Andy Peaks wants AFC Rushden & Diamonds to make Hayden Road “a fortress” as they bid to go one better this season.
Since being promoted to Step Four, Diamonds have endured two heartbreaking finishes to their campaigns as a play-off final defeat to St Ives Town was followed by a semi-final loss to Witton Albion in the Evo-Stik League South last season.
Peaks’ men now find themselves back in the newly-named Evo-Stik South League East and they get the season under way with a home clash against Hanwell Town tomorrow (Saturday).
And that will be played at Hayden Road after the hard work done by volunteers paid off when the venue passed a ground grading inspection on Monday before being rubber-stamped by the Football Association yesterday (Wednesday).
And now Peaks is is keen to “hit the ground running” as he bids to lead Diamonds in another push for promotion.
“It’s been a fantastic effort and the volunteers have shown what a good spirit there is at the club,” Peaks said.
“To get us playing our league games at Rushden so quickly is amazing really and it will be up to us to give them something back with our performances at Hayden Road.
“They have got us off and running off-the-pitch and now I want us to try to make Hayden Road a fortress.
“Our home form wasn’t great at the Dog & Duck last season and we need to change that in our new home this season.
“We want to make it a ground that has a great atmosphere with lots of people from the local area coming out to watch us.
“We want to go one better, that is the aim and I’d love for us to go straight up and not have to worry about the play-offs.
“I want to help take this club out of this level.
“We will see where we are as we go along but if you don’t start the season wanting to gain promotion then you shouldn’t be in the job.
“We have come desperately close in the last two seasons and now we want to try to take it a step further.
“It’s been a good pre-season, I have been pleased with how it’s gone.
“Now we have got to try to hit the ground running. We don’t know a great deal about Hanwell but I am more concerned about us.
“Our main aim at this moment in time is to try to get as many points on the board as we can in our first three games and then we will take things from there.”
DIAMONDS PRE-SEASON 2017-18
Saturday, July 15: Barwell (H, Dale Roberts Memorial Cup) – 2-2 (6-5 on pens, OG, Dolman).
Wednesday, July 19: Northampton Town (H) – 2-0 (Farrell, Lorraine).
Saturday, July 22: St Ives Town (H) – 1-2 (Gyasi).
Tuesday, July 25: Brackley Town (A) – 2-2 (Fairlamb, Henbury).
Saturday, July 29: Rushden & Higham United (A, Chris Ruff Memorial Cup) – 5-1 (Dillon 3, Fairlamb, Farrell).
Wednesday, August 2: Winslow United (H) – 4-2 (at Hillgrounds, Gyasi, Lorraine, Dillon 2).
Friday, August 4: Corby Town (A) – 1-1 (Punter).