2002-03 RDFC v Millwall


Brian Talbot talks to his players as they prepare for extra time


Tony Warner can’t stop Diamonds progressing through to the next round of the Worthington Cup


Hero Billy Turley stops another Millwall attack to keep his side in the competition


Paul Underwood and Billy Turley celebrate after penalites


Billy Turley is the hero as he saves this penalty from Charley Hearn


Gary Mills is in the thick of the action


Duane Darby mounts another attack for Diamonds


Stuart Wardley tries to skip a challenge of a Millwall midfielder

By Steven Dove

It ended in a dramatic penalty shoot out but it was game Rushden & Diamonds thoroughly deserved to win. A 5-3 win on penalties against First Division Millwall took Diamonds through to the next round of the Worthington Cup.

Paul Underwood took the decisive spot kick and combined with another save from the spot from Billy Turley, who also scored one of the penalties, Diamonds booked their place in the next round of the competition.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot made two changes to the starting line up which claimed a 3-0 victory over Southend United on Saturday. Scott Partridge started his first game of the season replacing Onandi Lowe, who was left out with a knee injury.

The back four was forced to change with Barry Hunter starting his two-match suspension. John Dempster was preferred in the centre of defence instead of Andy Tillson, who was named amongst the substitutes.

Millwall boss Mark McGhee was forced to make a number of changes with Neil Harris and Tim Cahill both missing for the Lions. Ben May came into the starting eleven while Christophe Kinet was also included.

But Millwall had many experienced professionals in their side including Stuart Nethercott, Darren Ward, David Livermore and Steve Claridge, who was amongst the substitutes.

The game started at a fast pace. Millwall won a corner in the first minute and it was a scary moment for the Diamonds as the defence had to clear their lines.

But the first real effort of the game arrived on five minutes. Paul Hall delivered a cross from the right, which Duane Darby met with a powerful header, but it went inches wide of the target.

Chances were few and far between as both sides struggled to break down their respective defences. Diamonds were enjoying more of the possession as Millwall struggled to find any threat in front of goal.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Kinet tried his luck from out on the right wing on 20 minutes. It nearly caught Billy Turley unaware but the ball just went inches over the crossbar, in Millwall’s first real effort of the game.

Following some good work from Tarkan Mustafa, Hall dragged an effort wide of the target on 22 minutes when the Jamaican international midfielder really should have done better.

Millwall were struggling to get a grip of the game. Diamonds were certainly enjoying more of the possession as we approached the half-an-hour mark, but we were still waiting for our first shot on target.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

On 32 minutes, Partridge pulled out to the wing to deliver a cross that Darby met with a powerful header but his effort flew inches wide of Tony Warner’s goal, in what was the closest effort of the game.

The game was very scrappy. Millwall were still struggling to stamp their mark on the game and although chances remained rare Diamonds were looking in control.

Livermore struck a long-range effort wide of the target but the game was still waiting for it’s first shot on target.

With just a minute remaining in the first half, Darby carved out a cross from the left wing and when the ball broke to Mills, the young midfielder hit a first-time volley just wide of the target.

At half-time: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

McGhee made two changes to his side at the interval with Claridge and Ronnie Bull being introduced into the action.

But it was still Diamonds who continued to look in control. However, Diamonds were also forced into an early substitution as Mills hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Andy Burgess.

Some good, patient, build up play involving Partridge, Hall and Wardley gave Darby a shot from an acute angle but Warner closed the gap and did well to deny the former Hull striker.

The Diamonds were now turning on the style. Gray pushed a ball out on the right wing which Hall forced another good save from Warner. The Diamonds were certainly impressive against their First Division opponents.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Partridge had the first notable effort on target on 60 minutes but Warner had the easiest job and dived low to his right to make the important save.

But Diamonds came close to taking the lead on 63 minutes. Gray lobbed the Millwall defence and the ball found Darby who remained onside. Having done the hard work the Diamonds striker rounded the goalkeeper but ran wide of the goal and struck the outside of the post.

John Dempster received the yellow card when he accidentally brought down May just outside the penalty area as the visitors started to get themselves back in the encounter.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Paul Ifill, who was quiet for Millwall, should have done better on 78 minutes when he skipped past two challenges and created some space in the penalty area. However the Millwall midfielder dragged his shot across the ground and it was easy work for Turley.

