Stevenage Borough 0 Rushden & Diamonds 2

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

27th January 2001 – Broadhall Way (Attendance:3,327)

Diamonds Scorers: Darby (2)

Webmaster’s MoM: The Team

Match Report by Chris

Two well-taken goals from Duane Darby gave Diamonds their first ever victory at Broadhall Way after a superb all round team performance. Darby struck twice during a clinical, professional first half performance that could have seen Diamonds going into the interval with a four-goal lead.

Early in the second half, Paul Underwood was sent off for a second bookable offence leaving Diamond fans to look anxiously at their watches but despite Stevenage throwing everything at Diamonds, the visitors defended brilliantly and restricted the home side to just a handful of chances.

Andy Burgess and Jim Rodwell were both suspended so Diamonds were forced to make two changes from the team that beat Hayes in the F.A. Umbro Trophy. Mark Peters and Gary Setchell came into the side while Roy Essandoh and youth team captain Brett Solkhon were named amongst the substitutes.

John Hamsher made his debut for Stevenage against his former teammates. Diamonds stormed into the lead after just five minutes when Darby, unmarked on the right hand edge of the penalty area, drilled home Setchell’s cross past a surprised Chris Taylor. From that moment on, Diamonds dominated the first half with some excellent, incisive football.

Indeed, on 10 minutes, Stevenage produced their only shot of note in the opening 45 minutes. David Phillips stepped up and hit a free kick that Billy Turley did well to parry. Débutante Jason Brissett followed up, but could only find the side netting.

Underwood had to receive treatment for a head injury before Diamonds created the move of the match after 14 minutes. Darby collected a pass from Garry Butterworth and played a clever back-heel into the path of Justin Jackson.

Although the striker’s shot was blocked, the ball fell to Jon Brady who unfortunately couldn’t finish the move off. Six minutes later, Darby was the provider again but this time Brady saw two efforts blocked. Underwood received a yellow card on 28 minutes for a foul on Richard Leadbeater before Diamonds scored a second a minute later. Darby ran onto Shaun Carey’s defence-splitting pass and punished the static Stevenage defence by finding the net at the second attempt.

Diamonds were posing all kinds of problems for the Stevenage defence and looked as though they would score every time they moved forward. Underwood was just wide of the post with a long-range effort while Mark Smith had to clear a Jackson effort off the line after he¹d beaten two defenders due to sheer pace.

As one would expect, Stevenage came out after the interval with renewed enthusiasm and Billy Turley turned a Dean Martin shot round the post after combining with Leadbeater. But the mood of the game changed after 49 minutes. Underwood upended Martin, as he moved down the right, leaving referee Brand with no option other than to show the red card for two bookable offences.

Diamonds switched Setchell to left back and moved Jackson out to the left as they prepared to defend their two-goal lead. After failing to make any real impression, the home side responded by bringing on leading scorer Darran Hay and moving to a three-man defence.

On 63 minutes, a bad back pass from Mark Smith almost presented a chance for Jackson but Taylor was off his line well to clear the danger. A few seconds later at the other end, Neil Illman headed over from a Martin cross. By this time, Phillips was beginning to spray passes all over the field as Stevenage enjoyed the majority of the possession. Turley saved a Brissett volley; and then, with the help of the bar, pulled off a brilliant save to deny a deflected shot from Martin. Brissett fired over while a 78th minute header from Illman cannoned back off the bar.

Diamonds made a change after 80 minutes when they took off Darby and handed a debut to Roy Essandoh. By this time, the Diamonds supporters were in good heart and willing their team home. There was a huge cheer when Jackson turned up in the left-back position and produced a great tackle to thwart Martin. Setchell repeated the feat a minute from time when he denied Leadbeater a scoring opportunity after the Stevenage striker had just Turley to beat.

In the dying seconds, Brady found himself all alone with only Taylor in front of him. The Australian went for glory but missed the target.

So a wonderful win for Diamonds who thoroughly deserved this crucial victory. They produced an excellent first half performance and then defended resolutely after being reduced to ten men early in the second period.

Diamonds Team: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Carey, Peters, Warburton, Butterworth, Brady, Jackson, Darby, Setchell. Subs: Essandoh, Solkhon, Butcher, Wormull, Naylor.

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