Rushden & Diamonds 0 Scarborough Athletic 0

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

29th April 2000 – Nene Park (2641)

Rushden Team: Naylor, Hamsher, Burgess, Mills, Rodwell, Warburton, Wormull, Butterworth, Town, Sigere, Underwood.
Substitutes: Collins, Bertocchi, Brady, Bradshaw, Peters

Webmasters MoM: Butterworth

A couple of changes for the team that was defeated at Southport, but this was always going to be a game in which Diamonds would have to raise their game to try and finish the season on a high. Scarborough came to Nene Park sitting in third place behind Diamonds but they failed to make up ground on their hosts and were probably one of the least impressive sides seen at Nene Park this season. Their football was as un-impressive as the number of visiting fans that came down to follow them – which for a side that has just come down out of the Football League is surprising.

We have had some poor officials down at Nene Park this season but todays “Oompah Lumpah” should really have stayed at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. He and his officials were extremely poor. He spent most of the first half halting play with mindless whistle blowing, never allowing the game to flow, he missed late tackles and elbows and saw offsides that were not there. To make matters worse in the second half he missed one of the crudest challenges that I have ever witnessed – on young Gary Mills – which left the lad with a split shin pad, a set of stud marks down his shin, a suspected broken leg for which he was taken to hospital, and the referees verdict after the game ” he dived and there was no contact”. A disgrace and hopefully there was a referees assessor at the game. But what of the game I hear you ask! Well it was a poor lack lustre affair where only one team showed any willingness over the 90 minutes to attempt to win the game.

Diamonds had their first attack of the game after 5 minutes when Millsy sent over a great ball into the box which Towny somehow nicked off the head of the better placed Burge. The ball went clear and the panic in the Boro defence was averted. Boro had a half chance themselves just a couple of minutes later when following slick play the chance was hit high and wide. Diamonds best chance of the half came on 17 minutes when Wormy beat the offside trap and raced into the box and towards the line. He cut the ball back superbly for the incoming Siggy who blasted at the keeper who saved well. The rebound came to Towny whose shot was again blocked on the line. The resultant rebound fell to Wormy who blasted wide. Hamster was finding loads of space down the right but too often players were too slow in spotting his positions. Tate for Boro had a shot that was just wide of the post on 30 minutes, but chances at either end were few and far between. Unders hit a shot feebly wide of the goal on 37 minutes and that really was the end of an un-inspiring 45 minutes football.

The second half was pretty much the same. The first 15 minutes was pretty dour, in fact it was more entertaining watching Lady Penelope and Penelope Pitstop marching up and down the South Stand sucking on their lollipops – now there’s a thought! On 59 minutes David Town was substituted and Darren Collins returned to the action after his ankle injury. Siggy was booked on 61 minutes for a tame challenge to become the first Diamonds player of the game to go down in Jimmy Krankies notebook. Siggy almost made amends three minutes later when he flicked on superbly for Daz to run onto. Daz rounded the keeper but was forced wide and his resultant cross was in-accurate and went behind for a goal kick. Daz had another chance five minutes later as Burge on the half way line crossed a great ball forward on to the chest of Daz in the box. He brought the ball down well but his shot was deflected away of a defender for a corner. Jon Brady then came on to replace Simon Wormull, and from here on in it was always Diamonds who were pushing forward, at least looking for the three points. It was on 75 minutes that Millsy’s part in the game, and his season, was finished by an awful tackle which the referee and the linesman both failed to see – the referee being no more than three yards away from the incident. You could hear the contact blow from 30 yards away in the South Stand. So with Millsy stretchered off and taken to hospital on came Brads for a rare outing at Nene Park this year. Darren Collins found himself joining Siggy in the book on 83 minutes but every Diamonds attack seemed to end in a blocked shot – the final flurries coming from a Butts shot deflected for a corner and a Razor header punched out by the keeper from under his cross bar.

The game ended with the referee – using the term loosely – being escorted by his Officials off the pitch to some of the loudest booing heard at Nene Park since a Kettering win announcement, and that goes back a long way! So onward now to Welling on Monday and hopefully at least a point that will secure second spot for Diamonds

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Altrincham 0

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

16th April 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2731)

Rushden Team: Turley, Peters, Hamsher, Mills, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Wormull, Town, Sigere, Underwood.
Substitutes: De Souza, Naylor, Stowell, Bradshaw, Brady

Diamonds Scorers: Town on 21 minutes

Webmasters MoM: Millsy

Diamonds had bounced back well from the defeat at Kidderminster last Saturday with a great win over Woking on Tuesday night, but it was their home form that had been suspect in recent weeks and three points today against a strong Altrincham team were a must if pressure was going to be kept on Kidderminster at the top of the table. Brian Talbot had gone for a mixture of youth and experience in todays team with Mills, Hamsher, Wormull, Town and Sigere mixing with the experience of Razor, Rhino, Butts and Rodders. The conditions however were awful, strong winds and incessant rain and they were to play a large part in the game with no-one wanting to make any mistakes in the treacherous conditions.

