Diamonds must embrace their tough Trophy tie

Andy Peaks believes AFC Rushden & Diamonds must embrace the “massive challenge” ahead of them as they get ready to lock horns with South Shields in the second qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Trophy.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 7:30 am
AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks

Diamonds make the long trek to north-east tomorrow (Saturday) and will be taking on a South Shields team who currently sit on top of the BetVictor Northern Premier League Premier Division.

However, both teams will head into the clash on the back of defeats.

South Shields suffered only their third league loss of the campaign last weekend as they were beaten 1-0 at home by fellow high-flyers Lancaster City.

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At the same time, Diamonds were beaten 3-1 at Biggleswade Town having conceded three first-half goals.

“It’s a massive challenge,” Diamonds boss Peaks said as he looked ahead to this weekend’s clash.

“I don’t think ties come much harder at this stage than going away from home against a strong team who are top of their division.

“It’s going to be a tough, tough afternoon for us but it’s a nice distraction from the league and I don’t think there will be a great deal of expectation on us.

“They will be flying from the first minute and I have every confidence that we will start the game a lot better than we did at Biggleswade last weekend.

“It’s a big challenge for us to go up there but these are the challenges you have to embrace and we will certainly go there with a plan to try to get the right result.”

Peaks, meanwhile, made few excuses for his team’s first-half display at Biggleswade.

Diamonds had gone into the game in high spirits having won 2-1 at Banbury United in their FA Trophy replay, which set up the tie at South Shields.

But they found themselves 3-0 down at the break before a better second-half display was rewarded with Nathan Hicks’ late penalty.

The loss saw Diamonds drop down to 12th in the Southern League Premier Central.

And Peaks said: “You can find as many excuses as you want but that’s all they would be - excuses.

“We let ourselves down in the first half and it’s as angry as I have been for a long time at half-time.

“We had three or four players who were well below the standard and it was a real eye-opener to see what can happen when you don’t have everyone at it.

“It wasn’t about formations or systems, it was about individual errors and it just showed that you have to have everyone doing their jobs.

“I was just pleased that they reacted in the second half. I wanted them to go out and win that second half and they did.

“It was very disappointing but we have to dust ourselves down, draw a line and look forward to a really big test this weekend."