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..