Mixed feelings for Peaks after Diamonds' cup exit

Andy Peaks was left with mixed feelings after AFC Rushden & Diamonds were knocked out of the Southern League Challenge Cup.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds defender Alex Collard is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a knee ligament injury
AFC Rushden & Diamonds defender Alex Collard is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a knee ligament injury

Diamonds took a first-half lead through Ryan Dove against Premier Central rivals Needham Market at Hayden Road.

However, the visitors produced a second-half fightback as they levelled thanks to a Joe Marsden penalty before Sam Squire’s late goal secured their place in the quarter-finals.

Boss Peaks did make changes for the clash in a bid to keep some members of his squad fresh as they chase a fourth league win in a row at Kings Langley on Saturday.

But he was left slightly disappointed by the manner of his team’s exit.

“It was good for some of the players to get some minutes out there,” the Diamonds manager said.

“There were four or five who haven’t had a lot of time in the last four weeks or so.

“But it was disappointing to lose after being a goal up and possibly further ahead. I thought some people looked a bit tired towards the end.

“It was a good learning curve. I said to the boys that it just goes to show that you can be in control of games but if people drop off the pace and we lose a bit of momentum and give them a lift then that’s what can happen.

“The competition wasn’t at the top of the priority list but the further you go, the more you want to do well. We were in the last 16 and I wanted us to get into the last eight because I want to win everything I do and that’s how I want the players to be as well.

“But, in the cold light of day, it’s not the end of the world and if we have learned something from the game and got people some fitness then it has served its purpose.

“There were positives to take but I was just a bit disappointed with the way we lost at the end.”

Diamonds, meanwhile, have been dealt a blow with the news that central defender Alex Collard is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Collard suffered a knee ligament injury during the 4-0 defeat at South Shields in the Buildbase FA Trophy last month.

And Peaks added: “It’s not good news.

“Alex has got some problems with his knee ligaments and it’s just a case of whether he is going to need surgery or whether he will be able to recover with rehabilitation.

“I think the consultant is still looking into that but it’s definitely going to be a long-term thing for Alex.”