AFC Rushden & Diamonds are heading into a key period as they look to stay “in the mix” in the Evo-Stik South League East.
Knockout competitions have dominated the schedule at Hayden Road over the past couple of weeks with Diamonds beating St Neots Town 1-0 in the first round of the BigFreeBet.com Challenge Cup, which earned them a big home tie with Kettering Town next month.
That was followed by a disappointing exit from the FA Trophy as Kidsgrove Athletic ran out 3-1 winners at Hayden Road last weekend before Diamonds hit back by seeing off Whitworth 3-0 in the first round of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup on Tuesday night.
However, it is the league that is now on the agenda for the next few weeks and a run of four games in 10 days gets under way with a home clash against Egham Town on Saturday.
Diamonds sit in seventh place, six points behind early leaders Moneyfields.
And boss Andy Peaks is keen to ensure his team are in contention by the time the new year rolls around.
“We are doing alright and I think, in general, our performance levels have been good,” the Diamonds boss said.
“We have struggled to break teams down, particularly at home, but aside from last Saturday, we have been playing pretty well.
“The key for me is to make sure we are in the mix after Christmas. That’s usually when things really get going, once you get into the new year.
“I know teams are still capable of having a good run towards the end of the season but I want us to be in the mix at Christmas and then look to push on.
“Teams will drop points along the way, that’s football but we now have four games in a short space of time in which we will be looking to strengthen our position.
“Egham are a big, strong side and I have no doubt that they will come here and try to make life very difficult for us.
“And that’s when we will need to be a bit better than have been. If we don’t score in the first 10 minutes, we have to be patient and stick to what we are good at.”
Peaks, meanwhile, admitted he is looking to strengthen his squad in the coming days and weeks.
“I am looking at trying to bring one or two in and that may mean that one or two depart but that’s the way of football,” he added.
“But, in general, I am happy with what I have. And with Ross Oulton and Jack Ashton hopefully coming back from their knee injuries before Christmas, the squad should pretty strong.”