Raiders Blues are two wins away from league title glory
If Berkhamsted Raiders U13s Blues go on to win the South Bucks League then the way they swept aside nearest rivals Harefield United 6-1 on Sunday will live long in the memory.
Raiders had to win to return to the top of the table and have their destiny in their own hands with three games to go.
The manner in which they set about the task away from home from the first minute to the last underlined how determined and talented they are.
It was a supreme performance, combining stunning football with grit, lung-busting energy and a clear desire to work hard for each other.
That was displayed when Raiders went ahead after 10 minutes. Paddy Read burst clear down the right and could have tried a shot from an angle but instead rolled it square to Oscar Lenane, who forced the ball past the keeper and a defender on the line.
That goal put Raiders on the front foot and they took a stranglehold on proceedings with a burst of three goals in five minutes.
Full-back Reece Marchant overlapped down the left and unleashed a superb angled drive as he sped into the box that flashed across the Harefield keeper and nestled inside the far post.
In the 24th minute it was 3-0. Jude James swung over a corner from the right and Lenane met the ball with an unstoppable header – perfect reward for an exemplary display leading the forward line.
Keeper Jack Heginbottom protected the lead with a magnificent fingertip save to flick a ferocious shot over the bar, and Raiders promptly made it 4-0 in the 26th minute. An excellent passage of passing from back to front ended with Luke Mathison splitting the defence for Read to break. His first shot was blocked but he calmly tucked away the rebound.
There was no let-up in the second-half and Ollie Pitblado was twice denied, first seeing his shot tipped away at full stretch by the United keeper and then having an effort deflected onto the bar.
The hosts bundled a long through-ball over the line to make it 4-1 but within five minutes Raiders restored their four-goal cushion. Read was the supplier with a cross that Pitblado lashed home at the back of the box.
A minute from time Finnlee Ferguson put the icing on the cake, cutting inside from the left and a curling a shot into the far corner to round off a 6-1 victory.
Raiders’ manager Darren Heneghan said: “I was very, very proud today. It was a thoroughly deserved victory earned by playing magnificent football in all areas of the pitch.
“But we still have a job to do.
“If we want to win the league we have to maintain this level of performance in our remaining games.”