Poppies and Diamonds ready for a county cup clash

Paul Malone could make his debut for Kettering Town in tonight's Hillier Cup clash with AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Paul Malone could make his debut for Kettering Town in tonight's Hillier Cup clash with AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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There could be debutants on both sides when Kettering Town take on AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the first round of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup at Latimer Park tonight (7.45pm).

The two rivals will meet again just four months after Diamonds beat the Poppies at Sixfields to lift the cup in last season’s competition.

Kettering could include former Corby Town captain Paul Malone in their line-up with his move from Stamford set to be officially confirmed today after the player himself confirmed his departure from the Daniels and his proposed transfer to the Poppies on social media yesterday.

Marcus Law is set to name a strong squad for this evening’s clash and won’t be calling on any of the club’s youngsters with the Poppies set to travel to Kempston Rovers in the first qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup on Thursday night.

“The whole first-team squad is available for selection,” Law said.

“We won’t be bringing in any of the youth players because they have a very important game coming up on Thursday night.

“We will be going all out to go through to the next round of a cup competition. Winning games is the business we are in.”

Diamonds boss Andy Peaks, meanwhile, is likely to switch things around following his team’s fine success at Concord Rangers in the FA Cup at the weekend.

Ross Oulton was forced off in that game while Jack Ashton is also unlikely to play tonight having returned from injury to play at Concord.

Diamonds could included two new signings of their own after the arrivals of defender Ruairidh (Rory) Winters and right-sided midfielder Jordan Holmes were confirmed.

And Peaks has conceded this evening’s clash isn’t at the top of his priority list, with his main focus being on Saturday’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South clash with Shaw Lane.

“To be honest, we have got a few injuries and for me it is an opportunity for others to get a chance to show what they can do,” Peaks added.

“I am sure it is a game the fans will be looking forward to and we will put a team out that we feel will be competitive.

“But we have some big matches coming up and, at this stage of the season, this competition isn’t at the top of my priorities.”

Elsewhere in the Hillier Cup tonight, Rothwell Corinthians have a tough test as they take on Vanarama National League North club Brackley Town at Sergeants Lawn.