Spalding Ahoy!!

Diamonds travel to NLP Div 1 South pace setters Spalding United on Tuesday with great memories of their previous visit to the Lincolnshire outfit being one of Diamonds best early away days.

In just their second season and facing a similarly pace setting UCL Premier League side Diamonds were stoked up by the words of the opposition manager in the build-up and on a cold December day inflicted a memorable defeat on the previously 100% record Lincolnshire men.

The 2-1 victory in front a passionate away following gave Diamonds a glimmer of hope of getting into the promotion race that year, but Spalding got over the blip of a first defeat of the season and fairly cruised to the title including a smash a grab 2-1 win at the Dog & Duck in the following April.

Diamonds promotion the following year and the sideways move into NLP Div 1 South sees the two sides back in the same division with The Tulips mounting another serious promotion challenge. The two previous seasons had seen saw them finish 7th and 11th but 6 wins on the bounce early in this campaign saw them right at the top of the league.

A couple of draws and a surprise first defeat to Leek Town in their last home game saw them drop to second behind Shaw Lane. But successive impressive away victories have them right up there again.

Diamonds come into the game unbeaten in 8 in the league and off the back of an impressive win themselves against higher-ranked Coalville Town in the FA Trophy. Lincoln United are up next in that competition at home on November 12th but before then Diamonds play 3 away games in 8 days which will be crucial to establishing a genuine league position for Diamonds.

And they aren’t going to be easy with Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday and “local” rivals Rugby Town a week on Tuesday to add to Tuesdays trip to Spalding. They will just the 4th to 6th away games this season for Diamonds who have played 7 at home so far due to multiple re-arrangements.

The away record is decent though with two wins added since that opening day 1-0 defeat at Newcastle Town. The victories at Carlton Town and Belper Town netted 7 goals between them suggesting scoring on their travels is not a problem for Diamonds.

The squad is looking stronger each week too with players returning from injury and new signings picking-up valuable match practice. It gives selections headaches of a good type for Manager Andy Peaks for a change then but he may just be thinking of squad rotation with the games coming thick and fast through November.

Spalding away last time was one of my favourite commentary days with so much noise around us in a traditional stand with a first ever “press” table to work from, an inspiring team performance, lots of incidents and that sweet sweet victory to warm us up on a very cold day.

More tonight please!!

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Diamonds vs Ravens!!

Diamonds return to FA inspired cup action this weekend with an FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round tie against Coalville Town of the Northern Premier League.

Diamonds won a first ever FA Trophy tie earlier this month to reach this stage, beating Histon FC with an impressive 6-1 away replay success after a home 1-1 draw.

Coalville Town as a Step 3 side enter the competition at this stage. They won promotion from Division One South last season beating Basford United and Shaw Lane Aquaforce in the play-offs while Diamonds were taking on Royston and St. Ives.

They had a good start to their season sitting 9th after 2 wins in their first 4 games, but a run of 5 straight defeats and only two victories in 11 have seen them slip to 20th place. They rarely fail to score on their travels but do tend to concede a few. The Ravens have 4 defeats in the last 5 away from home including shipping 5 at Grantham, 4 at Marine and 3 at Ashton United. They did manage a fantastic 4-0 win at Frickley Athletic this month but were beaten at home last time out 3-2 by lowly Ilkeston.

Diamonds added 7 points from 3 games in a week after that Histon replay success and come into today’s game on an 8 game unbeaten league run. They have just one defeat in 14 now – that FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round defeat at Step 2 Hendon.

Diamonds are unbeaten at home since the first week of the season but have had a few problems winning games at the Dog & Duck this season.  5 of the last 6 have ended in draws with the only victory secured with an 88th minute penalty against Sheffield FC playing with 10 men.

With experienced players returning from injury, new signings picking up match fitness and squad players performing well in pretty much all positions manager Andy Peaks will have some welcome selection headaches on Saturday.

Diamonds have a good track record against higher ranked teams at the Dog & Duck with the FA Cup victories over Cambridge City and Ashton United particular highlights – and with both prestige and prize money at stake will really fancy their chances of another cup upset.

Radio Diamonds will now be on air on Saturday thanks to the brilliant Ollie Mortimer so if you can’t make the game tune in and look out for the comprehensive twitter updates. I’m told it’s almost as good as being there!!

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter (but not this week…..)

10th league game….and we go National!!

