Peaks hopes for a big crowd to roar Diamonds on in the FA Cup

AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks
AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks

Andy Peaks is hoping a big crowd will be on hand as AFC Rushden & Diamonds bid to reach the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history this weekend.

Diamonds take on Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division side Ashton United at the Dog & Duck tomorrow (Saturday) as they aim to go one better than two years ago when they bowed out at this stage at Dover Athletic.

That season, they beat Cambridge City, who were from a higher level, in the second qualifying round and Peaks wants the atmosphere from that day to be recreated on Saturday.

To advance, Diamonds will have to bounce back from the 3-1 home defeat to Basford United in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy last weekend, which ended their superb 31-match unbeaten run.

“Hopefully there will be a big crowd in and they will really get behind the boys,” the Diamonds boss said.

“That was the case when we played Cambridge City at a similar stage two years ago and it made a massive difference.

“We aren’t going overboard just because we have lost a game and it has been business as usual for the boys in training this week.

“They are a good group and they are still confident.”

Peaks believes the tie represents an “opportunity” for his team to move to within one more win of the first round proper.

Having reached the play-offs last season by finishing third, Ashton currently sit in 15th place in the Northern League Premier Division.

But Peaks believes that doesn’t give a true reflection on how good this weekend’s opponents are.

“It is an opportunity for us because we are at home,” he added.

“We have had Ashton watched and I think it’s fair to say they are a better team than some of their results would suggest.

“It is a good chance to move closer to the first round, which would be an incredible achievement. We are certainly going to give it our best shot.”

Peaks, meanwhile, says Claudiu Hoban has “a chance” of being fit for the clash.

The winger, who has been in fine form so far this season, missed the abandoned league clash at Kings Langley and last weekend’s defeat tafter suffering a knee injury in the FA Cup success at Deeping Rangers at the end of last month.

But Peaks said: “Claudiu definitely has a chance.

“It’s something we will assess but we hope to have him back.”

Diamonds will still be without Jack Ashton who serves the last of a three-match suspension while Delroy Gordon is expected to return to the squad after missing last Saturday with an ankle problem.