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

First leg of an Aylesbury double

Tonight Diamonds have the first leg of a 4 day Aylesbury double as they look to continue a 5 league game winning run that has seen them rise to the top of the Southern League East table.

Diamonds face Aylesbury United at their current Chesham home tonight before travelling to Aylesbury proper to take on  Aylesbury FC on Saturday.

Unfortunately there will be no Radio Diamonds tonight but we’re hoping to return on Saturday. We are so reduced in numbers in the media team tonight that we may not be able to film the game for the highlights package. We’ll hopefully have twitter with team line-ups and regular updates and filmed post-match interviews.

Both Aylesbury sides are in the bottom half of the table after struggling seasons with tonight’s opponents Aylesbury United down in 20th. They have four wins to their name and 9 defeats with 2 of those wins coming at home against Hanwell and Arlesey and 2 away including at Aylesbury and in their last away game at Chalfont St. Peter.

Any thoughts of that win starting a revival for The Ducks were scuppered by a heavy 6-1 home defeat to Cambridge City on Saturday. It prompted a change of manager with Glyn Creaser manager for 9 years leaving the club and his assistant Ben Williams and coach Michael Hogg taking caretaker charge tonight.

Home form has been erratic for the Ducks after losing the opening 2 to Beaconsfield and Barton Rovers they went 5 home games unbeaten including those 2 wins and draws with Fleet Town, AFC Dunstable and Uxbridge. But back to back defeats against promotion contenders and recent Diamonds opponents Hartley & Wintney and Cambridge City really hurt Glyn Creaser.

Diamonds have been on a cracking run of form of course having won the last 6 in all competitions, the last 5 in the league and not having conceded a goal in the last 4 wins. Home and away form has evened up considerably with 4 wins in the last 5 (all without conceding) at Hayden Road since that run of a defeat to Beaconsfield and consecutive 0-0 draws with Arlesey and Egham. Diamonds now top the last 6 home form charts for the league.

Diamonds sit second only to Beaconsfield in the last 6 away form chart courtesy of 4 wins in the last 6 at Dunstable, Marlow, Uxbridge and Ashford, the one draw at Chalfont St. Peter and their only away defeat of the season and last defeat at Hayes & Yeading in October.

The naturally pessimistic football fan in me always fears a run coming to an end particularly against a side in poor form. I always hated reading that our opponents haven’t scored for months or are in rank terrible form. You feel every good run has to come to an end.

But if I’ve learned anything from years of watching, commentating and reporting on football it is that genuinely it is performance and attitude on the day that counts. What has gone before and what might happen in the future only has an influence on a game if you let it.

What counts as much when on a good run as on a bad run is positivity in movement and passing, willingness to have the ball and give it at the right times, and belief in yourself and your teammates that collectively working hard you can impose your performance on the opposition. You can’t guarantee all those things will work out in the score line but if you have them all you tip the odds massively in your favour.

Enjoy the game.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

Tight at the Top

It’s tight at the top!!

Diamonds sit proudly on top of the Southern League East Division after Tuesday night’s win against fellow promotion hopefuls Cambridge City but it’s mighty tight at the top.

There are 4 sides level on points now at the top of the table after long time table toppers Moneyfields suffered a first defeat of the league season 3-2 at home to Uxbridge. AFC Dunstable and Beaconsfield both won on Tuesday to make up the 4 sides on 35 points but Diamonds have the best goal difference courtesy of having scored the most goals now (42) and having conceded the fewest (12).

It was a cracking performance in a high quality game with Joel Gyasi and Luke Fairlamb so dynamic down the flanks – Gyasi returning to the fold with a great 2nd half goal to clinch the result.

Man of the Match Tom Lorraine had one of his best games for the club and got the vital opening goal with a towering header. Ryan Robbins had a really powerful game alongside him with some amazing shots at goal particularly in the second half.

Ben Farrell, Joe Curtis and Richard Bunting were immense in midfield, and Liam Dolman, Blaize Punter and Sam Brown made vital clearances and interceptions all night in front of a calm and confident Ben Heath. New signing Jack Westbrook making a promising 10 minute cameo substitute appearance with Ben Diamonds also getting late minutes on the pitch.

There was more good news for Diamonds fans with our beloved Burger Monster reaching the top of another important league table. The Southern League East #Chippy League is much coveted and with points awarded for colour, crispness, taste, portion size and customer service Haydn went 9 points clear at the top with a massive 58 points out of 70. We know how good his offering is but it’s great that he gets due recognition from travelling fans.

Diamonds take on a third top side in a week on Saturday with the visit of Hartley & Wintney. The Hampshire side have been in the top 3 most of the season just dropping down to 7th courtesy of a recent rare home defeat to Cambridge City and missing games due to an FA Trophy run that sees them through to face Bromley in the first round proper in December.

It should be another cracking Saturday afternoon at Hayden Road with Burger Monster no doubt displaying his award winning chips along with his impressive menu next to the social club bar, the club shop displaying some great offerings for Christmas presents – just to right of the turnstile have a look at lots of new items for sale – and Harts No1 on sale in Dales Bar next to the Peter De Banke Terrace.

Radio Diamonds will be on air again if you can’t make the game and we’ll be tweeting, snapchatting and facebooking and of course recording highlights and interviews to sit alongside the official match report. We’ll also have our usual short report in the Non League Newspaper which we do for home games.

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

 

Big game…Big Week

Diamonds got a big week of top end of the table Southern League action off to a great start with a cracking 2-0 win at Ashford Town on Saturday. A trademark Tom Lorraine run and finish and similar effort from Ryan Robbins sealed 3 important points for the travelling Diamonds.

