Anything beyond the play-offs will be a ‘bonus’ for Diamonds

AFC Rushden & Diamonds frontman Jon Stevenson is set to be ruled out of the play-offs
AFC Rushden & Diamonds frontman Jon Stevenson is set to be ruled out of the play-offs

Andy Peaks insists anything else that comes the way of AFC Rushden & Diamonds from now will be seen as “a bonus” after they booked their place in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central play-offs.

Diamonds suffered a 2-0 defeat at title-chasing Egham Town on Tuesday night but Aylesbury’s 2-0 loss to St Ives Town ensured Peaks’ side will finish in the top five.

They are now preparing for their final game of the regular season against Godalming Town at the Dog & Duck on Saturday.

But the main focus is on next week with the one-off play-off semi-finals due to take place on Tuesday night.

Diamonds will definitely be on the road for that and will travel to one of Kings Langley, Egham or Royston Town, who are set to battle it out for the sole automatic promotion place on the final day.

Should they be victorious, Diamonds will then advance to the play-off final, which will be played at the home ground of the highest-ranked team, on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2.

Peaks insists he isn’t bothered who his team face in the semi-finals next week and he is feeling relaxed after the main objective for the season was achieved.

Diamonds are seeking a second successive promotion after winning the United Counties League Premier Division title a year ago.

And Peaks said: “We have got to where we want to be and that is in the play-offs so anything from here is a bonus.

“People will know that our record against the teams at the top hasn’t been great this season.

“So we are probably the underdogs. But that might just suit us and anything can happen in this type of game.

“We know we are going to have to travel but we are potentially looking at two cup finals and we will do all we can to win the first one.

“I have seen all the teams and I know that if we play to our full capabilities then we can beat anyone.

“So I am not really concerned about who we end up playing. I am just glad that we have achieved our target.”

Diamonds may have to do without striker Jon Stevenson for the play-off semi-final after he was forced off because of injury during the first half of Tuesday’s defeat.

It has left Peaks looking at other options with Elliot Sandy having missed the last two games after suffering a broken nose in the 1-0 win over Hanwell Town nearly two weeks ago.

Top scorer Tom Lorraine has been ruled out of recent matches with a hip problem and Tom Liversedge missed Tuesday’s loss, leaving Jack Bowen and Robbie Parsons as the only recognised strikers who are fit and available at present.

However, Peaks is hoping Nabil Shariff, who joined in January but is yet to make an appearance following an operation on his lung, will train with the squad in the build-up to Saturday’s game.

“We will speak to Elliot and we may even be able to get Nabil involved, which would be good because it has been a long wait for him,” Peaks said.

“I think Jon is going to struggle for the play-off semi-final, which would be a blow.

“But there are other options there.

“Tom Lorraine says he will play the through the pain but that’s not really something I want him to do.

“We will keep a close check on everyone over the next few days and by the time Tuesday comes around, we will be ready.”