Kettering Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds go head-to-head in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup final at Northampton Town’s Sixfields home tonight (Thursday, 7.30pm) for what will be the final act for both clubs this season.
It will be Marcus Law’s Poppies’ first action since they won 4-1 at Dorchester Town on the final day of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division campaign as they narrowly missed out on a play-off place.
Diamonds, meanwhile, will be hoping for an immediate response after they suffered Division One Central play-off heartbreak on Bank Holiday Monday when they missed out on promotion when going down 2-1 to St Ives Town after extra-time.
Hillier Cup rules, which say only players who have played in previous rounds can feature, mean both managers will have to make changes to their squads.
The Poppies’ only definite absentee is winger Wilson Carvalho who begins a six-match ban, which was imposed following his red card for a “spitting incident” during the 1-0 home defeat to Bedworth United last month.
And Law said: “I am looking forward to the game and it’s an opportunity to finish on a good note.
“It’s two local rivals going at it and I am sure all the fans will hope that it’s them who have the bragging rights at the end of it.
“We certainly want to make sure we please our supporters.
“Diamonds were very unfortunate to miss out in the play-offs and they will be keen to hit back against us.
“We know who is and isn’t available and we will get everyone together and pick the strongest team possible.”
Peaks will be forced into changes with Jason Lee, Connor Kennedy, Jack Bowen, Lewis Leslie and former Poppies frontman Elliot Sandy all cup-tied.
But Claudiu Hoban is available after he served a one-match ban in Monday’s play-off final.
And Peaks sees the final as a perfect chance to bounce back from that bitter disappointment.
“It’s a game I know a lot of people have been looking forward to and it is a fantastic chance for us to bounce back from the disappointment on Monday,” the Diamonds manager said.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves and there’s no better way to hit back than against your local rivals on an excellent surface in front of a lot of people.
“Overall, I think we have had a good season and it would be great to finish on a high.
“There will have to be a lot of changes but that means opportunities for others and I am sure Claudiu, in particular, will be chomping at the bit after missing out on Monday.
“It will be difficult because Kettering have a very good season themselves and they are from a league higher but I expect our players to go out and try to finish well.”
Should the match finish level after 90 minutes, the final will go straight to a penalty shoot-out.
Supporters can pay on the gate with Poppies fans located in the West Stand and Diamonds in the North Stand.
Admission is £8 for adults and £5 for concessions.