Rushden & Diamonds 2 Nuneaton Borough 1

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

1st January 2001 – Nene Park (Attendance: 4,080)

Diamonds Scorers: Brady, Darby

Webmasters MoM: Brady

Match Report by Chris

Diamonds earned three vital points when they overcame a plucky Nuneaton side at Nene Park thanks to a Duane Darby goal seven minutes from time. Diamonds kept the same side that earned a point at Manor Park on Boxing Day while the visitors were still without leading scorer Marc McGregor.

Nuneaton opened brightly and had the first shot of the game on 3 minutes when Shaun Wray shot across the face of the goal. Within a minute, Diamonds created their first chance when Darby’s pass sent Justin Jackson clear of the Nuneaton defence. However, as the striker tried to round the keeper, Chris MacKenzie got down to push the ball away.

A fine Rushden move almost brought a goal on 12 minutes. Jackson headed Brady’s right wing cross across the face of the goal but with the keeper beaten, Andy Burgess spooned the ball wide. An overhead kick from Lee Charles went over the bar while at the other end MacKenzie palmed Shaun Carey’s long range shot away for a corner.

On 24 minutes, there was a let off for Diamonds when Alex Sykes forced his way past Tarkan Mustafa but his shot hit the crossbar. Immediately, the game took a dramatic turn. Terry Angus and MacKenzie were involved in a defensive mix up which saw Nuneaton’s keeper handle the ball outside his own penalty area. A red card was the only option open to referee Williamson and the visitors were reduced to ten men. Nuneaton immediately took off Mark Taylor who was replaced by substitute goalkeeper Ryan Young.

Diamonds made Nuneaton pay dearly for MacKenzie’s error as Young’s first job was to pick the ball out of the net. The substitute keeper was well beaten by a spectacular Jon Brady free kick similar to the one the Australian struck against Hednesford three weeks ago.

On 34 minutes, Tarkan Mustafa’s cross gave Burgess the chance for a header which landed on the roof of the net while a minute later the teenager’s 20-yard shot went narrowly wide. The impressive Sykes flashed a header wide from Jason Peake’s cross. Sykes almost broke clear on 41 minutes but Brady was alert to the danger with a great challenge.

The game was somewhat similar to the Boxing Day match when Diamonds created several clear-cut chances. From one such chance on the stroke of half time, Jackson got clear of the defence again but Young was able to knock the ball off the striker’s feet. Peake was high and wide with a shot for Nuneaton early in the second half, Mustafa then shot into the goalkeeper¹s midriff before Jackson shot wide from Darby’s lay off.

Despite being down to ten men, the visitors attacked with purpose as they pulled out all the stops to get an equaliser. This duly arrived on 50 minutes with a well-taken goal. Shaun Wray won the ball midway inside Diamonds half and set Sykes free on the left. The former Forest Green Rovers man ran on and hit a strong drive into the left-hand corner of the net.

Brady was inches wide with a 25-yard shot on 56 minutes while seven minutes later the same player saw a free kick saved by Young. A minute later, Mustafa couldn’t quite get Garry Butterworth’s pass under control and shot wide from a good position. Diamonds were now dominating the game as the visitors tired. On 70 minutes, Brady headed over from Paul Underwood’s cross while Peake almost caught Turley out with a cross come lob.

Brady’s header from Burgess’ 73rd minute cross was cleared off the line by Angus before Mustafa was wide with a long range shot Ten minutes from time, Butterworth cut out a potential defence splitting pass from Charles but it wasn’t too long before Diamonds scored the winner. Brady’s right wing cross was headed across the face of the goal by Burgess leaving the unmarked Darby to poke the ball into the left-hand corner of the net from 6 yards.

So three important points at the start of the New Year, which extends Diamonds unbeaten run to four games. Full credit must go to the players for persevering against a dogged Nuneaton side who played for more than an hour with ten men. The next game is on Saturday 6th January when Diamonds visit Southport to face Mark Wright’s side in a crucial top of the table clash.

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Carey, Rodwell, Warburton, Butteworth, Brady, Jackson, Darby, Burgess. Subs: Sigere, Peters, Butcher, Setchell, Rogers.

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