Diamonds play their 10th league game of the campaign on Saturday in what is the second half of October. More FA Cup heroics and a forced re-arrangement to play a Hillier Cup tie have left Diamonds behind the pack in Northern Premier League Division one South.

Only Stamford who have brilliantly made it to FA Cup 1st round proper to take on Hartlepool United, and Lincoln United have played less games. Diamonds have between 1 and 4 games in hand on the teams above them and won’t really start making that up for a while with the games against Rugby (November) and Witton Albion (March) re-arranged but the game at Leek Town yet to find a slot.

You’ll notice that all the re-arranged games are away matches which is why Diamonds will have played just 3 away from home in those first 10 after Saturday.

Basford United are visiting the Dog & Duck for the third time on Saturday but the first in a league game. Diamonds won an FA Vase tie 5-3 in November 2012, and Basford United won a League Cup tie last season by 3-1.

Both sides have moved up the league structure and from different leagues to find themselves in the same division for the first time.  With Basford in 7th and Diamonds in 12th separated by just 3 points it’s going to be another competitive encounter.

Manager Andy Peaks was looking like getting back towards a fullish squad of his most experienced players after Liam Dolman, Jack Ashton and Richard Bunting returned in recent games, but the suspension of Rory Winters, and injury to Richard Bunting on Tuesday night is another set-back.

Lewis Wilson has slotted in superbly in his two substitute appearances notching his first goal on Tuesday night and might be in contention to start on Saturday. But Nabil Shariff, Taylor Orosz, Tom Lorraine and Nic Evangelinos are in good goal scoring and assisting form so it will be a tough call to choose the forward line.

I’m really looking forward to Community Day at the Dog & Duck and seeing the youngsters enjoying the match day experience on Pay What You Want day. It should be a healthy crowd to see if Diamonds can make it 8 league games unbeaten since those opening two defeats.

Radio Diamonds has an exciting day too as NonLeagueLive who usually do match commentary on a non league game somewhere in the country every week have chosen to take our commentary live for the Basford game. It will bring our coverage to wider “national” audience which will be great for the club. We’ll just have to keep the references to Wolves and American Basketball/Baseball/Football to a minimum!!

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

Beside the seaside…. beside the sea!!

It’s a fabulous late summer trip to the seaside for Diamonds on Saturday as they travel down to Canvey Island to take on Concord Rangers in FA Cup 2nd qualifying round action.

Well its’ the banks of the Thames Estuary not far from Southend but there is definitely a beach….Concord beach from which the club takes its name.

Step 2 opponents for Diamonds this time which is the highest level of opponent they have been paired with after Dover Athletic ended their cup dream in their first year in the competition.

That was in the 3rd qualifying round and Diamonds do have a 100% record at the 2nd Qualifying Rounds stage. It was Deeping Rangers away at this stage last season, and that famous Dog and Duck day in 2013 which saw a come from behind win against Cambridge City sealed by my favourite ever commentary moment on Alfie Taylor’s last minute winner.

Diamonds come into the game off the back of a 5 game unbeaten run including two home cup tie wins, a pair of Bank Holiday league wins and that entertaining 3-3 draw last week which saw 2 goals scored past the 93 minute mark!

Concord have had a difficult start to their season and were beaten 1-0 in midweek to return them to the bottom of their league. The previous two games since the FA Cup draw was made had seen a draw and a first victory of the season to lift them off the bottom, but the defeat in midweek meant they had failed to score in any home games this season.

Our spy on the south coast and fellow Radio Diamonds presenter Doug Palmer has seen some National League South football this season as he follows Eastbourne Borough while he is down “home” and says there is a marked difference in terms of pace of play and skill levels. He’s seen Concord play and did think they were one of the weakest sides at that level seemingly lacking a cutting edge, but fancies they will be a real challenge to overcome given the level they play at and them having improved defensively in recent weeks.

Manager Andy Peaks may have more players returning from injury to select from but will be pondering formation and his selection options for this exciting opportunity for the club. There is a dedicated supporters coach along with the team coach and plenty of Diamonds faithful who will be making the trip full of optimism and excitement for another “Barwell away” performance.

I’m going to have to miss the game due to my own “injury” (an old man’s back/hip problem….comes to us all!!) but will be tuning in to listen to Chris, Bruce, Doug and Ollie capture all the excitement on Radio Diamonds and the twitter feed.

