Diamonds get the chance to close in on the crown

AFC Rushden & Diamonds' players have the chance to close in on the UCL Premier Division title this weekend as they take on nearest rivals Wisbech Town
AFC Rushden & Diamonds' players have the chance to close in on the UCL Premier Division title this weekend as they take on nearest rivals Wisbech Town
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Andy Peaks knows AFC Rushden & Diamonds can take a giant step towards the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division title tomorrow (Saturday).

It’s top versus second at the Dog & Duck as the leaders take on nearest rivals Wisbech Town.

The Fenmen missed out on the chance to close the gap between themselves and Peaks’ table-toppers to just one point when they were beaten 2-1 at Peterborough Northern Star in their game in hand on Tuesday.

It means Diamonds hold a four-point advantage with eight games to go and a victory at the weekend would make it seven and all-but end the race for the title.

The importance of the fixture hasn’t been lost on Peaks, who admitted he wasn’t surprised by Wisbech’s midweek setback.

But the Diamonds boss remains wary of the Fenmen’s whose impressive recent run had put his team under a bit of pressure at the summit.

“It is properly in our hands now,” Peaks said.

“I know we have always said that but I am sure, before Tuesday, Wisbech felt the same.

“I had a feeling that result might happen because, no matter what level you are at, no-one can keep winning every week.

“We are in a great position and where we wanted to be at this stage.

“It is a massive game and hopefully it will attract a big crowd.

“Seven points would be a lot to make up at this point in the season.

“But we have to be wary of a backlash from Wisbech. They have good players and an experienced manager.

“I believe we can get the result we need but even if we do, there will be seven games to go.

“We find ourselves in a great position and now we have to try to finish it off.”

Diamonds will be without Jason Turner as he faces two weeks out with an ankle injury but Joe Merrill could return following a back problem.

Desborough Town are proving there’s life after Michael Byrne.

The top scorer quit the Waterworks Field to join UCL Premier Division strugglers Sileby Rangers.

But Ar Tarn have put that behind them and host Yaxley tomorrow boosted by what boss Ian Walker called “a really professional away performance.”

Mark Redding and Jake Bettles were on target in the 2-1 win at Wellingborough Town on Tuesday and Walker is hoping he can name an unchanged team.

Josh Kisby looks sure to keep his place at the heart of defence having shackled the Premier Division’s top scorer in his second appearance for Ar Tarn following his move from Olney.

Walker said: “We knew we had to keep Jake Newman quiet at Wellingborough and Josh had a really good game against him.

“He settled in really well.

“But it was a good all-round performance. We were solid at the back, played some good stuff and were lively.”

Wellingborough Town joint-boss Joe Smyth says he’s done what he set out to do by keeping the Doughboys in the Premier Division.

The Doughboys head to Holbeach United tomorrow well clear of the drop zone with five games left and for Smyth, that means it’s mission accomplished.

He said: “When we (Smyth and joint-boss Steve Herring) came to the club at the end of September we were told the job was to keep them up.

“We have done that and we’ve done that comfortably.

“We set the target of 40 points that we are just one point away from now and with five games to go, we want to establish ourselves and get ready for next season.”

The Doughboys could be without Scott Liebscher for the trip to Holbeach after he picked up a knock in the 2-1 defeat at home to Desborough in midweek.

That followed an impressive 2-1 win at Boston Town and Smyth says he had “no complaints” with the outcome of the match with Ar Tarn.

He said: “It was a game between a side who expected to win and a side who really wanted to win.

“Desborough are a good side and they were hungrier than us.

“They were really fired up and we just didn’t turn up. That happens to teams – even in the Premier League.”