The first half belonged to Diamonds. They looked sharper and slicker in every department. Towny and Siggy were a constant threat upfront with their pace and guile, and considering the small amount of time that they have played together they seemed to be developing an understanding. Siggy has a great knack of finding space and always making himself available. The men at the back were commanding, the only threat from Alty coming from dead ball situations, especially corners, but Billy T had very little to do whereas Key in goal for Alty was kept on his toes throughout the half. Not surprisingly Diamonds took the lead on 21 minutes when a great through ball from Wormy found David Town clear through in a one on one with the keeper. He calmly took the ball round the keeper and fired low and hard into the empty net. With the rain standing in puddles on the pitch the game was surprisingly quite an attractive game to watch. Diamonds fizzed the ball about on the deck, there was little of the long hopeful ball that we had seen in some recent games. The midfield men were working hard, Butts his usual impressive self, while Millsy was absolutely magnificent! He showed a footballing brain way ahead of his young years, battling when necessary, spraying passes and distributing to both flanks with ease. When any danger arose there were Rodders , Razor and Rhino to snuff it out. Hamster was putting in some great crosses into the box and worked tirelessly up and down the heavy pitch. Diamonds could feel themselves unlucky to go in at half time only one goal to the good.

The second half was bound to be a battle as Alty kept tighter in midfield and managed to snuff out some of the distribution of Butts and Millsy. Alty pressed forward without ever really looking too dangerous, and with Siggy having to go off with a hamstring strain, and Unders having to go off with an ankle knock – being replaced by Migs and Matty respectively – the game lost its tempo, the pitch took its toll and the football of the first half disappeared. The game turned in to a war of attrition. Towny had a chance to sew the game up when he found himself almost clear through, but he was forced wide and the chance was gone. Migs had the beating of his markers but his final ball distribution let him down. The heavy pitch cut up badly and Simon Wormull had difficulty as he tried to put quality balls into the box, and Hamster was finding it more difficult to get forward. Diamonds never really looked like surrendering their lead and it would have been a travesty if Alty had equalized.

Diamonds then ran out 1-0 winners and can do no more than keep winning and keeping the pressure on in case Kidderminster slip up. The next game is away at Southport on Saturday, normally a reasonably happy hunting ground for Diamonds. Unfortunately though the games now seem to be running out for Diamonds, but who knows what other twists and turns may still lie in store in this two horse race for the title.

Woking 3 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

11th April 2000 – Kingfield (Attendance: 1765)

Rushden Team: Turley, Peters, Hamsher, Mills, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Town, Sigere, Underwood.
Substitutes: De Souza, Naylor, Cramman, Bradshaw, Stowell

Diamonds Scorers: Town – 47 mins, Sigere – 75 & 90 mins

Webmasters MoM: Underwood

Brian Talbot made several changes to the side that had been beaten by both Morecambe and Kidderminster in the previous two matches. After good performances from David Town and Jean-Michel Sigere when they came into the match from the substitutes bench on Saturday, they were both given the chance in the starting line up.

Rushden & Diamonds received a major setback even before the kick off when Simon Wormull twisted his back in the pre-match warm up. Jon Brady returned to the team with Matty Stowell taking his place on the bench. Neither side seemed able to acclimatise to the difficult conditions on a wet pitch in the first half before a sparse attendance by Woking and Rushden & Diamonds standards and both goalkeepers were rarely brought into action.

The game burst into life in the the 47th minutes when Paul Underwood fed Jean-Michel Sigere wide on the right. The French debutant took on Hayfield and his cross from the left found David Town who turned his marker and beat Batty into the left corner of the net. Woking retaliated and Akrour evaded Jim Rodwell and Ray Warburton only to see his shot go the wrong side of the post.

The home side equalised in the 61st minute when the referee’s strange interpretation of the advantage rule led to a free kick midway in the Diamonds half. Billy Turley seemed to misread Hayfield’s deep cross and Steve West was left with a free header. Woking took the initiative for a short while and it took some desperate defending by the visitors to keep parity.

