Peaks: Diamonds are only getting better
Andy Peaks believes his AFC Rushden & Diamonds squad is getting better as the season progresses after they claimed a 3-1 success over Barwell at Hayden Road.
Goals from Jesse Akubuine and Jack Ashton put Diamonds 2-0 up before Zayn Hakeem pulled one back for the visitors with eight minutes to go.
However, Tom Lorraine’s 96th goal in Diamonds colours rounded things off for the hosts.
The win keeps Diamonds within three points of the play-off places and they are one of nine teams between third and 11th the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central who are separated by just five points.
It looks set to be a real battle for a top-five finish in the second half of the campaign and Peaks believes his team are in good shape for it.
“There are going to be loads of ups and downs and highs and lows,” the Diamonds boss said.
“We have had a bit of a transition this season with younger players coming in and they are getting better and better to be honest.
“I feel the squad has got stronger as the season has gone on.
“We have got some tough games coming up starting at Leiston next weekend.
“There is not the massive expectation here like there is at some of the other clubs in our league, there are some very big teams in there. But we are still competing with them.
“And I still believe that, with what we have got collectively, we will pick up enough points up to be right in and around it.”
The win over Barwell made it two in a row for Diamonds following their 4-3 success at St Ives Town on New Year’s Day.
And Peaks felt his team were good value for it.
“It’s just the start we wanted to the new year,” he added.
“I knew we had two games that would be competitive and I felt that if we prepared properly and were near our best then we would have a chance of getting six points. So, to have done that is really pleasing.
“The game wasn’t dissimilar to the first one of the season (when Diamonds won 2-0 away from home). There wasn’t a great deal in it but their management team said the best team won.
“At 2-1, you never know but we managed to get down the other end to get another goal.
“We carried out the gameplan to stop them because they are very good going forward.
“And I always feel we can create chances and we did and we were clinical.
“It was a good performance without being an absolute classic.”