Rushden & Diamonds 4 Morecambe 1

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

7th April 2001 – Nene Park (Attendance: 3,778)

Diamonds Scorers: Darby 3 (1 pen), Brady

Webmasters MoM: Darby

Match Report by Andrew

A Duane Darby hat-trick helped Diamonds extend their unbeaten run to 16 games with a comprehensive victory over Morecambe at Nene Park.

Darby took his tally for the season to 26 but Diamonds were also indebted to Billy Turley who produced a fantastic double save from a penalty in the first half. Jon Brady hit the fourth while John Norman’s header proved to be no more than a consolation goal for the visitors.

Brian Talbot made two changes from the side that had started against Leigh RMI last Saturday. Justin Jackson returned from suspension in place of Jean-Michel Sigere, and Stuart Gray made his debut after Gary Setchell reported in on Saturday morning suffering with a virus.

The visitors had the first chance of the game and Turley had to be alert to tip a John Norman chip over the bar. The keeper was then relieved to see a Stewart Drummond shot curl wide. Diamonds¹ first chance came on 5 minutes when a Jon Brady free-kick was turned over by former Rushden ‘keeper Mark Smith.

Darby almost got on the score sheet when he charged down an attempted clearance from Smith but the visiting keeper redeemed himself and got to the rebound first. In driving rain, the game then settled down into an entertaining affair with plenty of good touches from both sides although a number of attacks broke down just outside the respective penalty areas.

However, the deadlock was broken on 22 minutes. Darby latched on to a Shaun Carey through ball and drew Smith before coolly lobbing the ball into the net.

Just two minutes later though, Morecambe had a golden opportunity to level matters when a rash tackle from Jon Brady on Mark Quayle presented the visitors with a penalty. Turley, diving to his left, produced a magnificent double save to deny Dave McKearney.

Undeniably, that turned out to be a costly miss for Morecambe as with 9 minutes of the half remaining Diamonds were awarded a spot-kick of their own. As Jackson tried to lob a pass to the unmarked Darby, Jamie Murphy was adjudged to have handled and after he was cautioned, Darby made no mistake from the spot to increase the lead.

After that Diamonds never looked back. Brady hit a free kick just over the bar while Andy Burgess over hit a lob after a typical mazy run. Carey then missed the target after Jackson laid the ball back into his path.

On the stroke of half-time, Diamonds almost snatched a third when Jackson raced onto a great through ball from Garry Butterworth only to see his effort come back off the crossbar.

Two minutes after the interval, there was a nasty clash of heads between Quayle and Mark Peters with the Morecambe striker having to leave the field for a short time to receive treatment. However, it wasn’t too long before Diamonds increased their lead. Darby was quickest to Peters’ through pass and after Smith had made a hash of his attempted interception, the Conference’s leading scorer was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net as he notched up his first Diamonds hat-trick on 54 minutes.

Morecambe briefly gave themselves hope four minutes later when John Norman headed home Ryan-Zico Black’s free-kick but the three-goal advantage was restored on 63 minutes. Not for the first time, Smith flapped at a cross from Jackson before Jon Brady turned the ball in from close range after a cross from Andy Burgess.

Diamonds thought they had a good claim for another penalty when Jackson was pulled down in the area but the referee waved away the protests. Morecambe were then reduced to ten men after 71 minutes when Murphy pulled back Darby and received his second caution of the afternoon.

Debutant Stuart Gray shot over the bar following another good lay off from Jackson while Darby almost made it five after he picked himself up in the penalty area and fired just over the bar. Three minutes from time, Smith fumbled a Darby effort but was perfectly placed to gather substitute Jean-Michel Sigere’s follow up.

So a comfortable victory for Diamonds who extended their unbeaten run to 16 games. Darby made it 12 in 13 games and took his tally for the season to 23 Conference goals. The only disappointing news was that Yeovil had come from behind to snatch a late winner at Kingstonian.

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Gray, Carey (Mills 65), Peters, Warburton (Rodwell 86), Butterworth, Brady, Jackson (Sigere 80), Darby, Burgess. Subs not used: Wormull, Bossu.

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