Radio Diamonds Weekly Update

Radio Diamonds Weekly Update

Intro

Hi I’m Paul Judd and this is the weekly update from Radio Diamonds. This is the written version of the recorded update that will also be posted on the Radio Diamonds website.

Content

The exciting news this week is the release of our fixtures for the coming season so we’ll take a look at some of the highlights, we’ll also look back at the first two games of the pre-season campaign which saw a win and a draw and the whole squad used, we’ve had a first chance to see a number of new signings and trialists so we’ll see what we’ve learned about them too, we’ll look at the games coming up this week including Saturday’s trip to Enfield, and we’ll round up some club news.

Fixtures

What a difference a league makes!! Fixtures published for the whole season in July, a fairly equitable home and away balance, and some sensible midweek scheduling. It’s just the names and places that will take some getting used to. I’ve already been caught out with the two Aylesbury’s in the league.

We start our Southern League Central campaign at home against also newly promoted Petersfield Town from Hampshire. Petersfield have achieved back to back promotions through the Wessex League clinching the Premier League by 7 points last season so a fascinating match-up first up.

We then have back to back away games with a trip to St Ives Town for one of our “local” fixtures on Tuesday 11th, before our first longer trip 60 miles down south to Ware on Saturday 15th. St Ives finished 9th last season and Ware 10th so a couple of games which will help us judge our level in the new league.

It’s then 3 home games to round of August against Aylesbury United (13th), Chalfont St. Peter (16th) and Bedford (17th) on Bank Holiday Monday. It’s difficult to tell based on last year’s finishing position but this looks like a first 6 games which gives us a real chance to make our mark on the League. But I bet all 6 opponents will fancy their chances of a win against a newly promoted side, so it’s going to be an exciting August.

The midweek away trips that are scheduled look to be sensibly nearer rather than farther trips, and the Boxing Day away trip to Bedford will please some of our loyal fans. The tricky period is pre-xmas with the longest trips of the season to Godalming (95 miles) on November 14th, Petersfield Town (114 miles) on November 28th, and the last two Saturdays’ before xmas see us heading to Uxbridge (69 miles) and Chalfont St Peter (63 miles) ….at least we’ll avoid the xmas shopping.

New Years Day we are at home to Arlesey Town and being another of our “local” opponents we visit them on Easter Monday. We finish at home too against Godalming Town on April 23rd.

One other fixture announcement this week is the Red Insure Cup (for Southern League sides). We’ve been drawn against Premier League side Histon FC in a home tie, but it doesn’t take place until w/c 12/10.

This week’s action

Diamonds have had two games this week to kick-off the pre-season campaign, both against United Counties League opposition and both away.

The first was the now regular pre-season opener against Rushden & Higham United at Hayden Road played for the Chris Ruff Memorial Cup. The teams had both previously won once, with Diamonds the holders after a 2-0 victory last July.

The sides are now two levels apart in the non-league world and although a competitive workout for the whole squad the difference did show through. New signings Dan Quigley (centre midfield) and Ollie Wilkinson (right back) started along with trialist Steve Spriggs all three looking comfortable and slotting in well to the 4-4-2 system. The first half was goalless with a limited number of chances that fell mostly to Diamonds who looked solid and well motivated and fit.

6 half-time substitutions including a whole new front 4 sharpened the forward line and early goals for Courtney Herbert and Liam Dolman clinched the result, with a number of other chances for Herbert, Lawless, Kilbride and Fitzgerald also created. 3 players returned to the action in the second-half meaning all except poor old Sam Brown played about 70 minutes.

The trophy was lifted at the end of the game in front of a healthy 200 plus crowd.

Tuesday night saw a trip to one of our favourite grounds – Kingsthorpe Mill to play Northampton Spencer. It was a tad more laid back on Tuesday than the promotion clinching game at the end of our first senior season, in fact we had rain and drizzle, all be it warm, for most of the game.

We may have seen a nod towards a preferred starting eleven with Herbert and Lorraine starting up front, Kilbride and Spriggs out wide, and Quigley and Harris in centre midfield. Joe Merrill came in at right-back alongside Dolman, Ashton and Brown. The first half was certainly the better of the two for diamonds with Spriggs in particular involved in most of Diamonds good work, and Herbert always threatening the last man. Chance were at a premium as the opposition was definitely a step-up and in second half in particular a confident Spencer side put some pressure on the Diamonds defence.