Tune in if you can’t make the game and let’s enjoy the excitement of the FA Cup together.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds

 

Radio Diamonds – What we do….

We’re a small group of volunteers who bring you live commentary on AFC Rushden & Diamonds games home and away.

We have a laptop with headphones and some broadcast software linked to a server back at the Dog & Duck. Our output goes out on the internet for which we pay for data and bandwidth and can be accessed by links on the main AFC R&D Website, this website, and we can be found on the popular Tunein App.

We broadcast from 5 or 10 minutes before kick-off through to the final whistle with a summary round-up to finish the day.

We try to cover every game, home and away, and you’ll see us huddled over the laptop at away grounds wherever we can get a space in the seating area, and from the press box at the Dog & Duck.

We generally operate with a lead commentator who does “ball by ball” description of the action, supported by a “pundit” style second commentator who adds summary views and explanation of key action. There is plenty of discussion of the play between the presenters during the commentary, discussions on Diamonds related issues, and coverage of latest scores and current sporting events.

We have a mobile phone to receive text messages during the game which we are really pleased to read out, and we have a twitter feed which we monitor to encourage fans and listeners to get involved in the show.

We are aware that listeners are tuning in all through the game and can’t always listen for 2 hours so we try to round-up the action and confirm the score on a regular basis. We are always happy to get questions about the game and how it’s going so we can keep fans informed.

We are part of the media team at Diamonds and often get involved in other activities such as doing the official twitter feed during matches, writing the official match report and press briefings on the games, writing a programme article, and sometimes help out with filming the highlights for AFCRDTV. Things can get tricky when we are doing those other activities at the same time as commentating!!

We are un-abashed Diamonds fans, members and volunteers who pay our entrance money and support the club in any way we can. We try to be balanced and reflect the opposition as much as we can and encourage fans of the opposition to tune-in and give us their views. We’ve had good feedback when that has happened, but you can definitely tell we are Diamonds fans when the goals go in……at either end!!

We’d love to get more people involved to spread the load a little and to ensure we don’t have matches where we are unable to broadcast because none of our small team is available.

It really is great to be able to talk about our team, to describe the action for people who can’t make the game or our many ex-pats or travelling fans and to share in the excitement of those magical footballing moments.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Positivity & Confidence!!

This weekend it’s positivity and confidence all round as we look to cheer Diamonds back into the winners circle.

Still top of the table, still a joy to watch when they perform to their potential, and still cheered on by big crowds of owner fans who make a really big difference to the players on the pitch.

Back to back defeats have been a jolt to the system, especially the manner of last week’s defeat at Potters Bar Town, but tomorrow we’re back at the Dog & Dog where our record is fantastic for a side new into the league, bettered only by Aylesbury in terms of fewest points dropped.

Diamonds still sit top of the pile after 2nd placed Kings Langley also dropped points last week. It shows that no-one will be picking up maximum points between now and the end of the season and the traditional target of averaging 2 points per game which Diamonds have well within their grasp will still give any team a real tilt at the title.

The top 8 has re-shaped recently with Aylesbury and Northwood now level on points with fading Chalfont St. Peter but with games in hand that give them hopes of making a play-off position.

Diamonds have the second fewest games left against top 8 sides but they do include massive away trips to Egham & Royston. Those two sides have 5 top 8 games left to play including twice against each other!!

Kings Langley are in the strongest position with just 1 top 8 side to play but dropping points at home last week to Hanwell shows nothing can be taken for granted in this league.

Our opponents tomorrow are Barton Rovers who Diamonds beat 3-1 in Barton Le-Clay back in October. They sit down in 17th with a marginally better away record, but suffered 6-1 at Kings Langley and 3-0 at Chalfont St. Peter. Stand out result though was a recent 2-0 win at Egham Town added to a 1-1 draw at Royston Town early in the season.

It’s set-up for a cracking afternoon with Andy Peaks sending out a confident motivated side who will be looking to bring goals and excitement back to the Diamonds faithful.

Radio Diamonds will be back to full speed with a pretty full squad to choose from and looking forward to calling the return to form and the start of a really positive end to the season.

Come on you Diamonds….

Paul

Fleeting trip or fleet of foot??

Well we’re all off for a fleeting trip down south tomorrow…weather permitting again!!

Fleet Town in Hampshire is the destination, not as far as Petersfield but still one of our longest trips at just shy of 2 hours.

