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.

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