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15 Years On: Rushden 1999

3 April 2014

The Robins produced an incredible finish to one of the most memorable games in their history 15 years ago today.

On this day in 1999 Cheltenham Town produced one of their most important results in the club's history.

The Robins travelled to Nene Park, the home of Rushden & Diamonds, sitting in third place of the Nationwide Conference behind Kettering Town and Rushden. Kettering had played more games due the Robins' FA Trophy campaign but what came next turned the tide for Steve Cotterill's men.

The Cheltenham fans travelled in huge numbers with queues lining up outside Nene Park. Many got inside to pack the stand behind the goal but it was possible that up to a few hundred were also locked out of the stadium. Before the match both Steve Cotterill and Brian Talbot had played down the significance of the game and that it was 'just another three points' but that was far from the truth.

Rushden were a side with almost 30 full-time professionals and included a young Guy Branston who of course is still playing to this day. Cheltenham however had the spirit on that day.

Things started badly for the Robins with Miquel De Souza, who had played one game previously for the Robins in an FA Cup clash versus Birmingham City, putting the hosts ahead and they went on to dominate the first half but the Robins hit back in the second half and there was soon to be a fairy tale ending.

Michael Duff's cross from the left wing found substitute Mark Freeman at the back post and the big defender stuck it into the back of the net to level the scores and send the travelling Robins wild behind the goal. That goal was a feat in itself but what came next left a significant mark on the club's entire timeline.

Before Rushden could regroup, Neil Grayson hooked in a second in the dying embers of the game to create magical moment fixed in time for all Cheltenham Town fans, officials and players who were there on that day. The Robins had somehow snatched a 2-1 win over their rivals and the psychological impact that the win had could not be underestimated.

Kettering had three games left to play but the Robins had seven and they followed this result up with a 1-0 win over Kidderminster, 1-0 win over Kingstonian, a 1-1 draw with Forest Green and then of course that 3-2 victory over Yeovil Town that confirmed their place in the Football League as Conference Champions.

So many memories, but what were yours? Tell us on Twitter (@CTFCofficial) using the hashtag #CTFC15.

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