NLP Feature Game Again….Royston Town at home.

Tomorrow’s big game against Royston Town has been selected as feature game by the Non-League Newspaper. It’s the second time in succession that a Saturday home game has been selected and we will be happy if we can get the same result as against Nuneaton last time.

The Sunday based Non-League Paper requests a match report from the home side for every Saturday game which is usually 200 words. But when deciding to “feature” a game they give our reporter 450 words, request a few more stats, and send a photographer.

The combination worked well for the Nuneaton game with me featuring the late sending off of the second Nuneaton player in the report and the photographer having a great picture of the card being shown in front of a jubilant Peter De Banke with Sam Johnson sitting on the turf in front of him. The game was still 0-0 at that point and was going to be tricky report to write – goalless draws always are – but those two dramatic late goals made my report so much easier to write.

Diamonds come into the game off the back of FA Cup defeat having gone down to the only goal at Enfield last week. It sounded like a decent performance to push a highly ranked side back on their own turf but the killer chances just wouldn’t come and the brilliance of a second half sub for Enfield won the game.

The league position is pretty solid though with just the one defeat at Stratford and a 100% home record. Leiston, Nuneaton and St. Ives have been beaten in very different types of game – fighting back from falling behind, late winners against 10 then 9 men, then a late winner when playing with 10 men after a tough fight – but the noticeable thing has been the way the crowd has backed the players and driven them on to great finishes. I really think we sometimes underestimate the impact of 500 plus fans driving the team on at this level and we can hopefully do the same again against Royston.

Both sides have matching records – 13 points with just one defeat and a draw to add to 4 wins – and sit just a point behind Banbury United who are top and the only side to beat Royston so far. They have played a game more though which they drew.

Royston had a thumping 7-2 victory in the FA Cup last week against local side Rothwell Corinthians and will come into the game full of confidence with just 2 goals conceded on their travels in the league – both in that game at Banbury. A 5-0 win at Biggleswade and a 1-0 win at Lowestoft show they will give nothing away.

Royston are the first “top 6” side Diamonds will have played this season and they have a very good record against Diamonds in regular season action. They have 3 wins and a draw including a 4-1 thumping at Hayden Road in December 2015. Diamonds famously won the biggest game between the sides of course winning the play-off semi-final that same season at Royston 2-1 with goals from Jack Bowen and a Liam Dolman penalty. What a great night that was.

So Saturday is set-up for a cracking game and hopefully another winning match report to read in the Non-League Newspaper on Sunday.

A reminder that Radio Diamonds are trialing a new broadcast medium on Saturday so look for the link we sent earlier in the week and sign-up with the new medium – which is free – and you can tune in to all the action.

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

 

Enfield Town v AFCRD


FA CUP STATS FOR SAT 7TH SEPT V ENFIELD  Town

On Saturday, once again, Diamonds embark on the long road to Wembley in the FA Cup.

This will be our 7th season competing in the worlds oldest knock-out tournament and in just those six previous seasons we have already acquired some great memories… and just a couple not so great.

Will we ever forget Alfie Taylors very late winner against Cambridge City or Russ Dunkleys five headed goals in the replay v Cockfosters, winning at Conference South Concord Rangers and of course Liam Dolmans very very late equalizer at Barwell in 2015 when we reached the 4th Qualifying Round, our most successful run in the Cup to date.

Probably the most bizarre match was the away game at Bedfont with the continuous screech of aircraft just a few feet above our heads as they came in to land at Heathrow.

Against higher ranked opponents there have been some great victories namely (at that time) Northwood, Cambridge City, Bedford, Ashton Utd and Concord Rangers plus of course extremely creditable draws at Alfreton and Barwell.

There have not been too many disappointments but last seasons loss at Hayes was the only time Diamonds have gone out to a lower level opponent.

Diamonds have played 22 Cup ties plus six replays in those six seasons. On no less than 16 occasions they have come out the hat as the away team and this Saturdays match at Enfield continues a run now stretching to eight successive away matches.

Our overall record in the FA Cup is ;

P 28  W16   D 6   L6  F 66  A 34

 

 

 

6 up…then the cup!!

Diamonds play their 6th game of the season as they travel to Redditch United on Saturday before setting out on another exciting FA Cup journey at Enfield as we enter September.

