Brown hoping Diamonds can hit back and beat their previous FA Cup best

Sam Brown will be trying to help AFC Rushden & Diamonds reach the FA Cup fourth qualifying round for the first time when they face Ashton United this weekend
Sam Brown will be trying to help AFC Rushden & Diamonds reach the FA Cup fourth qualifying round for the first time when they face Ashton United this weekend

When AFC Rushden & Diamonds last reached the third qualifying round of the FA Cup two years ago, Sam Brown was there.

In fact, of the team that Diamonds will likely field against Ashton United on Saturday, left-back Brown and utility man Brad Harris will be the only surviving members.

Brown has been there from the start, having played in Diamonds’ first-ever senior game in the UCL Division One back in the summer of 2012, and he became the first player to reach 100 appearances for the club last season.

Having stepped up to the UCL Premier and now the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central, Brown has become a mainstay.

Things have been going very nicely following another promotion last season.

Diamonds sit third in the table, although their 31-match unbeaten run in all competitions was finally ended when they were beaten 3-1 by Basford United in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy last weekend.

Nonetheless, Brown is confident they can bounce back at the first attempt and he insists reaching the first round proper, which is just two wins away, is the squad’s main aim.

“Everyone at the club is looking forward to the game,” he said.

“This is the joint-furthest we have ever got and we believe it is a winnable tie for us.

“We have had a look at them (Ashton) and we will be working on how we can exploit their weaknesses.

“I think everyone is hoping we can get to the first round, that is the main aim.

“We have got a few lads who were with Daventry Town when they did it recently and played at Chesterfield.

“We want to try to do that. If we can get to the first round and get a big tie then it will be great for the profile of the club.

“Everyone had been talking about the unbeaten run and rightly so because it was fantastic.

“But just because it is over, I don’t think it means any confidence has been lost in the dressing-room.

“We have shown that we can come back from a goal down in matches this season and now we have to do something similar on a slightly bigger scale.

“We know what quality we have and we know what we are capable of so it’s a case of putting that back on the pitch this weekend.”

Brown, meanwhile, admits it has taken him time to adjust to the new level on both occasions that Diamonds have earned promotion in their short history.

He added: There’s obviously been a lot of change at the club and there are only two or three of us from the first season who are still here.

“It’s nice to still be around and working my way through the levels with the club.

“Every time we move up, it’s the highest level I have played at.

“It does take time to get used to it but I am still enjoying it and I have learned a lot from some of the lads who have played at this level and higher.

“It’s just great to walk out in front of a big crowd because that’s something most clubs at this level and even the one above don’t have.”