No holding back as Diamonds and Poppies collide

AFC Rushden & Diamonds host Kettering Town in the last eight of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup this evening (Tuesday)

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 7:30 am
Paul Cox was left furious by Kettering Town's display against Darlington at the weekend. Picture by Peter Short

There is set to be no holding back from Andy Peaks or Paul Cox as AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Kettering Town clash in the quarter-finals of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup at Hayden Road tonight (Tuesday).

Poppies boss Cox confirmed he will field a first-team squad for the fixture in the aftermath of Saturday’s poor performance as they were beaten 3-1 by Darlington at Latimer Park in the Vanarama National League North.

And he insists he will be looking at “players who I think will come into the frame” for next Saturday’s home clash with Blyth Spartans as Kettering try to get their season back on track.

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Andy Peaks shows his delight as he embraces matchwinner Will Jones after AFC Rushden & Diamonds' incredible 3-2 victory at Hednesford Town on Saturday. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images

“The game can’t come quick enough, it doesn’t matter who we are playing or what the competition is,” Cox said.

“Those involved will be players who I think will come into the frame next Saturday and get us back to the standards we have set ourselves.

“I am not bothered about injuries or people getting tired. We have had 10 days off because of Covid, the boys should be champing at the bit.

“It’s a local derby and what a good game for us to show that we care and we are a bit hurt.

“It’s a state of mind with us at the minute and you only get a certain amount of time to learn before things tap you on the shoulder.

“We have to get back to the standards that we set otherwise the inevitable happens.

“This is the big club and I am not going to put up with performances like Saturday.”

By contrast, hosts Diamonds come into the clash bursting with confidence after a stunning 3-2 success at Hednesford Town in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central at the weekend.

Peaks’ team were trailing 2-0 with five minutes of normal time remaining but Ryan Hughes pulled one back before Ravi Shamsi’s spectacular strike made it 2-2 and then, in the final minute of stoppage-time, Will Jones headed home his first senior goal for the club to clinch victory.

Peaks is set to field a strong squad himself, indeed he insists he has no other choice, and he believes it is a game his team can look forward to.

“To be honest, it was never going to be any different because I have only got 16 or 17 in the squad,” the Diamonds boss said.

“We will try to give people minutes who need them but, for me, it’s a big game.

“It’s a local derby and it’s a great game for us to have after the weekend.

“I am looking forward to it, I always enjoy the games against Kettering because there is a bit of local rivalry between the supporters.

“The fact is we are playing a team from the league above who have done really in that level so it’s a massive test for us.

“Making sure we do well in the league has been our priority all along but this is a nice distraction and a good test to see where we’re at.”

Fans of both clubs are reminded that the game, which kicks off at 7.45pm, is all-ticket with no tickets available on the turnstiles tonight.

It will also be segregated with Diamonds supporters occupying the Shortstocks/Peter De Banke end of the ground and the Kettering fans housed in the Birch Road End.

Turnstiles will open at 6.30pm and tickets and can be purchased by visiting www.ticketsource.co.uk/afcrd