Peaks: Diamonds are ready for a good test

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks is looking forward to a big final pre-season test at Hednesford Town this weekend

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks is looking forward to a big final pre-season test at Hednesford Town this weekend

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Andy Peaks believes his AFC Rushden & Diamonds squad are ready for what he expects to be a “good test” when they travel to Hednesford Town for their final pre-season friendly of the summer tomorrow (Saturday).

Diamonds continued their preparations for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South season, which starts with a trip to Newcastle Town a week on Saturday, with a 4-1 midweek friendly success at Raunds Town.

But Peaks is well aware that they will face a step up in opposition this weekend against a Hednesford side who were relegated from National League North last season and are expected to go well in the Northern Premier League Premier Division this time around.

“I think Hednesford are quite fancied to go straight back up so it is going to be a good test for us, which is no bad thing at all,” Peaks said.

“We are making the most of what we have available and I am very pleased with how pre-season is progressing.

“It was a good friendly for us on Tuesday night, it was competitive and played on a good surface.

“Raunds gave us a few problems early on but we got hold of the game, scored four goals and possibly could have had more.

“But I was able to use 18 players again, which is great and, as far as friendlies go, it ticked all the boxes.”

Peaks, meanwhile, is confident captain Liam Dolman will be fit for the first day of the new campaign after he missed the win at Raunds and last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Didcot Town.

And the Diamonds boss is also hopeful of completing deals with Taylor Orosz and Nic Evangelino who were both on target in the first half on Tuesday before further goals from Nabil Shariff and Jake Newman wrapped up the win.

“I expect Liam to be fit for the start of the season,” Peaks added.

“He has blisters that have gone septic so I am not going to take any chances with him.

“There’s a possibility he could be ready for this weekend.

“But Liam has nothing to prove to any of us, we know what he is capable of.

“The main thing with him is to ensure he is ready for the first game of the season.

“I have been very impressed with Nic and Taylor.

“They have both done well for us and we are hoping something can be done to keep them here.”