Diamonds' character comes to the fore again for boss Peaks

The AFC Rushden & Diamonds players and fans celebrate their stoppage-time winner in the incredible 4-3 success at Hitchin Town. Pictures courtesy of HawkinsImages
The AFC Rushden & Diamonds players and fans celebrate their stoppage-time winner in the incredible 4-3 success at Hitchin Town. Pictures courtesy of HawkinsImages

Andy Peaks was left trying to find new ways to describe the character of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players after their stunning 4-3 victory at Hitchin Town.

Going into the clash at Top Field on the back of a heartbreaking derby defeat to Kettering Town on New Year’s Day, Diamonds looked to be on course for a big response after goals from Ben Diamond and Tom Lorraine gave them a 2-0 lead.

Ben Diamond takes the congratulations after he opened the scoring

Ben Diamond takes the congratulations after he opened the scoring

But Hitchin pulled one back before half-time before fightback back to lead 3-2 after the break.

With Diamonds staring a second defeat in a row in the face, Peaks made a triple substitution and it eventually paid off with Jack Bowen coming off the bench to equalise before another substitute headed home a dramatic winner in the third minute of stoppage-time.

The victory sent Diamonds back into the top five in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central.

And Peaks said: “I knew it was going to be tough after the last game and we had both full-backs (Sam Brown and Zack Reynolds) missing which made things that bit harder.

“But we came out and for the first 20 minutes I thought we were outstanding and we were coasting at 2-0 up.

“But football being the way it is, if you take your finger off the pulse then you will get punished.

“We conceded the goal out of almost nothing and then we have had a great chance to go 3-1 up before half-time and we didn’t take it.

“I said to the boys at half-time that we had made it more difficult for ourselves and, to be honest, for the majority of the second half they were just better than us and deserved to be 3-2 up.

“We didn’t defend well as a group and we didn’t pass the ball well enough as a group.

“We made some changes and we changed the shape and we have gone on to win it with both goals pretty much coming in stoppage-time.

“I run out of things to say about this group of players.

“After the whammy of losing so late on New Year’s Day and then another whammy of going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down in this game, the boys have still found a way.

“The character of this squad is fantastic and they keep proving it week in, week out. They don’t know when they are beaten.”

The changes Peaks made eventually proved decisive and he admitted they probably could and should have been made earlier.

“I probably should have made the changes earlier,” he added.

“But the truth is that there was so much going around in my head and Lamby’s (assistant-manager Paul Lamb) head because it was so bad at the time!

“It held things up but once we changed things around it did get better, which was pleasing.”

Diamonds return to action next weekend when they take on Lowestoft Town at Hayden Road.