However, Diamonds again took the lead on 75 minutes when Mark Peters sent a long ball down the right wing. John Hamsher looked to have let the ball run out of play, but he managed to cross for Jean-Michel to place a brave header past Batty.

Woking desperately fought for an equaliser but the Diamonds defended bravely. In the last minute Sigere made the game safe when he ran on to a long clearance, beat Miller for pace, and rounded Batty before shooting into the empty net.

The squad will now know that it is all still to play for, a hard task to overtake Kiddy but if they start to slip up during their remaining matches who knows what the outcome will be. Of course they have the upper hand, but if the Diamonds keep the pressure on, Kidderminster might feel the pressure at the top. Watch this space !!!!

Kidderminster Harriers 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

8th April 2000 – Aggborough (Attendance: 6250)

Rushden Team: Turley, Peters, Burgess, Bullock, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Mison, De Souza, Underwood.
Substitutes: Hamsher, Naylor, Wormull, Town, Sigere

Webmasters MoM: Rodwell

With David Lowe being recalled by Wrexham and then failing his medical when Diamonds were willing to sign him, Brian Talbot had no option but to change his side. Knowing that three points was going to have to be the order of the day if Diamonds were to overturn Kidderminster the emphasis would again be on Diamonds attacking options, and whether they would be able to muster a few chances to give Kiddy some trouble. With Brian Talbot recognising that problems could be caused to Kiddy in the air, Michael Mison – who just a few weeks ago was being released to join Woking, but the deal fell through – was brought in to replace David Lowe upfront. Jon Brady was preferred to Simon Wormull in an attempt to get quality crosses into the box for Migs and Mise.

The first half was poor in entertainment value for both sets of supporters. Neither keeper was troubled but Harriers certainly looked the more dangerous in and around the box. Diamonds looked solid at the back, and competed well in midfield, but once again service to the front men, and their running off the ball was dreadful. In fairness to Mise he worked extremely hard, challenged and won many high balls, and caused a nuisance of himself. But nothing would fall for Migs, the ball into the box from the wide men, Braids, Unders and Burge was poor to say the least, and once again possession was given away cheaply. Diamonds could be relatively happy going in level at half time with everything still to play for, but to get three points a change to the attacking option would surely be made as things were just not happening in the final third of the pitch.

Surprisingly there were no changes at half time, and Kiddy started to put Diamonds under some pressure. Kiddy looked surer on the ball, running off the ball was impressive, space was being made, and their play seemed to have a purpose. Diamonds in contrast were predictable – the long ball hopefully hoofed upfield, often overhit, and the second ball rarely won. Their was no inspiration in Diamonds play, the front men were static and there were no quality crosses coming in at all. When we had dead ball situations, especially at free kicks, we wasted them by not even testing the keeper. Further bad news for Diamonds came early in the second half when Burge was pole-axed by an elbow in the face that left him concussed and un-conscious as he was carried on a stretcher from the field. However the referee after the game said he saw it as just a slap in the face on Burge thus no yellow card was brandished. Those of you who went to Northwich early in the season will remember our friendly referee Mr Brittain – he is the referee who was influenced by the crowd to send off Coops and cost us three points that day. He was poor that day and equally as poor today. With Burge going off BT was forced in to a substitution and would surely bring either Town or the new French striker into play looking for the three points, but he brought on Simon Wormull. Just a few minutes later a deep cross into the far left of Diamonds penalty area, almost on the goal line, saw a challenge between two players for the ball and in-explicably the referee – roared on by the home support but I am sure not influenced at all – gave Kiddy a penalty. Talk about playing to the crowd! Diamonds had to make changes now, go for broke, and another substitution was made as Migs departed and was replaced by Sigere for his Diamonds debut. Diamonds went a further goal behind shortly after and we have to thank our referee again. As Kiddy attacked down the left Rodders found himself tussling to halt the progress of a Kiddy attacker. Poor Rodders virtually had his shirt ripped from his back as he was impeded but was that seen by the referee?? No it was not and Diamonds slipped two goals behind. On came David Town from the substitutes bench and we suddenly looked like a team that know how to attack. Kiddy were pegged back in their own half, and Diamonds started creating chances. Jean Michel had two good headers, a shot was cleared right off the line with the Kiddy keeper nowhere, a Razor header cannoned off the crossbar. Suddenly we actually looked like scoring – which is something that has been noticeably absent from most games of late. Unfortunately it was all too little too late and Kiddy and the referee bagged all three points!

