Play-off race is open as Diamonds hope to return to action

AFC Rushden & Diamonds should return to action this weekend – fully 21 days after they last played a BetVictor Southern League Premier Central match.

By Jon Dunham
Friday, 21st February 2020, 7:30 am
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks
AFC Rushden & Diamonds boss Andy Peaks

The combination of a one free weekend and the stormy weather means Andy Peaks’ team haven’t played since they beat Redditch United 3-0 at Hayden Road on February 1.

That victory actually sent Diamonds into the top five at the time but, despite their inactivity over the past three weeks, Peaks’ side are still right in the mix for the play-off places.

There are some big games to come, however, not least tomorrow (Saturday) when they head to fellow contenders Coalville Town.

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Diamonds sit a point outside the top five with Coalville one place and one point behind them.

And Peaks said: “The good news for us is that even though we wouldn’t have played for 21 days when we go to Coalville, we are still in and around it all.

“It’s not been ideal because we were on a good roll but others have still been playing and I guess we now have a clear indication of what we will need to do.

“It will be the team who can string a certain number of wins together who will finish in that top five and we have shown we are capable of putting that sort of run together.

“But it is going to be very tough this weekend. Coalville are a good side, they are dangerous going forward and they are decent at home.”

The main concern for Peaks heading into the weekend is whether his players will be a bit “cold” after so long without any match action.

Training has continued as normal but the Diamonds manager insists their enforced three-week lay-off can’t and won’t be used as an excuse.

“It is a bit of a concern,” he added.

“I never think it hurts if you happen to have a weekend off just to recharge and take stock.

“But we will be going into the game having not played a match for 21 days so there is that danger of going in a bit cold.

“The lads have trained as normal and we haven’t had any fresh injuries, the only one I feel sorry for is Ben Acquaye because he is serving the longest ban ever as he waits to sit out the final game of his suspension!

“So it’s not a perfect situation to have not played for so long but it won’t be an excuse.

“We have got 14 games left to get ourselves to where we want to be."