2001-02 Halifax Town v R&DFC

By Steven

RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS HAVE SECURED A PLACE IN THE THIRD DIVISION PLAY-OFFS and it came in emphatic style as they came from a goal behind to record a 4-2 victory over basement boys Halifax Town.

A brace from Onandi Lowe and a goal a piece from Stuart Wardley and Paul Hall sealed a memorable victory for the Diamonds as jubilant supporters partied well after the final whistle.

It was a fantastic second-half performance from the Diamonds as they tore Halifax apart after player-manager Neil Redfearn was sent-off for retaliation on Warldey.

The only thing that spoiled the game was the sending-off of Andy Burgess that left the Diamonds bench fuming.

Diamonds went into the game knowing that a victory would be good enough to seal a play-off place as they went up against a Halifax side, whose relegation to the Conference was sealed a few weeks ago.

Boss Brian Talbot made two key changes to the starting line-up from the side which began proceedings in the defeat against Kidderminster Harriers last week.

Ritchie Hanlon missed out for Diamonds so Garry Butterworth was recalled to the starting line-up, having recovered from a hamstring injury while Scott Partridge took over duties in attack from Brett Angell, who was named as a substitute.

After days of confusion on whether the Halifax players would actually turn-up for this game due to their financial problems, boss Neil Redfearn named a relatively strong side although youngster Nicky Heinemann was named in the starting eleven.

Diamonds fans had turned out in force as they made the majority of the noise prior to kick-off as The Shay looked half empty.

The visitors made the brighter start of the two teams. Paul Underwood found space down the left flank in the opening stages of the game but Onandi Lowe could not connect with the header.

Diamonds continued to start off very brightly and the ball remained in the Halifax half of the field as Underwood and Burgess looked lively down the left-flank.

Halifax won a corner on six minutes and Paul Stoneman fired a header wide of the Diamonds goal although it failed to trouble goalkeeper Billy Turley.

The home-side were now trying to take the game to Diamonds as Craig Middleton and Ian Fitzpatrick continued to look lively and put pressure on the visitors defence.

After 15 mins: Halifax 0 Diamonds 0

But the best chance of the game arose on 15 minutes. Lowe beat two Halifax defenders to put Stuart Wardley in the clear but the Diamonds midfielder dragged his shot wide of the target.

Diamonds continued to mount more pressure on the Halifax defence without creating too many good chances as the home-side looked jittery in this evenly contested game.

But there was bad news for Diamonds on 21 minutes when Andy Tillson was adjudged to have brought down Fitzpatrick in the penalty area. And Paul Harsley had no hesitation from the spot despite the best efforts from Turley.

So Diamonds now had to come out of the block and take the game to Halifax. The visitors hadn’t created many openings and Halifax were looking the brighter side.

On 25 minutes, Harlsey was the hero for Halifax as he got a vital block on a Butterworth shot after Lowe played him through towards goal.

After 30 minutes: Halifax 1 Diamonds 0

On 30 minutes, Lowe struck the side netting after pulling himself away from two Halifax defenders as the visitors began to look strong and surely a goal was just around the corner.

The Diamonds fans were trying their best to get behind the lads and Butterworth fired a header straight into the arms of Halifax goalkeeper Barry Richardson on 35 minutes.

Harsley, who was having an excellent game for the home-side, fired a 30-yard shot on 37 minutes which Turley had to react quickly to and it looked as if the rebound was going to be put away but Underwood made a vital tackle.

Burgess fired over the crossbar on 42 minutes when Tarkan Mustafa’s cross was not dealt with by the Halifax defenders as the visitors struggled to trouble Richardson in the visitors’ goal.

The Diamonds tried their hardest to get back into the match in the closing stages but as the half-time whistle went, Brian’s team found themselves a goal down and had a lot of work to do in the second-half.

Half-time: Halifax 1 Diamonds 0

But the Diamonds came storming out in the second-half and just 52 seconds into the restart, Lowe climbed above the Halifax defence to head home into the bottom corner of the net from Underwood’s cross.

And then just moments after knocking the Diamonds in front, Lowe was on hand to add the second as he stole into the penalty area unmarked to head home a beautiful delivery from Scott Partridge.

What a start to the second-half for Diamonds. Lowe, who has a relatively quiet first-half, had begun the second-half in storming fashion and the large following from Northamptonshire were now in a jubilant mood.

There was still plenty of work to do and Turley was nearly caught embarrassed on 57 minutes when he thumbled a weak shot and Farrell nearly capitalised on his error.

But then a major turning point occurred. On 55 minutes, Redfearn was adjudged to have brought down Wardley. The Halifax player-manger didn’t take to kindly to the referee’s decision and was subsequently shown the red card.

It gave Diamonds the chance to open the game up and Partridge showed great skill inside the penalty area to fire a shot straight into the arms of Richardson.

After 60 minutes: Halifax 1 Diamonds 2

And the one-man difference was now becoming evident as Diamonds took an extra step towards the play-offs with the third goal. Partridge again showed excellent work in the penalty area to pull the ball back to Wardley who tapped home from close range.

The turn around in fortune was incredible and Diamonds were well on course to picking up the three points needed to seal that place in the play-offs.

Lowe went close to grabbing a hat-trick on 66 minutes when he towered above the Halifax defence to see a header go inches over the crossbar.

On 70 minutes, Farrell struck the crossbar with a delightful curling effort that left Turley stranded in his goal as Halifax, to their credit, continued to push bodies forward.

After 75 minutes: Halifax 1 Diamonds 3

And the game was made safe on 75 minutes when Hall sent a curling shot into the corner of the net, which Richardson had no chance to keep out.

That goal meant Brian could start changing his team and Tony Pennock replaced Turley while Angell replaced Lowe, who left the field to a standing ovation from the Diamonds supporters.

Halifax grabbed a consolation through Fitzpatrick after a mistake in the Diamonds defence and Burgess was dismissed in the final moments of the game, although it was not clear as the reasons why.
At the final whistle there was cheers of joy as Diamonds celebrated a memorable win in a season that is now not over.

Full-time: Halifax 2 Diamonds 4

Halifax: Richardson, Stoneman, Mitchell, Heinemann, Jules, Middleton (Herbert 66), Redfearn, Bushell, Harsley (Smith 83), Fitzpatrick, Farrell.

Subs not used: Crookes, Birchall, Midgley.

Bookings: Middleton (9)

Sent-off: Redfearn (60)

Diamonds: Turley (Pennock 78), Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth, Partridge, Burgess, Hall, Wardley, Lowe (Angell 78), Tillson.

Subs not used: Brady, Mills, Setchell.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr M S Pike

Attendance: 2,699

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