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Not a good day
Not a good day

Square Trek Episode 3: Rushden

By: Ian Townsend
Date: 29/08/2010

"A bad day at Nene Park".

It’s not class or ideology,
Colour, creed or roots.
The only thing that unites us
Is Dr Marten’s Boots. Alexi Sayle (1984).

For their third away foray of the new season the away faithful converged upon Nene Park the home of Rushden and Diamonds.

Historically, football teams were born out of the support of the working classes in mill towns, mining towns and shipbuilding towns across the North of England. Rushden are a club born out of air and rubber in the form of Dr Marten’s air cushioned boots but more specifically their benefactor and genesis R. Griggs. The economic downturn has meant that Mr Griggs involvement has all but ceased but his legacy of a fully fledged Blue Square, ex league football team in a purpose built stadium survives.

Neil Woods, looking to maintain Town’s 100% away record had a selection headache prior to kick off. Both full backs Bore and Ridley were unavailable through injury and midfielder Michael Leary was absent through illness.

The manager, trying to minimise the effect of the absences went with a starting XI of:

A back four of: Samuels, Kempson, Watt, Wood
In Midfield: Gobern, Cummins, Hudson and Eagle
Lee Peacock was chosen above Tom Corner to partner Alan Connell up front.

On the bench: Thanoj, Corner, Garner, Ademeno, Fuller.

The game began with Town very much on the back foot. Some good early defensive work by Wood saw danger averted. Soon after Town were indebted to keeper Arthur who made a good save through a crowd of players down to his right.

For a team that have looked assured at the back conceding only two goals in four games there appeared to be some hesitation to the defensive performance, encapsulated in a let off for Town when, Kempson attempting to shield a ball back to Arthur allowed Howe to get between the two of them and Town were very lucky to see the ensuing shot hit the side netting.

Town were offering very little from an attacking point of view but a spot of decent passing football involving Peacock, Eagle and Connell saw the latter upended on the edge of the box. Peacock tried to emulate his winner at Crawley but this time the ball went harmlessly through to the Rushden keeper. Town continued to try to force their way into the match and had chances from a couple more free kicks. From the first Connell was caught offside as the kick was taken a bit too quickly and then another foul on Connell allowed Eagle to slant in a dangerous looking cross which Watt met. Unlike on Tuesday however the big centre half was unable to direct his header and the ball fell harmlessly wide.

However these moves offered but brief respite as Rushden pressed on. Firstly Arthur had to be alert to the onrushing Howe, being forced to head the ball away from the edge of his box and then winger Green fired narrowly over with the Mariners "at sea".

It came as no surprise when the home team eventually took the lead. Wood conceded a corner and when the ball came in it travelled all the way across to the centre of the box where right back Miller headed home completely unmarked.

The rest of the half saw Town chasing shadows and Town were again glad of Arthur's presence as the stopper sprinted out of his goal to attempt a clearance..

Half Time: Rushden and Diamonds 1 Grimsby Town 0

The second half began with Town clearly keen on providing Neil Woods with a response to his half time talk, and only 90 seconds into proceedings Town were level.

Peacock received the ball out wide and made progress before whipping in a low cross, which evading the Rushden defence, was knocked home by the late arriving Hudson. The goal knocked Rushden back and within seconds Watt was unlucky not to get his head to another cross.

However defensively Town’s problems were still very evident and Rene Howe, who proved a thorn in the side of the Mariners all game worked hard to create some space before passing to Green who fired narrowly wide. The next action came from another corner and saw a game defining incident.

Arthur, in making a save seemed to pick up an injury and it was only after extensive treatment that he was able to continue. However it was clear that he wasn't anywhere near his best and his inability to kick fatally affected Town within a couple of minutes. Watt stepping up to take a goal kick, slipped as he kicked it and put the ball straight back to Rushden with the ball eventually ending up in the net from Charles past the struggling Arthur for 2-1.

As if this wasn't bad enough within a minute Town were further behind. This time Watt and Kempson failed to communicate and the lively Howe nipped in to hammer the ball home.

The Mariners now had a mountain to climb and Woods reacted to the set back by replacing Eagle with Ademeno as Town sought to make more of an attacking threat.

As is only too often the case though the manager’s good intentions are undone before they've had a chance to come to something.

A ball played in from the Rushden left travelled all the way across the Town box where it eventually reached the totally unmarked Porter who had plenty of time to pick his spot for 4-1. This was the signal for a substantial number of Town fans leaving the game with more than one or two voicing loudly their opinions of the manager as they did.

Rushden were by now in total control and could have added to their total but for some poor finishing.

Neil Woods played his final card by bringing on corner for the largely ineffectual Gobern, although in truth Town were now engaged in damage limitation.

The final chance of the game fell to Hudson for Town but his well struck shot flew high and wide.

Injury time came and went and the final whistle sounded to put Town out of their collective misery.

FINAL SCORE: Rushden and Diamonds 4 Grimsby Town 1.

It is difficult to take any positives out of the game from a Town point of view. However the goal was taken very well. It is hard to imagine the back four having such a collective nightmare on many Saturdays.

Perhaps the most telling thing to come from the game is that whilst Town’s first XI is more than capable of "holding their own" there remain doubts about the strength of the cover.

Town definitely missed Peter Bore today, not just for the players defensive abilities but his ability to move forward. Without him Gobern didn't get any appreciable service and the supply line of decent crosses so evident at Darlington was missing.

Man of the Match:

Very difficult given that not one single player performed consistently well over 90 minutes. I've given the "award" to Mark Hudson, not just for his goal but his ability to get forward which Town have been lacking for some time.

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