Diamonds travel to the south of the county to play Brackley Town on Saturday afternoon in their final pre-season friendly this campaign. Sadly it will have to be played behind closed doors with no spectators allowed with National League sides (Step 1 & 2) included in the elite parts of football which as yet have no plans to allow spectators back into grounds.
A small number of media team members will be allowed entry on Saturday and we will be aiming to bring you Radio Diamonds and twitter updates throughout the afternoon and interviews and highlights after the game. The FA have clarified that Steps 3 and below can continue with existing plans for phased re-admittance of fans by following existing Covid compliance guidelines. This means Diamonds season opener at Nuneaton will go ahead and ticket arrangements will be confirmed on the website shortly.
Diamonds have moved steadily up through the leagues since inception of the club to come within one “step” of Brackley who have consistently been the best non-league side in the county. The two sides have matched up in competitive action three times in the NFA Hiller Cup over the years with some dramatic games including a controversial final.
The first match-up was in 2014 at the Dog and Duck and was remarkable not just for a 4-3 score line in favour of Brackley but for a Brad Harris goal. Diamonds then won a semi-final in 2016 2-1 again at the Dog & Duck on the way to a winning final against another county side at Sixfields. The sides then met in a final in 2019 and it finished in a slightly drab 0-0 with Brackley going on to win the penalty shoot-out. Brackley were later adjudged to have played ineligible players and the cup was finally awarded to Diamonds to make it their second win.
This will be the 4th pre-season friendly between the sides with some entertaining games played. The first was back in just our second season in 2013 and it was a big game for us then with a 1-1 draw earned by Fazel Koriya. We had to wait till 2017 before a first visit to Brackley saw a 2-2 draw with Luke Fairlamb scoring for Diamonds. The last encounter was at Hayden Road in 2018 with Brackley winning 1-0.
Diamonds got back to goal-scoring form with a 7-1 win against Barton Rovers on Tuesday night and enjoyed seeing ex Brackley and returning Diamond Luke Fairlamb play so excitingly. Tom Lorraine grabbed hat-trick to move to 8 goals in 8 pre-season games and looks on absolutely top form. Will Jones has 4 including his own hat-trick at Wellingborough Whitworths and Chris Wreh added a third to his tally as he made his return on Tuesday night.
Brackley are in the early stages of their pre-season with a season start potentially in October. They won their opener at Banbury 1-0 and lost at Tamworth by the same score.
A final reminder that this game is behind closed doors with no fans allowed but Radio Diamonds will be broadcasting and twitter updates will keep you in touch with the action.
Match Preview: Paul Judd, Radio Diamonds