Boss Harriman's pride as Diamonds claim deserved cup final win against Kettering

AFC Rushden & Diamonds' players celebrate winning the NFA Hillier Senior Cup (Picture: Peter Short)AFC Rushden & Diamonds' players celebrate winning the NFA Hillier Senior Cup (Picture: Peter Short)
AFC Rushden & Diamonds' players celebrate winning the NFA Hillier Senior Cup (Picture: Peter Short)
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Michael Harriman was bursting with pride after his young side defied the odds to beat Kettering Town and lift the NFA Hillier Senior Cup on Tuesday night.

Diamonds more than held their own against their step 3 neighbours as the match ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, and they then showed their composure as they went on to win the penalty shootout 4-2 and become the county champions.

The penalties were taken in front of the south stand containing the 300 Diamonds fans who made the trip to Northampton, and Isaac Redding's well struck winning penalty sparked wild celebrations.

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It was a very nice silver lining at the end of a difficult season for Diamonds, who at the weekend finished in the bottom two of the Pitching-In Northern Premier League Midlands Division - but look likely to get a relegation reprieve.

"I think the boys bounced back fantastically well after Saturday," Harriman told AFCRDTV.

"That was a tough day, but on Tuesday they were different class and they thoroughly deserve everything they have got.

"We took a good step 3 side all the way and definitely had chances to win it.

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"The last 10 or 15 minutes was end to end, it was like a basketball match, so that was tough, and I have never been a fan of penalties.

"I couldn't sit still for that, but the boys got over the line and the scenes at the end with everyone sharing the win with the fans was fantastic."

And he added: "It was a typical cup final where nobody really wanted to land that first punch, so we grew into the game, and I thought we were fantastic.

"The players showed what a good group they have been for the past few months.

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"The beauty of this squad is you can put anyone in and they will pay their part, and now we can all celebrate."

The hero of the night on Tuesday was goalkeeper Ben Heath, who followed up two outstanding and crucial saves in the dying minutes of normal time, with two further saves in the shootout to set up Diamonds' victory.

And Harriman was quick to praise the big keeper.

"We have been very lucky to have Ben Heath in the building for this second half of the season," said the Diamonds boss.

"He has been fantastic and sometimes he perhaps hasn't got the accolades he deserves this year, but he came up trumps on Tuesday and deserves to be the hero."

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