Millwall were looking dangerous on the attack but the threat on Turley’s goal was rare and this game was now firmly in the balance with extra time looming.

Kinet had a golden opportunity to seal tie for Millwall with just minutes remaining but his long-range effort beat Turley but went agonisingly wide of the target. Then in stoppage time May went close.

Full time: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Three minutes into the first period of extra time, Matt Lawrence fired a shot from 30-yards and Turley had to be alert as he tipped his effort over the crossbar and out for a corner.

The ball was now constantly in the Diamonds half of the pitch as Millwall looked strong going forward finding gaps in the home-sides defence.

The visitors were now looking strong and Claridge saw a header saved by Turley, although the Diamond goalkeeper didn’t know much about it.

Turley then produced the save of the match in the closing stages of the first period of extra time when the Diamonds goalkeeper dived low to prevent Bull scoring with a fierce header.

After 105 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

Kinet rattled the crossbar three minutes into the second period but the linesman adjudged the ball to be out of play when the midfielder crossed from out on the left flank.

It was evident that the players were getting tired as this match continued although Diamonds were still holding their own as this game remained in the balance.

In the closing stages, Darby had an effort cleared off the line but this game was going into penalties after 120 minutes of exciting football.

After 120 minutes: Diamonds 0 Millwall 0

PENALTIES

(D) – Stuart Gray – GOAL.
(M) – Charlie Hearn – SAVED
(D) – Paul Hall – GOAL
(M) – Paul Ifill – GOAL
(D) – Stuart Wardley – GOAL
(M) – David Livermore – GOAL
(D) – Billy Turley – GOAL
(M) – Andy Roberts – GOAL
(D) – Paul Underwood – GOAL

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Wardley, Partridge, Darby, Gray, Mills (Burgess 48), Hall, Dempster.

Subs not used: Tillson, Sollitt, Bell, Talbot

Bookings: Dempster (65)

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Ryan (Bull 46), Nethercott, Ifill, Livermore, Ward, Roberts, Kinet (Hearn 111), Phillips (Claridge 46), May.

Subs not used: Gueret, Robinson.

Bookings: May (68)

Referee: Mr Paul Robinson (East Yorkshire)

Attendance: 2,731

Diamonds’ MOTM: Mark Peters (Millwall chances were rare).

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2001-02 Cheltenham v RDFC Play Off

By Steven

Rushden & Diamonds have suffered play-off heartache this afternoon but they can be mightily proud of their performance as the fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Millennium Stadium.

It was brave performance from Brian Talbot’s team but at the end of the day, Cheltenham created the better chances and are now promoted into the Second Division.

The players could still be proud of a marvellous effort and at the final whistle the Diamonds fans done their club proud by cheering the lads at the full-time whistle, something they thoroughly deserved.

There was sunshine in the air prior to kick-off as they fans poured through the turnstiles. The roof was open and the players went out for their pre-match warm-up.

Brian Talbot was forced to make one change to his side that beat Rochdale on Tuesday evening. Stuart Gray, who has not started a first-team game since February, was recalled to the starting line-up with Andy Burgess out through suspension.

Despite being forced off during the 2-1 win over Rochdale, captain Paul Underwood was fit while Scott Partridge and goal scoring machine Onandi Lowe started in attack.

For Cheltenham, they included Julian Alsop and Tony Naylor in attack while experienced striker Neil Grayson was named amongst the substitutes.

The atmosphere was electric as both teams began their pre-match warm-ups. There were, understandably, more Cheltenham fans but the Diamonds support made sure they made their voices heard.

There was plenty of build up to the game with a mini penalty shoot out between the teams, an opera singer and music and fireworks. Both sets of players were introduced to the match sponsors, Nationwide and Football League officials prior to the match.

So all the talk was over and the match got underway. Cheltenham seemed to have made the brighter start, as they looked confident on the ball putting the Diamonds defence under some early pressure.

But Diamonds slowly got into their stride and Onandi Lowe showed his power and strength to get past two Cheltenham defenders however his shot was blocked.

There was a nasty moment for Diamonds on six minutes when a long through ball over the top meant Martin Devaney ran towards goal and clattered into goalkeeper Billy Turley.

