They may have been held to a 3-3 draw but Berkhamsted Raiders U14s Blues showed that promotion to the South Bucks League Second Division should hold no fears for them.
After a long journey to Flackwell Heath, they found themselves 2-1 down after six minutes to a physically intimidating side, as Raiders were quickly getting a taste of the difference at a higher level.
Will Smooker had given Raiders a second-minute lead when he broke down the left and beat the advancing keeper with a cool finish but the hosts’ big and fast striker netted twice in a minute to put Heath 2-1 up.
Raiders upped their game and were level in the ninth minute when Oscar Lenane volleyed home a corner and they almost regained the lead when Smooker skipped past two challenges but his shot hit the post from a tight angle.
They did go 3-2 up in the 23rd minute when Finnlee Ferguson hit an early shot which the Heath keeper fumbled into his own net.
A minute after the break Heath made it 3-3 with the same big striker doing the damage. But after that he barely got a kick as Reece Marchant marked him out of the game with a mature display.
Debutant keeper Cameron Edmonds was a commanding presence which gave Raiders the platform to have the best of the remainder of the game.
They came close to winning it when Smooker flashed a shot across goal and Lenane showed strength to shoulder off two defenders and round the keeper only to see his shot go just wide of the upright.
Raiders boss Darren Heneghan said: “The performance made me as proud as anything we achieved in winning the league last season. We’ve come up a division and played away to a big, fast team – yet we matched them for physicality and played the best football. I was proud of every single boy.”
Tring Tornadoes Falcons played their first game of the season in the Wycombe & South Bucks Minor Football League U14s at the weekend and went down 4-1 away at Ruislip Rangers Blue. Their goal came via Harry Peterson in the 55th minute. They will be aiming to keep their spirits up this weekend when they travel to Prestwood Colts.