Must do better – that was the assessment after Berkhamsted Raiders U13s Blues succumbed to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Harefield United at the weekend.
There were very few Raiders players who could look back on the game with much pride as they lacked energy and didn’t get the ball down and play.
When they did, it was effective as they rallied from going a goal behind to lead 2-1 with their best period of play.
First Will Smooker’s commitment in midfield saw the ball moved right for Paddy Read to hold off a challenge and score.
Two minutes later, Raiders ensured they led at the break when Ollie Pitblado’s cross fell for Oscar Lenane and he slotted home.
Ed Stubbs never stopped chasing in midfield and did his best to drive Raiders on in the second-half, but Harefield played the more cohesive football.
Had it not been for a number of excellent saves by Blues keeper Jack Higginbottom – who was playing with a foot injury – it could have been worse.
A full-blooded Herts County Cup (U15s) tie eventually saw Little Gaddesden get through 3-2 on penalties.
Gadd looked a little nervous at set pieces and the opening goal was conceded to the visitors after their attacker was left unchallenged .
The hosts stepped up a gear and had successive shots while at the other end Gadd’s Alex Porter was his usual brave self.
Gadd levelled when striker Luke Wilson seized on a hesitant clearance, outpaced the defence and flicked the ball low past the keeper.
The second-half proved similar but Rovers possibly shaded possession and they went ahead with barely three minutes left.
It looked like the end of the road for Gadd but man of the match Will Green powered past a defender and coolly put the ball comfortably out of reach of the outstretched hands of the keeper in what was almost the last kick of the match.
Extra time came and went with no-one looking likely to score. Green, Ted Holland and Ollie Spooner all scored penalties for Gadd while Porter saved two.
An added bonus from the tie came in the shape of invites to trials for Luton Town for Harry Rigden, Green, Holland and Wilson.