The game finished goalless with Diamonds dropping off in terms of performance and intensity in the second-half, certainly in the final third, but the work out for the whole squad over the two games including defensively in this match has been exactly what Andy Peaks will have wanted.

New Signings

It’s always difficult to judge players in pre-season games but we’ve had our first look at the new signing so what did we think…

Dan Quigley – slotted in really well alongside both Bunting and Harris, works hard to win the ball back and likes to pick a positive pass particularly out wide. Likes to make near post runs at corners and flick the ball on and although slight of frame is strong in the air. A definite contender to start in central midfield

Ollie Wilkinson – reads the game well at both full-back where he played in the first game and centre half in the second. Not the tallest and I was struck how he reminded me of Jack Ashton in his leaping for the ball against taller defenders and sheer physical effort, good in possession and a good addition to the back four squad

Jason Kilbride – quick feet as you’d expect from a Futsal international, pacey and happy to cut inside at pace or go outside and an excellent crosser of the ball. Took some excellent free-kicks and corners in the first game and looks a possible Matt Gearing replacement in that respect, although Steven Spriggs may have something to say about that

Dominic Lawless – busy striker who was part of the impact substitutions at half-time in the first game. He links the play well around and outside the box as he did for Liam Dolman’s goal against R&H. Not had much in the way of chances to show his finishing bar a strike just over the bar from 8 yards in the first game from Tom Lorraine’s cutback. Adds to the squad of striking options

Trailists…

Courtney Herbert – started as a trialist but has now signed-on, immediate impact with a goal after 40 seconds against R&H, bright, mobile, aggressive and keen to get run the channel to get in behind defences. One great finish, and two maybe not so great in the two games, but a real threat and if he signs would likely be first choice.

Steve Spriggs – played a half in each match and very impressive. Particularly in the Spencer game where he got some fantastic passes to enable him to run at and frankly torment the left-back, and great end product too. A variety of types of crosses, plus a couple of dangerous free-kicks show he could be a main man for diamonds if he signs.

Kieran Fitzgerald – grew into the first game and looked pacey and lively particularly cutting inside, got shots off in both games when coming onto the ball at the edge of the area. Not dissimilar to Elliott Lamb-Johnson although taller, confident and a potentially good squad player

It looks like we have some excellent signings who can help us adapt to the next level we’ve now moved to, with some other possible options that would really enhance our team and squad. Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks.

Next Games

Over the next week we have tough looking trip to Enfield Town, another fan owned club who play in the Ryman Isthmian League Premier Division, a step above Diamonds. They finished 7th last season and had 16 of their 21 wins games at home. I noticed they have friendlies against Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace alongside AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

On Tuesday night we make the first of 4 appearance at the Dog & Duck as we build towards the start of the season with the visit of Southern League Premier side Biggleswade Town. The waders finished 4th bottom of the league last season but well clear in terms of points and will certainly be stern opposition for Diamonds.

Club News

The club AGM was held on Wednesday evening…more details on what was discussed in next week’s update, but you can see the annual accounts for 2014/2015 on the member’s website.

Ground maintenance continues at the Dog & Duck all by volunteers. Teams that have been down so far have undertaken a range of work including painting a large section of fence, as well as old club shop/new tea bar area, Jetwashed astroturf areas, cleaned various barriers/pitchside boards, repainted dugouts, weeding around the entire stadium perimeter completed, various doors rubbed down, filled and prepped for undercoat. There is more needed to be done to finish off much of this good work so if people can offer an hour or two Saturday or Sunday please contact Darren via the main website. I’m told free bacon sarnies are on offer!!

There has been a fantastic response to the U12 and U14 training sessions for the new girls section of the club, and it has prompted expanding to offer sessions for U7/8 and U9 & U10. With qualified coaches and the emphasis on fun and development it’s a great chance for more of the Diamonds family to get involved in playing the game. Look on the main website for details.

Finale

So the pre-season is underway, the new players are bedding in, tough pre-season games are coming-up, and we have a fixture list for the whole season, it’s an exciting time. Enjoy the pre-season games you can get down to and remember it’s only 3 weeks until that opening game against Petersfield Town and the return of Radio Diamonds.

Paul.

Radio Diamonds Weekly Update

Intro

Hi I’m Paul Judd and this is the first Radio Diamonds Weekly Update.

