Diamonds’ final push starts with a huge home clash

Andy Peaks' AFC Rushden & Diamonds team have 10 games left to secure a play-off place
Andy Peaks' AFC Rushden & Diamonds team have 10 games left to secure a play-off place

AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ final push to secure an Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South play-off place begins with a huge clash at the Dog & Duck tomorrow (Saturday).

With 10 games to go, Diamonds sit in fourth place after they moved back into the top five after a 4-1 win at bottom side Northwich Victoria last weekend thanks to Nabil Shariff’s hat-trick and a goal from Jack Bowen.

After suffering a 3-2 home loss to Premier Division side Buxton in the quarter-finals of the Integro League Cup on Tuesday night, Diamonds are now gearing up for a showdown with fellow play-off contenders Leek Town.

Leek sit in seventh place but are just one point behind Andy Peaks’ team who are now in possession of a top-five position on goal difference from Basford United and Newcastle Town.

Peaks is delighted to see his team once again challenging at the right end of the table and he is backing his players to get “the result we want” this weekend.

“There’s no hiding away from the fact that it is a big game and I expect our players to go out and give a good account of themselves,” the Diamonds boss said.

“We will give them the right respect but we feel our squad is looking strong and if we perform to our full capabilities, work our socks off and make the right decisions then we can get the result we want from the game.

“We have been fortunate that over the past few years, every league game has been big for this club because we have been challenging at the right end of the table.

“We are again in a position a lot of clubs would like to be in with a realistic chance of claiming a play-off place and it’s important we stay focused on the job.

“It’s another big game this weekend and it’s one we need to get some points from.”

Tomorrow marks the start of a crucial five-week period before the end of the regular season during which Diamonds will play the reverse fixture at Leek on Saturday, April 8.

That is followed a week later by a home clash with fellow contenders Newcastle on April 15.