Swadlincote…or swaddling clothes (see what I did there!!)

Diamonds make the medium distance trip into South Derbyshire to the lovely town of Swadlincote to take on Gresley FC on Saturday looking to extend the best away record in the Northern Premier League Division One South.

Unbeaten on the road since the opening day of the season Diamonds have travelled well since that opening reverse at table toppers Newcastle Town. Wins at Carlton in August, then just up the road in Belper in October were followed by three away wins in November at Spalding, Stocksbridge and Loughborough.

The only disappointment in that run was the draw at bottom of the table Rugby Town also in November and it has been draws galore at home for Diamonds that keep them just outside the play-off places. Diamonds have been beaten just once at home this season but 5 draws from 8 include the disappointing 1-1 against strugglers Market Drayton Town last weekend.

The first draw in that sequence was the game between these two sides in early September and it was by far was the most entertaining of them all. Diamonds fought back from 2-0 down through a Ross Oulton screamer on 72 and looked to be the likely winners until Mwanyongo scored his second to seemingly win the game for Gresley on 93. But Ross Oulton hadn’t finished and smashed the ball into the bottom corner on 94 to send the home crowd crazy… how we miss him!!

Gresley have had a real topsy turvey season that has been full of goals. 76 have been scored in 19 Gresley games this season with 33 for and 43 against. Incredible stats that saw the free scoring Derbyshire men in the top 8 for the first half of the season, but a run of just 2 wins in 11 including a 5-1 reverse at Kidsgrove last weekend see them come into this game down in 13th.

Diamonds manager Andy Peaks has added to his squad this week with the addition of two players who have played against Diamonds in FA Cup ties. Ben Farrell joins from Bedford Town after being part of the Cambridge City side beaten 3-2 in that incredible cup tie in 2013, and Merdi Maki joins from the Northampton Sileby side beaten 4-3 earlier this season.

This pre Xmas period is always critical and not one that Diamonds have fared particularly well in in previous seasons. But with a fabulous away record to protect, additions to the squad, and a travelling faithful that you know the players really appreciate they will be in beautiful Derbyshire looking for another 3 points to keep the unbeaten play-off chasing run going.

Follow us on Radio Diamonds and look out for my updates on BBC Northampton for the first time this season. I might just get in a mention in for my hometown heroes Stourbridge for their massive FA Cup 2nd round tie against the Cobblers of Northampton Town on Sunday.

Come on you Glassboys!!….and Diamonds too obviously….

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter (once a Glassboy always a Glassboy…..)

 

 

Diamonds vs Steelmen….we try again!!

It’s back to cup action for Diamonds tonight as they take on Corby Town in the re-arranged Integro NPL League Cup First Round.

It is probably weather permitting again after last week’s postponement for waterlogging with temperatures so low during the night and morning and dropping below freezing from about 5.00, and could be as low as 3 degrees under by kick-off.

I’ve updated my preview from last week and hope I’m not jinxing the game by putting it out there now…..

……

Diamonds have had plenty of cup excitement this season making it through 3 rounds of FA Cup action before falling to Hendon in October. They also made it through two rounds of FA Trophy action with a thrilling 6-1 away replay success at Histon United and a 1-0 home win against Coalville Town before falling to Lincoln United in another away replay this month. Throw in a 5 goal NFA Hiller Cup tie at Kettering Town and it’s been all action in cup matches this season.

It is a first foray into the NPL League Cup for both sides tonight after Diamonds sideways move from the Southern League last season and Corby having previously played in the Southern League before a spell in National League North which ended in relegation last season.

Diamonds first effort at Step 3/4 League Cup action was a massive disappointment last season as they lost 4-1 at home to a very young Histon side who scored twice in the first 4 minutes. Only Brad Harris from that starting line-up is still with the club although Liam Dolman and Matt Finlay sat on the bench that night. Dominic Lawless scoring the only goal from the penalty spot.

After securing a 5th away league win at Loughborough Dynamo 10 days back Diamonds maintained their 6th place in NPL Division One South with Saturday’s home draw with Market Drayton town. Diamonds have still only been beaten once at home all season but they have drawn 7 times now including 5 times in the league after Saturday’s disappointing result. 5 wins have been added though since that opening day week defeat – three in cup ties – and they still remain unbeaten at home since mid August.

