OPINION: Enjoy this season because Peaks' Diamonds will be just fine

Andy Peaks will lead AFC Rushden & Diamonds into the club's first-ever season at Step 3
Andy Peaks will lead AFC Rushden & Diamonds into the club's first-ever season at Step 3

For possibly the first time since their senior team was formed, there might not be that much pressure on AFC Rushden & Diamonds this season.

Indeed, there shouldn’t be.
It has been an impressive rise up the leagues for the phoenix club with last season’s elevation from the Evo-Stik South League East being the club’s third promotion in six campaigns.
This time last year, the expectations were high.
One look at the division suggested Diamonds should be in the hunt for one of the two automatic promotion places and while the title may have eluded them, it proved to be a case of ‘job done’ for Andy Peaks and his players.
But here comes a polite warning from someone who has watched his fair share of Step 3 and Step 4 football over the past few years.
The step up is bigger than some give it credit for and, for that reason alone, patience may well be a virtue for Diamonds’ followers this season.
They will come up against clubs with significantly bigger budgets than their own one and the margins for error will become a lot smaller than they have been in previous campaigns.
By the same token, there won’t be any fear from Peaks and his players and they can certainly take heart from what they did against Step 3 clubs in cup competitions last season.
In general, the manager has rightly given those who got them here the opportunity to show what they can do at a higher level.
And if previous seasons are anything to go by, the one thing we are guaranteed is a good work ethic and that in itself can take you a long way.
The losses of Luke Fairlamb and Joel Gyasi, who were so good in the wide areas last season, were disappointing but there has been no dwelling from Peaks who has made some decent additions in the form of the returning Jack Bowen and midfielder Nathan Hicks - both of whom played at this level last season.
The squad, on paper at least, looks more than capable of being competitive.
And the key could be in the defensive ranks.
Diamonds were so good in that department last time out.
They conceded just 25 goals in 42 league matches and if they can go somewhere close to that again with the likes of Liam Dolman, Jack Ashton and Sam Brown marshalling the troops then they won’t go far wrong.
The club’s target for this season may well be to just stay in the division but you can guarantee Peaks and his players will be aiming for better than just consolidation.
Either way, I don’t see them having problems towards the wrong end of the table. I’d like to think a top-10 finish and more wouldn’t be beyond them.
But it’s important for everyone associated with Diamonds to enjoy this season.
It feels like this is the level they have been striving for since the club was formed by the fans in the wake of Rushden & Diamonds’ demise.
I am sure there will be a number of very proud people when the team steps out to take on Redditch United at Hayden Road.
And before the first ball is kicked, those behind the scenes should certainly take a moment to step back, draw breath and reflect on the excellent achievements so far.
With their supporters behind them, it will then be up to Peaks and his players to take that next step on the pitch.
I have no doubts whatsoever that they will be just fine…