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.

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