I want to bring you up to date on what’s been happening with the club and the team in the close season, to preview the pre-season programme that is about to start including tomorrow’s first game in against Rushden & Higham, to take a minute to look back at the fabulous end to last season and look at some of the highlights on the run in, to give you a reminder about some of the others things happening at the club at the moment, and let you know some of the plans we have for Radio Diamonds for the coming season.

Close Season

So let’s start with the close season and a lot has gone on that you may not have picked up on so here we go.

Firstly after some uncertainty AFC Rushden & Diamonds were placed in the Evo-Stick Southern League Central Division. There was some re-balancing to do between Northern and Southern Leagues by the FA and being on the border line we were possible candidates for either direction. We were however placed in the Southern League and after further alterations due to a variety of factors the make-up of our division is now finalised. The fixture structure has been announced so we know when we are playing matches, but the fixtures themselves aren’t due out until next week. Most of our opponents are down towards Hertfordshire, North and West London round the M25, with a couple of very long trips to Godalming in Surrey and Petersfield in Hampshire.

We then had a number of player announcements including players from last year staying on (the bulk of the squad), some not (Dunkley/Turner), some new signings, and then more recently some saying that due to work/family/other commitments they could no longer stay with the club. Amongst them was one of my personal favourites Matt Gearing (who has joined Yaxley), Adam Confue (who has gone back to Daventry), and Declan Rogers looking for a side nearer home. New signings include an England international….at Futsal Jason Kilbride an attacking midfielder who joins from Peterborough Northern Star, Daniel Quigley a midfielder from Kings Lynn with Step 3 experience and former midfield colleague of Richard Bunting, Ollie Wilkinson also with Step 3 experience and club captain at Bedford last season and Dom Lawless always a threat against us playing for Newport Pagnell Town and another with Southern League experience. Manager Andy Peaks also has ex-football league player Courtney Herbert training with the lads on a trial basis.

If you’ve watched the twitter feed you’ll have seen pictures from pre-season taking place at Overstone Park who have done a commercial deal to support the club, and on the website you can see interviews with Manager Andy Peaks and the all the new players.

Pre-Season

We have an excellent programme of pre-season friendlies lined up starting with regular opening game against Rushden & Higham at Hayden Road. We will be playing for the Chris Ruff Memorial Cup for the third time with the two sides having one once each. Hopefully we will see most of the squad at some point including the new signings at what is always a nostalgic trip to Hayden Road.

We then have midweek and Saturday games right up to the first league fixture on August 8th. We have another trip that will bring back great memories on Tuesday 14th. We travel to Northampton Spencer scene of that memorable promotion clinching game at the end of our first season.

On Saturday 18th we have tough trip to play Ryman League Premier side Enfield Town…who list Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace among other pre-season opponents.

Tuesday 21st sees Diamonds taking on Southern League Premier side Biggleswade Town in the first of four consecutive game at the Dog & Duck. Saturday 25th sees Diamonds take on Wealdstone of the Conference South a real eye catching fixture, before taking on Wellingborough Town on Tuesday 28th before the final pre-season game against Northern Premier league South side Loughborough Dynamo. It’s noticeable step up the quality of opposition and will be real test of how quickly the new squad can gel together.

Two other exciting fixtures have been confirmed in the early part of the season. Our FA Cup preliminary round opponents will be Kings Langley of our own Southern League Central on 28th August managed by former Diamonds hero Richie Hanlon. They won promotion from Step 5 last season as we did so this should be cracking cup tie.

The other confirmed game is our first ever FA Trophy tie against former FA Vase opponents Basford United. They are another side fresh off the back of Step 5 success last season. Two tough ties.

Last Season Finish

It seems such a long time ago now but I thought it might be worth briefly looking back at a fabulous end to the season, and as it turned out our time in the UCL.

We finished the campaign as champions by a clear 11 points from Thurnby (now Leicester) Nirvana, with the only other team who applied for promotion, and long-time rivals Holbeach back in 6th place 26 points behind after a late points deduction. Wisbech were 3rd 12 points back and Yaxley 4th 23 points back with Cogenhoe in 5th.

It sounds fairly comfortable and the last few games the tension did fade out, but it looked so different back at the turn of the year. Defeats at Thurnby and Oadby had put rivals Holbeach in pole position. Our trip to Carters Field was one of the most uncomfortable experiences for lots of reasons, not least when we trailed for so long. But after a possible second for the home side was ruled out Russ Dunkley pounced to earn us a point in what was certainly a massive turning point. Holbeach gradually faded, we went on a fantastic run, and Wisbech emerged as our biggest title rivals. Cue another last minute “escape” in no small part due to the away teams spoiling tactics, launched by midfield goal scoring hero Brad Harris.