Northern Premier League side Corby come into the game off the back of a 2 -0 home defeat to our old FA Cup opponents Barwell. That followed a heartening 3-3 draw against Ashton United the previous week which had put an end to a run of 4 straight defeats without scoring and 9 defeats in 10 in the league. That run saw them slip to the foot of the table where they remain now after Saturday’s home reverse.

Ex Diamonds hero Gary Mills has recently taken over the Steelmen and brought in a number of new players to try and turn round their form. Robbie Parsons is among those signings along with ex Premier League player (Aston Villa) Stefan Moore. Corby also have Connor Kennedy on their books.

We can probably expect a much changed side tonight from Diamonds with the substitutes from the weekend likely to get a game along with possibly one or two U21 players. There will have to be a strong core to the side particularly defensively and it will be fascinating to see how the side that plays gels together and approaches what should be a winnable tie. Corby will be straining to impress the new manager and reverse their form and what better place to do it than at their local rivals in a cup tie.

Radio Diamonds will be there if you don’t get to the game so tune in for all the action from 7.45.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Welcome to The Gingerbread Men!!

Diamonds return to the Dog & Duck on Saturday for a first home league game this month to take on the Gingerbread Men of Market Drayton Town.

The last home league game for Diamonds was the 2-2 draw against Basford United back on 22nd October since when they have travelled to Spalding, Stocksbridge, Rugby and Loughborough returning with a very healthy 10 points from 4 games.

The Gingerbread Men are named after the very well known product of the Shropshire town and can trace their roots back to football in the town in Victorian times. They took on the name of Market Drayton Town in 2003 after coming through local leagues and have been in Northern Premier League Division One South since 2008.

As with recent opponents Rugby Town and Loughborough Dynamo, the Gingerbread Men have been on a poor run after an earlier decent spell in the season. Three wins on the trot in October including two away from home had seen them up to 10th in the table but 5 straight league defeats and conceding 15 goals in the process has seen them sink down to 18th.

Market Drayton will be heartened by the fact that the clean sheet Diamonds earned at Loughborough last week was their first in 8 league games and only the third this season. But Diamonds have scored in all but two league games and average just shy of 2 goals a game while the Gingerbread Men average 2 goals a game conceded.

It should be a game full of goals (meaning its’ nailed on 0-0!!) with Diamonds looking to extend an unbeaten league run of 12 games and looking to gain ground on 3 of the 5 sides above them in the league who don’t have a game this weekend.

Radio Diamonds will be cosy in the press box at the Dog & Duck as long the door stays shut. Tune in any time during the game to get the latest and see if the lads can get the festive period (it has started hasn’t it??) off with a swing.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Diamonds vs Steelmen…weather permitting!!

It’s back to cup action for Diamonds tonight as they take on Corby Town in the Integro NPL League Cup First Round – weather permitting. There is a pitch inspection at 12.30 after lots of heavy rain the last few days but it should be a dryer morning so fingers crossed.

Diamonds have had plenty of cup excitement this season making it through 3 rounds of FA Cup action before falling to Hendon in October. They also made it through two rounds of FA Trophy action with a thrilling 6-1 away replay success at Histon United and a 1-0 home win against Coalville Town before falling to Lincoln United in another away replay this month. Throw in a 5 goal NFA Hiller Cup tie at Kettering Town and it’s been all action in cup matches this season.

It is a first foray into the NPL League Cup for both sides tonight after Diamonds sideways move from the Southern League last season and Corby having previously played in the Southern League before a spell in National League North which ended in relegation last season.

Diamonds first effort at Step 3/4 League Cup action was a massive disappointment last season as they lost 4-1 at home to a very young Histon side who scored twice in the first 4 minutes. Only Brad Harris from that starting line-up is still with the club although Liam Dolman and Matt Finlay sat on the bench that night. Dominic Lawless scoring the only goal from the penalty spot.

After securing a 5th away league win on Saturday to move up to 6th in the NPL Division One South table Diamonds return to the Dog & Duck where they have a more modest overall record. Diamonds have only been beaten once at home all season but they have drawn 6 times including 4 times in the league. 5 wins have been added since that opening day week defeat though and they still remain unbeaten at home since mid August.

Northern Premier League side Corby come into the game off the back of a heartening 3-3 draw against Ashton United on Saturday. That put an end to a run of 4 straight defeats without scoring and 9 defeats in 10 in the league that saw them slip to the foot of the table.

