Andy Peaks was “delighted” after AFC Rushden & Diamonds maintained their good form by seeing off Kettering Town in the second round of the BigFreeBet.com Challenge Cup last night (Tuesday).
Diamonds fought back from falling behind to a Rhys Hoenes goal after just two minutes to lead 2-1 at half-time thanks to goals from Ben Diamond and Joel Gyasi.
Gyasi added another after the break and Diamonds held on to secure a 3-2 success over their higher-ranked local rivals after Mathew Stevens pulled one back with 10 minutes to go.
A season-high crowd of 615 were on hand at Hayden Road to watch the clash and Peaks said: “I am delighted to win and I would say for the neutral, not that there were any there, it was a good game to watch.
“It was exciting and there were two teams who played well with lots of good football.
“The momentum swung towards us after they started really well and we were hanging on for the first 20 minutes.
“We adjusted our shape slightly and we came into the game. I thought we played pretty well in the second half.
“It doesn’t matter what competition we play Kettering in, it becomes a big game because of the rivalry and that is always going to be there.
“It was a good crowd and there were more than I thought there would be. It shows there is a lot of interest in both clubs.”
Peaks was impressed with the contribution of winger Gyasi who proved to be a real thorn in the Poppies’ side during a man-of-the-match display.
“Joel was a massive threat for us,” Peaks added.
“He carries the ball really well and he got two good goals. I have not played him the last couple of weeks and it’s given him a reality check that football can be like that.
“He has come back strong and that’s all I want from anyone I leave out - come back and show me what you can do.”
There was also a welcome sight as defender Jack Ashton was named on the substitutes’ bench after a year out with a knee injury.
Peaks chose not to put Ashton into the action but insists “his time will come”.
The Diamonds boss said: “After the first 15 minutes I thought he might be coming on pretty quickly to be honest!
“It was all depending on the game and we might have got him five or 10 minutes at the end.
“But it was not a game for him, the last thing I wanted to do was take a risk with him.
“It’s just good to have him in and around things again. He gives the dressing-room a lift.
“He will train again before the weekend and his time will come.”