A 'fantastic' week as Peaks' perfect Diamonds hit the top

Sam Johnson heads off to celebrate after he scored AFC Rushden & Diamonds' second goal in their 2-0 win over Nuneaton Borough. Picture courtesy of HawkinsImages
Sam Johnson heads off to celebrate after he scored AFC Rushden & Diamonds' second goal in their 2-0 win over Nuneaton Borough. Picture courtesy of HawkinsImages

Andy Peaks hailed a “fantastic” first week of the season for AFC Rushden & Diamonds after they hit top spot in the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central.

Diamonds eventually saw off nine-man Nuneaton Borough 2-0 at Hayden Road to make it three wins out of three - the only perfect record in the division.

Nuneaton were reduced to 10 men in the first half when Rhys Sharpe was red-carded for hauling down Ben Acquaye.

The second red card didn’t come until the 81st minute when former Kettering Town defender Declan Towers was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.

And Diamonds took advantage late on with substitutes Massiah McDonald and Sam Johnson both on target in the dying moments to make it three wins in a row.

Peaks admitted his team’s start might have taken some by surprise.

And, while he conceded they weren’t at their best on this occasion, he praised his players for sticking to their task.

“It’s nice to be in the position we are in,” the Diamonds boss said.

“First and foremost, I am just pleased to get the three points from a club of that stature. They haven’t had the best of starts but it won’t stay like that.

“When it was 11 versus 11, they were better than us and Ben Heath has made two great saves to keep us in it.

“But we stuck at it. We definitely weren’t at our best and it felt like the first week of the season had been a long one for us.

“I have seen us when we have been down to 10 men and sometimes it can galvanise you.

“Sometimes people expect you to go and run through a team when the are down to 10 but that’s not how it works.

“We gave it some time before we made the changes and then, in the end, it worked out well for us especially with two substitutes scoring the goals.

“Massiah is one I added to try to take this squad to the next level because he is proven.

“He has had to wait in the first couple of games but he came on and scored a big goal. It’s good to have four strikers to choose from.

“It’s been a fantastic first week for us and it has probably been better than a lot of people expected.

“But, by hook or by crook, I have managed to use just about every player in the squad and we were even able to get by without Alex Collard because we didn’t want to risk him.

“It’s been a good first week and we will just try to carry it on into the next game.”

Diamonds will be back in action next Saturday when they head to Stratford Town.