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




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