More dropped points by rivals, and a continuation of a great winning run saw us pull away and win comfortably. There were nervous moments though, trailing at Kempston (Brad Harris to the rescue again), looking to have thrown away victory at Eynesbury before Viva Matt Gearing stepped up with a last minute penalty, and narrow wins in both games against Deeping.

It meant we were working out if when rather then if it would finally be clinched, and it came at Sileby Rangers (on my 25th wedding anniversary…dedication to the end). We then had a fabulous day at the UCL KO Cup Final to close out the season with a fine 3-0 win against Potton United.

Celebrations at both of the last 2 home games were tremendous occasions and great memories for us to leave the UCL with

Club News

Key event for lots of us will be renewing season tickets and membership. It’s an important part of the cash flow for the club so hope as many as possible are able to take advantage of the early bird deal.

Fundraising has continued with another great quiz night, and a members Forum was held, and the clubs AGM is coming up next Wednesday. Remember you need to renew your membership to attend and vote.

Members have already voted on ticket prices for next year – £8 and £5 concession – which will set a playing budget for the year. You can donate extra with your season ticket if like me you were happy to have paid more and there is a real need to try and restore the level of donations we had in our first seasons.

Radio Diamonds

Radio Diamonds are aiming to broadcast all games again next season, but we won’t be covering the pre-season games except for a possible trial of equipment and new format in one game.

We are planning to schedule a regular starting time at 2.30 each game and will bring you manager and player interviews, match reviews and previews in the build up to the game. Some of it pre-recorded including a pre-game conversation with manager Andy Peaks.

We are aiming to be a bit more structured in our commentary too with the same two commentators staying throughout each game. We will still bring score updates but do it in a bit more focused way as we get used to our Southern league opponents with full half-time and full-time round-ups.

We also have a new sponsor to announce. Radio Diamonds will be brought to you by Adams Apple, a high quality vegetable supplier to catering trade and individual households who is covering our broadcast costs for the season which are quite substantial. We are very grateful and look forward to involving them in our Radio Diamonds programmes. We would like to purchase some new updated equipment and will be looking for more donations or sponsors who can help us with that to keep our service on the road and up to date.

Finale

There will be an article on the website that this programme is taken from but we thought a recording might work well for some people. A recorded match preview and review will be part of our match build-up next season, but we may do more reviews/updates of this type periodically if people like them and find them useful. Particularly for away games when we don’t have the benefit of our programme, and may be able to bring you exclusive content from the manager and players.

So please let us know what you think, and please tune in to radio Diamonds for the coming season.

Diamonds are of course…forever!!

Sent from Surface

You can listen to this piece here:

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Radio Diamonds season preview

 

6 games to go!!

Just 6 games left in our UCL season starting with today’s game against old foes Deeping Rangers.

They were the very first team we played in the UCL Prem – a nice opening day 3-2 win up in Market Deeping – but they got revenge later that season with a 2-1 win at the Dog and Duck which was part of a sequence which ended with our first manager Mark Starmer sadly resigning.

They finished just a place behind Diamonds last season in 4th and have had a mixed campaign this season with some great runs and results punctured by runs of indifferent form. They lie 9th in the league but still feel to me like a team with the players and potential to be top 4 but they have lost key players to injury for todays game.

Their season is typified by the last five games really. After a 2-0 home win against Huntingdon they drew 0-0 at home to Sleaford, followed that by a 6-0 win at Northampton Sileby and then a 4-1 reverse at Newport Pagnell Town before a good 0-0 draw at Peterborough Northern Star.

Diamonds won a close game at Deeping at the beginning of February 2-1 with Liam Dolman grabbing a brace as part of a sequence of 6 goals in 3 games for the centre-half when he followed up with 4 against Desborough. Deeping pegged Diamonds early goal back with an equaliser on the half-hour and it took into the last 20 minutes for Diamonds to take the lead. There wasn’t much between the side in terms of possession and chances on the day so it will likely be another stiff test of patience by the team and fans at the Dog & Duck on today.

