Play-off hurt replaced by promotion glory for Diamonds skipper Dolman

Captain Liam Dolman leads the celebrations after AFC Rushden & Diamonds sealed promotion on Tuesday night. Picture by Alison Bagley
Captain Liam Dolman leads the celebrations after AFC Rushden & Diamonds sealed promotion on Tuesday night. Picture by Alison Bagley

It was a case of mission accomplished for AFC Rushden & Diamonds captain Liam Dolman on Tuesday night.

The big centre-half was one of those who experienced the pain of a play-off final defeat at St Ives Town two years ago before a semi-final loss at Witton Albion put paid to Diamonds’ hopes last season.

But this time, they made no mistake.

A consistent campaign was rewarded in the wind and rain at Hayden Road in midweek as a 7-1 demolition wrapped up one of the two automatic promotion places in the Evo-Stik South League East.

And Dolman said: “It’s third time lucky for us, everyone is buzzing and we couldn’t be more proud.

“The pain from that play-off final two years ago for us who were there still hurts but we have done it and we are delighted.

“We are over the moon. The objective at the start of the season was to go and get promoted and we have done it. That was our mindset right from the first training session, we needed to get out of this league.

“If we hadn’t done it, I am not sure there was a future for us at the club because we have had three opportunities to do it and thankfully we have.”

Diamonds were certainly in the mood to get the job done on Tuesday night.

They went 2-0 up through Ben Farrell and Joel Gyasi and were 3-1 to the good at half-time thanks to another Farrell effort before running riot in the second period.

Farrell completed his hat-trick, Dolman’s thumping header made it 5-1 before a late Ben Diamond double wrapped things up.

“It probably took us five or 10 minutes to get going and once we got the first goal it settled us down,” the Diamonds skipper added.

“We got sloppy for a spell when they scored but we had a good chat at half-time. We are up there for a reason and I thought we just turned it on.

“There was plenty of confidence after grinding out a couple of important results and I don’t think anyone could have stopped us on Tuesday.

“It was nice to get a goal, it was long overdue. I haven’t scored as many as I would have liked to this season. The most important thing was to get the three points.”

There could be even more celebrations to follow this weekend, however.

Diamonds were knocked off top spot by Beaconsfield Town, who were also promoted on Tuesday, after they beat Egham Town 5-1 last night (Thursday).

Diamonds entertain Ashford Town (Middx) in their final game of the season tomorrow (Saturday) and will, ideally, need to win and hope Beaconsfield slip up in their clash at Marlow if they are to nick the title.

“The season isn’t done yet,” Dolman said.

“The main job is done but we want to do it the right way if we can. You always want to go up as champions if you can.

“It’s not in our hands, we know that. But hopefully we can get three points tomorrow and see how the other result goes."