Diamonds play the second game of their league season on Saturday afternoon against a Coalville Town side who are playing their third!!
Southern League Opening Week
The late move of Kings Langley to Southern League Premier South left just 21 teams in Southern League Premier Central and this means each team has a “week off” during the season. Unfortunately Diamonds free week fell on the opening weekend with Hitchin “losing out” midweek.
Coalville opened with an excellent 3-1 victory against Stratford Town last Saturday and followed up with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Tamworth on Tuesday night playing the last 15 minutes with 10 men.
Diamonds opened their campaign on Tuesday night with a disappointing 2-0 reverse to Banbury United. The Puritans started with 5 recent Diamonds regulars – Sam Brown, Jack Westbrook, Morgan Roberts, Ben Acquaye and Chris Wreh – but it was Henry Landers with a goal in each half who deservedly clinched the points.
With 19 teams having played twice the early pacesetters are Hednesford who followed up a 2-1 win against Needham Market last Saturday with an excellent 2-1 win at a disappointing Stourbridge on Monday night. Peterborough Sports joined them as the only other team on 6 points with a win against Barwell on Tuesday to follow-up a 2-0 win against Rushall Olympic. Royston, Coalville, Banbury, Biggleswade and St. Ives have 4 points each with a win and a draw. Diamonds sit down in 19th with only Bromsgrove Sporting and Lowestoft below them as the only teams to lose twice. Hitchin have lost their only game along with Diamonds.
Today’s opponents have been in existence since 1926 when they were founded as Ravenstone Miners Athletic. They moved through Leicestershire leagues and eventually moved to nearby Coalville in 1995 when their Ravenstone home could not be upgraded. They are known as the Ravens to this day.
They joined Midland Alliance and Northern Premier Leagues before being moved to Southern League Central in 2018. Their stand out periods include reaching the first round of the FA Cup in their very first season in the competition in 2004 losing 1-0 to Wycombe Wanderers and winning the Midland Alliance in 2010/2011 scoring an incredible 153 goals.
Diamonds won the first two games between the sides but have been beaten 4 times since. The first meeting was in FA Trophy action in 2016 when Coalville were a level above Diamonds but were beaten 1-0 at the Dog & Duck thanks to a Jack Ashton header. The first Southern League Central game was won by Diamonds 3-1 at Hayden Road with Ben Farrell, Declan Rogers and Tom Lorraine scoring.
Since then Coalville have had much the better of the games with 5-0, 1-0, and 4-1 wins at Coalville, and a 3-0 win at Hayden Road.
Andy Peaks has added some exciting prospects to his signed-up squad as the season gets underway with wide player Connor Furlong last at Biggleswade Town and goalkeeper Charlie Nixon from the academy. Connor Furlong is described as “a tricky, technical winger with a lovely left foot who gives us something different” and Charlie Nixon is a confident goalkeeper who will be Diamonds No.2 as Ben Heath has moved on to a fresh challenge. He joins Will Jones, Will Glennon and Bailey Weatherly as signing on from the Academy to the first team squad.
Claudio Dias last at Nuneaton Borough joined in time to play in the opening game against Banbury and earlier in pre-season Nathan Tshikuna, Dean Snedker, man of the match on Tuesday night, Dean Dummett, Ben Garwood and Sam Warburton all signed on after trialist appearances.
Bouncing Back, Tickets, Media.
Diamonds will definitely be looking to bounce back from midweek disappointment as the new signings and experienced players start to gel into the entertaining attacking outfit Andy Peaks is looking for. Coalville will be really tough opponents but exactly the challenge Diamonds need to get motivated in front of another big crowd at Hayden Road.
A reminder that tickets should ideally be purchased in advance to help the turnstile operation. Cashless payment can be accepted on the day but you may need to be patient if numbers arrive at the same time.
Radio Diamonds were excited to finally get league coverage underway in Tuesday night’s game after a long pre-season despite the result and will be full of beans again on Saturday afternoon if you can’t make the game. I may even make my first appearance of the season!!
Look out for the usual in game twitter updates, post-game match report and post-match interviews which will give you full coverage of Diamonds hopefully returning to winning ways.
Enjoy the match.