It’s been a momentous Brad Harris inspired week as he earned that last gasp draw against Wisbech last Saturday in front of an incredible 930 crowd and then grabbed a vital brace in the come from behind win at Kempston on Tuesday night. He’s a real fans favourite in the unsung hero category and we love him on Radio Diamonds.

I really enjoyed calling his two goals on Tuesday night especially the second one…

”Gearing with the free-kick…..header comes in….and it’s a goal!!!!!!!!!!…. Diamonds take the lead….and is it Brad Harris again?….I don’t believe it….it is Brad Harris…. incredible…the goal scoring machine makes it 3 in 2 games with a glancing header this time and Diamonds have come from behind to lead 2-1 in this vital game….”

What does it mean for our promotion and title ambitions? Well we are already guaranteed at least 5th place with the 83 points we already have. If we assume the chasing pack win all their games (which they certainly won’t as Wisbech play Holbeach) then from our last 6 games…….

1 win = 4th place, 3 wins = 3rd place, 4 wins = 2nd place, 5 wins = The title!!

With Thurnby deducted points this week and Holbeach withdrawing their promotion application the permutations are too complex even for my stato brain to handle, but the simple truth is if we can keep performing and keep winning the promised land is very very close.

Radio Diamonds will be at every game as we close in our dream. Lots of tough football to play but Brad Harris week has put it very firmly in our hands!!

**Breaking News….. our Chairman Ralph Burditt will be joining the Radio Diamonds commentary team for the cup semi-final against Wisbech on Tuesday as he did for the second round game against Burton Park Wanderers…. another 7 goals then!!****

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Brad Harris Week!!

He’s done it again and followed Liam Dolman into the upper reaches of the Diamonds goal scoring charts. Brad Harris has scored Diamonds last 3 goals after grabbing an oh so vital brace in Tuesday night’s come from behind win at Kempston to add to his leap like a salmon last gasp equalizer against Wisbech.

We always knew Kempston was  going to be one of our toughest away challenges against a team only beaten twice at home this season and it that is how it proved.

Where the Wisbech game had been far from a good advert for UCL football this game was much more like it. Kempston were really bright and pacey in attack and the game had chances at both ends in a really good first half.

Diamonds were quite direct in the first half supported by real pace and trickery down the wings particularly from Elliot Lamb-Johnson. Tom Lorraine and Tommy Berwick came close to converting near post crosses, Liam Dolman headed over from a  corner, and Matt Gearing had a curling effort tipped onto the bar.

Kempston came close to scoring after 30 seconds, Matt Finlay tipping over a swerving effort and had two other good firm efforts on the volley from just inside the box.

The goal just before half-time came from really direct quick thinking from the Kempston forwards, first by pipping Joe Merril to a bouncing under hit pass back, then as Sam Brown struggled with the bouncing cross the turn and half-volley from goalscorer Bush was superb.

The sending off for second rash challenge undoubtedly changed the game with Kempston still able to defend solidly but it negated the positive attacking play they had graced the evening with.

I’d just said on commentary that I thought Kempston were looking comfortable defensively when the classic playing against 10 men move paid off. Ball quickly switched from side to side stretching the back four a little, neat ball into the edge of the area to Tommy Berwick whose turn put him into the space that the stretching had created, pacey run a firm low cross for Brad Harris to tap in. Queue delight from Diamonds faithful.

The winner came from a great delivery from Matt Gearing for a free-kick given for yet another challenge trying to stop the excellent Elliot Lamb-Johnson. Brad “let me in the box” Harris rose to head against the base of the post and in. He said in his post match interview that he nearly missed it glancing it a tad too much….but it hit the net….queue even more delight.

Kempston pushed well in the last 10 minutes and caused a few anxious moments but great defensive headers from Ashton, Dolman and Harris kept them at bay.

A big big win….and another step closer to that promotion spot and hopefully the title. Deeping up next…look out for a preview tomorrow.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Wisbech From Afar

What a dramatic if not high quality game we had last Saturday and an amazing attendance. It exceeded my expectations and became our highest home league attendance. Swelled by a good away contingent and a number of neutral/ground hopper types who were hoping to see a cracking game.

It didn’t really live up to the hype and we’ve seen much better adverts for UCL football, but certainly had the closing drama we all dreamed of. If you read my article in the last match programme you’ll know I was in Prague for the game on a long ago booked holiday and it was agony with a dodgy internet connection which meant I couldn’t get Radio Diamonds and I had to rely on refreshing twitter regularly.