It would appear no that only a miracle will cause an upset to Kiddy picking up the Championship this season. To be honest we have not played well enough to be Champions in too many games. We have had a sad and unlucky season, losing Mark Sale from the squad with his Cancer, Martin lost in his accident, Brads out for four months with his injury, Rhino out for ages, Macca out for the final third of the season, Lowey recalled, it just goes on and on. When we lost Macca we not only lost the skill and creativity in midfield but also our then Club top scorer. With Daz not firing on all cylinders this season and Migs inconsistent, its a wonder really that we have stayed up the top of the table for so long and been it with a title challenge to the end. Its still mathematically possible for Kiddy to give us the title but I cant see that happening, though I hope the lads will battle on to the end and show their determination to finish a close second if that is the way its to be. For Diamonds now it has to be imperative to get hold of some quality strikers, because 11 or 12 goals from one striker is not a Championship winning hit rate. Take the goals way that our defenders and midfielders have scored this season and its a pretty poor tally.

We have now played three “Championship Deciding” matches in consecutive seasons – away at Halifax, home to Cheltenham, and now away to Kiddy and not picked up a single point. We have also crumbled away after those results have gone against us. Now Ithink we will see whether this current squad has the strength to keep going until the last game and get through the rest of the season on team spirit!

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Nuneaton Borough 1

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

1st April 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 4144)

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

Diamonds Scorers:Burgess – 69 minutes.

Webmasters MoM: Warburton

An unchanged team from last Tuesday night, but unfortunately a very different result for Diamonds in dropping two precious home points by giving away a sloppy goal in the last five minutes of normal time to cancel out an Andy Burgess strike.

Nuneaton probably started this game the brighter of the two teams. They could have gone ahead after just eight minutes when a floated cross cleared Rhino and fell nicely for the Boro player behind him but his hard low cross went right across the face of the goal with luckily no-one able to get a touch. Billy T was called upon to make a magnificent save on 9 minutes by tipping over a superb shot for a corner, at full stretch. Diamonds were having a relatively poor first ten minutes and their first chance fell to Worm whose shot from outside the box went wide of the upright. For a five minutes spell on twenty minutes Diamonds pressure was incessant, forcing a succession of corners, the result of the last of these was a shot from Unders that went high over the crossbar. On 28 minutes Migs put through Lowey but un-characteristically he shot tamely straight at the keeper. Diamonds passing was erratic to say the least, and they were giving away possession too cheaply. They were being hustled and bustled by Boro, who unlike in the first meeting earlier in the season, have turned into one of the most cynical, crafty, fouling teams that we have seen at Nene Park for a while. Add to this an in-effective referee and non-existent linesmen, and this game was threatening to boil over as tackles started to come in late from both sides and intimidation of the Officials from Boro players made the game unpleasant to watch from a spectators view. On 31 minutes Burge passed to Unders just outside the Boro box, he looped a ball in to Migs but again the shot was blasted over the crossbar. Migs found himself booked for retaliating with a push to another cynical tackle from behind that saw the Boro players escape without a caution – unbelievable! Diamonds had a half chance on 36 minutes when Lowey headed straight at the keeper after connecting with a Worm free-kick. So Diamonds went in at half time level, but knowing that they would have to keep calm, and stay patient, to collect all three points.

The second half was barely a minute old before M-D Bullock joined Migs in the book for a late tackle. Tackles were continuing to rain in, late and hard. On 53 minutes after good work from Burge out on the left Migs headed soft and wide of the goal. Diamonds were once again suffering for being un-creative in midfield and when chances were made they were in-effective in front of goal. There seemed to be a lack of being able to hold on to the ball for long enough today, particularly in the box, and much of the passing and crossing was not up to the normal accurate standards. Other than Butts the midfield players were not stamping their authority on the game – how we miss Macca and what he offers to the team! On 68 minutes Daz was brought off the bench to replace Lowey who had worked tirelessly upfront but had few clear cut chances. On 69 minutes though Diamonds took the lead when a lose ball in the box fell to Burge who lashed a shot under the keeper. Unfortunately for Diamonds the search for a second match clinching goal never came to fruition and on 84 minutes the un-thinkable happened with some sloppy defending and Shaun Ray sent a screamer from the edge of the box past Billy T with the help of a deflection. John Hamsher then came on for the Worm who had taken a heavy knock a few minutes earlier but despite pressure the Diamonds were unable to secure the three points that they so desperately required.

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