Fleet had problems last week but were in confident mood yesterday that the pitch was playable and they were ready to go. Another badly timed spell of heavy rain is forecast thought now over night and pretty much all morning so there may need to be a pitch inspection tomorrow morning.

If the game goes on it will be Diamonds first away trip since that shock 4-0 defeat at Beaconsfield. They have certainly had their struggles on these long distance trips with the first defeat of the season coming at Godalming, and the game at Petersfield being a tricky affair that Diamonds won 1-0 with a late screamer from Caludiu Hoban. Slightly less further afield saw a late late Richard Bunting winner at Uxbridge, and a last minute penalty miss escape at Hanwell.

It may be no coincidence that like Beaconsfield, Fleet are a much better home side than away. They are top of the home form table with 5 wins in the last 6 although that only defeat was to our promotion rivals St.Ives last time out 0-2. Away form is very poor though with just one win on their travels similar to bottom of the table North Greenford United.

Looking at the teams at the bottom end makes me think how devastating it would be to drop out of this league given how hard it is to gain promotion at step 5. North Greenford have only managed 10 home games this season so with games in hand it looks to be between them Aylesbury United and Leighton Town for the dreaded drop although Hanwell Town, Arlesey Town, Fleet Town and Barton Rovers will feel the pressure to pick up more points to make them safe.

Diamonds have 13 games left now to secure a place at the top end of the table. Last season 85 points would have won the league (Kettering finished with 95), and 74 would have got you in the play-offs. With Diamonds on 60 now, that would mean potentially 25 points for the title at very nearly 2 points per game, and 14 for the play-offs at 1 per game.

All if’s but’s and maybe of course and it will just be a matter of doing what the side did last year. Keep winning games, taking points of rivals when they match up against them, and bouncing back quickly if points are dropped along the way.

It’s going to be an exciting run-in whatever happens and Radio Diamonds will be with it all the way starting with our trip to Fleet which I hope is tomorrow and not postponed to a Tuesday night in March!!

Enjoy the game.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Arlesey Town the sequel!!

It’s 2nd time lucky tonight as Diamonds take on Arlesey Town at the Dog & Duck after the original game on January 2nd was abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch. That was a first weather related abandonment for Diamonds and was a game that had been very tight in increasingly difficult conditions when the downpour made the pitch unplayable.

Tonight’s game has had to survive more badly timed wet weather as did the game on Saturday against Ware. Great work by the ground staff volunteers enabled that game to go ahead and even to be played on a pretty decent surface which suited the team. Brilliant effort…

Diamonds won the game 3-0 to stay 3 points clear at the top of Southern League Central and will be looking to add a third straight home win since losing back to back games to promotion rivals Royston Town and Egham Town in December. The overall home record is now the best in the league though in terms of fewest points dropped with just the two draws (Petersfield Town & Beaconsfield SYCOB) and those two defeats to go with 9 wins.

Arlesey were relegated from Southern League Premier last season after a 4 year stay in the top flight and got off to a terrible start to the season losing their first 5 games and only notching their first goals in their 5th game. They were still bottom after 12 games but back to back away wins in September put them on a decent run which saw the reach 13th place.

They have fallen back in the last few games though with 5 defeats in their last 6 games seeing them drop back to 18th. They do have top-half away record though with 6 wins on their travels including wins at Kings Langley, Bedford and Ware and were impressive in the half of the game we saw back on 2nd January.

They are managed by Nathan and Zema Abbey who have great experience including in league football so will be well prepared and looking to play as well as they did back in January.

Diamonds have the chance to go 6 points clear at the top of the table tonight and will be looking to push on with this game and the long trip to Fleet Town on Saturday before back to back home games against the sides currently second (St.Ives Town) and third (Kings Langley) later in the month.

Exciting times…

Enjoy the game

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter

Ware…weather permitting

Plenty of rain forecast over night and on Saturday so if the game against Ware survives the weather it will be a game played in difficult conditions, maybe typical February football conditions.

That will be a lot different to the game between these sides back in the middle August when Diamonds were denied a first Southern League Central Division win by a second last minute equaliser in 5 days. Diamonds new hero Claudiu Hoban had given Diamonds an early lead, but despite shading possession they had been unable to add a second and were punished following a rare defensive mistake to take a third consecutive draw.

