“Against all odds, we pulled something out of the bag.”
That was the verdict from a delighted Andy Peaks after his AFC Rushden & Diamonds side stepped things up a notch in their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South campaign at second-placed Spalding United last night (Tuesday).
Diamonds’ unbeaten run looked to be in serious jeopardy when they trailed 1-0 and then had Rory Winters sent off 16 minutes from the end of the match.
But the red card only sprung the 10 men into action and captain Richard Bunting fired them level before Jack Ashton – like he did against Coalville Town in the FA Trophy last weekend – headed home the winner with just six minutes remaining to secure a 2-1 success.
The result extended Diamonds’ unbeaten run in the league to nine matches to keep them nicely placed in ninth spot in the table with games in hand on the teams around them.
And boss Peaks was a very happy man as he piled the praise on his players for their character and belief.
“I think we showed everyone what we are all about,” he said.
“Not for the first time, the lads showed some tremendous character.
“We were playing a team who had the chance to go to the top of the league, we had a man very harshly sent-off and it felt like everything was going against us.
“But the lads have rallied round. It epitomised the belief we have within the players, the management and the fans.
“Against all odds, we pulled something out of the bag.
“I thought we were unlucky to be a goal down at half-time because we played some decent stuff.
“But we had to dig in for the first 15 minutes of the second half and the players got blocks in and put their bodies on the line.
“I thought Jake Newman came on and did really well but when Rory was sent-off, you had to wonder whether it was going to be our night.
“But it only galvanised the players and Bunts has scored a great goal and then we have got another from a well-worked set-piece.
“And even then, we have had to throw ourselves in front of things to make sure we held on.
“We knew Spalding would be workmanlike but the minimum I expect from my players is to match our opponents’ work-rate.
“It was a great night and it was one of those games that makes all the hard work on the training ground worthwhile.”
Peaks and his players are now preparing for another tough away-day when they head to sixth-placed Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday.
Don’t miss more Diamonds news in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph