THE BIG KICK-OFF: Peaks' Diamonds ready for their opening test

Jack Ashton missed AFC Rushden & Diamonds' final pre-season friendly of the summer but boss Andy Peaks is hopeful the defender will be ready for the opening game of the season this weekend
Jack Ashton missed AFC Rushden & Diamonds' final pre-season friendly of the summer but boss Andy Peaks is hopeful the defender will be ready for the opening game of the season this weekend

A big day awaits for AFC Rushden & Diamonds as they begin life at higher level in front of their own fans tomorrow (Saturday).

Diamonds, who gained promotion from Step 4 last season, will start life at a higher level with a home clash against Redditch United at Hayden Road.

And boss Andy Peaks, whose team head to Biggleswade Town next Tuesday, believes the curtain-raiser will give him and his players a real glimpse into what they can expect in the Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central.

“We are really looking forward to it and it’s a good first test for us,” the Diamonds boss said.

“Redditch are a side who have been in and around this level for a while and this game is going to give us all a good idea of what the league is all about.

“There are some big clubs in the division and hopefully we can prove are a big club as well.

“I am sure the fans will back us. We have got the club to the level they have been looking for and hopefully the fans will come out and support us.”

Peaks, meanwhile, believes his players are ready for the opening day after they completed their pre-season friendly programme with a 4-0 victory at Bishop’s Stortford, despite going into it without a number of key players.

Captain Liam Dolman and Jack Ashton were both rested due to injuries with Peaks hopeful both will be ready for the curtain-raiser while Ben Farrell and Jack Westbrook will both be available this weekend having returned from holiday.

Cameron Gilchrist remains unavailable while Ben Ford confirmed this week that has left the club.

But, despite being understrength for last weekend’s outing, Diamonds still claimed a big win thanks to goals from recent signing Dan Clifton, trialist Ty Ward, Jack Bowen and John Dean.

And Peaks, who signed a contract for the new season earlier this week, added: “We were a bit light on players due to holidays and injuries so I was a bit concerned about it.

“But the attitude right from the start was excellent.

“The game gave me a chance to have a look at some lads I might not have seen and they did themselves proud.

“I am pleased with how pre-season has gone. It’s always very false in terms of results but we feel we have prepared well and are ready for the season ahead.”