Diamonds' trip to Moneyfields a reminder of how quickly things can change

Stephen Hutchings dramatic stoppage-time goal earned then leaders Moneyfields a 2-2 draw against AFC Rushden & Diamonds at Hayden Road in November. But Diamonds head south for the return fixture this weekend having gone on a 14-match unbeaten run to put themselves on top of the Evo-Stik South League East table
Stephen Hutchings dramatic stoppage-time goal earned then leaders Moneyfields a 2-2 draw against AFC Rushden & Diamonds at Hayden Road in November. But Diamonds head south for the return fixture this weekend having gone on a 14-match unbeaten run to put themselves on top of the Evo-Stik South League East table

AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ trip to Moneyfields this weekend provides a timely reminder to everyone just how quickly football can change.

It was almost 12 weeks ago that Diamonds played the then leaders at Hayden Road.

A dramatic stoppage-time equaliser earned the 10-man visitors a 2-2 draw to preserve their unbeaten record in the Evo-Stik South League East at the time.

Fast forward nearly three months and the picture has changed and changed dramatically.

Diamonds will head south for the return fixture sitting on top of the pile while Moneyfields have slipped to seventh in the table, having suffered seven defeats since that draw in Rushden.

It’s a clear indication of how well Diamonds have done over the past few weeks but also a harsh reminder of how quickly it can all change.

However, with two automatic promotion places now up for grabs, that run of form means boss Andy Peaks’ target for the season has changed.

“My aim was to make sure we got in the play-off places but I think it’s fair to say that my first thought now is to finish in the top two,” the Diamonds manager said.

“The play-offs obviously haven’t been too kind to us in the last two seasons so to do it without having to go through them would be great.

“We have had a great run so I think that’s what we have to aim for.

“But we have some really big and tough games coming up.

“We have got to play a lot of the top teams over the next few weeks so we will have to be right at it if we are to keep up the run we have been on.”

That will certainly have to be the case this weekend.

While Moneyfields’ form has dipped since the last time the two teams met, Peaks knows his team will be in for one of their sternest away tests this season on Saturday.

The clash at Hayden Road was, if nothing else, highly competitive.

And Peaks added: “Both teams have had different fortunes since that day.

“They have had a difficult time but I know they have had key players out because of injuries and suspensions.

“I have watched them twice recently and those players are starting to come back so this probably isn’t a good time to play them.

“They will be fine, they will be in the mix and we know this will be a really tough game down there.

“I wouldn’t say there is needle between the players from that first game.

“They play with a lot of passion and desire and that’s why they get results. We will have to match all of that on the day.”