4 wins out of 5 at this stage is a fantastic return and above expectations I would suggest. If Diamonds can add adding anything from tomorrow’s game on a 3G surface it would be real bonus to take into the FA Cup tie and would rubber stamp an impressive start to the campaign.

I think we all believed we had the core of a good side for this level after last year but maybe needed to strengthen and deepen the squad. It seems Andy Peaks has done that well and the most notable early signs are finding a way to turn close games that could have been draws last season into wins.

In the games against Barwell and Leiston Diamonds worked hard to play their football and earned the right to win them fairly comfortably in the end. The only blip in the 5 matches was a poor passing and decision making performance at Stratford with Diamonds never really looking like getting anything from the game – certainly in the second half.

The vital games that turned that record from what could easily have been 2 wins and 2 draws to 4 wins from 5 were the very close home games against Nuneaton Borough and St. Ives both won dramatically with late goals.

Nuneaton was against 10 and then 9 men of course but a real grandstand finish was drummed up by a combination of attacking substitutions, fitness to keep going even when clearly tiring and the home crowd roaring them on. Quick thinking in the 89th minute from Sam Brown created the chaos from which Nuneaton couldn’t recover and gave us the vital first goal. A classic example of pushing the fine margins firmly in your favour

St. Ives was a much more battling performance with Diamonds down to 10 men for much of the second half but keeping on pressing forward right to the end. With a free-kick won very late, our defenders were the ones on the move in the box and the ball was put in exactly the right area by Ben Farrell for Alex Collard to head home. Again a good example of good quality pushing those fine margins in your favour in vital moments.

Redditch are another of those sides in this league with a big reputation having spent time at a higher level. They spent 7 seasons in “Conference North” in the “noughties” and reached the play-offs at this current level since returning to the Southern League.

They were of course Diamonds first opponents at this level and surrendered what at the time was a shock 5-0 deficit in 61 minutes on opening day before an eventual 5-2 defeat. They went on to finish 15th in what was a disappointing season for them which included 20 defeats and a minus 16 goal difference. The return game was an entertaining 2-2 draw with Diamonds coming from behind twice late in each half to earn a share of the spoils.

This season has latterly turned into a much better start for The Reds after back to back wins in the last two games. Two early draws – at home to Banbury and away to Needham Market – and a defeat in between at surprise early table toppers Rushall Olympic had them sitting on 2 points from 3 games. 7 goals in the last 2 games though have lifted them to 8th place with 8 points after an exciting 5-3 win at home to Lowestoft, where they came back from 3-1 down, was followed by a clean sheet 2-0 victory at Alvechurch.

Diamonds will be looking for an improved passing performance on the 3G Redditch surface against another recently in form side after defeat at Stratford. Team selection will be interesting with a number of changes being made last week after just one change in the first 4 games. Diamonds do have quality options throughout the squad now and it’ll be fascinating to see how Andy Peaks gets the best out of the combinations he has at his disposal as we head into this match and the FA Cup next week.

Radio Diamonds will aim to be back for you tomorrow but we are again very light on numbers so it may be my @afcrd twitter updates will be your means of keeping in touch with the action. Look out for updates on @radiodiamonds though in case we can round up a commentary team and look out for your Saturday Stats for Free.

Enjoy the weekend..

 

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

What a week!!

What a first week!!

I don’t think too many people thought Diamonds would finish the first week of the season two points clear at the top of the table with the only 100% record in the league and a plus 8 goal difference!!

It’s been an incredible first week for Diamonds with three very good wins each earned in very different ways.

Barwell on opening day saw a clean sheet earned in difficult conditions from an excellent defensive performance with two second half goals from set pieces by our excellent defenders winning the day. Leiston at home on Tuesday saw Diamonds fall behind and have to work hard to get back into the game in the first half before being able to run out comfortable winners thanks to some excellent attacking play in the 2nd half. Nuneaton on Saturday saw two very good sides battle it out with attacking substitutions energising Diamonds late on against 10 and then 9 men into a grandstand finish to win the day.

League tables don’t really mean much at this early stage but Diamonds are one of 6 sides unbeaten in the league after 3 games and the only one with three wins out of 3. Rushall Olympic have two wins and a draw and are possibly the surprise package at this stage. They are the only side to have scored more goals than Diamonds – 10 to our 9 – after rattling in 9 in the last two home games after an opening day draw.

