Steelmen and Diamonds ready to go head-to-head

Corby Town manager David Bell
Corby Town manager David Bell

Andy Peaks believes the final pre-season friendly of the summer at Corby Town will provide AFC Rushden & Diamonds with their most “realistic” test of the summer.

The two Step Four county clubs go head-to-head at Steel Park tonight (Friday, 7.45pm) in their last match action before the big kick-off a week tomorrow.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks

AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks

Diamonds, who claimed a 4-2 victory over Winslow United on Wednesday night thanks to goals from Joel Gyasi, Tom Lorraine and Chris Dillon (2), have played a wide range of opponents from all levels during their build-up to the Evo-Stik South League East campaign.

But Peaks believes tomorrow’s game against David Bell’s side may well be the most useful of the lot.

He said: “I would say it is probably the most realistic friendly we are going to have this pre-season.

“We have played a few teams from a higher level and we played Rushden & Higham who are a couple of divisions below us.

“But Corby are at the same level of us, albeit in a different division, and I am sure they have the same ambitions as us to do well during the new season.

“So it’s probably the perfect game for both teams.”

Peaks is set to make further moves in the transfer market ahead of the new season after midfielder Ross Oulton suffered another devastating setback.

Oulton has re-injured the same knee he had an operation on during the last campaign and is now facing more months on the sidelines.

And that is set to force Peaks’ hand.

“It’s devastating for Ross and I wish him well because it’s an awful situation for him,” he added.

“From our point of view, it has left a hole in the midfield and we will look at trying to rectify that over the next week or so.

“We are also looking at the centre-back position, I still think that needs to be strengthened up.

“We will look at a couple of other players again tomorrow night because I believe I have a starting 11 for the new season that will be extremely competitive.

“But overall, I feel we are in a good place.

“We will tweak a couple of things but it’s been a good pre-season for us.”

As far as the Steelmen are concerned, they have made further moves this week with veteran goalkeeper Paul Bastock and former Diamonds forward Ollie Brown-Hill both signing for the club having featured heavily in their pre-season campaign so far.

Corby are preparing for life in the Evo-Stik League South after two successive relegations and, given that Diamonds finished in the play-offs in that division last season, Bell knows tonight's game will represent an important test for his players.

He said: "“It’s been a tough six weeks, the lads have trained hard and we have had pretty much two games a week for the past four weeks.

“It’s another opportunity against Diamonds, which will be a good test for us because they are a side at our level who have been in the play-offs in the last two seasons so we will see where we are at.”