Andy Peaks insists tomorrow’s (Saturday) FA Cup fourth qualifying round clash at Barwell is an occasion that should be enjoyed by everyone at AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
Diamonds’ run in this season’s competition has already made the history books as they have reached the final qualifying stage for the first time.
Now, just 90 minutes and a team from the level above stand between them and a place alongside the Sky Bet League One and Two clubs in the first round proper.
Diamonds knocked out higher-ranked opponents in the last stage as they beat Ashton United who, like Barwell, play in the Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division.
And having seen his team maintain their unbeaten record in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central with a 5-2 home win over Fleet Town on Tuesday, Peaks insists there is now less pressure on his players for the big one at the weekend.
He said: “Is there pressure on Saturday? I think it’s pressure when you are trying to win games to stay up in a league. This is a nice game for us to have.
“As a manager and as players, you have to look forward to days like this. This is what we do it for.
“When you are a non-League club in the FA Cup, the aim is always to try to get to the first round proper with the chance to play a Football League club.
“Four games down the line, we still have that dream and that opportunity. To get there would be an incredible achievement.
“It’s been hard not to focus on it but we had to be that way.
“We have had reports on Barwell so we will train with a gameplan in mind.
“It’s the furthest the club has been and it’s the furthest a lot of the boys have been. Hopefully it will be a great day.”
Peaks, though, knows his team will have to be at their best if they are to progress against a Barwell side who also hit five on Tuesday as they won 5-0 at Grantham Town.
“It’s all about us playing to our capabilities and strengths and if we we do that then we will give anyone at our level and the one above a game,” the Diamonds boss added.
“If we slip below those standards then it will be a tough afternoon for us.”
Recent signings Andy Hall and Tom Liversedge are unavailable fo the clash due to being cup-tied.
Winger Claudiu Hoban, who this week signed a contract to keep him at the club for the remainder of this season, was rested on Tuesday night and should be fit to feature.
Diamonds will check on the fitness of skipper Richard Bunting, who was withdrawn at half-time in midweek due to a hip injury, and defender Delroy Gordon.