Andy Peaks praised the character of his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players as they battled back to avoid a shock exit in the Emirates FA Cup.
Diamonds trailed 1-0 and 2-1 at Tividale in their first qualifying round clash but Nabil Shariff’s hat-trick secured a 3-2 success and a place in the second qualifying round draw, which takes place tomorrow (Monday) lunchtime.
The victory also ensured Diamonds remain unbeaten in all competitions so far this season.
But boss Peaks admitted they made it hard for themselves against a team from two levels below them.
“The main aim was to get through and that’s what we have done but we made hard work of it,” the Diamonds boss said.
“It was typical FA Cup stuff when you go away to a team from a lower level.
“We should have been out of sight early on but they have caught us out and then, after we equalised and then looked like we would go on and win, they scored again and that’s when I started to wonder whether it might be one of those days.
“But I have to give the players credit, they showed massive character to come back again and win the game.
“We looked dangerous going forward without being clinical enough and we didn’t defend particularly well as a team. The one thing you can’t do against teams from a lower level is give them some encouragement and that’s what we did.
“But we dug deep and found a way. If someone had given me a 3-2 win on the morning of the game, I would have taken it.
“We are in the hat tomorrow and that’s what it is all about in cup football.”
Shariff has enjoyed a superb start to the new campaign with his treble making it 10 goals in six matches so far.
And Peaks added: “We needed Nabil yesterday,
“He didn’t take all of his chances by any means but we needed his hat-trick because, without it, we could have been in trouble.
“He’s had a great start to the season and hopefully that will continue.”