Diamonds start September (Tuesday 1st – 7.45 KO) with the traditional pre-season friendly match-up against ground share partners Rushden & Higham Utd.
Our friends club was formed by the merger of Higham Utd who had a presence in football since the 1870’s and Rushden Rangers who had taken on Hayden Road after the creation of Rushden & Diamonds at Nene Park. AFC Rushden & Diamonds moved back to Hayden Road in 2017 and the two sides have shared and improved facilities together at Hayden Road since.
Diamonds were placed in UCL Division One in their inaugural season 2012/2013 and played the only full league encounters against the Lankies that year. Diamonds won both games including a 4-0 win here at Hayden Road the first time AFC Rushden & Diamonds played at Hayden Road. Joe Merrill got one of his rare league goals in that game alongside other early Diamonds favourites Alfie Taylor and Jack Wiesniewski.
The Chris Ruff Memorial Cup pre-season friendly started the following season and tonight will be the 8th contest. Rushden & Higham won the very first match 1-0 but have seen Diamonds win the trophy on each occasion since. As Diamonds moved up the football pyramid the games have seen more goals but the games have always been competitive and entertaining encounters.
The first two years saw Diamonds win 2-0 then it was 4-1, 5-1, 4-1 and 7-0 last year. The goal scorers reads like a list a former strikers with Russ Dunkley, Courtney Herbert, Nabil Shariff, Jack Bowen, Chris Dillon, with other forward players Luke Fairlamb, Declan Rogers and Sam Johnson. Of current players Tom Lorraine has scored twice as had Jack Ashton with Liam Dolman, Ben Farrell and Ben Ford all scoring too.
Diamonds come into the game off the back of two home defeats to Kings Lynn Town and Bedford Town after three free scoring wins. Results aren’t the most important factor in pre-season but Andy Peaks will be keen to see a victory tonight. With games against Daventry Town and Barton Rovers coming up before the big final friendly at Brackley Town he will be looking to shape his season opening starting line-up.
The game is all pay all ticket as with all the pre-season games with guidelines and instructions on entry and around the ground to facilitate track and trace and Covid compliance. These guidelines ensure we can have fans in attendance even at lower numbers so it is important we all play our part.
Rushden & Higham Friendly date change to Tuesday 1st September – AFC Rushden and Diamonds
Radio Diamonds will now be broadcasting if you can’t make the game whether you are coming to the ground or tuning in I’m sure we’ll have another exciting evening at Hayden Road.
PSF Preview: Paul Judd