Nuneaton Borough 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

26th December 2000 – Manor Park (Attendance: 2614)

Diamonds Scorers: Jackson

Webmasters MoM: Mustafa

Match Report by Andrew

Diamonds last competitive game of the year ended in huge disappointment when a Lee Charles strike two minutes from time earned Nuneaton Borough a point they rarely looked like attaining.

This was Nuneaton’s first home game since three of their supporters were tragically killed travelling back from their F.A. Cup tie at Bournemouth, and a minute’s silence was impeccably observed before kick-off. Additionally, a ground collection raised in excess of £2,000 for the victims’ families. A sign of the bond between all true football supporters was also evident at the gates of the Manor Park ground where a Diamonds scarf had been placed next to the colours of Nuneaton.

Brian Talbot made four changes to the side, which started the game against Hednesford Town ten days earlier. Back came the previously suspended trio of Billy Turley, Ray Warburton and Justin Jackson, and also recalled was Garry Butterworth, in for the injured Gary Mills.

The first half was an end-to-end affair with reasonable chances falling to both sides. Borough were the first to threaten when a combination of Jim Rodwell and Warburton blocked a Delton Francis shot, and then Ian King saw a free-kick fly just over Turley’s bar.

Gradually though, Diamonds got into the game which was played on a pitch described later by Brian Talbot as a gluepot. Andy Burgess went close to opening the scoring when his glancing header from a Duane Darby cross cleared the bar by inches, and when a Jon Brady free-kick fell to the feet of Rodwell, his shot was comfortably saved by Chris MacKenzie.

Good combination work by Burgess, Paul Underwood and Jackson caused panic in the home defence and Brady shot over after industrious efforts by Darby. Diamonds wasted the best chance of the half with nine minutes remaining when Darby was put through by Burgess but one touch too many gave the Borough defence the chance to clear their lines.

Goalless then at half-time and whatever Brian Talbot said during the interval clearly had the desired effect for the second period saw Diamonds dominate possession and chances. Jackson just failed to get on the end of a dangerous cross from Tarkan Mustafa, and then saw a shot saved by MacKenzie in a one-on-one situation. But Borough were always in contention while the scores remained level and Rodwell earned the applause of the travelling support when he timed a tackle to perfection to stop Charles progressing further towards Turleys goal.

The deadlock was finally broken on the hour and the goal was worth waiting for. Jackson collected a ball from Mustafa with his back to goal but lost his marker superbly to curl a fine shot past the despairing right hand of MacKenzie. At that stage there looked to be only one outcome, and Jackson saw another shot saved by MacKenzie as Diamonds pressed forward looking for a second goal.

The visitors’ hearts were in their mouths however when a Williams’ shot flew just over after Diamonds had failed to clear their lines properly. Turley looked to have made a match-winning save with 15 minutes remaining, when he had to adjust his body after the ball bobbled off the tricky ground. But, he had no chance in the 88th minute when Charles was given space to fire home an unstoppable shot to the delight of the home support.

So Diamonds end the year lying in second place in the Conference, seven points adrift of Yeovil Town. Next up is the return game against Nuneaton at Nene Park on New Years Day (3.00pm).

Diamonds Team: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Carey, Rodwell, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Jackson, Darby, Burgess.

Kingstonian 1 Rushden & Diamonds 0

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

Variety Club Trophy

19th December 2000 – Kingsmeadow (Attendance: 190)

Match Report by Andrew

Rushden & Diamonds went out of the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy on Tuesday night when they lost 1-0 at Kingstonian.

The competition was never high on Brian Talbot’s list of priorities this season, but nevertheless he was disappointed to go out of the competition. “It was a poor game,” he said. “I think the attendance of 190 summed it up. It seemed there were two teams playing who didn’t want to be involved which I found disappointing. I didn’t play a full team but it was still a strong side. The positives were the performances of Duffy, Bell and Talbot as second half substitutes, and Ray Warburton returned to the team and was as professional as ever.”

The match also enabled Billy Turley to serve the second of a two-match ban and he will now be available for selection for the Boxing Day trip to Nuneaton Borough.

Diamonds Team: Rogers, Mustafa, Stowell, Mills, Peters, Warburton, Carey, Brady, Jackson, Setchell, Burgess. Subs: Duffy (for Setchell 75), Talbot (for Mills 55), Bell (for Carey 45), Solkhan, Iga.

Rushden & Diamonds 5 Hednesford Town 1

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

16th December 2000 – Nene Park (Attendance: 2,906)

Diamonds Scorers: Brady, Sigere (2), Darby (2)

Webmasters MoM: Sigere

Match Report by Chris

Two goals apiece from Duane Darby and Jean-Michel Sigere helped Diamonds to an easy victory over Hednesford Town at Nene Park on Saturday afternoon. Diamonds made three changes from the team that beat Hayes. Goalkeeper Billy Turley, skipper Ray Warburton and striker Justin Jackson were all suspended so Mark Peters and Sigere were recalled while on-loan keeper Kristian Rogers made his debut in goal. Jim Rodwell passed a late fitness test. Hednesford included former Diamond midfielder Mark Cooper while Goalkeeper Mark Gayle was serving the last of his three game suspension. A minute’s silence was held before the game in memory of three Nuneaton fans tragically killed on their way back from an F.A. Cup game at Bournemouth. The silence was immaculately observed by both sets of supporters.

The visitors produced the first real attack of the game in the second minute when Jim Rodwell was forced to head behind for a corner following a move between player-manager Neil Pointon and Micky Norbury.

Indecision at the other end between Mark Haran and keeper Stuart Ford ended with the defender hooking the ball away for a throw in. Moments later, referee Steve Chittenden began the first of a series of discussions with Norbury after the striker made a comment too many. Diamonds engineered a superb move on 6 minutes, which almost produced a goal. Darby controlled and shielded the ball well in the middle of the park before laying the ball off to Jon Brady. The Australian galloped forward before getting in a cross which Sigere headed just over the bar. Ten minutes later, Diamonds were in front. Darby was fouled 20 yards out by Russell Bradley and Brady stepped up to hit a spectacular free kick into the left-hand top corner of the net.

Sigere broke clear of the Hednesford defence moments later but his attempted lob over the keeper went narrowly wide. On 19 minutes, Andy Burgess found Shaun Carey in space and his long-range effort was deflected for a corner. From the resultant flag kick, Gary Mills’ shot went high over the bar.

Five minutes later, Diamonds were awarded another free kick in a dangerous position. Up stepped Brady again but this time his 25-yard effort dipped just over the bar. By this time, the visitors had rarely threatened Rogers’ goal and the young keeper was only forced into his first real save after 27 minutes. Norbury’s pass beat the offside trap but Neil Davis shot weakly at the target. Six minutes later Norbury headed a corner wide.

The game was starting to overheat with tempers beginning to fray. Norbury received a yellow card for a bad challenge on Peters, while referee Chittendon handed out several lectures in response to dissent from the visitors. Bradley received a final warning for talking out of turn. Norbury and Mills were then spoken to after the two tangled. Right on the stroke of half – time, Sigere made a great run only to produce a tame shot.

The second half was only four minutes old when Diamonds went two goals ahead. Carey received a throw in on the left from Brady and Sigere expertly controlled the cross with his chest before side footing the ball home.

After 56 minutes, Bradley blocked Rodwell’s diving header, from Brady’s corner. However, two minutes later the home side scored again. Darby put Ford under pressure and he attempted to deal with yet another good cross from Brady. The keeper’s attempted punch went only as far as Burgess and the youngster instinctively picked out Sigere who headed over a defender and into the roof of the net. Hednesford pulled a goal back on 61 minutes when Norbury headed home Cooper’s left wing corner but it wasn’t long before Diamonds were on the score sheet again. Darby raced onto Sigere’s 70th minute flick header and coolly lobbed the advancing keeper from 25 yards.

Five minutes later, Darby picked up his second and Diamonds fifth. Brady found Sigere in acres of space just inside the penalty area and although the Frenchman completely sliced his shot with a hat trick beckoning, the ball fell invitingly to Darby who side footed the ball into the empty net.

Diamonds made three substitutions near the end. Darren Bradshaw and Gary Setchell replaced Rodwell and Darby on 81 minutes while 5 minutes later Gary Butterworth came on for Sigere. At the death, the visitors could have pulled a goal back through Scott Bonsall but the substitute missed an absolute sitter.

This was an emphatic victory for Diamonds who next travel to Kingstonian on Tuesday for the Quarter Finals of the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy. Over the festive period, Diamonds have back to back games against Nuneaton.

Diamonds Team: Rogers, Mustafa, Underwood, Mills, Rodwell, Peters, Carey, Brady, Sigere, Darby, Burgess. Subs: Town, Bradshaw (for Rodwell), Butterworth (for Sigere), Setchell (for Darby), Iga.

Hayes 0 Rushden & Diamonds 3

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

9th December 2000 – Church Road (Attendance: 1,044)

Diamonds Scorers: Jackson, Underwood, Setchell

Webmasters MoM: Jackson

Match Report by Chris

It was just what the Doctor ordered! A comfortable win and three points that took Diamonds back into second place. After 3 consecutive defeats under a 3-5-2 formation, Diamonds returned to the 4-4-2 system that served them well earlier in the season. There were 3 changes from the side that lost at Dover last weekend. With the change of formation, Mark Peters was the unlucky one to lose out. Gary Mills was preferred to Gary Butterworth in central midfield. Andy Burgess came in on the left of midfield while Duane Darby replaced David Town after recovering from his hamstring injury. Hayes included former Diamond defender Al ­ James Hannigan and ex ­ Chelsea midfielder Eddie Newton.

Diamonds made a sticky start. After 9 minutes, Barry Moore ran onto a Lee Flynn free kick only to send his 20-yard shot just wide of the right hand post. A minute later, Newton laid the ball to the lively Flynn and from his cross, Steve McKimm just couldn’t get enough of his head on the ball. Twice within a minute, Diamonds were fortunate not to go behind. First, on 11 minutes, skipper Ray Warburton acrobatically hooked Dave Stevens’s header from underneath his crossbar. Moments later, Paul Underwood had to clear off the line after Billy Turley lost Flynn’s corner.

The visitors almost got on the score sheet themselves after 15 minutes. Darby flicked on Underwood¹s free kick and although Warburton beat Matt Hodson, the lob came back off the bar and into the path of the offside Jon Brady. Brady then saw a 25-yard free kick whistle past the left-hand upright before Diamonds took the lead following a comedy of errors. Although Justin Jackson spotted a 24th minute Newton back pass, there appeared to be little danger as goalkeeper Hodson was alert to the danger. However, inexplicably, Hodson fumbled the pick up after falling on the ball and Jackson couldn’t believe his luck when he turned to roll the ball into an empty net.

On 36 minutes, a mistake by Warburton let in Moore but Turley produced a superb save to push the shot past the post. On the stroke of half time, Underwood hit a free kick inches wide with the goalkeeper desperately trying to cover his ground while moments later, Darby turned Hannigan but shot over. Diamonds looked more relaxed as they started the second half. Jackson sent a speculative lob well wide while Underwood got himself into an excellent position but shot tamely with his weaker right foot.

After 56 minutes, Tarkan Mustafa went on one of his trademark jinxing runs before laying the ball to Jackson. Hodson did well to block the striker’s first time, snap shot. Three minutes later, Burgess set up Jackson on the left and from his cross, Mills headed over the bar.

The home side rarely troubled Diamonds in the second period and even when they did get close to goal, Turley saved Moore’s shot easily. Not surprisingly, Manager Brian Talbot was mindful of the heavy pitch and on 69 minutes took off the hard working Darby and replaced him with Gary Setchell. The change was not really a surprise, especially in view of Darby’s recent injury but instead of packing the midfield, Diamonds pushed Setchell up front.

The move proved to be a masterstroke. Shortly after Setchell was wide with a header from Brady’s free kick, Alvin Watts clattered into the ex­Kettering player on 73 minutes to give Diamonds a penalty. For the second consecutive week, Underwood stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way.

Hayes immediately made two substitutions in a last ditch attempt to rescue the game but it was Diamonds who went in search of more goals. After 82 minutes, Setchell missed with a free header from another Brady cross but six minutes later the same combination put Diamonds on the score sheet again. The Australian took a free kick on the right hand side and Hodson made a complete hash of catching Setchell’s header that dropped over the goal line.

So three crucial points for Diamonds; on Tuesday they travel to Kingstonian in the Nationwide Variety Trophy while next Saturday they play their first Conference home game since November 4 when they entertain Hednesford Town.

Diamonds Team: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Mills, Rodwell, Warburton, Carey, Brady, Jackson, Darby, Burgess.

Dover Athletic 4 Rushden & Diamonds 1

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

2nd December 2000 – The Crabble Athletic Ground (Attendance: 1,407)

Diamonds Scorers: Underwood

Webmasters MoM: Jackson

Match Report by Chris

Rushden & Diamonds slipped to their sixth consecutive away defeat as they suffered their first ever Conference defeat at The Crabble.

Diamonds made 6 changes from the side that lost in midweek at Barnet. Billy Turley and Jon Brady both returned from suspension and replaced Stuart Naylor and John Hamsher while David Town replaced the injured Jean ­ Michel Sigere up front. Wholesale changes were made to the midfield with only Tarkan Mustafa retaining his place. Gary Butterworth and Sean Carey returned from injury while Paul Underwood slotted into the left-hand side of midfield. Andy Burgess and Gary Mills dropped down to the substitute bench while Gary Setchell was omitted. Darren Bradshaw and Mark Sale joined on loan keeper Andy Iga on the substitute bench.

Dover had the first main attack of the game when debutant Danny Hockton beat two defenders and shot past Turley but the heavy goalmouth stopped the ball from going over the line.

Diamonds first chance came in the fourth minute when Dover keeper Paul Hyde fumbled Brady¹s free kick but Lee Shearer was on hand to clear.

Minutes later Justin Jackson was sent clear down the right but his cross-missed everyone and the ball bounced out for a throw-in.

Diamonds missed a great chance to take the lead in the 19th minute. Brady¹s free kick was cleared to Mark Peters who shot over over from close range.

In the 28th minute, Jackson was fouled by Danny Chapman on the edge of the penalty area but Brady¹s free kick sailed over the top. One-minute later Dover were ahead. Joss Vansittart found himself in a wide position on the left and then delivered a fine cross that Jimmy Strouts headed home from six yards.

In the 36th minute Rushden came close to equalising. Mustafa outpaced Steve Norman and when the cross came into the penalty area, nobody was available to put the ball away.

The home side doubled their advantage just before the half-time whistle with a goal from new signing Hockton. The former Stevenage player beat Carey and Mustafa before unleashing a right foot shot that bounced off the heavily sanded penalty area and into the roof of the net.

Diamonds pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute. New boy Colin Pluck upended Jackson in the area and Underwood sent Hyde the wrong way.

Le Bihan came close to making it 3-1 to Dover on the hour with a spectacular 35-yard chip that dipped over Turley and hit the bar. Sale came on for his first senior appearance in 12 months when he replaced Town.

Five minutes later, Diamonds were reduced to ten men. Vansittart outpaced Jim Rodwell and collided with Turley just outside Rushden¹s penalty area. After both players received several minutes of medical treatment, Turley was stretchered off with a serious looking ankle injury. To add insult to injury, the goalkeeper was shown the red card.

Ray Warburton was sacrificed in defence allowing on loan keeper Iga to make an unexpected debut. Iga was on non­contract terms with Dover last season.

Butterworth made way for Mills on 75 minutes before Dover consolidated their position from another set piece move. From Norman¹s 82nd minute corner, defender Shearer rose to head home at the far post.

Three minutes from time, Hockton made it four for Dover with a fine goal. He collected the ball in the middle of the park and after moving forward, fired a 25-yard shot that gave Iga no chance.

Diamonds team: – Turley, Peters, Rodwell, Warburton, Mustafa, Brady, Carey, Butterworth, Underwood, Town, Jackson

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