Ex Diamonds hero Gary Mills has recently taken over the Steelmen and brought in a number of new players to try and turn round their form. Robbie Parsons is among those signings along with ex Premier League player (Aston Villa) Stefan Moore. Corby also have James Jepson and Connor Kennedy on their books.

We can probably expect a much changed side tonight from Diamonds with the substitutes from the weekend likely to get a game along with possibly one or two U21 players. There will have to be a strong core to the side particularly defensively and it will be fascinating to see how the side that plays gels together and approaches what could be seen as a winnable tie. Corby will be straining to impress the new manager and what better place to do it than at their local rivals in a cup tie.

Radio Diamonds will be there if you don’t get to the game so tune in for all the action from 7.45.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Away to the Dynamo

After the disappointment of FA Trophy exit at Lincoln United midweek it’s the classic concentrate on the league for Diamonds this weekend as they travel to Loughborough Dynamo.

It’s a 5th away game in the last 6 for the Diamonds faithful who will be heading up the M1 again after visits to Spalding, Stocksbridge, Rugby and Lincoln all since the beginning of November.

That FA Trophy defeat was a first reverse in 11 games for Diamonds since the FA Cup exit at Hendon back at the beginning of October. Since that earlier cup defeat diamonds have gone win, win, draw, win, win, draw in the league to make up ground on the top 6.

They sit third in the “last 6” form guide incredibly alongside Belper Town who have gone six games unbeaten since Diamonds won 4-1 in Derbyshire back in October. Makes me think back to that opening day defeat at not particularly impressive Newcastle Town who now find themselves top of the league!!

Injuries and suspensions took their toll for the games at Rugby and Lincoln where Diamonds hadn’t looked as commanding as in that 6 game form run. With Nabil Shariff and Brad Harris returning from suspension this Saturday and Lewis Wilson available after being cup-tied Diamonds will certainly be stronger.

Liam Dolman and Jack Ashton will probably have to wait at least another week before returning, but Tom Lorraine could come into the reckoning after his recent illness.

Loughborough are on a really poor run of form themselves having started the season fairly well they then lost 9 out of 10 to slide down into the bottom four. They beat Rugby Town 3-2 at home recently to give them hope of a recovery but have lost the last two games 2-0 at home to Leek Town and by the same score at Stamford.

Early wins against Lincoln United and Sheffield and a draw against Carlton Town are the only other games to have produce points at home for the Dynamo who are one of just two sides averaging under 100 attendances this season.

The Diamonds faithful will travel in the hope of seeing the usual post cup setback victory and Radio Diamonds will be there to bring you all the action if you can’t make the game.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Rugby Away….

After an incredible pair of away performances right up there in Diamonds history it’s another trip on the road tonight, a tad closer this time as Diamonds take on Rugby Town FC in Southern League South division action.

I’m disappointed to be missing another away game after missing the fabulous sounding trip to Stockbridge Park Steels although Paphos in Cyprus has ample compensations. I’ll be tuning in to Radio Diamonds if I can but it will be just as the cabaret starts and we had a Boy George tribute act last night so might be tricky.

Rugby will be looking to avoid a 6th straight home defeat as they sit rock bottom of the league. After a decent start with a win and a draw in the league and two excellent FA Cup wins they have been on a disastrous 10 game run that has yielded just two points and only two games in which they have scored.

Managed by former Diamonds James Jepson Rugby will be buoyed by a narrow 1-0 defeat at Chasetown and two goals at Loughborough Dynamo in a 3-2 defeat recently, the first goals scored in 6 in the league, but a 5-0 reverse at Shaw Lane will have knocked The Valley back.

Diamonds come into the game off the back an impressive 10 game unbeaten run which includes 4 wins in the last 5. Away form is now the best in the league with 4 wins on the bounce after that opening day last minute defeat at Newcastle. Wins at Carlton Town, Belper Town and then very impressively at Spalding United and Stocksbridge Park Steel show Diamonds fear no one on their travels.

They sit 8th in the league just two points outside the play-offs with tonight’s game one of at least two games in hand on all but Witton Albion above them. They have established their play-off hopeful credentials in this excellent run but know they will have to be as fired up tonight as they were last week at Spalding to gain the win against a side trying so hard to gain that first home win of the season.

Radio Diamonds will be there. I’ll be tuning in from Paphos (cabaret permitting). And we’ll be rooting for another away win before the return to FA Trophy action on Saturday.

Enjoy the game…

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Spalding Ahoy!!