Tonight’s opponents Cambridge City drew at home to top of the table Moneyfields….we know how that feels….and that allowed Diamonds to push up to 2nd in the table on goal difference from AFC Dunstable with Cambridge dropping to 5th behind Beaconsfield Town in a very congested top 7.

Our weekend opponents Hartley & Wintney didn’t have a game last Saturday and dropped to 7th just 3 points behind Diamonds with a game in hand and just tucked in behind Hayes & Yeading in 6th.

Cambridge had been in the top 2 for a number of weeks after a great run of form but a home defeat to Dunstable and that draw with Moneyfields has seen them fall back into the pack.

Diamonds have been on fire since that defeat at Hayes & Yeading at the end of October with 4 wins in 5, 17 goals scored and 3 clean sheets. The loss of Nabil Shariff at the start of that run was a bit of a blow but the change in personnel caused by players coming in and others unavailability has enabled a change to the style of play and a change in formation.

The move to 3 5 2 has seen a resurgence in Tom Lorraine’s form with 3 goals in those 5 games and Luke Fairlamb has adapted brilliantly to a wingback role that he clearly loves. Ryan Robbins also has 3 goals in that period with Ben Diamond supporting well from the bench with 2 and Ben Farrell with 3 as his impact in the final third is if anything even more enhanced.

It should be a cracking night under the floodlights at Hayden Road against opponents who have a special place in Diamonds early history. Probably one of the best early games for Diamonds was a memorable FA Cup 2nd qualifying round match against Cambridge City in 2013. 815 packed into The Dog & Duck and saw a stirring come from behind win against higher ranked opposition with Aaron King smashing a brilliant 68th minute equaliser and Alfie Taylor completing the historic day with a 92nd minute winner.

It is still my favourite Radio Diamonds moment commentating on Aaron Parkinson (the days Man of the Match) relieving 92nd minute clearance, Lance Allen’s brilliant control and mazy run, his ball out to Russ Dunkley, seeing Alfie clear on the far post, could he find him, yes he could as Alfie smashed home and peeled away in front of ecstatic fans to be engulfed by manager Mark Starmer’s crazy run down the touchline.

They are the moments you love football for and they always stay with you. Will we re-create those heart stopping moments tonight? Let’s hope so to send a big Hayden Road home happy with the sheer joy of football.

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Toffee Apple Cracker!!

Diamonds have a cracking looking game against unbeaten table topping Moneyfields at Hayden Road on Saturday….and Toffee Apples are on offer for kids…. what’s not to love!!

(Update – The departure of Nabil Shariff obviously is what’s not to love. Announced after I published this preview. A massive blow for Diamonds to try and replicate the goals, the style of play and the commitment of Nabs but a brilliant opportunity for him that he richly deserves. Radio Diamonds wishes him all the best at Alfreton and look forward to seeing how Diamonds adapt with the great forward players they still have at the club)

Our Portsmouth based opponents are an exciting side who gained promotion from the Wessex league last season and have re-enforced their place amongst the pre-season title favourites winning 9 of their 12 games and remaining unbeaten into November. They are the 2nd highest goal scorers (to Ashton Town who Diamonds also play this month) and have conceded the 2nd lowest number of goals – Diamonds have conceded fewest!!

Moneyfields will have faced their longest away trip of the year coming up from Portsmouth on Saturday so we hope they enjoy their day. They have managed an impressive 6 wins out of 6 down in Hampshire but 3 draws on the road show they can be competed with on their travels. They have conceded 2 on their travels twice but back to back away clean sheets and 7 goals in their last 2 home games show they are a form side worthy of top of the table.

Radio Diamonds will be covering the game of course and the twitter feed will be going 10 to the dozen if you can’t make the game but the best place to be by far will be down at Hayden Road enjoying the action live.

Kids get a free Toffee Apple on Saturday to get the bonfire night celebrations started early and there are some great new products in the club shop to look at including new style Hoodies and Sweatshirts that I already have my eye on.
The Burger Monster will be rocking his fabulous menu, Dales’ Bar will be dispensing Harts Brewery real ale and there will be great music playing as the excitement of the big game builds. Where else would you want to be on a November afternoon?

For Diamonds it’s a return to action after an 11 day break since that impressive 5-0 victory against Barton Rovers. That win was a return to form overall after the narrow defeat at Hayes & Yeading and at home after no wins in the previous 3 at Hayden Road. It also saw Nabil Shariff return to the league goal scoring column with his first since August (update – and his last for the club of course) and Ben Farrell continuing his goal scoring purple patch with 2 to add to the 2 scored at Marlow the previous Tuesday.

Diamonds sit in 5th place in the league with 22 points and are amongst a group of 9 teams with between 20 and 23 points. Moneyfields are top with 30 so the other 8 teams will all be rooting for Diamonds to help close that gap on Saturday.

Today’s game will almost certainly be the highest crowd Moneyfields have played in front of this season as home attendances are in the 100 to 150 range in the league, they saw 185 in the FA Trophy and played in front of 199 in the Southern League Cup at local Portsmouth area rivals Gosport.

There is every chance of Diamonds drawing over 500 for the third time in the league this season on Saturday especially with Toffee Apples on offer. With 5 league games and two home cup-ties this month and 5 league games to play in December we are entering a busy period and one that will go a long way to deciding whereabouts in the table sides are likely to finish this season.

The fans will be vitally important on Saturday to create that brilliant big game Hayden Road atmosphere. Top of the table unbeaten Moneyfields and a toffee apple are surely the best incentive to get down Hayden road. It should be a cracker.

Enjoy the game.

Paul Judd
Radio Diamonds