Royston, Hednesford, Lowestoft and Stourbridge sit in the “play-off” places with 6 points having all lost a game. Stourbridge 3-0 home defeat to Hednesford last Saturday was probably the biggest shock in the league so far although Hednesford had beaten Lowestoft on the opening day before losing to Coalville on Tuesday.

Kings Langley, Bromsgrove Sporting, Banbury United and Coalville Town are the other 4 unbeaten sides each with one win and 2 draws. Kings Langley have really impressed having played all their games away from home and scoring 8 times including a 3-3 and a 2-2 draw after that shock opening day 3-0 victory at Nuneaton.

The two games over Bank Holiday will go a long way to setting realistic ambitions for the season for Diamonds. Two wins and it’ll be difficult not to start getting excited. Less than that and a more realistic feeling will probably set in.

Tomorrow’s opponents Stratford Town have a win a draw and a defeat but have seen 13 goals scored in those 3 games. Their only defeat was 3-1 at Stourbridge and they scored 5 in two home games including an opening day 2-1 victory against Needham Market and a 3-3 home draw last time out against Kings Langley. They also have plenty of Diamonds old boys looking to make their mark with Chris Wreh, Lewis Wilson and Nabil Shariff all having scored already this season.

Monday sees old friends St. Ives visit Hayden Road who have just a single point and sit alongside Barwell, Leiston and Nuneaton in the bottom 5. They have the tough prospect of a smarting Stourbridge to play on Saturday but that St. Ives pitch may play it’s part with them having drawn their on opening day match against Tamworth.

It’s dangerous to get carried away and think wins in the bag automatically means wins every week even against sides lower down the league. As I keep saying you have to earn the right to win every game and going behind to Leiston and last Saturday’s late win against Nuneaton showed that very clearly. Hopefully your preparation, effort and organisation pushes those very fine margins in your direction allowing your ability to shine through.

Radio Diamonds is trying to put on a show on Saturday but with limited folk available – just me – it may prove a problem. We’re hoping to entice Ralph back behind the mic and if we can get someone or a couple of people to sit alongside him allowing me to focus on twitter and match report we could be up and running.

Look out for updates on @radiodiamonds tomorrow where Saturday Stats for Free will hopefully be back too.

 

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

 

Big Game Day – Diamonds Are Back!!

It definitely has the feel of a big game day today doesn’t it?

Former National League side Nuneaton Borough visit Hayden Road for the second home game of the week with Diamonds off the back of a tremendous 5-1 win on Tuesday night.

Borough picked up their first point at Banbury on Tuesday night after their shock opening day 3-0 defeat at home to Kings Langley. They are undoubtedly one of the bigger names in this league having played much of their recent history at National League level and were one of the pre-season favourites having invested in a number of high quality new players. They have a big following and high expectations and will relish coming to Hayden Road and trying to get the new signings to gel into promotion contenders.

Diamonds have won two games in impressive fashion and have shown they can play in different ways and can adapt to conditions and to setbacks in games. Blustery conditions last week at Barwell meant a solid defensive performance with better use of the ball through the middle third especially when playing into the wind in the second half and excellent set-pieces.

On Tuesday Diamonds started really well but were hit by an against the run of play counter attack goal to concede for the first time this season against a lively Leiston side. It took a while to adapt to the boost the goal gave a youthful Leiston side but Diamonds got back to playing dominant football and scored two in quick succession to lead at half-time. The equaliser came from another defender and another set-piece making it all 3 goals at that stage for Diamonds.

The second came for Tom Lorraine and was his first in 14 games and he gleefully added a 2nd and his 92nd for Diamonds in a more dominant second half for the home side. Ben Aquaye got his first Diamonds goal with a superb 25 yard strike to cap a really encouraging performance and Nathan Hicks finished a really good team goal assisted by the impressive Declan Rogers.

It couldn’t have been a better start to the season for Diamonds and they sit amongst just 3 sides with maximum points with old friends Royston sitting top courtesy of 8 goals scored and none conceded. Diamonds sit second with 7 for and 1 conceded and my home town side Stourbridge sit third after an impressive win against Stratford on Monday evening.