Diamonds were now starting to open the Cheltenham defence and Tarkan Mustafa’s shot across the face of the goal had to be dealt with and the Robins cleared their lines.

But Diamonds created their best effort on 12 minutes. A delightful through ball by Lowe put Hall in the clear and after skipping past two defenders he scooped his shot over the bar from inside the six-yard penalty area.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Cheltenham 0

Cheltenham created their best chance of the match of 16 minutes when Devaney skipped past Mustafa but saw his shot go inches past Turley’s right hand post.

On 20 minutes, Lowe headed a free-kick past the post from Hall’s delivery as this match continued to be evenly contested.

The Diamonds thought they had taken the lead on 25 minutes when Hall delivered a beautiful cross into the penalty area but Stuart Wardley, who slid into the penalty area, saw his effort saved by Cheltenham goalkeeper Steve Book.

But the deadlock was broken on 27 minutes as Cheltenham took the lead. Devaney skipped past Mustafa on the right flank to squeeze the ball past Turley from an acute angle.

But that lead lasted just one minute as Diamonds got themselves back on level terms. Hall picked up the ball in the middle of the field and skipped past three defenders to lift the ball over Book.

The place erupted and Diamonds were back in the game. On 30 minutes, Devaney nearly had a second when he headed at the far post but Turley was equal to his effort.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 1 Cheltenham 1

Both teams were now enjoying the open space of the Millennium Stadium pitch and Gray’s effort from 30-yards went inches over the crossbar.

This was an exciting game and Diamonds were slightly edging the better chances than their opponents, although Cheltenham were looking strong in attack.

Diamonds continued to look strong and on 42 minutes, Gray fired a free-kick straight into the arms of Book.

Tillson saw a header well saved from the Cheltenham goalkeeper a minute later and although both teams had chances towards the end of the half, a draw was a fair reflection.

At half-time: Diamonds 1 Cheltenham Town 1

Cheltenham started the better side in the second-half as they put early pressure on the Diamonds defence as they attacked the goal towards where their fans were situated.

Cheltenham began to carve openings in the Diamonds defence and on 49 minutes Alsop had the easiest job to tap home from close range after Tillson failed to clear his lines.

The goal sent the Cheltenham fans wild and it was a disastrous start for Diamonds. Brian’s team reacted strongly to that incident and Lowe nearly fired a header on target.

Cheltenham should have extended their lead on 52 minutes when Alsop’s powerful header flew past the post.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Cheltenham 2

Steve Cotterill’s side began to put more pressure on Diamonds and Alsop went close one more time but Turley reacted quickly to stop the danger.

Partridge fired over on 67 minutes and that was going to be his last action of the game as he was substituted and replaced by Brett Angell. Jon Brady replaced Gray also.

Brady nearly marked his appearance with a goal as he sent a curling free-kick towards goal but Book done well to stop the danger.

The pressure was on now for Diamonds to produce the goods and on 74 minutes Wardley should have connected with Hall’s cross but the ball rolled harmlessly to Book.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 1 Cheltenham 2

But despite all the pressure, Cheltenham extended their lead on 79 minutes and had almost certainly booked their passage into the Second Division. A thunderbolt shot from Grayson struck the post but John Finnigan was on hand to curl the ball past Turley.

It was a fantastic goal and Turley had no chance but to their credit, Diamonds continued to push everybody forward and Lowe’s presence was causing some confusion.

Wardley should have got Diamonds back into the game on 87 minutes but somehow managed to drag a shot past the post – it certainly wasn’t Diamonds’ day.

Diamonds continued to throw men forward but the season ended on a flat note when Cheltenham were confirmed as the winner at the full-time whistle.

At full-time: Diamonds 1 Cheltenham 3

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth, Partridge (Angell 69), Gray (Brady 69), Hall, Wardley, Lowe, Tillson.

Subs not used: Pennock, Setchell, Hunter.

Bookings:

Cheltenham: Book, Duff, Victory, Yates, Griffin, Walker, Devaney (Grayson 75), Alsop, Naylor, Williams, Finnigan.

Subs not used: Howarth, Muggleton, Lee, Tyson.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr Tony Leake.

Attendance: 24,368

See here for a Video of Paul Hall’s goal.

