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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 May, 2003, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Diamonds win title
Rushden & Diamonds drew 1-1 with Hartlepool at Nene Park to win the Division Three title.

In what was effectively the match that decided the fate of the championship, Rushden knew that a draw would be good enough to seal top spot.

Mike Newell's Hartlepool, who spent a lengthy period of the season leading the table, have to settle for second spot but at least have the consolation of promotion.

The home side took the lead when Andy Burgess and Stuart Gray combined to find Duane Darby.

He played the ball out wide to Marcus Bignot, and when the cross came in, Paul Hall struck the ball home from close range.

Diamonds had other chances to extend their lead in the opening period but twice Michael Barron got in saving tackles to deny the home side.

Keeper Anthony Williams also pulled off a fine save to keep out Bignot's 20-yard drive.

In the second half Hartlepool threw everything but the kitchen sink at Rushden and deservedly equalised two minutes from the end when the unmarked Chris Westwood headed home Paul Smith's corner.

That set up a frantic finale and Mark Tinkler could have won the game and the title for Hartlepool in the dying seconds, but his header was well saved by Billy Turley.


Rushden & Diamonds: Turley, Bignot, Edwards, Hunter, Underwood, Hall, Bell, Burgess, Gray, Darby, Lowe. Subs: Holdsworth, Sollitt, Talbot, Sambrook, Dempster.

Hartlepool: Anthony Williams, Barron, Lee, Westwood, Robinson, Humphreys, Tinkler, Clarke, Smith, Eifion Williams, Watson. Subs: Arnison, Henderson, Widdrington, Easter, Provett.

Referee: L Cable (Surrey)




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Diamonds' manager Brian Talbot
"We got our just rewards"




RUSHDEN AND DIAMONDS

HARTLEPOOL


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