Expectation will now be back on Diamonds

Liam Dolman's shot finds the net for AFC Rushden & Diamonds' late equaliser at Kettering Town on Tuesday night. Diamonds return to league duty tomorrow at bottom side Arlesey Town. Picture by Peter Short
Liam Dolman's shot finds the net for AFC Rushden & Diamonds' late equaliser at Kettering Town on Tuesday night. Diamonds return to league duty tomorrow at bottom side Arlesey Town. Picture by Peter Short

Andy Peaks believes he won’t have to say much to his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players when they head to bottom side Arlesey Town this weekend.

Diamonds are set to resume their push for promotion in the Evo-Stik South League East after suffering penalty shoot-out heartbreak in Tuesday’s NFA Hillier Senior Cup semi-final at local rivals Kettering Town.

Diamonds went 2-0 up against their higher-ranked neighbours before the Poppies fought beat to lead 3-2, only for Liam Dolman to send the game into a shoot-out with a dramatic late leveller.

But Joel Gyasi missed the key penalty as Kettering prevailed at Latimer Park.

However, boss Peaks fully expects his players to shake that off as they focus on their main priority for the campaign.

With 16 games to go, Diamonds are three points clear at the top and are currently unbeaten in their last 15 league matches.

And Peaks knows the expectation will be back on his team tomorrow (Saturday).

He said: “It’s a big job for us now because they were fantastic against a team from a league above on Tuesday.

“They have now got to reproduce that form tomorrow against a team you would be expected to be beat.

“On Tuesday, we were up against a pretty much full-strength Kettering team and we were probably not expected to do what we did.

“However, at the weekend the expectation will be back on us.

“But I won’t have to say a lot to them. They motivate themselves.

“We organise them but they are managing the games themselves and they will have to do exactly that again tomorrrow.”

Peaks fielded the strongest team possible in midweek with Luke Fairlamb missed out as he served the first of a three-match ban while Ben Diamond and John Dean were both cup-tied.

The Diamonds squad looked to have come through the clash unscathed, although Ryan Robbins, who scored the first two goals, was withdrawn with cramp late in the second half.

And Peaks added: “I was always planning on being quite strong but especially after Kettering’s result at the weekend (a 4-3 loss at Royston Town), I felt they would go strong and because they are a good team I knew we had to try to match them.

“If I had weakened it or changed too many things then we might have got embarrassed and I wasn’t prepared to do that.

“The fact we didn’t play at the weekend helped us and that game was better than training.

“We had quite a few fans there, I always want to be competitive and all the players will have taken something from that."