diamonds came away from Belle View with three points, and a smashed rear window of the players coach – if you want your brick back lads we left it on the carpark! And they said we would get “nought in South Yorkshire”. This was another game where the team as a whole played well in a hard fought encounter. When the ball needed to be booted out of the ground no chances were taken and out it went. When there was an opportunity to play the ball around on the ground we did. Diamonds came to do a job, and they did it well. We can now hopefully look forward to Tuesday nights game and a chance to put some daylight between ourselves and the pack, and possibly let some of the chasing teams play catch-up! Well done lads.

Rushden & Diamonds 3 Forest Green Rovers 2

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

15th February 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3156)

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding, Cramman, McElhatton, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Hamsher, Lowe, De Souza, Underwood.
Substitutes: Collins, Burgess, Mills, Peters, Bertocchi

Diamonds Scorers: McElhatton, 14mins, Collins 71mins and 84 mins.

Webmasters MoM: Warburton

Brian Talbot stuck with an unchanged team as a result of the marvellous performance at Dover last weekend. But Diamonds only came to life and showed their true colours in the second half of this hard tussle. Forest Green got a dream start, tearing the Diamonds defence to shreds in only the second minute and taking the lead through Sykes. Diamonds had difficulty coping with the awful weather, driving rain and strong winds, and too often passes were hit astray and the movement upfront that was superb last Saturday seemed to have deserted the lads. Diamonds these days are so determined to succeed that even going behind they expect to end up winning. They nearly got an equaliser when a FGR defender headed just wide of his own post with his keeper static on the line. But on 17 minutes Diamonds got their break, Unders skipped past his two markers running to the bye-line and hit a sweet cross into the box and there was Macca to tuck the ball away. You could be excused for thinking that Diamonds would now power ahead but FGR are made of sterner stuff, and are a much better team than their league position belies. They regained the lead on 21 minutes, another great move down the right with Kenny lacking for pace and there was Bailey to tuck the ball away from no more than one yard. Diamonds tried to get the rhythm going in their play and for a while a sense of frustration seemed to take over as passes were hurried and inaccurate. Luck seemed to be going against them as clearances were made off the line in the FGR goalmouth, and deflections were going wide of the posts. Diamonds went in at half time 2-1 down and there looked as though there may be a shock on the cards, as Diamonds were desperate to close the gap on Kiddy to three points.

Brian Talbot played his trump card, on came Burge for the second half replacing Kenny and out came the clipboards from the scouts who were in attendance at the game. Diamonds did not look back as Burge tormented the defence with Unders now rampant. Suddenly the space was there, the midfield of Macca and Butts moved up a gear, and Diamond were motoring. In a surprising move, and showing his commitment to win the game, BT took off Tim and brought Daz in to the fray to add more firepower upfront. It paid dividends almost immediately as Daz scored his first of the game after 71 minutes and added a second on 84 minutes. How he was not awarded a penalty as well after being blatantly tripped in the area is beyond comprehension. But inconsistency in refereeing is all too often seen these days, in all divisions. Unders got booked for diving in front of the Northstand, but similar action by a FGR player in front of the southstand went unpunished. Too often as well the linesmen don’t have the confidence to make their own decisions, but always look across at the referee before raising a flag. Unfortunately for Diamonds these petty bookings are going to cost them dearly as players now start to miss matches through suspensions. Diamonds finished the game strongly and never looked like surrendering their lead in the closing stages. At one stage in the game they would probably have settled for a point, but three is a bonus and thats how Championships are won – not playing to your utmost capabilities but taking all the points. There is a steely resolve about Diamonds this season, and that will be needed this coming Saturday up at Donny. There are not many days that Diamonds supporters will be cheering on the Poppies either – but this Saturday I am sure we all wish them the best of luck at home to Kiddy as we do the business at Donny!

Dover Athletic 0 Rushden & Diamonds 4

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

12th February 2000 – The Crabble Athletic Ground (Attendance: 2950)

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding, Cramman, McElhatton, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Hamsher, Lowe, De Souza, Underwood.
Substitutes: Collins, Burgess, Mills, Peters, Bertocchi

Diamonds Scorers: De Souza 45 mins,71 mins, Hamsher 64 mins (Pen) and Rodwell 73 mins.

Webmasters MoM: “THE TEAM”

Diamonds came to the Crabble full of confidence. Past results had been favourable here, and with an early look at the pitch meeting with BTs approval for our preferred style of play, the stage was set for a thrilling top of the table class. Macca had passed himself fit after an 11.00am fitness test and the boost to the squad was obvious to see. But preparations just before the start of the game, caused some confusion and led to Diamonds last minute preparations going awry. Because of the numbers turning up to watch the game and the relatively small number of available turnstiles the game was delayed ten minutes. Unfortunately no-one told the Diamonds dressing room, so as Diamonds players started the exit from the dressing room to the pitch they were then told of the delay. This undoubtedly led to a slow start for Diamonds in the first ten minutes of the match as the pre-match warm up and preparation was wasted.

