Diamonds now fully focused on the top priority

Andy Peaks is now fully focused on a push for the play-off places for AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Andy Peaks is now fully focused on a push for the play-off places for AFC Rushden & Diamonds
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Andy Peaks insists AFC Rushden & Diamonds must “draw a line” under their Buildbase FA Trophy exit and focus on their number one priority for the season.

Diamonds were down to the bare bones with no fewer than seven first-team players missing for Tuesday’s second qualifying round replay at Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South rivals Lincoln United.

It resulted in Peaks’ team being beaten 2-0 after the two sides had battled it out in a pulsating 3-3 draw at the Dog & Duck last Saturday.

But the Diamonds boss isn’t about to dwell on that as his team get ready to resume their league programme at Loughborough Dynamo this weekend.

Diamonds remain on an unbeaten run of 11 matches in the league, which has catapulted them up the table and into the race for the play-off places.

Peaks is keen to see his team emulate their efforts of last season when they finished in the top five in the Southern League Division One Central before they were cruelly denied promotion in a 2-1 play-off final defeat at St Ives Town.

And, aside from next Tuesday’s re-arranged Integro League Cup home clash with Corby Town, he is pleased his team now have a clear run at trying to claim a play-off place between now and the end of the season.

“We have to draw a line under it (the FA Trophy exit) now,” Peaks said.

“We can focus on the league and hopefully we can get some players back and look to get a positive result tomorrow.

“Wherever I have been as a player or manager, I have always seen the cup competitions as a bonus.

“You never really know what will happen, you could get knocked out at the first hurdle.

“We have been fortunate to have a couple of decent runs but when we get to January and February, it will be the league that we are judged on.

“My aim was to try to make the play-offs but there’s no doubt in my mind that the standard in this division is a lot better than in the Southern League last season.

“But there is nothing in my mind that is telling me we can’t challenge for the top five.

“Tomorrow is going to be another tough game because we are away from home again.

“We will lift the players’ spirits in training and we will get on with it.”