Andy Peaks knows AFC Rushden & Diamonds have only done “half the job” after they rescued their FA Cup skins in dramatic style at Barwell.
Diamonds seemed to be heading for a 2-1 defeat to the Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division side as they trailed deep into stoppage-time.
But, with just 40 seconds remaining, Liam Dolman hammered home a loose ball to spark wild celebrations and earn his team a 2-2 draw and a replay at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night.
It means both clubs will be in the hat for the televised first-round draw tomorrow (Monday) night.
And while boss Peaks insisted he never stopped believing in his players, he wasn’t sure another chance would come after Richard Lavery had headed Barwell into a 2-1 lead.
The Diamonds boss said: “We have made a habit of scoring late goals and they probably don’t come much later than that!
“We huffed and puffed but I never give up believing with these boys because they keep going until the end.
“But you couldn’t see us getting a chance and to get one when we did was just brilliant.
“I thought the celebrations showed what it means to everyone at the club.
“These boys have worked hard to get to where they are and to go out to a couple of soft goals would have been so disappointing.
“We know it’s only half the job and it is going to be another tough, tough game on Tuesday night when they come to us.
“But at least we are still in the hat and still there fighting.
“I thought we started well and had a good chance but didn’t take it and then they have scored with their first real shot and they were better than us in the first half. We didn’t pass the ball well enough.
“But, aside from the first couple of minutes of the second half, I thought we were a lot better and we deserved the equaliser.
“We were in the ascendency but we have switched off and allowed them to score a free header.”
Peaks, meanwhile, was full of praise for Dolman whose goal was his second of the game after he had headed home the first equaliser on 57 minutes.
“I am delighted for Liam as well because he epitomises everything about the club,” the manager added.
“He is a winner, he is a good footballer and he is great lad off the pitch as well. He ticks all the boxes so I am delighted for him.”
Peaks’ final words, however, belonged to the supporters as well over 500 fans made the short trip to Leicestershire to roar their team on.
He is now hoping Diamonds having their place in the first-round draw will create more interest ahead of the replay on Tuesday.
Peaks said: “I am looking forward to the draw because we will be one of the lowest-ranked sides left in it and it puts a bit of spotlight on us. It gets the name out there and it will create even more interest.
“It’s going to be a lively night on Tuesday and we need those fans behind us again.
“They were fantastic right from the start and the scenes at the end were brilliant. That’s what you want and we want more of that on Tuesday.”