For the first ten minutes Diamonds were pegged back in their own half, having to give away corners as they tried to settle down and psyche themselves up again. Pressure was not helped by giving away some poor possession, especially from Billy in goal whose kicking had gone awry, although some of the back passes to him were awful. Then it clicked for Diamonds, the rhythm was suddenly there, they were able to put their foot on the ball, create time and space, the movement upfront and from the flanks moved into gear and they never looked back. John Hamsher was causing all sorts of problems to the Dover defence on the right, jinking past players, cutting inside, putting superb ball into the box. Lowey was magnificent, holding the ball and laying off superb flicks for Migs and Unders to run on to. In the middle Butts and Macca started to boss it, and win all the second ball, all the lose Dover possession, and all of the 50/50s. Diamonds were playing class, top quality football, that we all know they are capable of in the right conditions. It was beautiful to watch and the chances to open the scoring inevitably came. Hamsher was the main provider, as a header from Migs was saved, a shot from Tim was heading inside the post but got a deflection for a corner, a great ball to Unders in the box but his header went wide as his shirt was blatantly tugged as he tried to jump to meet the ball, and a Razor header that the keeper almost fumbled on the goal-line. Diamonds were breaking sharp and fast, building the moves so skillfully it was a joy to watch. When Migs put them into the lead just on half time heading in from an Unders cross, it was no more than they deserved, in fact two nil would have been a more realistic result on the first half performance. As for Dover other than the first ten minutes they did very little, a few half chances where the finishing was well wide was all that they could muster. The only disappointing point for Diamonds was a couple of bookings, one to Macca that was probaly due to lack of fitness and one to Lowey for arguing to the linesman after an offside decision went against him.

The second half started as you would expect with Dover trying to regain some initiative and for a while they achieved that, working well down the right and putting in some quality crosses that unfortunately their forwards were too slow to latch on to in the box. Those that were connected with skimmed agonisingly wide of Billy’s post. Then probably the turning point of the game happened as a Dover forward cut across the outside of the Diamonds box. He unleashed a superb shot that somehow Billy got a finger to and pushed onto the post. The ball ricocheted out across the goal and was cleared away to safety. That was a save that you would not see bettered anywhere, in any Division or League. You could almost visibly see the Dover heads drop, as they knew this was to be Diamonds day. Diamonds stepped up a gear again, cutting open the Dover defence at will. Migs and Lowey were running the defence ragged, and Hamster and Unders causing trouble down the flanks. Migs was put in with a chance on 64 minutes working his way superbly into the box, unselfishly he cut the ball back to Macca whose goalward bound shot was saved well with the defenders hand and Diamonds were awarded the penalty. The penalty king himself, Hamster, slotted it away with ease showing no nerves at all – just another day at the office. Dover were down and out but still Diamonds pushed forward with flowing football and Migs grabbed his second on 71 minutes and Rodders planted a header past the keeper on 73 minutes to end the rout! In fact it should have been five as Macca weaved his way into the box with ten minutes to go and shot across the keeper but the ball went just wide of the post. If he had looked up he would have spotted Migs un-marked and ready to accept his hat-trick. But this was not a day to ponder on missed chances, but a day to remember that those Diamonds supporters who had made the journey to Dover had witnessed one of the most accomplished performances from a Diamonds team for many a season. It ranks with the second half at Kingstonian when we won 5-1, or Woking at home over the Xmas period in 1998, or Halifax at home when we won 4-0. But this was away from home at a title contender, and the superb football was sustained over the 90 minutes – it was a joy to watch!

It would be unfair to pull anyone out of the team for special praise this afternoon – they were all superb to a man. Billy has without doubt won over any few stragglers about his confidence in goal. He made saves, collected crosses and his positioning was faultless. Tim and Kenny worked non stop, Rodders and Razor were giants out there – not winning all in the air but fighting for every second ball, not playing it fancy but doing a job for the team. Macca and Butts were a world apart – running the midfield with strength, vision and flair. Hamster was a revelation out on the right, and will now be giving BT enormous selection problems, Unders looked sharp and incisive, and the front men were pure class with Migs pace and skil on the ball, the sharp turns, and Lowey just oozes sheer class. The ball seems to stick to his feet, he lays off deft little touches, brings others into play, is a goal maker and a goal taker. A magnificent performance and now we look forward to Forest Green and hopefully some revenge this Tuesday, and then the prospect of a mouth watering game up at Donny next Saturday. Lets hope we take the same if not more support with us next week and get another result to remember.