Warm summer sunshine seems a distant memory as does the uncertainty of judging Diamonds opening games in this division. St.Ives who had similarly equalised late on in a 2-2 draw in that period have gone on to be real title contenders, while Ware have threatened the top 6 but fallen away just recently. They have lost their last 6 including a 4-1 home defeat by promotion rivals Royston in the week….that scoreline has a horribly familiar ring to it!!

Diamonds bounced back from the shocking 4-0 defeat at Beaconsfield last week to compete really well with National League North side Brackley Town in the NFA Hiller Cup semi-final on Tuesday night and ran out 2-1 winners. The prospect of a final against Kettering Town will be put on the back burner as Diamonds look to re-establish their title credentials. They have a run of 4 home games in the next 6 including re-arranged games against Arlesey Town and St.Ives Town plus one of the longer away trips to Fleet Town.

Diamonds still sit top of the table, 2 points clear of Chalfont St. Peter and 3 of St. Ives and Kings Langley (both opponents this month) but Egham sit 7 points back with three games in hand and nominally in pole position.

The return of Dan Quigley had energised centre midfield, Jon Stevenson is finishing superbly with 3 goals in 4, Jack Ashton has resumed the dynamic centre half position Diamonds fans love him for and Matt Finlay is in superb goalkeeper form to give the spine of the team real strength.

There is real competition for places out wide with Shawn Richards, Andy Hall and Claudiu Hoban fighting for berths and Tom Lorraine keeps his performance level high and the goals adding to his tally.

There is every reason to think Diamonds will show that last week’s performance to be a one-off, but Ware have something to prove and the motivation of having already taken points off Diamonds this season.

It should be a cracking game if it survives the weather.

 

Cup-Semi Final Excitement

It’s cup-semi-final night at the Dog & Duck tonight in the county’s premier cup competition the NFA Hiller Cup and it should be a great occasion.

Mid-week cup semi-finals under lights are always something special with the chance of a final and some silverware tantalisingly close. Adding to the interest is that we are paired with the county’s top ranked professional side, the current Hiller Cup holders, a side we have never beaten, and in a competition we’ve never won a tie over 90 minutes.

There are only 4 rounds in the competition with some byes in the first round meaning teams often start in the quarter-finals. Diamonds have been drawn at home in every tie they have played in this competition and have yet to win a game over 90 minutes.

In 2013 it was Wellingborough Town who won 2-1 at the Dog & Duck in a first round-tie, and last season it was tonight’s opponents Brackley Town who got the better of a 7 goal thriller. That was a crazy game with Brackley 3-0 up inside 16 minutes, Diamonds pulling two goals back but then trailing 4-2 at half-time. One goal back in the second half wasn’t enough and a very good Brackley Town side went through and went on to lift the trophy against Peterborough Northern Star in the final.

This season Diamonds had a bye in the first round and won their first ever NFA Hillier Cup tie, all be it on penalties. Desborough notched a last minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw that saw a penalty shoot-out in front of the Peter De Banke. Diamonds trailed in that but came back to win 6-5.

Diamonds fans must have left Saturday’s game at Beaconsfield, or read the match report later in a state of shock. It was such an unexpected performance and result that there will be added interest tonight to see what team is picked and how they perform. As match reporter on Saturday I gave Man of the Match to goalkeeper Matt Finlay who pulled off some great saves, but he really had little competition from the outfield players. Man of the Match could be an interesting choice for members tonight with some of the squad players maybe getting a start looking to show what they can do, and the starters on Saturday looking to prove Saturday was just a blip.

Brackley are having a tough season in National League North and come into the game off the back of 4 straight league defeats that see them sit just inside the relegation zone.  They were only beaten by the odd goal at home to table toppers Solihull Moor on Saturday though so will feel the release of a cup semi-final is a perfect chance to get a win on the board.

The other semi-final is also played tonight and is an A14 rivalry between Kettering Town and Rothwell Corinthians. It gives the prospect of a fascinating re-acquaintance of old rivals if results go a certain way but all four sides will fancy their chances of winning tonight and going on to lift the trophy.

The game will go straight to penalties if level at the end of 90 minutes so it will be decided tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing a positive reaction from the Diamonds squad taking on motivated opponents defending their trophy.

Radio Diamonds will be covering the game as usual if you can’t make the game but however you follow it enjoy your night.

Paul Judd

Radio Diamonds Presenter