2001-02 Rochdale v RDFC Play Off

By Steven

The party will go on long into the night this evening as Rushden & Diamonds’ fairytale season continues thanks to a 2-1 win over Rochdale which see the club book a place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Onandi Lowe and Paul Hall were the men on target as Diamonds had to come from a goal behind and the scenes at the final whistle will live long in the memory of Diamonds supporters.

It was a fantastic evening with over 1,000 Diamonds supporters singing their hearts out throughout the game as Brian’s team held on superbly for over 10 minutes to claim the victory.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot kept faith with the same starting eleven than began proceedings three days ago in the first-leg at Nene Park although changes were made amongst the substitutes.

Stuart Gray was named on the bench, his first appearance for the first-team since the defeat against Hull City in February while Barry Hunter was also included. Gary Mills and Gary Setchell both dropped out.

Rochdale boss John Hollins was forced to make one change to his side. Clive Platt, who hobbled off in the first-leg with a hamstring injury and he was not passed fit to play this evening so Kevin Townson, the club’s leading marksmen stepped in.

The Spotland pitch left a lot to be desired. Boggy in patches, it looked a heavy surface and it was going to be interesting to see how both teams could cope with the heavy rainfall that had hit Rochdale during the course of the day.

The two teams were greeted to a fantastic ovation by a near full house at Spotland and this was certainly going to be a tense evening of football.

It was a shaky couple of opening minutes by both sides as the rain continued to lash down at Spotland but Townson had the opening chance of the game as he fired over the crossbar, for the home side, from inside the penalty area.

But Diamonds responded strongly to that early effort as Onandi Lowe showed his pace and strength to fire a shot across the face of the goal which Rochdale goalkeeper Neil Edwards had to make an important save.

There was a nervy moment in the Rochdale defence as a mix-up between Edwards and defender Matt Doughty nearly resulted in Scott Partridge sneaking through and finding a way through goal.

Hollins was forced to make a substitute within the first ten minutes as Richard Jobson fell awkwardly and after challenging Lowe for an aerial ball. Experienced defender Simon Coleman took over his role.

Townson was causing much of the problems for Diamonds and his run and shot on 12 minutes beat Billy Turley but went inches past his right-hand post.

After 15 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

A Paul Hall cross on 16 minutes was volleyed wide by Stuart Wardley as the Diamonds enjoyed some good possession, keeping the buoyant Rochdale crowd quiet.

On 19 minutes, Hall found space down the right and Partridge controlled his cross beautifully but Lowe skied his shot over the crossbar.

The visitors were now enjoying more of the possession and Brian’s team were looking the more likely to open the scoring. On 26 minutes, Tarkan Mustafa dragged a shot wide of the target.

After 30 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

On 32 minutes, Lowe created some space outside the Rochdale penalty area and fired a thunderbolt shot but it went inches wide Edwards’ right hand post.

Rochdale won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 35 minutes but David Flitcroft’s delivery was just too long for Townson.

Despite the conditions this was an exciting game and it was evident that Diamonds were having much better of the chances in the first-half.

Lowe flew at a header on 41 minutes that got the Diamonds bench off their seats as it flew wide of the Rochdale goal.

Rochdale pressed forward in the closing stages of the first-half but the two teams went in level as the half-time whistle blew.

Half-time: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

Both teams started brightly in the second-half as Townson broke free into the penalty area but was stopped in his tracks by Turley while Lowe skied a shot well over the bar just moments later.

The home side were now looking the stronger side as Peters and Tillson were put under considerable pressure but to their credit, Rochdale’s chances were minimal.

Townson continued to cause problems for Diamonds and on 56 minutes he should have done better when he got the better of Tillson.

After 60 minutes: Rochdale 0 Diamonds 0

Rochdale created the best chance of the second half on 61 minutes when Simpson put McEvilly in the clear but Turley was brave and saved at the strikers feet as he ran towards goal.

Lowe displayed his power and pace once again but fired wide on 62 minutes as chances were created at either end of the field.

But on 63 minutes, Rochdale took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Mustafa’s back pass took a nasty bobble and it deceived Turley and the ball rolled into the back of the net, much to the frustration of the Diamonds goalkeeper.

But what a response from Diamonds as Lowe striker a fierce effort from inside the penalty area after a goalmouth scramble where Rochdale failed to clear their lines.

