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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