Diamonds travel to NLP Div 1 South pace setters Spalding United on Tuesday with great memories of their previous visit to the Lincolnshire outfit being one of Diamonds best early away days.

In just their second season and facing a similarly pace setting UCL Premier League side Diamonds were stoked up by the words of the opposition manager in the build-up and on a cold December day inflicted a memorable defeat on the previously 100% record Lincolnshire men.

The 2-1 victory in front a passionate away following gave Diamonds a glimmer of hope of getting into the promotion race that year, but Spalding got over the blip of a first defeat of the season and fairly cruised to the title including a smash a grab 2-1 win at the Dog & Duck in the following April.

Diamonds promotion the following year and the sideways move into NLP Div 1 South sees the two sides back in the same division with The Tulips mounting another serious promotion challenge. The two previous seasons had seen saw them finish 7th and 11th but 6 wins on the bounce early in this campaign saw them right at the top of the league.

A couple of draws and a surprise first defeat to Leek Town in their last home game saw them drop to second behind Shaw Lane. But successive impressive away victories have them right up there again.

Diamonds come into the game unbeaten in 8 in the league and off the back of an impressive win themselves against higher-ranked Coalville Town in the FA Trophy. Lincoln United are up next in that competition at home on November 12th but before then Diamonds play 3 away games in 8 days which will be crucial to establishing a genuine league position for Diamonds.

And they aren’t going to be easy with Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday and “local” rivals Rugby Town a week on Tuesday to add to Tuesdays trip to Spalding. They will just the 4th to 6th away games this season for Diamonds who have played 7 at home so far due to multiple re-arrangements.

The away record is decent though with two wins added since that opening day 1-0 defeat at Newcastle Town. The victories at Carlton Town and Belper Town netted 7 goals between them suggesting scoring on their travels is not a problem for Diamonds.

The squad is looking stronger each week too with players returning from injury and new signings picking-up valuable match practice. It gives selections headaches of a good type for Manager Andy Peaks for a change then but he may just be thinking of squad rotation with the games coming thick and fast through November.

Spalding away last time was one of my favourite commentary days with so much noise around us in a traditional stand with a first ever “press” table to work from, an inspiring team performance, lots of incidents and that sweet sweet victory to warm us up on a very cold day.

More tonight please!!

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Diamonds vs Ravens!!

Diamonds return to FA inspired cup action this weekend with an FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round tie against Coalville Town of the Northern Premier League.

Diamonds won a first ever FA Trophy tie earlier this month to reach this stage, beating Histon FC with an impressive 6-1 away replay success after a home 1-1 draw.

Coalville Town as a Step 3 side enter the competition at this stage. They won promotion from Division One South last season beating Basford United and Shaw Lane Aquaforce in the play-offs while Diamonds were taking on Royston and St. Ives.

They had a good start to their season sitting 9th after 2 wins in their first 4 games, but a run of 5 straight defeats and only two victories in 11 have seen them slip to 20th place. They rarely fail to score on their travels but do tend to concede a few. The Ravens have 4 defeats in the last 5 away from home including shipping 5 at Grantham, 4 at Marine and 3 at Ashton United. They did manage a fantastic 4-0 win at Frickley Athletic this month but were beaten at home last time out 3-2 by lowly Ilkeston.

Diamonds added 7 points from 3 games in a week after that Histon replay success and come into today’s game on an 8 game unbeaten league run. They have just one defeat in 14 now – that FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round defeat at Step 2 Hendon.

Diamonds are unbeaten at home since the first week of the season but have had a few problems winning games at the Dog & Duck this season.  5 of the last 6 have ended in draws with the only victory secured with an 88th minute penalty against Sheffield FC playing with 10 men.

With experienced players returning from injury, new signings picking up match fitness and squad players performing well in pretty much all positions manager Andy Peaks will have some welcome selection headaches on Saturday.

Diamonds have a good track record against higher ranked teams at the Dog & Duck with the FA Cup victories over Cambridge City and Ashton United particular highlights – and with both prestige and prize money at stake will really fancy their chances of another cup upset.

Radio Diamonds will now be on air on Saturday thanks to the brilliant Ollie Mortimer so if you can’t make the game tune in and look out for the comprehensive twitter updates. I’m told it’s almost as good as being there!!

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter (but not this week…..)

10th league game….and we go National!!

