UCL Preview – Starmer wants full focus on Harborough

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Mark Starmer is going in search of league points this weekend following the fine success in the FA Cup
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Mark Starmer is going in search of league points this weekend following the fine success in the FA Cup

AFC Rushden & Diamonds return to ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division this weekend with boss Mark Starmer keen to see his side starting to make up some ground.

Diamonds produced one of the upsets of the FA Cup second qualifying round as a dramatic finish saw them beat Calor League Premier Division outfit Cambridge City 3-2 at the Dog & Duck last weekend.

That set up a third qualifying round trip to Skrill South side Dover Athletic on Saturday week.

Now it is back to the reality of the league tomorrow (Saturday) as Diamonds host bottom side Harborough Town, who claimed their first win of the season in midweek.

And while the success in the FA Cup and FA Vase has been most welcome, Starmer knows points in the league are crucial as his team have already fallen well behind the early leaders having played only four matches so far.

“We saw it last season when Oadby had so many to play late on in the season as they were chasing us and they faultered because of it,” Starmer said.

“It already looks like we are going to be behind in matches and that’s why it makes it so important to pick up some points this weekend because the next couple of weeks sees us back in cup matches.”

Wellingborough Town make the trip to Boston Town as they look to build on good showings in cup competitions.

A 5-0 success at Buckingham Town in the UCL Knockout Cup was followed by the 2-1 victory over AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the NFA Hillier Cup on Tuesday.

And boss Craig Adams said: “What we have at the moment is a big run of away matches and we want to see if we can come through those and be in good shape for the home matches that will follow.

“We are a bit inconsistent. When we are on it, we look a good side. And when we aren’t, we look bang average.

“I don’t think we have had a great deal of luck when it has come to injuries and decisions in certain matches. But we won’t bleat on about it.”

Desborough Town boss Steve Walker is hoping the late point his team gained in midweek will be the start of a revival after a disappointing period.

Ar Tarn squandered a 2-0 lead last weekend as they went down 4-2 at home to Stewarts & Lloyds in a UCL Premier Division derby.

And that was followed by a 1-1 home draw with AFC Kempston on Tuesday as Luke Churchill’s late goal earned them a share of the points.

Walker takes his team to Peterborough Northern Star on Saturday and he is hoping confidence will be a bit higher than it was ahead of Tuesday.

“It has been very frustrating and that was certainly the case last weekend because we were 2-0 up after 25 minutes and playing well,” Walker said.

“But we took our foot off the gas, thought we had won and ended up getting beaten by a team who deserved it because they wanted it more.

“Hopefully that point on Tuesday can spur us on.”

S&L boss Kevin Byrne, meanwhile, wants his team to bounce back from Tuesday’s 3-1 home defeat to bottom side Harborough as the Corby outfit were brought back down to earth following their success at Desborough.

Byrne takes his team to Long Buckby and said: “I am still trying to get my head around what happened on Tuesday but we have to bounce back.

“We may have to put up with being inconsistent. But we owe Long Buckby one after they beat us 2-1 in the last minute earlier in the season.”