Table are nonsense at this stage of the season and back in the day they weren’t even printed until 3 or even 5 games had gone. Each game stands on its merits whether the first or last of the season or after a run of victories or defeats. You have to earn the right in each game to play the football you want and what happened last week or where you are in the table is irrelevant to the decisions you make throughout a game.

I’m sure Andy Peaks will have the team prepared and focussed just on today and giving our illustrious opponents plenty of problems and entertaining what should be a good crowd.

Radio Diamonds will be live from 3 and we are providing a full report for the Non-league paper in addition to twitter updates and our own official match report. They have selected this game as their feature game in Southern League Central and have 450 words this week so let’s hope we get plenty of action.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

 

Diamonds back with a bang!!

It probably couldn’t have been a better outcome on Saturday for Diamonds first game of the new season – a clean sheet, 3 points and the defenders scoring again.

It was a day for defenders to shine and ours did superbly, not a foot wrong anywhere when it would have been understandable given the conditions. Liam Dolman and Alex Collard commanded everything into the box and with Jack Ashton, Sam Brown and Nat Gosnal-Tyler they were all precise with contact on the ball and anticipated the action so well to deny Barwell too many meaningful chances. When those few chances fell Ben Heath was on top form, parrying away, blocking close range efforts and punching and catching at all the right times.

The new look midfield combination of Matt Slinn, Ben Acquaye and Nathan Hicks worked so hard to match Barwell’s physicality in the middle third and they tried to play out in the right situations with the support of the impressive Nat Gosnal-Tyler and reliable Sam Brown. The front two of Jack Bowen and Tom Lorraine worked incredibly hard and pressured the Barwell back line all afternoon taking some physical punishment into the bargain from the Barwell defenders who didn’t cope with the conditions quite as well as the Diamonds back line.

Blocked shooting chances inside the box (one of which was quite possibly handball), shots and headers on the break (one of which nodded over the keeper was cleared off the line) kept you thinking Diamonds were going to get that vital opening goal if they could keep defending solidly.

And the nature of the finish by Liam Dolman said everything about the care he and his fellow defenders had taken over contact with the ball in swirling conditions. A clever Sam Brown throw had the waiting Barwell defenders retreating to make contact and they could only flick the ball into Liam’s path. The concentration on technique and hitting the target were clear to see and the celebration with the travelling Diamonds fans behind that goal was reminiscent of his last goal on that ground!!

The second goal came after Declan Rogers came on and a change in corner technique drew dividends. With the wind blowing away from goal a low driven corner found the run of Jack Ashton who not only got ahead of his defender at the near post but was able to direct his header down and back across goal into the far corner. More massive celebrations.

Barwell had chances in between those goals and Diamonds rode their luck a couple times when more precise close range finishing could have earned the men in lime green a share of the spoils. It is fine margins at this level of football and you felt Diamonds worked hard to push those margins in their favour.

Can Diamonds follow up tonight against Leiston who will have travelled 3 hours plus on a Tuesday night from out on the East Coast to get to Hayden Road? They started their campaign with a home draw against Coalville Town on Saturday after finishing one place outside the relegation zone last season. They were clear in terms of points and not really in danger towards the end of the season and will be hoping to land a sucker punch on a confident Diamonds fresh off that opening day win.

My home town side Stourbridge have got off to a flying start after a change of management with the ex Alvechurch manager bringing a lot of his players with him to the War Memorial Ground. A 3-1 home win last night against a strong Stratford side (Nabil Shariff scored their goal) and a 2-1 away win on Saturday are pleasing my hometown friends and raising levels of optimism after play-off heartbreak last season.

Our visitors on Saturday fancied Nuneaton Borough probably had the shock result at the weekend with a 3-0 home reverse to old friends Kings Langley who have moved across into our league. I always feel an away win should be worth more than a home win so that would make Diamonds, Stourbridge and Kings Langley the opening day leaders!!

Radio Diamonds returned on Saturday and I thoroughly enjoyed being back behind the microphone, especially calling those two goals. We love the feedback, texts, twitter mentions and likes so please get in touch and tell us what you are thinking. We’ll be back tonight of course to hopefully call another Diamonds win.

