Diamonds' characters must stand up and be counted

There was disappointment for AFC Rushden & Diamonds in their clash with Beaconsfield Town back in September. The two teams meet again this weekend in a huge clash at the top of the Evo-Stik South League East
There was disappointment for AFC Rushden & Diamonds in their clash with Beaconsfield Town back in September. The two teams meet again this weekend in a huge clash at the top of the Evo-Stik South League East

“We are going to see who the real characters are now.”

Those were the words of AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks as he turned his attention towards a crucial Easter weekend.

Diamonds’ push for promotion in the Evo-Stik South League East has hit a blip over the last week or so as defeats to fellow high-fliers Hayes & Yeading United and Hartley Wintney were followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw with Uxbridge at Hayden Road on Tuesday night.

They are still on top of the table but the lead is now down to three points with three teams now snapping at their heels.

One of them is Beaconsfield Town and that is the first stop for Diamonds this weekend as they head to their fellow promotion contenders tomorrow (Saturday) before returning home to take on local rivals Bedford Town on Monday afternoon.

Diamonds were far from their best in midweek and Peaks knows Beaconsfield, who were 2-1 winners at Hayden Road in the reverse fixture, will be “fancying their chances”.

But he is now expecting the big characters in his squad to step up to the plate to lead Diamonds out of their blip.

“I am sure they (Beaconsfield) would have watched us the other night and I am sure they will fancy their chances because they are playing us at a time when we’re not stringing results together,” the Diamonds boss said.

“We are going to see who the real characters are now and see who will stand up and be counted.

“We have a good mix of experience and youth and we have enough good characters and good players to get us through this blip.”

Peaks acknowledged it has been a “difficult” spell for his team.

But he firmly believes they can turn things back in their favour quickly as they bid for one of the automatic promotion places to take them up to Step Three for the first time.

He added: “It’s up to me to keep the belief and keep doing the things that got us on such a good run earlier in the season. The players are the same, the systems are pretty much the same.

“Momentum is a massive part of sport. Things seem easy when you’re on a good run and when you’re on a bad one it can be difficult and it has been difficult in the last week.

“Equally, it can turn around in the next week and that’s why we have to work even harder to make sure it happens.”