When the GOOOOAAALLL!! Tweet came through there was most definitely dancing in the streets of Prague. The adrenaline rush of excitement at the news of super Brad Harris saving the day was like nothing I’ve felt before….although the folks round us later in the evening clearly felt something similar when Sparta Prague won 1-0 with a last minute penalty in a crucial game where they had battered the opposition for 90 minutes….and I mean battered!!

I don’t expect any battering of sides in these last few games. I expect tension, nerves, hard working opponents, maybe the odd set-back like on Saturday. But judging by the great attitude in the team, the management, the club and the fans I expect Diamonds to come through and let their ability allied with their togetherness and work effort take them through to the vital points which may just…..just… lead to promised land of promotion.

As Bruce would say…..Go Diamonds!!

Holbeach Here We Come

Big match nerves? You’d be forgiven…but also plenty of excitement at the prospect of the biggest game of this UCL season.

It’s first against second and it’s between the only two sides in the battle for that illusive promotion opportunity.

Diamonds have the advantage of points in the bag and games played, Holbeach have the advantage of fewest points dropped and games in hand.

Holbeach are off the back of 6 consecutive wins, Diamonds have bounced back from a couple of disappointing defeats with two 3-0 wins.

Holbeach have a strong squad that has improved as the season has gone on, Diamonds have added real strength and experience since the New Year

It does have the ingredients for an epic encounter and the Radio Diamonds team and the whole media team will be out in force for the journey to Lincolnshire. We know local media in both Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire are following the game closely and I’ve been asked to provide BBC Radio Northampton with updates through the afternoon.

What of the previous clashes between the sides. Last season against a Holbeach squad with very different league aspirations Diamonds won comfortably 3-1 at Carters Park. It was the first game back from a 4 week break to bad weather and 2 early goals from Matt Gearing put Diamonds in control and they won comfortably.

Back in October this seasons clash at the Dog & Duck was much closer finishing 1-1. It was the first time Diamonds had dropped points at home and they were unable to capitalise on good periods in the game and were pegged back by a penalty just on half-time. The game finished with a big melee in the final moments involving all the players and most of the management from the two teams…let’s hope there is no repeat of that this time.

Current form is firmly in Holbeach fabour. They have taken pole position in the title race of course after 6 consecutive wins in a period where Diamonds have lost twice. They won at Cogenhoe…which doesn’t seem as difficult a place to win as it was earlier in the season…but they also had good home wins against Yaxley and Wisbech. Both those sides are still on edge of the title race if Diamonds and Holbeach both slip up and Wisbech on a great run in 4th have a trip to the Dog & Duck to look forward to.

Diamonds have strengthened their squad since the New Year with the additions of Declan Rogers and Neil King who had a tricky start in the defeat at Oadby but had a genuine impact on the team in the two 3-0 weeks last week. They have also now added Tommy Berwick with his great goals scoring record and experience of playing at a higher level

The only sensible predictions you can really make about this game are that there will be a large travelling contingent trying hard to be the legendary 12th man for Diamonds and a vociferous home support, that it will be competitive and a good quality of open attacking football, and that the result won’t decide the title but will have a massive impact on the way either side sees the remainder of the season.

If you aren’t travelling to sunny Lincolnshire then please tune in to Radio Diamonds and join us on what should be an exciting afternoon showcasing the very best in UCL football.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Radio Diamonds website updates are back!!

Out with the bunting…..the Radio Diamonds website update and match preview is back!!

It’s been a while hasn’t it. We’ve been happily…or not so happily at Oadby….broadcasting throughout the season and I’ve been writing programme articles and match reports and taken the eye off the ball of our own website.

It was doing my research for the Sleaford game that drew my attention to it to be honest. The game was originally scheduled as our opening match of the season of course and I had written a programme article with a few predictions about what we could expect from the season.

Interesting to see how they have turned out at the half way ish stage….

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What we can expect…..

  • A well prepared and well coached team seemingly with options in all positions. The whole squad got plenty of game time in pre-season. Whether they are good enough to compete at the very top of the table time will tell but I don’t think we’ll be found wanting for fitness or preparation.

 

  • Good crowds again. Pre-season saw decent turnouts that would many other teams would only dream of in the league, so we can expect an enthusiastic 400 to 500 at home and 200 plus travelling away to cheer on the Diamonds

 

  • Goals and a winning season. We’ve been used to our teams having winning seasons and there is nothing to suggest it won’t be the same again. I can see us creating plenty of chances with the players we have, and the key to stepping up from contenders to potential champions will be whether we can take those crucial chances at key points to kill off the opposition.

 

  • Good match coverage for our fans. From the twitter updates live during games, to match reports and photos soon after, to AFCRDTV highlights package and interviews, and of course Radio Diamonds to give you live commentary if you can’t get to the game. Add in the previews and stats on the main website, and commentary articles on the Radio Diamonds website and we’re well served compared to many we play against.

 

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Some safe bets there I guess….but it has turned out pretty accurately. Preparation, crowds, goals and good coverage….

It was interesting to see that Andy Peaks made just the one change on Tuesday night to the team that were so poor on Saturday. It was as if he was saying I know you are better than that, go out and prove I was right on the much better surface at the Dog & Duck.

I think they did that. There was more urgency and fluency in our play, and Neil King and particularly Declan Rogers showed the fans the quality they had been brought into the club for. It was against a more limited young side that weren’t able to create much pressure themselves, but it was what everyone wanted to see. A reminder that you don’t become a poor team overnight.

The biggest challenge over the remainder of the season is going to be playing away from home against stronger opposition and less good pitches and facilities that maybe don’t suit our style of play. Thurnby and Oadby were like that and you could add in Hullbridge back in November where we struggled to impose ourselves and even at times match the work-rate of motivated hardworking opposition.

The game at Holbeach is going to be pivotal of course, but of the games we have scheduled trips to Deeping, Huntingdon and Desborough are going to be key. It’s interesting to note that Holbeach have to play at these three grounds too so it feels like the attitude and approach of both sides at these grounds will go a long way to deciding where the title ends up.

The home games and conditions suit us of course. We have 9 wins and just 2 draws but as we found out last season anyone in the UCL can come to the Dog & Duck and win like Peterborough Northern Star and Desborough did last season as well as Huntingdon, Deeping and Spalding.

So can Sleaford be a threat on Saturday? Of course they can. They have only won 3 times on their travels this season but that includes 5-3 here at the Dog & Duck against Wellingborough just before Christmas, 4-0 at Desborough, and 3-0 at Cogenhoe. They also drew 2-2 at Huntingdon when they were still contenders and we can maybe take hope from the fact they were also beaten at Oadby….only 1-0 though!!

They can perform against the best on their day…they certainly made it a tough game at their place earlier in the season…and they have won 3 in their last 6 games, scoring 5 twice and averaging 3 per game….they have conceded 14 in those 6 games too though.

Team selection particularly up front will be interesting with Jason Turner taking his chance on being returned to the starting line-up on Tuesday with an impressive performance and a goal, Tom Lorraine looking energetic and a real threat maybe as a result of playing with Turner, Scott Joseph looking motivated when he came on and getting his goal, and Fazel Koriya aching to get back playing again ideally up front.

Out wide could be interesting too with Declan Rogers man of the match performance and his goal, a much improved Elliot Lamb-Johnson whose delivery and end product was so dangerous, Fazel Koriya really wanting a place in the side and Matt Gearing itching to regain his place – I loved the reception he got for the last few minutes on Tuesday.

Tuesday restored my faith in the side that had taken just a little knock last Saturday. Sleaford will be a much sterner test but I just feel the team have had the wake-up call they maybe needed.

I sense a real motivation in the squad now and with us in the strange position of being clear at the top of the league with points in the bag, but chasing Holbeach in terms of points dropped…I’m really looking forward to seeing how both sides react to the pressure of being contenders for the big prize.

Enjoy the game on Saturday, or tune in to Radio Diamonds to listen to our team describe all the action at the Dog & Duck with updates from around the UCL.

Come on you Diamonds!!

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Live for Hillier Cup

Radio Diamonds aim to be on air for tonight’s Hiller Cup Quarter-final tie at the Dog & Duck.

It’s the first of 3 cup ties this month, to be followed by the short trip over the fence to Wellingborough Whitworths next Tuesday for the UCL KO Cup, and then the start of our FA Vase campaign on 22nd November at Hullbridge Sports in deepest Essex.

We’re aiming to cover those games too on Radio Diamonds as we keep up our ever present status this season.

