Rushden & Diamonds 5 Grantham 4

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

FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round

28th October 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2685)

Rushden Team: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, McElhatton, Peters, Warburton, Wormull, Carey, Jackson, Sigere, Setchell.
Substitutes: Town, Brady, Rodwell, Butterworth, Naylor

Diamonds Scorers: McElhatton (2), Underwood, Jackson, Setchell

Webmasters MoM: McElhatton

Rushden & Diamonds made very hard work of the opposition in this thrilling encounter at Nene Park.

All credit to Grantham who unlike many visitors to the Diamonds home, attacked and pressed for 90 minutes and duly went ahead after 10 minutes. Gary Bull, Grantham’s outstanding player on the day, played a simple through ball to striker Ricky Ranshaw and he slid the ball past the on-rushing Billy Turley.

This brought the slow starting Diamonds to life and it was midweek hero Michael McElhatton who grabbed his second goal in as many games, heading powerfully past keeper Ziccardi after good work from Paul Underwood.

In a first half in which you couldn’t take your eyes of the action for fear of missing something, Grantham’s reply was swift and gifted in some respects. Keeper Billy Turley slid out to collect the ball at the feet of Bull but due to the slickness of the pitch, his momentum carried his whole body, and the ball, well out of the box. Turley was only booked for this unlucky misdemeanour but was punished further by Jim Neil who placed the ball with his left foot into Turley’s right corner, asking questions of the positioning of the wall.

Diamonds response was instant with Underwood forcing a great save from Ziccardi and from the resulting corner Peters headed against the underside of the bar. Ziccardi saved again when one-on-one with Jackson and Sigere had a goal ruled out for off-side, deflecting Wormull’s shot just inside the post. In between this Ricky Ranshaw missed a free header from 6 yards for Grantham.

Grantham couldn’t hold out for long though, and on 28 minutes Jackson was brought down with just the keeper to beat and from the resulting penalty, Paul Underwood despatched the ball into the top corner for his first of the season.

Grantham fought back to win a succession of corners but on 36 minutes they overcommitted and were punished by counter attacking of the highest calibre from the Diamonds. Turley collected a cross, fed the ball to Mustafa who galloped forward before finding Jackson. Like so many times this season he held the ball up before switching play beautifully to the other flank where Michael McElhatton was ominously waiting. Taking the ball to the by-line the midfielder cut inside his man before striking a right foot shot hard and low past keeper Ziccardi.

Diamonds continued to press and their football improved. Sigere nearly polished off a class move between himself Wormull and Settle, and Jack was foiled again when one-on-one with the keeper.

Second half lived up to the first with Grantham again taking the game to the Diamonds and they were rewarded early-on through a near post header from Tim Wilkes, squeezing the ball just inside the post from a corner.

Diamonds reply was swift yet again with Mustafa finding Jackson in the box with a pinpoint pass and the striker made now mistake this time, despatching the ball into the top corner.

Jackson was involved in the Diamonds fifth goal as well. After being put through buy Wormull he unselfishly pulled the ball back to Setchell arriving at pace and he placed a left foot shot with venom from the edge of the box, giving Ziccardi little hope.

Grantham grabbed a late consolation goal through Dave Taylor, which in all honesty gave a better reflection of how the game went.

Manager Brian Talbot commented afterwards, “It could have been 7-7 today. It was an excellent game and a typical cup-tie which nearly caused an upset. All credit to Grantham because they attacked and worked hard making it an excellent game for the neutral supporter but not for me as the manager.

There were 6 changes from the team who played last Saturday but we have games coming thick and fast so the squad is important.”

See here for video highlights of this game.

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