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

Radio Diamonds is back (and 5 things we learned from Pre-Season)

Radio Diamonds is back

Radio Diamonds is excited to be back for the new season with the first game at Barwell FC on Saturday – the scene of one of our most memorable afternoons for that epic FA Cup tie in October 2015.

Bruce Greenberg will lead the coverage on Saturday with me (Paul Judd) as I return after missing the second half of last season and the fantastic Ollie Mortimer. Regular Doug Palmer will return this season too together with Joseph McCormack who debuted last season and many other occasional contributors which will hopefully include Chairman Ralph Burditt who gets us our best ratings on Radio Diamonds and local non-league journalist and Diamonds fan Chris Barritt.

Ollie and I will often be providing official AFCRD twitter updates during the game in conjunction with Radio Diamonds coverage and match reports for the official website. For home Saturday games we write a report for the Sundays Non-League Paper and we also write a Programme Article under the Radio Diamonds name.

Our colleague Elizabeth Lawes provides Snapchat coverage, while a team lead by Vice-Chairman Jon Ward produces a brilliant highlights package for AFCRDTV – you’ll often see Bruce Greenberg doing player interviews alongside John Gregory and Jon Ward.

We’re going to try and get in the habit of a preview of the game on a Friday right here before Saturday games and I will aim to re-instate my “stats for free” items on the Radio Diamonds twitter feed on Saturday mornings. Any ideas for stats to include, the more obscure the better we’d love to hear them.

You can contact us during the games by text 07786 777647 and it’s always great fun to hear where people are listening from. We’ve had the Rocky Mountains and the deep south of USA, Australia, deepest Poland, Scandinavia and various beaches around the Mediterranean so do get in touch and make us jealous – even if you’re in your back garden in Irthlingborough!!

We love getting questions too so you can contact us on twitter @Radiodiamonds which we try our best to monitor during the games and give people “shout outs”.

Preview and 5 Things we’ve learned from pre-season…

As I said at the start Saturday is exciting not just as the first game of the new season but as the scene of one of AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Radio Diamonds best days. That epic FA Cup tie with Liam Dolman smashing in a late equaliser against then higher ranked opposition nearly caused Ollie Mortimer to lose his voice. I was doing live updates for BBC Radio Northampton at the time and went on air seconds after that equaliser and I think my excitement came over!!

Pre-season has been fascinating as Andy Peaks juggled bringing the bulk of the squad up to match fitness while casting an eye over a number of trialists. I saw the last two games but monitored all the others and in the tradition of John Dunhams’ excellent ET Articles last season – here are 5 things I think we’ve learned from pre-season…

We’re still very solid defensively….

Liam Dolman, Alex Collard, Jack Ashton and Sam Brown were on great form and will be joined by Zac Reynolds, with Nat Gosnal-Tyler and Nathan Hicks as options in the wide areas with Patrick Casey as very promising cover. Ben Heath looked strong and new signing Niall Cooper will run him close for first choice goalkeeper after his Man of the Match display in the Maunsell Cup Final. I don’t think there is a better defensive set-up in the division.

We have strength and energy up front….but maybe need to add pace and guile

I thought Tom Lorraine and Jack Bowen looked full of strength and energy in the games I saw and together with Ryan Dove looked fit and ready for the new season. Massiah Macdonald adds to the selection options up front and I’d expect a good number of goals again from that quartet.

Andy Peaks acknowledged we maybe need to add pace and guile in a number 10 type position and Ben Acquaye impressed in that role in the second half against Daventry and Sam Johnson has shown his ability to run at opposition defences but this is an area we might find other additions as the season progresses.

Midfield combinations will be the biggest challenge…

It was probably the most challenging part of the team last season but we still have some really good options in that central area. Ben Farrell, Declan Rogers, Nathan Hicks and Joe Curtis from last season are probably the core of selection in there. Sam Johnson and Ben Acquaye may get more game time in their first full season and give great options especially in the wider areas. New signings Mat Slinn and Jesse Aqubuine looked good on the ball when I saw them so will add depth to that area. Getting the right combination is going to be Andy Peaks biggest challenge. I think we look solid and if we pass and move and drive forward like we did in the second half against the Cobblers we’ll pressure most sides and score goals like play-off contendors need to.

We genuinely have some “wow factor” players back in the squad…

We’ve been blessed in this department in our few years of existence but maybe lacked a little last season. The emergence of Ben Acquaye in pre-season holds out the prospect of real on the ball excitement and Nat Gosnal-Tyler terrorised the Daventry right-back last week. I think Sam Johnson has the potential to wow the fans as his confidence at this level grows and Declan Rogers always seems on the edge of spectacular. The excitement level could just go up a notch this season.

Diamonds fans are incredible…..and will keep on following their team..

I was impressed as ever with the fans following the team in Pre-Season. Where you might have expected a bit of apathy in a pre-season full of trialists and multiple substitutions not just the numbers who came to the games impressed but the interest and engagement throughout. Some credit has to go to the club for arranging such a great combination of games with two Football League teams visiting Hayden Road and good “local” sides in Histon and Daventry to ensure the games had a competitive edge. A tad too competitive at Bugbrooke maybe but what I saw showed the players giving it full commitment and the fans enjoying the entertainment.

There are no guarantees in football but the evidence of pre-season and the new signings made suggests Andy Peaks has prepared his side as best he can for the fun ahead. The appointment of a new first team coach and Physio adds to the feeling that Diamonds will be well prepared, well organised, and with real ambition to play strong attacking football.

There are some big sides and big spending sides in this Division so we aren’t going to go by a week without facing a real stiff test. You have to earn the right in every game to play the football you want and I think we have the characters in the squad and management to make sure we get 100% from every player every week.

My colleague Doug said he thought we might find plenty of draws with a number of narrow victories and a few narrow defeats. I wouldn’t argue, but I do feel the biggest factors we have in our favour are the fans both home and away, and the organisation and knowledge of our management team. Together I think we can turn those draws into wins and keep Diamonds fighting at the right end of the table again.

Come on you Diamonds….

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

 

 

Arlesey Town Revenge!!

Diamonds return to League action on Saturday with the trip to Arlesey Town and they return to the scene of one of the more disappointing nights on our previous Southern League Div 1 campaign.

That game had been scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday at the end of March 2016 but was lost to a waterlogged pitch and actually played on a Tuesday night in early April on Diamonds run-in towards the play-offs.

Diamonds had earned an important first win in 6 at Leighton Town on the Saturday preceding the game but took on an in-form Arlesey side. Diamonds led through Eliot Sandy and saw Matt Finlay save a first half penalty. Finlay couldn’t repeat the feat early in the second half with Arlesey equalising from the spot and a 65th minute breakaway goal saw Arlesey win the game despite some late Diamonds pressure.

It was the second Arlesey game to fall foul of weather that season against what were regarded as “local” opponents. The New Year’s Day game had to be abandoned at half time with the scores 0-0 due to waterlogging at the Dog & Duck.

Diamonds won the re-arranged game 6-1 in amongst a great run of 6 wins in 8 which included putting 8 past North Greenford and beating eventual play-off final opponents St. Ives Town 2-0. Andy Hall scored a hat-trick that night in a personal purple patch with Lewis Leslie, Tom Lorraine and Shawn Richards also notching.

That win is Diamonds only success in 3.5 games against Arlesey (including the goalless first half of the abandoned game) following a 0-0 draw at Hayden Road back in September.

Top of the table Diamonds will of course be favourites on Saturday against bottom of the table Arlesey who had been buoyed by back to back home draws and clean sheets against Barton Rovers and Fleet Town over the festive period but a 9-1 hammering at home to Hayes & Yeading has set home form back again.

Diamonds are on a 15 game unbeaten run which includes winning the last 3 on the road 4-0, 4-0 and 3-1. Only 4 sides have scored against Diamonds in that long unbeaten run while Diamonds scored 39 times with only Marlow denying them.

Nothing is guaranteed in football as recent FA Cup heroics have shown and Diamonds will have to overcome the memory of that horrible result last time they played at Arlesey if they are to extend that incredible unbeaten record.

It has the making a cracking encounter….enjoy the game on Radio Diamonds, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat if you can’t make it in person.

Paul Judd

 

 

On a hot summers night….

Diamonds welcome Thame United to Hayden Road on Saturday with memories of a hot summer night and a first away win of the season in the Oxfordshire sunshine back in August.

Diamonds had won that first nervous Hayden Road game against Hanwell Town on the first day of the season and ventured to new territory on the following Tuesday at the really nice set-up Thame United have on the outskirts of the Oxfordshire town.

I remember the sun bathing us in the neat stand where we were located as it gradually set behind the trees on the far side of the ground. Diamonds bathed us in glorious football that night too with some great play against fancied opponents newly promoted into the league.

Two early goals from Nabil Shariff and Liam Dolman gave Diamonds control of the game and a second for Shariff early in the second half clinched the result. New signings Joel Gyasi and Luke Fairlamb impressed the travelling fans and they have gone on to be a massive part of Diamonds success this season.

Thame were promoted last season and had won their opening game impressively at Chalfont St. Peter. The defeat to Diamonds started a run of 4 defeats in 5 and saw them slip to the bottom 5 which seemed a false position for such a talented side.

Form evened out with a mix of wins and defeats pushing them back towards mid-table including good home wins against Bedford Town and Ashford Town. A last league defeat came at Marlow in October as a 6 game unbeaten run has seen Thame up into the top half of the table and just 5 points from the play-off positions.

They have struggled against the top 6 sides with home defeat to Diamonds, Beaconsfield, AFC Dunstable and Moneyfields in that early part of the season and away defeat at Cambridge City. They have found good goal scoring form in this recent run though with 9 in the last 3 games and will be a confident side heading to Hayden road.

Diamonds have been beaten only twice this season in the league at home by Beaconsfield (Sept) and away at Hayes & Yeading (Oct). They are on a fantastic run of 7 wins from 8 since that Hayes & Yeading defeat which would have been 8 from 8 without that late late Moneyfields equaliser. Only Uxbridge and Moneyfields have scored against Diamonds in that run and only Moneyfields have managed to score at Hayden Road since 9th September in the league.

This last home game before Christmas is a perfect opportunity to pick up some great offers from the club shop just inside the ground. The Club shop will also be open from 10.30 on Sunday morning in the Oak Room at the ground to get those final bargains for the year.

Then on Wednesday evening don’t forget the Carol Service at All Saints Church, Midland Road, Wellingborough with at 7.30.

Plenty of opportunity to get into the festive spirit which will hopefully start with a cracking game between two in form sides to warm you on crisp Saturday afternoon.

Enjoy the game
Paul Judd
Radio Diamonds

Aylesbury The Sequel

Diamonds complete the second leg of an Aylesbury double today as they head to Aylesbury itself to take on Aylesbury FC.

Wednesday night saw a trip to nearby Chesham to take on Aylesbury United with Diamonds coming home with a 4th successive 2-0 win. It wasn’t a classic performance against 10 men for over an hour and just 9 men for the last 20 minutes but it was positive and dominant. A brace from in form Tom Lorraine to clinched the points with the second only coming in the 93rd minute.

Aylesbury sit down in 17th place in the league with just 6 wins to their name this season but come into today’s game looking for a 3rd straight win. Consecutive away victories at Northwood and Hanwell Town have seen a resurgence in form for the red and blacks. Those wins ended a 5 game winless run which followed disappointing FA Trophy exit to Harlow Town. Just prior to that Trophy defeat Aylesbury had been in good form with notable wins against Hartley & Wintney at home and Beaconsfield away.

Diamonds won both games between the sides 2 seasons ago with Tom Lorraine scoring the only goal at the Dog & Duck and 4 different scorers netting in an impressive 4-2 victory at Haywood Way. Andy Hall, Jon Stevenson, Shawn Richards and Claudiu Hoban were on target that day in a victory that kept them top of Southern League Central.

Diamonds come into the game top of the table again this season and on a 6 game winning run full of goals. They have scored at least 2 in each the last 8 games and have Tom Lorraine in fine form with 4 goals in the last 4. He now has 64 for the club in 172 games proving what an impressive goal scorer he is.

The top 4 in the division are all on the road today against useful opposition in what will be very cold conditions if the matches survive so it is going to be a real challenge of promotion credentials. Diamonds have not conceded for 5 games and are 8 unbeaten and will be looking to keep that record against a side who have won their last 2.

Radio Diamonds will be back on air today after a midweek rest and would be delighted with the same result as last time at Haywood Way.

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds