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.

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