Diamonds play their 10th league game of the campaign on Saturday in what is the second half of October. More FA Cup heroics and a forced re-arrangement to play a Hillier Cup tie have left Diamonds behind the pack in Northern Premier League Division one South.

Only Stamford who have brilliantly made it to FA Cup 1st round proper to take on Hartlepool United, and Lincoln United have played less games. Diamonds have between 1 and 4 games in hand on the teams above them and won’t really start making that up for a while with the games against Rugby (November) and Witton Albion (March) re-arranged but the game at Leek Town yet to find a slot.

You’ll notice that all the re-arranged games are away matches which is why Diamonds will have played just 3 away from home in those first 10 after Saturday.

Basford United are visiting the Dog & Duck for the third time on Saturday but the first in a league game. Diamonds won an FA Vase tie 5-3 in November 2012, and Basford United won a League Cup tie last season by 3-1.

Both sides have moved up the league structure and from different leagues to find themselves in the same division for the first time.  With Basford in 7th and Diamonds in 12th separated by just 3 points it’s going to be another competitive encounter.

Manager Andy Peaks was looking like getting back towards a fullish squad of his most experienced players after Liam Dolman, Jack Ashton and Richard Bunting returned in recent games, but the suspension of Rory Winters, and injury to Richard Bunting on Tuesday night is another set-back.

Lewis Wilson has slotted in superbly in his two substitute appearances notching his first goal on Tuesday night and might be in contention to start on Saturday. But Nabil Shariff, Taylor Orosz, Tom Lorraine and Nic Evangelinos are in good goal scoring and assisting form so it will be a tough call to choose the forward line.

I’m really looking forward to Community Day at the Dog & Duck and seeing the youngsters enjoying the match day experience on Pay What You Want day. It should be a healthy crowd to see if Diamonds can make it 8 league games unbeaten since those opening two defeats.

Radio Diamonds has an exciting day too as NonLeagueLive who usually do match commentary on a non league game somewhere in the country every week have chosen to take our commentary live for the Basford game. It will bring our coverage to wider “national” audience which will be great for the club. We’ll just have to keep the references to Wolves and American Basketball/Baseball/Football to a minimum!!

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

Beside the seaside…. beside the sea!!

It’s a fabulous late summer trip to the seaside for Diamonds on Saturday as they travel down to Canvey Island to take on Concord Rangers in FA Cup 2nd qualifying round action.

Well its’ the banks of the Thames Estuary not far from Southend but there is definitely a beach….Concord beach from which the club takes its name.

Step 2 opponents for Diamonds this time which is the highest level of opponent they have been paired with after Dover Athletic ended their cup dream in their first year in the competition.

That was in the 3rd qualifying round and Diamonds do have a 100% record at the 2nd Qualifying Rounds stage. It was Deeping Rangers away at this stage last season, and that famous Dog and Duck day in 2013 which saw a come from behind win against Cambridge City sealed by my favourite ever commentary moment on Alfie Taylor’s last minute winner.

Diamonds come into the game off the back of a 5 game unbeaten run including two home cup tie wins, a pair of Bank Holiday league wins and that entertaining 3-3 draw last week which saw 2 goals scored past the 93 minute mark!

Concord have had a difficult start to their season and were beaten 1-0 in midweek to return them to the bottom of their league. The previous two games since the FA Cup draw was made had seen a draw and a first victory of the season to lift them off the bottom, but the defeat in midweek meant they had failed to score in any home games this season.

Our spy on the south coast and fellow Radio Diamonds presenter Doug Palmer has seen some National League South football this season as he follows Eastbourne Borough while he is down “home” and says there is a marked difference in terms of pace of play and skill levels. He’s seen Concord play and did think they were one of the weakest sides at that level seemingly lacking a cutting edge, but fancies they will be a real challenge to overcome given the level they play at and them having improved defensively in recent weeks.

Manager Andy Peaks may have more players returning from injury to select from but will be pondering formation and his selection options for this exciting opportunity for the club. There is a dedicated supporters coach along with the team coach and plenty of Diamonds faithful who will be making the trip full of optimism and excitement for another “Barwell away” performance.

I’m going to have to miss the game due to my own “injury” (an old man’s back/hip problem….comes to us all!!) but will be tuning in to listen to Chris, Bruce, Doug and Ollie capture all the excitement on Radio Diamonds and the twitter feed.

Tune in if you can’t make the game and let’s enjoy the excitement of the FA Cup together.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds