AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Peaks happy with the display but not the result

Diamonds were beaten by champions-elect Banbury United

By Jon Dunham
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 11:21 am
Updated Sunday, 16th January 2022, 11:24 am
AJ George challenges for the ball with former Diamonds midfielder Jay Williams. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images

Andy Peaks was left pleased with the performance but not the result as AFC Rushden & Diamonds became the latest team to fall to Southern League Premier Central champions-elect Banbury United.

Diamonds headed into the clash at the table-topping Puritans on a decent run of form and, having made a decent start to the game, they missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring when Nathan Tshikuna missed from the penalty spot after AJ George had been fouled in the area.

It proved to be one of the game’s key moments as former Diamonds striker Chris Wreh headed Banbury in front early in the second half before a Liam Dolman own-goal wrapped up a 2-0 victory for the hosts, who maintained a 16-point lead at the summit.

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Diamonds boss Peaks felt his team matched the table-toppers for long spells but was left to rue the missed opportunities.

“Overall, I was really pleased with the performance against the team who are way clear at the top,” he said.

“I am disappointed with the result but pleased with the performance so we have to build on it and learn from it.

“We did well for 20 to 25 minutes and to miss a penalty gave them a massive lift. It would have been interesting to see how they would have reacted to going a goal behind.

“That was a missed opportunity and then, equally, we didn’t defend well enough from set-pieces.

“With the first one, it was never a foul and I don’t think we were concentrating because we were still annoyed about the referee giving it and they have scored.

“Overall, I am disappointed with the result but we can take confidence from the fact that we have matched a very good team for massive parts of the game and shown just how far we have come in the last six months.

“There was no disgrace and we have competed well with the team who are going to be the champions.

“We have to learn from the mistakes we have made. We weren’t good enough in the final third.

“This game was never going to define our season. It’s the next 16 games that will define our season.

“We have to regain our focus and get ready for two very tough games this week.”

The first of those games sees Diamonds entertaining Needham Market at Hayden Road on Tuesday after Needham stunned National League side Yeovil Town with a penalty shoot-out success in the Buildbase FA Trophy this weekend.

And then, next Saturday, Diamonds head to Alvechurch who are eight points ahead of Peaks’ team in the final play-off position.