Andy Peaks was delighted with the reaction of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players after they gave their Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central play-off hopes a huge boost with an impressive 2-0 victory over Stratford Town at Hayden Road.
After a goalless first half, which the third-placed visitors had shaded, Diamonds move up a couple of gears and goals from captain Liam Dolman and Sam Johnson secured a deserved success.
Peaks’ team are now unbeaten in their last seven matches and have moved to within two points of the top five.
The win came three days after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Leiston and the manager was impressed with the way his team bounced back.
A fine second-half display held the key but it was a tactical switch by Peaks to move Ben Diamond into a central role that helped turn the tide.
“I am absolutely delighted,” the Diamonds manager said.
“I asked for a reaction after the weekend because we didn’t reach the standards we have set. I asked for the reaction and as usual with this group, we got it.
“I thought they were stronger than us in the first half. It was a tight game but I just felt that we needed to do something a bit different because we were the home team but we were the ones chasing them.
“We got our heads together at half-time and we just tinkered with it a little bit and pushed Ben Diamond a bit more central and a bit higher and it put us in the ascendency.
“We got a bit of momentum, their goalkeeper made a couple of saves and eventually the goals came for us.
“I just felt that if we upped it 20 per cent in the second half then we would win the game and I think some upped it a bit more than that as well.
“Football is like that, if one ups their game then it seems to go through the whole team.
“Even after we got the goals, the lads were getting blocks in because if they had got one then it would have been a nervous finish.”
Diamonds are now within striking distance of the play-off places and are two points behind King’s Lynn Town and Alvechurch and just three adrift of Stratford.
Their next test is on the road at struggling Halesowen Town on Saturday and Peaks added: “There will always be little setbacks along the way but, as I keep saying, there are still a lot of games left.
“And if we play like we did in the second half last night then we will pick plenty of points up.”