Andy Peaks has launched a passionate defence of himself and his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players as the controversy surrounding their abandoned match at Kings Langley rumbles on.
Diamonds are currently preparing for Saturday’s FA Cup third qualifying round clash with Ashton United at the Dog & Duck after having their 31-match unbeaten run ended in a 3-1 home defeat to Basford United in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy at the weekend.
But the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central clash at Kings Langley last Tuesday is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Diamonds were 1-0 down late on before they grabbed an equaliser through Dan Quigley.
But the hosts felt the ball should have been returned to them after at least two players had gone down with injury before their goalkeeper kicked the ball out of play.
Diamonds’ goal sparked angry scenes on the touchline and that escalated after play had restarted when a challenge on Brad Harris sparked a mass brawl, which resulted in the referee ending the game early.
The incident is being investigated by the Football Association but, at the end of last week, Kings Langley manager Ritchie Hanlon spoke out about it.
He told the Watford Observer: “It was soul destroying and if they gave the ball back to us then these events wouldn’t have happened. There was huge frustration and anger at what had gone on.
“I rightly got sent off for remonstrating with the officials and apologised afterwards because there is not a written rule that they have to give the ball back. It was just pure frustration.
“There is a football etiquette and I’ve never seen anything like it. That was the defining moment in the game because none of it would have happened if they had passed the ball back to us.”
Those comments have now prompted Diamonds boss Peaks to respond.
And he said: “I was really disappointed to read what has been said and that was certainly not the way I saw it.
“I know the situation is being investigated by the FA and it would be very unprofessional for me to comment on it.
“But I will say that anyone who knows me knows I would never deliberately try to see an advantage to get something from a game of football.
“The facts are that their goalkeeper kicked the ball 70 yards and out of play and then went down injured along with a couple of others.
“They didn’t want or receive any treatment and it never crossed my mind that we should give the ball back.
“I would never get my players to do anything that would gain them an advantage and they know I wouldn’t accept it from them.”
Peaks, meanwhile, says he interested to see how his players react after their unbeaten run was ended by Basford on Saturday.
“It’s all about bouncing back now,” he added.
“The run was always going to end at some stage and I am interested to see how the lads react to it.
“Our aim is to try to start another good run and we will try to do that, starting from next weekend.
“Maybe there will be a bit of pressure off us now and the opposition managers’ team talks will change a bit now because they can’t be the team to end the run now. It’s done.
“We have a full week to prepare for the big FA Cup game, which is against a very good side. We are looking forward to it.”