Andy Peaks believes AFC Rushden & Diamonds will be up to facing one of the big promotion contenders when they take on Royston Town tomorrow (Saturday).
It may still be early in the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central season but this weekend’s clash at Hayden Road sees fourth taking on third with both clubs making impressive starts to their campaigns.
Diamonds will be hoping to bounce back from their disappointing early exit from the Emirates FA Cup last weekend as they went down 1-0 at Enfield Town in the first qualifying round.
But Peaks knows his team are in for another stern test.
“I feel that Royston will be one of those teams that will be up there this season,” the Diamonds boss said.
“I think they feel that they are stronger this year, they have signed some really good players. They are scoring lots of goals and I think they are a club who are looking to get out of this division.
“But, from our point of view, we have got to get last Saturday out of our systems.
“We have had a good start ourselves in the league, our home record has been good in recent seasons and we have won three out of three there so far.
“I am sure Royston will be expecting a tough game just as much as we are and I think we can go into it with confidence and belief.
“We will give it our best shot and if we play to our full capabilities we fancy our chances against anyone in the division.”
As far as last weekend was concerned, Peaks felt his team paid the price for not being “clinical enough in the final third”.
Diamonds created opportunities but were undone by a second-half counter-attack as their hopes of making progress in the FA Cup were dashed.
And the manager added: “We have said it loads of times before, if you don’t take your chances things will always come back to bite you and that’s what happened.
“It was another away draw for us but we got our heads around it, we changed our shape to try to deal with their threat and, to be honest, the gameplan worked perfectly but we didn’t take the chances that came our way.
“In the league, if you get caught out like that then there is always the chance to rectify it but in the FA Cup there are no second chances.
“We should have been on the coach home talking about how unfortunate we were just to get a replay but instead, somehow, we were reflecting on a defeat.
“I couldn’t question the effort and commitment. Everything I would expect was there. But we weren’t clinical enough in the final third and that’s what cost us.”
Diamonds’ squad will be boosted this weekend with Jack Ashton available again after suspension while Massiah McDonald will also be back after international duty with Montserrat.