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Rushden & Diamonds 0-0 Kingstonian

Tonight's games saw the two Wembley finalists pitted against the two horses in the proverbial championship race. The fact that our 'horse' is a few lengths behind is neither here nor there. The K's travelling number had swelled somewhat since their guarantee of fun on May 15th, and this was bolstered by a few Northampton fans as their game had been called off. The stage of Nene Park was as good a setting as could be wished for, with the intriguing scenario of all fans being seated behind the goal of what is by far and away the best stadium in the league.

Chapple named a full strength side for this one. Rumours that this was to show Griggs what his money would be spent on next year are entirely unfounded. Rushden, of course, still had an outside chance of winning the league, and certainly had more to play for than K's. On 7 minutes, a disputed corner saw West head goalwards when Farrelly really should have collected the ball. The ball eventually spilled out to Collins who wasn't too far away with an ambitious overhead kick. Moments later, the home team again looked to have a good chance when Collins received the ball in a position just in front of the area, but the linesman's flag was raised, albeit very late. The first effort of note that K's could muster was by Rattray who wasn't too far away with a back post header. But in the early part of the game, it looked as if, if any goals were scored tonight, it would be by the Diamonds. An excellent piece of play by Heggs saw him control on his chest a ball that was coming over his shoulder and race goalwards. Having done the hard work, he would have been somewhat aggrieved to have seen Farrelly get down well to his left. Heggs did follow up the shot, but the process of shot to the right, and Farrelly down well was repeated.

One of the best chances of the night was soon produced following an excellent cross from Heggs. His fast and low drive bounced just in front of the Kingstonian keeper and also West. The striker was first to make contact and put the ball just wide of Farrelly's left upright. Unfortunately there then followed a collision that saw both players needing attention from the physios, and saw Crossley taking the goal kicks.

Patterson then produced the kind of skill that few give him credit for. A defence splitting ball was just out of reach of Leworthy. In the 32nd minute Leworthy had a chance to make amends with a ball swung across from the left. He headed the cross square and was unlucky that Collect's positional sense was so astute. Following this, Rushden had a spell of sustained pressure but couldn't really mount many credible attacks.

The second half saw the introduction of Deletion Francis for Dave Leworthy, who appeared to have taken a knock in the first half. Again, he almost made an impact right away when he raced past Bradshaw but was then brought down by the lad. Then, what would have been an amazing goal was (perhaps) attempted by Chopper Harris. His punt down field had Collett back peddling and he had to tip the ball over the bar for a corner. A second corner was won by Francis and this saw Crossley head the ball back into the danger area at the back post but nothing could be made of it.

Throughout the second half Pitcher and Mustafa in particular were working tirelessly. Pitcher and Patterson can really read each other like a matchday programme. Surely their partnership is as strong a midfield duo as any in the lower leagues. Pitcher almost won a penalty having touched the ball past Bradshaw in the area. However, the penalty was not given, and nor should it have been. As the second half went on, K's began to look the superior team. Eddie put in a decent shot after neat play and despite a penalty appeal, this time for handball. Seconds later, he then skinned Rodwell and sent a ball into the middle which Francis bravely went for but only came off injured. K's fans began to 'booh' the Rushden players for not putting the ball out of play so the youngster could receive attention but the charitable thing was not done. Instead a shot was fired in, but it was easy for Farrelly. He looked to throw the ball out of play, but Luckett picked it up and played it to Pitcher, who went on a run and fired in an amazing shot which went just wide with Francis lying strewn in the area. What a talking point that would have been if the ball had gone in the sticks!

By far the best chance of the match fell to Delton Francis. Suffice to say the score remained 0-0. Brady played a ball back to the keeper, not seeing Francis in what would have been a very off-side position had a team mate played the ball to him. Francis raced onto the ball and was one on one with the keeper but amazingly put the ball wide with only fifteen minutes left.

This let-off gave The Diamonds some added impetus. DeSouza, on as a substitute, fired in a cracking shot and minutes later Farrelly made the save of the match tipping the ball over from the same man. This then lead to a series of three corners as K's were under the cosh for a little while.

But the game ended with K's looking the better team. They had the ball for the best part of two minutes without a single Rushden player joining in before a certain Doctor Martin boy stuck his brand of boot into Rattray's calf. This incensed the K's midfielder and a semi brawl erupted before the K's players realised where they were and how none of them really wanted a suspension

The game ended with Rushden fans booing their players whilst K's fans were only in a celebratory mood (bar the "Kelly out" chants arising during much of the game). As it stood, Rushden would have been kicking themselves more than kicking Rattray had news that Cheltenham dropped points filtered through to them. Yet, it didn't matter. There was little to separate the teams and neither deserved to lose it. In practice, that ended Rushden's season. Some would say that Kingstonian's is just beginning...

Tue 20th Apr 1999
Nene Park
Football Conference
Rushden & Diamonds0
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Kevin Rattray
10David Leworthy15
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Wayne Brown
14Mike Lester
15Delton Francis10
Man of the Match
Geoff Pitcher
Geoff Pitcher
Match Report By
Gary Ekins