There was bad news for Diamonds on 66 minutes when Underwood had to be replaced by Gray as the visitors captain looked as if he had picked up a knock while going in for a tackle.

After 75 minutes: Rochdale 1 Diamonds 1

But Diamonds fans went ballistic on 75 minutes as they took the lead. Lowe spotted Paul Hall and the Jamaican international midfielder coolly ran past Edwards and slotted the ball into the empty net.

It was fantastic stuff but this wasn’t over as Rochdale threw men forward and Simpson drilled a long-range effort over the crossbar.

Partridge, who had been working tirelessly all evening, pulled a shot wide with just seven minutes to go but it was the home side who were now looking the stronger side as Brian’s team tried to hold on.

And they did and as the full time whistle blew the scenes were remarkable in front of a packed Spotland stadium.

Rochdale: Edwards, Evans, Doughty, Jobson (Coleman 10), Griffiths, Flitcroft (McCourt 72), Oliver, McLoughlin, Simpson, Townson (Connor 79), McEvilly.

Substitutes: Gilks, Durkan.

Booked:

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood (Gray 66), Peters, Tillson, Butterworth, Wardley, Burgess, Hall, Lowe, Partridge.

Substitutes: Angell, Pennock, Brady, Hunter.

Booked:

Attendance:8,485 (1,091 from Diamonds)

Referee: Mr RG Furnandiz

For video highlights see here

2001-02 RDFC v Rochdale Play Off

By Steven

Rushden & Diamonds came from behind twice to snatch a 2-2 draw against Rochdale meaning there is ‘all to play for’ when the two teams go head-to-head again in three days time for the second leg of this semi final play-off encounter.

Stuart Wardley and Garry Butterworth both struck for Diamonds to cancel out efforts from Lee McEvilly and Paul Simpson in front of over 6,000 supporters at Nene Park.

Prior to the game, Diamonds boss Brian Talbot kept faith with the same starting eleven that began proceedings in the 4-2 victory against Halifax Town last week, meaning Ritchie Hanlon was not included.

Butterworth maintained his place in the centre of midfielder and partnered Wardley, who 48 hours earlier had put pen to paper on a new two-year contract at Nene Park.

Scott Partridge kept his place in attack, after his impressive performance at The Shay and partnered Onandi Lowe meaning Brett Angell had to settle for a place on the substitute bench.

For Rochdale, they brought down an experienced and strong line-up. Simpson, the former Manchester City and Blackpool midfielder, started for the visitors while fans favourite Clive Platt started in attack.

Kevin Townson, Rochdale’s leading goalscorer, was named amongst the substitutes after missing the last few games through injury.

A near full capacity crowd greeted the two teams in this carnival atmosphere as Diamonds set the early pace as Partridge just failed to beat the offside trap inside the first minute.

Diamonds created the first chance of the game when Lowe powered his way past the Rochdale defence but the Jamaican international striker was forced wide by goalkeeper Neil Edwards and could not direct a shot towards goal.

On five minutes, Diamonds went even closer. Butterworth’s through ball from the centre of the field found Paul Hall but the midfielder saw his shot roll wide of the Rochdale goal.

But despite Diamonds’ early pressure it was Rochdale who took the lead after eight minutes. And it was amazing run from midfielder McEvilly that broke the deadlock as he skipped past four defenders after picking up the ball on the halfway line to slot past Billy Turley.

But the goal brought some controversy as the throw-in, which led to the goal, seemingly should have been given to Diamonds but referee Graham Barber gave it in the opposite direction.

On 12 minutes, Rochdale nearly extended their lead but Turley produced an excellent one-handed save from Simpson after the midfielder had broke into the penalty area.

After 15 minutes: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 1

A dangerous free-kick from Mark Peters caused confusion in the Rochdale penalty area on 18 minutes but Partridge could not get the ball from under his feet a put a shot towards goal.

The Diamonds continued to play the better football, looking dangerous on the attack but Platt was also causing havoc of his own as Peters and Andy Tillson struggled to keep him quiet.

Turley produced another reflex save on 23 minutes when he stopped a powerful header from Gareth Griffiths but at the other end Partridge went close with a dipping 25-yard effort which was well saved by Edwards.

