AFC Rushden and Diamonds boss Andy Peaks says his side enter a run of “16 cup finals” that will decide the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division championship at the Dog & Duck tomorrow (Saturday).
Diamonds entertain Sleaford Town having opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table with a 3-0 midweek win over strugglers Harborough Town.
Holbeach are second with three games in hand and they clash in Lincolnshire a week on Saturday.
Peaks said: “I’ve told the players we have 16 cup finals left this season – starting with Saturday.
“That’s how we have to treat these games. They are all cup finals we have to win.
“It’s a cup final for Sleaford as well. They are scoring lots of goals and will definitely come at us.”
New signing Declan Rogers grabbed his first goal for the club on Tuesday after both he and Neil King had made their debuts in the shock 2-0 loss at Oadby last weekend – a result that Peaks says has kick-started his side’s title challenge.
He said: “The players fell short of the standard I set and the standard they’ve set for themselves.
“We weren’t good enough in any area of the pitch.
“The Oadby result was a massive negative, but we hadn’t played well in a couple of games before that, so maybe it was coming.”
Diamonds have been linked with a move for ex-Corby striker Tom Berwick this week.
Peaks says he hasn’t spoken to Berwick, but added that he would “never rule out a move for any good player”.
Wellingborough Town joint-boss Steve Herring says sloppy goals are costing his side.
The Doughboys head to Peterborough Northern Star tomorrow looking to end a run of three straight defeats.
The latest setback was a 3-2 reverse at home to Wisbech Town, a third straight loss at the Dog & Duck.
Herring said: “The players believe in themselves and we can score goals but the frustrating thing for all of us is that we are conceding sloppy goals.
“That’s been our problem.
“With better decision making last week, we would have got something from the game, but instead we lost another close game.
“We were extremely disappointed to lose that match.
“We deserved something from the Diamonds match as well. They are top of the table, but they definitely didn’t outplay us.
“We’ve been losing games, but we’ve been playing good teams and we haven’t been losing by much to them.
“We just need to pick up a point – or three – from a game and that will give us something to build on.”
Desborough Town boss Ian Walker predicts shock results in the Premier Division but is determined there won’t be one at the Waterworks Field tomorrow.
Ar Tarn welcome strugglers Northampton Sileby Rangers and both sides are targeting a third straight win.
Ar Tarn dished out a 5-2 thumping to in-form Eynesbury Rovers last weekend, while Sileby have hauled themselves out of the drop zone with back-to-back wins.
And Walker insists he is not surprised by their recent revival.
He said: “They are trying to get themselves out of trouble and have had a couple of good wins in their last two games.
“I always thought there will be shock results between now and the end of the season.
“The teams at the bottom are bringing in good players and fighting to stay up.
“We know by now there are no easy games in this division and I’m conscious that although we’re mid table, we’ve played more games than the teams around us.
“So we have to keep picking up points to make it hard for them to catch us.”