Diamonds skipper Bunting targets 'strong run' in the league

Richard Bunting (right), seen pictured celebrating Nabil Shariff's goal at Alfreton Town last weekend, is targeting a big run in the Evo-Stik South League East. Picture courtesy of B&O PRESS PHOTO
Richard Bunting (right), seen pictured celebrating Nabil Shariff's goal at Alfreton Town last weekend, is targeting a big run in the Evo-Stik South League East. Picture courtesy of B&O PRESS PHOTO

Richard Bunting wants AFC Rushden & Diamonds to focus on getting a “strong run going” in the Evo-Stik South League East.

Diamonds’ Emirates FA Cup hopes were ended for another season in midweek as they were beaten 3-1 by Vanarama National League North side Alfreton Town in the second qualifying round replay at Hayden Road.

Andy Peaks’ men turned in two excellent performances with a 2-2 draw at the Impact Arena, in which Diamonds were 2-0 up, being followed by another good display, only for Alfreton to snatch victory with two goals in the final 17 minutes.

It was tough for Diamonds to take but they must now concentrate on two quickfire league games with Saturday’s home clash with Arlesey Town being followed by a trip to high-flying AFC Dunstable next Wednesday night.

Experienced midfielder Bunting made his return from an Achilles injury last weekend and, while there was obvious disappointment after Tuesday night’s loss, the Diamonds captain insists he and his team-mates must put all their efforts into a promotion push.

“Looking back, Saturday was probably our big chance but I still thought we bossed large parts of the game again on Tuesday,” Bunting said.

“When you are on top and you don’t kill teams off, you can always get the sucker-punch and that’s what happened.

“The FA Cup is always a bonus for us, we know what we want to do.

“The league is our bread and butter and we have said that all along.

“The cup is a nice distraction but it’s all about performing in the league and taking those displays into the games coming up.

“The matches are coming thick and fast and that’s how we like it.

“We need to get a strong run going.”

Bunting’s Achilles problem flared up in the latter stages of pre-season and it has taken a while to settle down.

But he was back to his influential best in the two matches with Alfreton and now he is hoping he can keep hold of his spot in the middle of the pitch.

“Those were my first minutes of the season last Saturday, I have had a bit of trouble with my Achilles,” the Diamonds skipper added.

“I missed the last week of pre-season and then I thought I would be okay the next week and then that turned into another and another.

“But I have had a few training sessions under my belt. It’s almost like doing pre-season again but I will just look to keep my place in the team and try to get fully fit that way.”