Rushden & Diamonds 2 Kettering Town 0

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

28th March 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 4752)

Rushden Team: Turley, Peters, Burgess, Bullock, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Wormull, Lowe, De Souza, Underwood.
Substitutes: Hamsher, Naylor, Cooper, Collins, Mison

Diamonds Scorers:Lowe – 56 minutes, Warburton – 57 minutes

Webmasters MoM: Gary Butterworth

Diamonds welcomed Darren Bullock, on loan from Bury, into tonight’s squad for a game that was crucial to Diamonds promotion push. It was a game that Diamonds needed to win to stay on the heels of Kidderminster and that Kettering needed to win in order to move away from the ever looking relegation zone. Back on to the bench came Darren Collins while the front pairing remained un-changed with Migs and Lowey. Andy Burgess had done enough in previous games to hang on to his place and Rhino was preferred to continue to fill the No2 shirt.

The game started at a frenzied pace as you would expect in one of these derby games, and the pressure from Diamonds was to continue for the whole of the ninety minutes. Diamonds dominated the game in every department with Kettering, at times looking fragile at the back and lacking ideas the further that they progressed upfield. Diamonds could have gone ahead as early as the second minute when Rhino rose to head just over the bar. The Bury fans had been on to the website earlier in the day to say what a great signing “Mad-dog Bullock” would be for Diamonds (their nickname!), stating that he scores some spectacular goals, and he nearly got off the mark for Diamonds as early as the 4th minute when he made a great forward run and met an Unders cross with a downwards header that flew inches wide of Sollitt’s left hand post. The early pressure was totally Diamonds as long range efforts were aimed at the Kettering goal. Simon Wormull turned superbly into the box on 8 minutes but his shot, though going wide, deflected safely to the keeper. The early pressure was relentless as Diamonds searched for the opening goal. Claims for a penalty for hand ball were turned down as Kettering were forced to hastily clear their lines and give away a corner. The result was a run into the box by Rodders and his header was well saved on the goal-line. Andy Burgess was superb out on the left showing trickery normally only read about in text books, and remembered from the good old days of Rodney Marsh, neat flicks and dummies seeming to mesmerise the despairing Poppies defenders. He had the impudence to try a floating lob on 17 minutes that unfortunately sailed high and wide over the Kettering goal.

Kettering had a three minute spell when they forced Diamonds onto their back feet but it was short lived as Butts and Mad-dog regained control of the midfield. The front men were working very hard. Migs was flying and terrorising the Poppies defence with his pace. He shot wide after a great run on 21 minutes and then just a minute later after superb work by Burge shot just over the crossbar with Sollitt despairing to get anywhere near. Diamonds only scare of the half came when Billy T stopped but failed to hold a long range effort but Unders was on hand to blast the loose ball clear. On 32 minutes Rhino found himself storming forwards with defenders backing off, he put a sweet ball in to Migs who unfortunately missed a great chance to open the scoring. The first booking of the game went to Mad-dog Bullock as he was adjudged to have late tackled a Kettering defender on the touchline in front of the South Stand. The tough tackle made his intentions clear that he and the team were up for the game and would battle their way to victory. Towards the end of the half Burge had a free header that was unfortunately directed straight at the keeper, and Butts hit a blaster from 30 yards that just fizzed past the post. So half time came with Diamonds totally superior to their neighbours in every department.

Eight minutes into the second half Migs had the best chance of the game at that point to put Diamonds into the lead. He swept on to a great through ball and with the keeper coming out and missing the ball he lobbed goalwards only to see his shot clear the crossbar. One could be forgiven at this point for thinking that with all the pressure that Diamonds were inflicting and the chances being squandered that this may end up not being Diamonds night. But you reckon without the superb Lowey popping up to score yet another superbly taken goal for the Diamonds, this one a right footed shot from the edge of the box that flew high into the top left hand side of the goal. The Kettering supporters were stunned but worse for them was still to come. Just a minute later on 57 minutes the Worm put a great ball into the box from a corner wide on the left hand side of the area and up rose Razor to head past Sollitt and the watching defenders. Kettering in fairness tried to bounce back but they could get nothing past Rodders and Razor in the heart of the Diamonds defence. Anything at all that they missed and Billy T was there to clean up. Razor went into the book for a supposed blocking on 69 minutes but Kettering pressure was short lived and in-effective. Migs shot wide again on 73 minutes and on 75 minutes we were treated to a glimpse of hopefully things to come from the Worm as he went on a dazzling dribbling run from just inside the Kettering half, evading tackles, switching feet, and was only stopped when he was brought down just on the edge of the box. Unfortunately the resulting free-kick was blasted high over the bar and into the De Banke. The half finished with Burge producing more trickery, flicks over his head leaving defenders trailing and then right at the death Lowey flicking a header just wide of the post after a superb run across goal put him just in front of his marker.

This was a performance to be proud of and one that silenced any criticism that Diamonds were lacking passion and commitment. To beat the Poppies at anytime is sweet for a Diamonds supporter but to win in style is the icing on the cake. The mood within the camp must be great as they move within four points of Kiddy, and two wins in their next two home games will take them into the Kiddy game hopefully with Diamonds sitting on top of the table already. Unfortunately the little matter of disposing of Nuneaton and Morecambe has to be completed but confidence after that performance must be high. For Kettering the loss of three points leaves relegation more of a possibility as their involvement in the FA Trophy continues and their fellow strugglers are starting to pick up points.

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