We enter the competition tonight after receiving a bye in the first round. Our opponents Brackley Town won a tight first round tie 2-1 against Daventry Town, alongside Corby Town who won 4-0 at Kettering Town, and Wellingborough Town who beat Northampton Sileby Rangers 2-0.

The competition in its current guise is open to the 11 Northants FA affiliated non-league teams from Step 5 and above. We played in the Junior Cup in our first year while at Step 6, and went out in the first round last season at the Dog & Duck against Wellingborough Town 2-1.

The quarter-final ties this season are spread over two weeks :

Long Buckby                           vs            Peterborough Northern Star

Wellingborough Town             vs            Cogenhoe United

Corby Town                            vs            Desborough Town

AFC Rushden & Diamonds    vs            Brackley Town

Manager Andy Peaks hinted in his post Sleaford interview that there would be changes tonight bringing in players who haven’t been regulars lately and one or two youngsters, but if the side he put out in the UCL KO Cup against Burton Park Wanderers is anything to go by it will still be a strong line-up.

Brackley did make 10 changes for their last Hillier Cup tie, but former Diamonds Billy Turley and Greg Pearson have a chance of playing tonight, and it will be good to see former Diamond Jon Brady and my personal all time favourite ex-diamond Darren Collins leading them from the dugout.

With Corby Town the only other side outside the UCL prem still in the competition there is a real chance of making an impact on this competition if Diamonds can put in a good performance against Step 2 Conference North side Brackley Town tonight.

A reminder that if the game is level at 90 minutes it goes straight to a penalty shoot-out.

Kick-off 7.45….

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

15 Goals in a week…and Oadby to come…

It’s about time we updated the Radio Diamonds website….. and what a week to do it in. Two games, 15 goals, a double hat-trick hero, two of the best strikes and one of the best headed goals you’ll ever see, and we were pegged back to 1-1 in both games.

We had a strong side out in the KO Cup which read like a first choice 11 so it felt even more like a genuine first team game. We were ruthless too when we finally got clear of a hard working Burton at 4-1 on the hour. We just kept on pressing and ran up 4 second half goals from probably 10 plus major chances…. it was incredible stuff.

On Saturday it was 5 goals in 20 first half-minutes after we’d been pegged back, including Jason Turner completing his second hat-trick of the week. Tom Lorraine’s header was as good as anything we’ve seen from a superb Elliot Lamb-Johnson cross, one of many as he put real end product to his promising play. Second-half was reserved for brilliant strikes at goal. Adam Confue’s man of the match clinching half-volley would have been best goal in many matches, but Liam Dolman’s screamer 11 minutes from time was something special, as was his walking finger pointed to the sky celebration.

One of the reasons we’ve not updated the site lately is that I’m now doing the official match reports for the main website as well as my Radio Diamonds programme article. Add in my research for my opposition review and UCL round-up for Radio Diamonds and I’m making good use of my new tablet and keyboard.

I did match report for both of last weeks games, and am on duty again on Saturday. So that’s an hour after the game for the single paragraph summary, and then a couple of hours Sunday morning getting the full report and all the detail down.

With Oadby coming into the game with a worse record than Sileby you wonder what score we’ll see, but surely with the edge between the clubs from our first season they won’t want to go the same way as this weeks opposition. Given my other match reports were for the 5-4 U21 James Victory Cup win, and the 5-1 FA Cup win against Oxhey Jets maybe I’m a good goal omen!!

If you look at % record or points dropped rather than straight league position – we’re 6th with games in hand in the real league – we fair even better. We’re one of just two teams to have dropped just three points. The other being Holbeach with 8 wins from 9 only having lost the once to the only 100% side Huntingdon. Cogenhoe were on a similar only one defeat record until losing to Huntingdon on Saturday. Our only defeat was to Yaxley of course and they come next having lost just once and drawn once, but having played 10 games and won 8 they sit top of the real table. So we are genuinely right in with the leading teams.

So are we about where we expected at this stage? Probably… we’ve won a number of games by the odd goal, we’ve now started racking up the goals, and we’ve shown real character when really challenged at Peterborough Northern Star, Harrowby where won game late on, and Yaxley where we so nearly came back from 2-0 down.

The all home October games will tell us a lot about where we are, especially if we can drop as few points as possible before that first contest with Holbeach at the end of the month.

So enjoy the game, and if you can’t get down the Dog & Duck tune in to Radio Diamonds for all then action….. and enjoy the match report on Sunday too!!

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter