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!

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