Andy Peaks has described AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ clash at Stamford today (Monday, 3pm) as “a cup final”.
Diamonds go into the local derby knowing two wins in the final two games will secure a play-off place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South.
A 1-0 win over fellow contenders Newcastle Town on Saturday, courtesy of Liam Dolman’s second-half header, saw Diamonds move up to fifth in the table and back into the play-off places with two games remaining.
Attention now shifts to Stamford and Peaks knows their fate is firmly in their own hands.
“If you said to me, we’d be in this position after the first game of the season (a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle), I’d have snapped your hand off,” the Diamonds boss said.
“I still believe, as I’ve said all along, this squad is more than capable of getting into the play-offs.
Today is the reverse fixture from Boxing Day, which saw Nabil Shariff scoring in a 1-1 draw at the Dog & Duck.
Despite Stamford currently sitting in a lowly 15th place in the league, Peaks is wary of any potential slip ups against a manager (Graham Drury) he’s fully aware of.
“It’s another cup final, it’s a massive banana skin, and it’s for us to go and win,” the Diamonds boss said.
“He’s ( Drury) going to want to beat us more than any other team in the league.
“I know Graham really well, we always have a beer afterwards. But he’ll want to get one over this club and they’ll be right up for it.”
Peaks confirmed captain Richard Bunting is likely to miss today’s clash after he picked up an injury in the win over Newcastle.
He added: “I think Richard is going to be struggling if I’m being honest, which is a blow.
“He’s been immense this season, he’s the skipper and he’s gone from strength-to-strength.
“He hasn’t really picked up the injuries this year, he’s been first class.
“If we miss him, then it’s up to the other boys to step up to the plate.
“It’s up to them to fill his shoes and make sure we get to where he wants us to be.”