Starmer praises character as Diamonds earn replay

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Mark Starmer
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Mark Starmer

Mark Starmer praised the character of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds side as they fought back twice to force an FA Cup first qualifying round replay with Cockfosters.

Diamonds will do it all again with their north London opponents at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night as goals from Alfie Taylor and Russ Dunkley secured a 2-2 draw.

The ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division side will take their place in tomorrow’s (Monday) second qualifying round draw along with the Skirll North and South sides, who enter the competition at the next stage.

And Starmer said: “We never really got going in the first half but we had three really good chances and then went behind but thankfully we scored straight away.

“I am not sure why we couldn’t get going, maybe it was a bit of a hangover from Tuesday (when Diamonds beat AFC Dunstable in the FA Vase).

“The second half was pretty much the same. We had plenty of possession but we conceded a poor goal. Thankfully we produced a good move and we have got the goal.

“It was a tough game, I knew it would be down there. But we are in the hat and that is the positive thing for us.

“I give our lads credit. We might not have been at our best and it didn’t always happen for us. But they have shown character and they have come out of it with a positive result.”

Diamonds have proved to be formidable at the Dog & Duck since starting out life as a senior side last season and while Starmer admits his team will fancy their chances on Tuesday, he knows they must be respectful of the opposition.

“I have said that all along, we have to respect our opponents and I always do,” he added.

“We have played a few of these sides from the Spartan League now and on each occasion we have drawn away from home and brought them back to finish the job.

“They are tough sides to play against and we will have to perform well again on Tuesday if we are to get through. But we have a good home record and hopefully that can carry on.”