After 30 minutes: Diamonds 0 Rochdale 1

Lowe tested Edwards from 40 yards with a powerful free-kick that went inches wide of the woodwork and then Diamonds had the ball in the back of the net just moments later but the offside flag intervened.

But then just a minute later, Diamonds got themselves back on level terms. A delightful delivered free-kick from Hall found Wardley in space and the former QPR midfielder header into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

But Rochdale nearly responded just moments later. A long ball found Simpson in the penalty area and his turn and shot brought another reflex save from Turley.

Tillson fired a header over the Diamonds crossbar on 37 minutes from another impressive free-kick by Hall and this match continued to be entertaining to the neutral spectators.

Lowe went close following an excellent find from Butterworth but the Jamaican international overstretched and could not put the ball on target.

Half-time: Diamonds 1 Rochdale 1

Diamonds started the second-half brightly as Lowe sent a curling shot towards goal but Edwards made no hesitation and took an easy catch amongst a crowded penalty area.

On 51 minutes, Lowe displayed his power by holding off the challenge from Jobson but his shot rolled inches wide of the target with Edwards scrambling across the face of his goal.

A shot-cum-cross from David Flitcroft nearly deceived Turley as Peters sent a header over his own crossbar and out for a corner.

But Rochdale regained the lead on 56 minutes when Simpson unleashed a powerful 35-yard shot that deceived Turley. It certainly sent the 1,100 Rochdale fans wild as they celebrated the goal.

Diamonds thought they had got themselves on level terms just a minute later but Lowe’s goal was ruled out for a foul on a Rochdale defender.

After 60 minutes: Diamonds 1 Rochdale 2

The goal seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of Diamonds, as Rochdale looked the more likely team to get the next goal as they continued to throw more bodies forward.

On 67 minutes, Diamonds rattled the crossbar as Partridge fired a delightful ball from 30-yards out over the head of Edwards as the home-side were now beginning to put more pressure on the visitors.

But on 73 minutes, Diamonds got themselves back on level terms and it came from an unlikely source. A Peters free-kick was not cleared by the Rochdale defence and the ball broke to Butterworth whose shot struck the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

After 75 minutes: Diamonds 2 Rochdale 2

Both teams were throwing bodies forward in the closing stages of this game and Butterworth was stopped in his tracks by a fantastic tackle from Griffiths when Wardley put the Diamonds midfielder in the clear.

On 86 minutes, Townson found space in the Diamonds penalty area but Turley produced a good save at his feet and then the Rochdale striker saw his second shot go wide of the target.
At full-time: Diamonds 2 Rochdale 2

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Butterworth, Wardley, Burgess, Hall, Lowe, Partridge (Angell 82).

Subs not used: Brady, Mills, Pennock, Setchell.

Booked: Lowe (75), Angell (90)

Rochdale: Edwards, Evans, Griffiths, Flitcroft, Oliver, Doughty, Simpson, McLoughlin, McEvilly, Platt (Townson 53), Jobson.

Subs not used: Coleman, Gilks, Durkan, McCourt.

Booked: Simpson (32), Oliver (37), Griffiths (75)

Referee: Mr G Barber.

Attendance: 6,015

For Video Highlights see here.

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

2001-02 Mansfield Town v RDFC

By Steven

Onandi Lowe single-handedly ripped through the Mansfield defence as the striker scored his first hat-trick for the club to steer Diamonds to an excellent and well deserved 4-1 win at Field Mill.

And the game was capped off by a fine header from Brett Angell to score his first goal for Diamonds just 48 hours after completing a move to Nene Park from Walsall.

The only down side to this afternoon’s marvellous victory was the news that Duane Darby had to be carried off with what looked to be a nasty leg injury.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot named an unchanged side to the one that recorded a 3-0 victory against Shrewsbury Town last weekend. That meant Duane Darby and Onandi Lowe started in attack.

Angell was named amongst the substitutes while Mark Peters was up against his former club.

For Mansfield, rookie goalkeeper Michael Bingham was called into action for his first ever league appearance with normal shot-stopped Kevin Pilkington out through suspension.

Stags boss Stuart Watkiss gambled in not naming a substitute goalkeeper amongst his five bodies on the bench but former Newcastle star Scott Sellars was included as a sub.

Mansfield went into the game looking for their first victory in three games while Diamonds arrived at Field Mill on the back of consecutive 3-0 victories.

