A goal deep in stoppage time – the first conceded in the league since October – denied Berkhamsted Raiders Under-13 Blues victory as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Risborough Rangers.
Raiders are unbeaten in the league since September, but this felt like a defeat as the equaliser came right at the death.
Berko really should have had the points in the bag long before, as they squandered a number of clear-cut chances.
The pattern was set early on when Finnlee Ferguson accelerated clear down the left and then dragged a low ball back which Paddy Read met with a shot that smashed against the back post.
Read then turned provider, leaving the Rangers defence in his wake with an incredible sprint down the right. His pass looked set to be smacked home by Will Smooker until the ball hit a bump and was diverted away.
Then it was the turn of the two keepers to excel, the home side’s stopper going full-length to fingertip a fine 20-yard effort from Luke Matheson around the post before Jack Heginbottom made two vital blocks.
Raiders made the breakthrough three minutes into the second half. Intelligent forward play from Oscar Lenane saw him hold the ball up and then slip a fine pass through for Read. He steadied himself and unleashed a shot with such force the keeper got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.
Risborough went direct in search of an equaliser but time and again they were denied by a resolute Raiders backline in which Oli Sharpling was inspirational.
Eight minutes from time the woodwork denied Raiders again. Liam French split the defence with a through-ball which Read guided round the advancing keeper only to see the ball come back off the upright.
It appeared one goal would be enough but two minutes into added time a free-kick was hoisted over the Raiders defence and finished clinically.