Rushden & Diamonds 2 Billericay Town 1

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

8th February 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2132)

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding, Cramman, Mills, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Lowe, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes: De Souza, Burgess, Cooper, Peters, Smith

Diamonds Scorers: Lowe 46, De Souza 71 mins

Webmasters MoM: Lowe

With events of the last week still playing on the minds of some players this match was to continue for the first half in the same vein as the match at Billericay. Brian Talbot had brought Gary Mills in to the side to replace Mark Cooper with Andy Burgess on the bench. There was very little to talk about in the first half hour of the game. Butts had Diamonds first half chance on 8 minutes but blasted high and wide. Just a few minutes later Tim Wooding somehow carved his way through the Billericay defence, but was pushed wider than he would have liked and blasted his shot straight at the keeper at the near post. On 15 minutes a Jon Brady corner was met by David Lowe at the near post but his header ricocheted off the post with the keeper beaten. In fact Brady’s corner almost went straight in on its own such was the force of the swirling wind. Diamonds best chances of the half came in a five minute spell when first Rodwell from a header hit the crossbar, and then the keeper made a magnificent save from a Collins header. Unfortunately for Diamonds things went awry just before half time when Daz made one of his lunging tackles way out in no-mans land that left the Billericay defender with a broken ankle. The referee made up his mind early that a red card was the order of the day and Daz took an early bath.

Second half Brian Talbot replaced Jon Brady, who had struggled to make an impression on the game, with Mequel De Souza. Almost immediately Diamonds took the lead, a poor misdirected back header let David Lowe through and he placed the ball expertly and coolly under the advancing keeper and into the net. A couple of minutes later Razor found the ball at his feet six yards out but he failed to swivel and shoot and the chance was gone. Billericay started to push forward, making use of their spare man but Diamonds dug in, as many teams playing with ten men seem to do. Turley was called upon to make a great save on 51 minutes, diving low to grab a hard and low shot that was destined for the far corner. Claims for a Billericay penalty were turned away on 60 minutes as Rodwell and an attacker fell to the floor in the penalty area. Still Billericay pushed forward and Turley was forced to pull out another top drawer save on 68 minutes by somehow tipping over a speculative shot from 35 yards. Then on 71 minutes De Souza was fouled outside and to the right of the penalty box. Mills took the free kick and played it to De Souzas feet. He turned sharply and drove the ball into the net. From here on in the referee spoiled the game. Razor was booked on 76 minutes, Wooding on 85 minutes, and Lowe on 87 minutes. Billericay gained a consolation goal deep into injury time but it was too late to have any effect on the result.

So a fighting second half display from Diamonds but in particular David Lowe. If they say his legs have gone now, then he must have been pretty quick a few years ago! He covered every blade of the grass, held the ball well and brought others into play. Hustled and bustled for 90 minutes – a great performance. Daz now misses three games starting with Hednesford, and Razor is also suspended for a game. Thoughts now go towards this weekend six pointer with Dover where a win would be preferable. Maybe BT would be happy with a point but I am sure the lads will be going for all three. Hopefully there will be a good following to cheer them on.

Billericay Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

FA Trophy

5th February 2000

Rushden Team: Turley, Wooding, Cramman, Cooper, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Lowe, Collins, Underwood.
Substitutes: De Souza, Bradshaw, Mills, Burgess, Smith

Webmasters MoM: Butterworth

With all of the sadness in the Club following the death of Martin Aldridge last weekend this was always going to be a tough test for Diamonds. Billericay had been watched by Brian Talbot, he had spoken to the Hereford Manager during the week about their thrashing at the hands of the Essex club, and Brian had stated in the local paper that this was going to be a battle – a game for the men not the boys. With Macca suspended in came the forgotten man Mark Cooper, and back on the wing came Paul Underwood returning from suspension. Darren Bradshaw was included on the bench so this was a physical Diamonds team who had come to Billericay to do a job.

They did that job well, but for the spectators it was a dour game to watch. Diamonds started brightly enough putting Billericay under early pressure but there seemed to be know killer instinct out there on the pitch, no clinical passing from midfield to the front men, and little movement. Diamonds only had two real chances that put the keeper under pressure all game, one fell to Warburton that the keeper saved magnificently, and one fell to Brady that was also saved. We had a goalmouth scramble in the first half and a few corners in the second that created a bit of pressure. If the first half was disappointing to watch for the good support that had travelled down then the second half was worse. The first twenty five minutes saw all the play in the Diamonds half. They were not really under pressure though and Billy Turley had nothing to save all game. Diamonds found no width, and time and time again Brady was forced to come into the middle of the pitch to look for the ball. The movement upfront was laboured and the ball into the box poor. The introduction of De Souza for Lowe gave us a bit more pace up front, but the keeper who looked very suspect all game, was put under no pressure.

Diamonds achieved their aim – a replay next Tuesday at Nene Park so are satisfied with the result. A good win on Tuesday and this performance will be forgotten and everyone will look forward to the next round. But with a six pointer away at Dover next Saturday I would have thought a replay would have been an unwelcome interference with next weeks preparations. So Diamonds still in with a chance of a Wembley appearance, handily placed in the League, and who would bet against Max’s dream of the double? But with some very good teams left in this competition I don’t think that we can rely on too many performances like this to get us to the Twin Towers.

It was not all bad though – there were some good all round performances at Billericay. Cooper was outstanding in the middle and showed he has lost none of his commitment and appetite. He probably looked the player who wanted the win most out on the park. In the middle Razor and Rodders were superb again and Peters and Bradshaw must be wondering how they will work their way back into the team. With another difficult week for the lads on and off the pitch lets continue to give them our maximum support in these difficult times.

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