Diamonds made the much brighter start out of the two sides and Stuart Wardley nearly put the visitors in front inside the first minute but his shot went straight into the arms of Bingham.

Then just moments later, Paul Hall went even closer. Picking the ball deep inside the Mansfield half the midfielder skipped past two defenders and his curling shot went just inches over the crossbar.

It was an electric start to the game, played in beautiful weather conditions. On three minutes, Mansfield had a penalty appeal waved away when David Kelly tumbled in the area.

Diamonds certainly started the brighter side. They were controlling large periods of the game, looking comfortable on the ball and creating a few goal scoring opportunities.

After 15 mins: Mansfield 0 Diamonds 0

On 15 minutes, Mansfield created their best chance of the game. A free-kick in a dangerous position caused the Diamonds defence all kinds of problems and when the ball broke to Kelly, Billy Turley had to be quick to react.

Mansfield were now getting themselves back into the game. Greenacre was causing the Diamonds defence some problems but it was clear that the home-side had soon stepped up a gear.

The home-side nearly took the lead on 24 minutes when after a shot from Greenacre was not held by Turley, Tarkan Mustafa had to make a vital clearance off the goal line to stop Kelly getting a vital touch.

There were worrying signs for Diamonds as the half-hour mark approached with Darby hobbling off after taking a whack from a Mansfield defender. But he soon returned and took his normal position in attack.

After 30 mins: Mansfield 0 Diamonds 0

But the pain was too much for Darby who could not carry on so it was an early debut for Angell who replaced the popular striker on 30 minutes.

Mansfield were keeping the pressure on without creating to many chances but on 38 minutes Diamonds took the lead in spectacular style.

It was another special strike from Onandi Lowe. Picking the ball up just outside the Mansfield penalty area the Jamaican powered past a defender and after finding some space he unleashed an unstoppable shot past Bingham.

It was probably what the visitors deserved, although at the time it may have been against the run of play but it certainly gave the lively Diamonds crowd something to cheer about.

At half-time: Mansfield 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds began the second-half brightly and could have extended their lead inside the first minute when Andy Burgess’ cross should have been stuck away by Hanlon but it hit the side netting.

That miss then proved costly as Mansfield got themselves back on level terms. Adam Murray sneaked in front of the Diamonds defence and burst through on goal to calmly slot the ball past Turley.

But then just moments later Diamonds restored their lead and it was that man again. Lowe capitalized on a mistake in the Mansfield defence and powered another unstoppable shot past Bingham from an impossible angle.

It was a great response from the Diamonds and soon they were looking the better side once again. Hall was creating some exciting runs down the right flank and Lowe was causing the Mansfield defence all kinds of problems.

After 60 mins: Mansfield 1 Diamonds 2

On 60 minutes Diamonds nearly extended their lead when Angell played a cross into the Mansfield penalty area and some confusion between Les Robinson and Bingham, Lowe nearly stole in to grab his hat-trick.

But his hat-trick did arrive on 63 minutes when he fired home Hall’s free-kick after the Mansfield defence failed to clear their lines.

It was a wonderful goal and this was turning out to be another fine performance from Diamonds – the question is could they hold on to three very valuable points.

Greenacre fired wide off the target on 70 minutes but despite being 3-1 in front it was Diamonds who looked the more likely side to grab another goal. Turley was having a quiet afternoon.

Mansfield went close to reducing the lead on 72 minutes when Sellars dragged his shot wide of the target as Diamonds’ defence was exposed.

After 75 mins: Mansfield 1 Diamonds 3

The home-side were slowly getting themselves back into the game and Bradley should have done better when he fired his shot wide off the target when it looked easier to score.

But the game was made safe on 80 minutes. Hall delivered an excellent cross from out on the right wing and Angell headed home from close range to score on his debut for the club.

Lowe was substituted on 80 minutes and went off to a standing ovation from all sections of the Field Mill ground as he was replaced by Scott Partridge.

Hall nearly made it five to Diamonds with five minutes remaining but only brought out an outstanding save from Bingham.

This was an outstanding performance from Diamonds and at the final whistle they fully deserved their standing ovation they received from the excellent support from the fans.

