U13s BLOW AWAY RAIDERS
By Neil SINCLAIR
Ligers eye top spot with games in hand
Ligers maintained their winning streak, over-coming blustery conditions to blow away Hawley Raiders. Storm Hannah blew hard at Ligers’ backs and down the slope at the Hawley home, and they made good use of it. Relatively unphased by the late withdrawal with illness of Matthew Barrett, Ligers recorded four unanswered goals in the first 35 minutes. Joe Wallis took over the gloves for the first half and was able to spend most of it either chatting with the substitutes or leaning on his goal post, whilst George Lee scored twice and Hayden Pillay and Frazer Pickrell also beat Hawley’s keeper. In fact, the first half could almost have been the George Lee show: he assisted on both goals he didn’t score and had a further 4 shots. However, it was Toby Chilvers who picked up the plaudits of the neutrals with his usual excellent performance at the heart of the defence. Raiders at times played much better football than Ligers, with some crisp passing and winning the majority of balls in midfield. The finishing of the Ligers players was the real difference.
The second half was always going to be a challenge regardless of the four-goal advantage. The wind was still howling, now into the Hearts end. Toby took over from Joe between the sticks. Fortunately, Ligers are playing with great confidence and Hayden had turned up (early) with an iron backbone and his battling performance in midfield kept Raiders from getting a foothold in the game. Indeed, with Gabriel becoming increasingly creative, Ligers were able to attack Alex Channer’s goal, bringing several good saves out of the Raiders’ stopper. It was appropriate that the Ligers midfield put the game beyond reach with Hayden providing the assist for Dylan Tomlinson to score his 16th goal of the season and Ligers' fifth on the day.
Calamity was to follow. Receiving the ball almost from the restart, in keeping with the gale Toby had an absolute howler, gently returning the ball to Raiders’ Harley Green who finished with aplomb to put Raiders on the scoreboard. It gave the home team a lease of life, and Ligers were grateful for Joe’s anticipation and strength in the centre of defence which stopped Raiders resurgence. Frazer and Gabe continued to drive forward and both probably should have added to the score line, Gabe particularly being bamboozled by a massive hole on the edge of the six-yard box, his standing leg disappearing as he prepared to swivel and turn the ball into an open-goal. Raiders made a concerted effort to close the gap in the dying minutes, Luke Kennedy and Samuel Watkins both going close. But 5-1 was a satisfactory result in such difficult conditions and all 14 Ligers players can be satisfied with their contribution.
The three points elevate Ligers to safety from relegation but results elsewhere mean Ligers stay in 8th place. The league has closed up above them so Ligers can eye top spot if they can win all their games in hand. Next week welcomes Woodley Wanderers to Lincoln Field; they are currently 2 points above Ligers having played 3 games more.