Peaks wants Diamonds to play without fear

AFC Rushden & Diamonds midfielder Joe Curtis is available again after suspension

AFC Rushden & Diamonds midfielder Joe Curtis is available again after suspension

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Andy Peaks wants his AFC Rushden & Diamonds squad to “play without fear” as they prepare for two quickfire home games this week.

After their midweek clash at Chasetown was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Diamonds are now preparing for tomorrow’s (Saturday) clash with Stocksbridge Park Steels at the Dog & Duck.

That is followed by another huge home match against title-chasing Witton Albion next Tuesday night as the race for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South play-off places heats up.

Diamonds go into this weekend still holding the final play-off place but on the back of two losses in a row with Basford United now level on points with them after beating them 3-0 last Saturday.

Leek Town have also emerged as big contenders for a top-five finish and sit a further two points behind in seventh place.

Peaks admits he and his squad have “taken stock” this week while he moved to bring striker Jack Bowen back to the club on a one-month loan deal from Brackley Town.

With other key players, including Ross Oulton, also nearing returns from injuries and suspensions, the Diamonds squad is looking strong again.

Peaks firmly believes they have what it takes to claim a play-off spot and he has urged the club’s fans to back them in their next two home matches.

“We wanted to play again because sometimes the best way to get over a disappointing defeat is to play another game straight away,” he said.

“But we can’t control the weather and the good thing that came of it was that we had the full squad there training instead.

“We got Jack involved, Joe Curtis is back after suspension, Callum Westwood isn’t far away and Ross Oulton was training again.

“We have taken stock since last Saturday, by the time we play this weekend we would have trained twice, we remain in a good position and when I look at the squad, I see no reason why we can’t go on a get a play-off place.

“I want us to go out and play some good football, take the game to our opponents and play with no fear. The lads need to enjoy it, pass the ball better and defend better than we have done in the past couple of matches.

“We have two home games and we want the fans to back us. When they create a big atmosphere, the players always react and that’s what we want from them.

“We are going up against two very good teams over the next few days and I hope the fans are looking forward to them as much as we are.”