Full-time: Mansfield 1 Diamonds 4

Mansfield: Bingham, Robinson, Disley, Barrett, Pemberton, Murray, Williamson (Sellars 57), Kelly (White 60), Corden (Bradley 75), Greenacre, Hassell.

Subs not used: Asher, Reddington.

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Mustafa, Underwood, Peters, Tillson, Hall (Brady 86), Hanlon, Wardley, Burgess, Lowe (Partridge 80), Darby (Angell 30).

Subs not used: Dowell, Setchell.

Bookings:

Referee: Mr H Halsey

Attendance: 5,807

Video Highlights of this game are available here.

2001-02 Burnley v R&DFC

Match Report By David
Rushden & Diamonds’ conquered First Division Burnley at Turf Moor in their first ever game in the Worthington Cup. Goals from Mark Peters, Tarkan Mustafa (his first ever goal for the Club) and Duane Darby gave the Third Division Team a memorable victory which they throughly deserved.
Diamonds kicked off wearing the all-yellow strip in their first ever Worthington Cup tie. Billy Turley was called into the frame in the first couple of minutes when good work down the right hand side found Bradley Maylett free at the back post, but his header was saved at the second attempt.
After only 4 minutes, a Jon Brady corner was buried into the back of the net with a Mark Peters bullet header. Burnley almost equalised 3 minutes later, but the linesman’s flag and the fact that the shot went over the bar, meant that the score remained one-nil to the Diamonds.
After 10 minutes of play, the Diamonds almost extended their lead. Another Jon Brady corner, this time from the other side, found the head of Mark Peters again, but this time the ball flew just over the bar.
Six minutes later, a Stuart Gray shot from just outside the area was just tipped past the post by the Burnley ‘keeper. Once Burnley managed to clear the ball, they broke to the other end of the pitch.
A long ball from deep within their own half and over the Diamonds defence, gave Burnley a chance of breaking through, but Tarkan Mustafa managed to get back and put off the Burnley striker with timely, sliding tackle.
Stuart Gray had another chance to double the lead after good hold up play by Justin Jackson. Jackson with his back to goal laid the ball off to the approaching Gray, but his blistering shot went wide of the post.
Burnley’s Papadopoulos should have made the score level, but his free header went well-wide of Turley’s post. Diamonds continued to pressure for their second goal, Justin Jackson was brought down outside the box after brilliant passing between Butterworth, Underwood, Gray and Patmore. The resultant free-kick went inches over the bar from Jon Brady.
Burnley should have equalised with a superb shot at goal, but veteran Garry Butterworth was on the line to clear, however the ball found another Burnley player flying in, but his header went well over the bar.
Great defensive work from the Diamonds kept Burnley at bay. Billy Turley was called into a crucial save with only moments of the first half remaining. Alan Moore ran past the Diamonds defence and was one-on-one with Billy Turley, but Turley got low and stopped the ball. John Mullin beat Turley with a superb header, but the ball wasn’t on target and went wide of the post.
With the second half just a couple of minutes old, Tarkan Mustafa extended the lead with an absolute ripper of a goal. Great passing play between the Diamonds midfield set up the attack, Mustafa got on the end of the ball and took on three Burnley defenders, before firing home into the top corner from the edge of the box, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance.
On the hour mark Burnley halved the defecit through an Alan Moore header after Burnley started to get themselves back into the flow of the game. Even with all of the pressure, Burnley couldn’t capitalise on any of their chances. Duane Darby was brought into the action after 63 minutes, replacing Patmore up front.
After 66 minutes of play, a Stuart Gray free kick went over the bar. Another shot from Gray moments later gave Diamonds another corner, but they couldn’t capitalise. Burnley’s Ian Moore (a substitute brought on at half time), had a good strike from outside the penalty area, but Billy Turley saved well down on the ground.
On 78 minutes, the Diamonds broke against the run of play, Jon Brady found Jackson in acres of space and his run and pass found Darby unmarked at the far post and he smashed the ball home into the roof of the net.
Ian Moore almost scored Burnley’s second of the night, but was denied by the crossbar. Burnley did get another goal with only five minutes left on the clock. Mark McGregor found some space in the area and headed home a looping header that crept in under the crossbar.
Diamonds almost scored their fourth of the night with minutes remaining, but Duane Darby just couldn’t get his head on the end of the ball.

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