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!

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