Leaders up first as tough run begins for Diamonds

Andy Peaks AFC Rushden & Diamonds team play five of the current top seven in their next six matches, starting at leaders Hednesford Town this weekend
Andy Peaks AFC Rushden & Diamonds team play five of the current top seven in their next six matches, starting at leaders Hednesford Town this weekend

Andy Peaks believes his AFC Rushden & Diamonds team will be “properly tested” as a tough run of fixtures kicks-off with a trip to current BetVictor Southern League Premier Central leaders Hednesford Town tomorrow (Saturday).

Five of Diamonds’ next six league matches will be against teams currently in the top seven while they also have a local derby with Corby Town in the first round of the League Challenge Cup to look forward to at Hayden Road next Tuesday night.

Peaks’ team have made a solid start to the new campaign and sit in sixth place, just three points behind the leaders.

They are unbeaten in four league matches but have drawn the last three, all with a 1-1 scoreline.

And Peaks knows his players will have to find their top gear during a challenging spell of matches over the next month or so.

“It’s the start of a run of games where we are going to be properly tested,” the Diamonds boss said.

“Last season, against the Ketterings, Stourbridges and King’s Lynns of the world, we were in every game and got some results along the way so we are going to have to find those levels again.

“I think we are capable of matching anyone in the division but we know that if we allow our standards to drop then we will come unstuck.

“But we will go into every game looking to play well and we know we will have to be a bit more clinical with the chances that come our way.”

Diamonds’ clash at Hednesford will be their first match action for 12 days after they were left without a game last weekend after an early exit in the Emirates FA Cup.

And Peaks insists they will have to be at their best if they are to return home with points in the bag tomorrow.

“We have had the week off and, in a way, it will have helped a few to recharge and be ready to go again, although I am sure we would all have preferred to have been playing in the FA Cup last weekend,” he added.

“But it’s done now and we are all looking forward to a game tomorrow and it doesn’t get much more difficult than going away to the leaders.

“It’s a really big test to show us if we can stand up to the big boys in the division.

“Hednesford are a big non-League club, they have good players and they have already shown that they are going to be up there.

“We will have to be at our best and it will be a chance to see where we are.”

Diamonds have reduced prices for Tuesday’s cup clash with the Steelmen. Admission for adults will be £8, it will be £4 for concessions (over-60, 16-21 and students) with under-16s going free.