Despite making undue hard work of it, Berkhamsted Raiders U13s Blues reached the semi-finals of the Dick Hopkins Memorial Cup after a 6-5 win at Beaconsfield.
The home side are a division above Raiders, but it was never evident as Berko gave one of their most complete footballing performances of recent times during the first two-thirds of this cup tie.
They were ahead after four minutes when Luke Mathison lashed home a shot from the edge of the box and, although the home side levelled quickly from a corner, Raiders turned on the style.
Will Smooker gave his full-back a torrid time and restored Raiders’ lead when he sped away down the left and lobbed the advancing keeper.
It was 3-1 after 21 minutes when Ed Stubbs beat his man on the left and sent over a superb cross which took out two defenders and the keeper, allowing Paddy Read to tap in.
The fourth in the 31st minute summed Raiders ‘total football’ style. Skipper Ryan Colmer won the ball at the back, took a touch and sent Read away down the right. He attacked the box and delivered a fine cut-back for Oscar Lenane to finish. More flowing play made it 5-1 on the stroke of half-time as Mathison and Stubbs exchanged passes before the latter scored.
A minute after the restart it was 6-1 as full-back Reece Marchant broke away down the left, cut in and the slotted under the keeper with the finish of a striker.
At that stage the game looked over, but the hosts rallied and a burst of four goals in 10 minutes – including a dubious penalty – gave them hope.
However, Raiders saw the job through, despite missing a string of chances that could have eased their nerves.
Raiders’ boss Darren Heneghan said: “The final scoreline doesn’t reflect the game. We were a class above in terms of the football we played but we lost concentration when it was 6-1 and got a bit ragged at times.”