Trip to Barwell is an ‘opportunity’ for Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds' striker Scott Joseph celebrates after he opened the scoring in their 2-0 win over Ashton United in the FA Cup on Saturday. Picture by Mike Capps/www.kappasport.co.uk
AFC Rushden & Diamonds' striker Scott Joseph celebrates after he opened the scoring in their 2-0 win over Ashton United in the FA Cup on Saturday. Picture by Mike Capps/www.kappasport.co.uk
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Andy Peaks believes AFC Rushden & Diamonds will have “an opportunity” to continue their historic FA Cup journey when they head to Barwell in the fourth qualifying round on October 24.

Diamonds were handed the short trip as a reward for beating Barwell’s Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division rivals Ashton United 2-0 at the weekend as they made it through to the final qualifying stage for the first time in their history.

And history will be made once again a week on Saturday as both clubs bid to book a place in the first round proper for the first time.

Peaks admitted he wasn’t thrilled by the draw when he first heard it but he now believes his team have a big chance to advance.

“When I first heard the draw, I wasn’t so sure about it,” Peaks said.

“I would have preferred a home tie or an away game at one of the big National League sides.

“But the more I look at it, the more it does look like an opportunity for us. We already know a bit about Barwell and we will have them watched.

“They play in the level above us and are in the same league as Ashton so we know a bit about that as well.

“The tie gives us a chance to go through. At the weekend we scored our goals at good times and we defended really well, it will have to be the same in the next game.

“Once you get to this stage, there aren’t going to be any easy matches. It could have been harder and it could have been more lucrative.

“We feel it’s an opportunity to progress but I am sure Barwell will be thinking the same.”

Diamonds take on Premier Division side Histon in the first round of the Southern League’s Red Insure Cup at the Dog & Duck tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm).

And Peaks is set to make a number of changes following his team’s heroic effort at the weekend.

The likes of Jack Ashton, Claudiu Hoban, Courtney Herbert and Steve Spriggs are all struggling with injuries while Elliott Lamb-Johnson is suspended.

And Peaks added: “To be honest, on Saturday we were down to the bare bones due to a few injuries and the lads who were involved worked their socks off.

“They were shattered at the end so we have to be careful with them because of the number of games we have got coming up.

“I have always said I am happy with the squad we have in place but it is being tested to the limit at the moment so maybe we have to look at strengthening it.

“We always thought this would be a game where we could have a look at a few of the younger players and those who do need some match action and that’s what we will do.

“We know Histon play at a good level but the league cup is not our priority when we have the league and the FA Cup to think about.

“It’s a good opportunity to give some of the first team boys a rest that they could do with.”