‘Heartbreak and disappointment’ for AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Burgess

Andy Burgess was left to reflect on “heartbreak and disappointment” after AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ play-off hopes were ripped away from them on a dramatic final day of the Southern League Premier Central season.

Sunday, 24th April 2022, 7:53 am
A devastated Andy Burgess applauds the AFC Rushden & Diamonds fans after the 1-0 home defeat to Nuneaton Borough on the last day of the season, which cost them a place in the play-offs. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images

Diamonds went into their home clash with Nuneaton Borough at Hayden Road needing just a point to secure a top-five finish and a shot at promotion to Step 2.

However, the day ended in devastation as Burgess’ team were beaten 1-0 while Alvechurch saw off Royston Town 3-1 to snatch the last play-off position on goal difference.

Boss Burgess admitted his team weren’t “good enough” on the big day as they failed to register an attempt on target but he also pointed to a missed opportunity on Easter Monday when they were beaten 1-0 at St Ives Town as the reality of the situation began to dawn.

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“It’s heartbreaking, I’m not sure where to start,” Burgess said.

“We were dead in the first half, there was no spark to us and I said at half-time that somebody needed to step up and be that spark.

“In the second half we had a little bit of a go but we haven’t been good enough in both penalty boxes for the past six weeks.

“We haven’t not got into the play-offs just because of this weekend.

“It was Easter Monday and I think the players have talked about other games in the season.

“It came down to this game and it further compounds it that the day we drop out of the play-offs is the last day of the season. Everything points to heartbreak and disappointment.

“It’s hard to take. They are a brilliant set of lads, there isn’t one person in there who you wouldn’t go for a pint with. So I am devastated for them because I know they wanted it.

“It wasn’t down to lack of effort or desire, it wasn’t through a lack of wanting to achieve what we were aiming for.

“It came down to not being good enough. Liam Dolman stood up and said the league table doesn’t lie at the end of the season and I totally agree with him.”

There were few excuses from Burgess, although he conceded injuries to key players did not help Diamonds’ cause in the run-in.

Ravi Shamsi was ruled out with a knee injury and Ty Deacon left to join Kettering Town just before he arrived and then Diamonds lost captain Alex Collard to a broken hand.

And, even before the final game, striker Jordan Graham was ruled out with a knock.

Burgess added: “I don’t want to make excuses but I think Alex Collard’s influence on the team has been apparent when we haven’t had him. It’s cost us.

“We knew on Thursday that Jordan was struggling and we gave it 48 hours but he couldn’t make it.

“Lots of vital players have come out of the team since I have been here and even just before then.

“We have missed ruthlessness, aggression and characters in both boxes. That was apparent again in this game.”