A tough test awaits AFC Rushden & Diamonds as they return to Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South action this weekend.
Andy Peaks’ men enjoyed the best result in the club’s history last Saturday when they claimed a superb 3-1 success at National League South side Concord Rangers in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Their six-match unbeaten run in all competitions was ended on Tuesday evening when a much-changed line-up was beaten 3-2 at Kettering Town in the first round of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup.
But it’s back to the real business tomorrow (Saturday) as Diamonds get ready to take on Shaw Lane Aquaforce at the Dog & Duck.
Shaw Lane, who are still mourning the loss of their player Daniel Wilkinson who tragically passed away after collapsing on the pitch during a recent game, sit in second place in the table and remain unbeaten in the league so far this season.
And Peaks knows his team are in for a thorough examination against a team who, like Diamonds, were beaten play-off finalists last season.
“It’s a massive game for us,” Peaks said.
“They are one of the clubs who are highly-fancied to do well in the league and they have started really well and they did well last season.
“It’s going to be a tough.
“They have had some really bad news and we respect that and we have sent our condolences to them.
“But for me, it’s about trying to get a result tomorrow.
“You have to enjoy a good run for as long as you are on it and then, as soon as it breaks like it did on Tuesday, it’s all about how you bounce back.
“It’s a tough game for us to bounce back in but I have got now doubts that this group can do it.
“We will be working hard to make sure we are ready for the weekend and also next Tuesday night, which will be another hard game.”
Diamonds will definitely be without Richard Bunting who serves a one-match ban while Kyal McNulty is a doubt after picking up a knock in midweek.
But there could be a return for striker Jake Newman, who was set to train ahead of the weekend having been ruled out since injuring his ankle in the opening-day defeat at Newcastle Town.
“We have a few who are struggling who couldn’t have played on Tuesday night anyway,” Peaks added.
“There were a couple I did rest just because I felt it would do them good.
“We are hoping Jake Newman will be back and involved in training, which could see him feature tomorrow.
“And Joe Curtis isn’t a million miles away either so that’s really good.”