Andy Peaks praised the attitude of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players after their dramatic 1-0 victory at Leek Town kept them on course for a play-off place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South.
Nabil Shariff’s last-gasp goal secured the points for Diamonds against one of their rivals for a top-five finish as the top scorer bounced back from the disappointment of seeing a first-half penalty saved.
The dramatic victory sent Peaks’ team back into the play-off places on goal difference from Newcastle Town and one point clear of Stocksbridge Park Steels, who are the visitors to the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night.
Leek hit the post twice in the first half as Diamonds had to absorb a lot of pressure from the hosts.
And Peaks was delighted with the eventual outcome as Shariff’s 25th goal of the season in all competitions sealed a crucial success.
“It was exactly what we wanted,” Peaks said.
“The performance was probably not as good as some of the other games recently.
“We had to absorb a lot of pressure and we changed the shape to get back into the game and it worked for us.
“But the attitude of the players was absolutely spot on and we eventually got what we wanted from the game.
“We worked on our set-pieces in training last Thursday and one of them paid off at the end for us.
“I have been saying for a while that the performances have been good but that doesn’t always bring you points.
“Hopefully that result will give us some momentum going into another big game on Tuesday.”
The game was held up for 12 minutes early on after a nasty clash of heads between Diamonds defender Brad Harris and Leek’s Tim Grice, who had to be stretchered off.
And Peak was full of praise for Harris as he went on to perform well.
“Brad got through the whole game and he was immense for us,” the Diamonds boss added.
“It was a nasty clash of heads and we wish the Leek player well but Brad came through it and performed very well.
“(Goalkeeper) Matt Finlay was excellent for us and he made a fantastic save towards the before we got the goal.
“But there were good performances throughout the team, the spirit was fantastic and now we have to push on and get what we need from the games that are left.”