FA Vase and UCL preview - Starmer ready for a “massive weekend”

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Mark Starmer
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Mark Starmer

“It’s a massive weekend for the club and the Vase campaign has only been good for us.”

That is the opinion of AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Mark Starmer ahead of his side’s third round trip to Northumberland to face Ashington tomorrow (Saturday).

In their debut season of senior football, the Diamonds are one of three ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League outfits left in the competition and the only one from Division One.

And while they will go into the tie as underdogs with their opponents plying their trade a level higher, Starmer admits that the visitors fancy their chances of progressing.

He said: “We’re quietly confident. We know that it will be tough and we’ve had reports saying they are a physically strong side.

“But we’re going up on the Friday so we’re trying to do it properly.

“We’ve had a few issues with work for some of the lads but they’ve all made the effort to get there on the train and we’ll all be there on Friday night.

“So there won’t be any excuses from us. We’ll be fresh and ready to go and see where that gets us.”

Ben Watts believes that he has got plenty to work with at Seargents Lawn after assuming the managerial role at Rothwell Corinthians in UCL Division One.

They host Northampton Spencer this weekend and Watts, who took over recently following the departure of Matty Clarke, is in a positive frame of mind regarding the challenge ahead.

He said: “They’re a good bunch of lads with a good team spirit and there is a decent youth set-up here which is pleasing to see.

“We want to climb the table as much as we can. We have to become hard to beat and I want to get them playing but I understand that we have to be winning games at the same time.

“Wherever I’ve been my teams have played football and that is something I want to bring here.”

The past week has seen Corinthians get the better of Milton 2-0 after extra-time in the Junior Cup and suffered a 5-1 reverse at Peterborough Northern Star in the League Cup.

Elsewhere in Division One, Thrapston host league leaders Sileby Rangers and bottom side Burton Park Wanderers entertain Bourne.

Whitworth are at home against Bugbrooke St Michaels, Rushden & Higham travel to Potton and Raunds are on the road at Olney.

In the Premier Division, Desborough will be searching for back-to-back home victories when they face Peterborough Northern Star at Waterworks Field.

Ar Tarn clinched a battling 2-1 win over Cogenhoe on Tueday night with Kevin Byrne and Chawa Chinkhumba, the latter in the final minute, on the scoresheet.

Also in the top flight, Stewarts & Lloyds entertain Blackstones while Wellingborough Town head to Long Buckby.