Peaks’ delight as Diamonds secure a play-off place

The AFC Rushden & Diamonds players celebrate after the final whistle as they secured their play-off place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South. Pictures by Alison Bagley
The AFC Rushden & Diamonds players celebrate after the final whistle as they secured their play-off place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South. Pictures by Alison Bagley
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Andy Peaks was understandably delighted after AFC Rushden & Diamonds stormed into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South play-offs.

Going into the final day of the regular season, Diamonds knew a win over Carlton Town in their last game at the Dog & Duck would secure fifth place.

Shawn Richards wrapped up Diamonds' 5-1 win over Carlton Town with this free-kick

Shawn Richards wrapped up Diamonds' 5-1 win over Carlton Town with this free-kick

And they delivered it in devastating fashion as a Tom Lorraine hat-trick and an own-goal saw them storm into a 4-0 half-time lead to put it beyond doubt inside 45 minutes.

Shawn Richards added the fifth as they completed a 5-1 victory to move to within two wins of promotion.

Diamonds will travel to runners-up Witton Albion, who finished 25 points clear of Peaks’ team, for the one-off semi-final on Tuesday night while Spalding United and Stocksbridge Park Steels do battle in the other match while the final will be staged next Saturday.

But, for the time being, Peaks was just delighted to see his target for the season become a reality.

Liam Dolman and boss Andy Peaks celebrate after the final whistle at the Dog & Duck

Liam Dolman and boss Andy Peaks celebrate after the final whistle at the Dog & Duck

“I felt it could go one of two ways,” the Diamonds boss said.

“We could either come out, score a couple of goals and be comfortable or it would be one of those really tight affairs.

“Thankfully, it was the first of those and the first-half performance was terrific.

“We knew that if we started well we would nullify their threats, the players stuck to the game plan and it paid off.

“I said at the start of the season that it was going to be tough but I felt we would eventually have a squad that would be good enough to get us into the play-offs.

“We lost the first two games of the season, which made it even harder and we have had ups and downs since then.

“But we have got to where we want to be and I am delighted.

“Now we can go on and see if we can get ourselves up, even though we know that will be extremely tough. But we have given ourselves that chance.”

Peaks, meanwhile, was delighted to see his decision to give Lorraine the nod in attack ahead of Jack Bowen pay off.

“I think there were a few people questioning that decision,” the Diamonds boss added.

“Jack is a young lad who has played a lot of football in a short space of time.

“I know what I am getting with Shanks (Lorraine) and he justified the decision because he destroyed them in the first half.”