AFC Rushden & Diamonds all set for ‘three more cup finals’

Andy Burgess knows there’s no time for AFC Rushden & Diamonds to dwell on their midweek defeat as they gear up for “three more cup finals”.

Fernando Bell-Toxtle cut a dejected figure after AFC Rushden & Diamonds' Hillier Cup final loss to Peterborough Sports. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images
Fernando Bell-Toxtle cut a dejected figure after AFC Rushden & Diamonds' Hillier Cup final loss to Peterborough Sports. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images

Diamonds missed the chance to lift the NFA Hillier Senior Cup on Tuesday night as they were beaten 2-0 by Southern League Premier Central rivals Peterborough Sports at Sixfields.

It was the fourth meeting between the two clubs this season with Sports now having won all four of them.

They could meet for a fifth time in the Premier Central play-offs but Diamonds still have a bit of work to do to wrap up a top-five finish.

A 2-2 draw at Coalville Town last weekend saw Diamonds’ advantage over sixth place cut to three points as Alvechurch, who are the only side who can catch Burgess’ team, claimed a 4-1 victory at Hednesford Town.

The Easter weekend now looked pivotal and it starts on Saturday with Diamonds taking on Bromsgrove Sporting at Hayden Road while Alvechurch host Lowestoft Town.

Diamonds then head to St Ives Town on Easter Monday while Alvechurch have a tough test at champions Banbury United.

Diamonds complete their season at home to Nuneaton Borough a week on Saturday.

“We have got three more cup finals,” interim boss Burgess said,

“We have to move on quickly from Tuesday, we have to regroup and we have to look at things that can help us on Saturday.

“We will train properly. We have had half an eye on Saturday, there’s no doubt about that. It’s huge for us.

“We have got three massive games for the club that will define the season.

“The players have done magnificently to get the club to where it is. So there’s no throwing of tea cups and no aggression from me.

“I know the players are giving everything. We just need to be that bit better at the top end of the pitch.”

Diamonds will have Jordan Graham, who scored both goals at Coalville, available again after he was rested on Tuesday night.

But they will be without Shane Bush (knee) while captain Alex Collard remains sidelined with a broken hand.

Burgess also confirmed he was expecting defender Ryan Hughes to return to training this week following a hamstring injury but that Saturday may come too soon for him.