Andy Peaks has labelled this weekend’s Emirates FA Cup tie at Deeping Rangers as “the most important game of the season” for his AFC Rushden & Diamonds players.
The campaign may only be a week old but Peaks is determined to ensure the club enjoys more success in the world’s most famous club knockout competition.
The FA Cup has been kind to Diamonds in recent seasons with the peak being an appearance in the fourth qualifying round in 2015.
And Peaks is hungry for more.
“I have been really lucky because I have enjoyed good runs in the FA Cup as a player and a manager,” he said.
“It’s a competition everyone knows about all over the world and we are looking forward to getting started in it again this season.
“We have enjoyed our first week in the new division, despite the frustrating defeats away from home, and now we are ready for a change of focus.
“For me, this is the most important game of the season so far because we really want to try to do well in the FA Cup again.”
Diamonds’ first week at the higher level of the Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central proved to be a frustrating one.
They enjoyed a superb start as they saw off Redditch United 5-2 at Hayden Road before losing out 1-0 at Biggleswade Town and then going down 2-1 at Stourbridge last weekend as the hosts scored a stoppage-time winner.
But Diamonds will be heavy favourites to get past Future Lions United Counties League Premier Division outfit Deeping this weekend.
Rangers have started their season in good form and are unbeaten in four matches and Peaks knows they are not to be taken lightly.
“It’s a really tough one for us to be honest,” he added.
“I know a fair bit about Deeping and I get on well with their manager.
“They will definitely be right up for it and it will be up to us to match their enthusiasm and work-rate.
“They have some good players and they have started the season well so we must be on our guard.”
Diamonds are set to still be without strikers Ben Diamond (ankle) and Tom Lorraine (hamstring) after both suffered injuries during the defeat at Biggleswade.
But Peaks is hopeful of a return for captain Liam Dolman who is yet to feature this season due to a calf injury.
And Sam Brown could also be back in the frame after he missed the loss at Stourbridge due to personal reasons.