When faced with adversity a team often produces an unexpected performance and the young Reds pulled off a shock result with a stunning display against a team in title contention.
They could only call on eleven players for their final league game of a mixed County League season and that included goalkeeper, Scott Paden-Gale, who could hardly walk due to an ankle injury.
But they turned on the style, rode their luck at times to finish emphatic winners against a shell-shocked Athletic.
Their opening forty five minutes was as good as anything produced this season, both defensively and offensively, and they were three goals ahead by half time. The second half was more even as Athletic upped their game, after a poor opening forty five minutes, although Reds continued to cause problems with their frequent counter attacks.
After a bit of ‘sparring’ in the opening twenty minutes the game burst into life. Gareth Brunton was unlucky not to open the scoring for Athletic when his shot rebounded off the upright then, when play switched to the other end, Taylor Hambling saw his effort cleared off the line.
But the scoring spree started in the twenty seventh minute with a bizarre goal. Tom Houghton crossed into the box and Darren Lumsden’s looping header spiralled over his ‘keeper and crossed the line as Reds’ Ciaran Booty followed in.
Those two players would feature prominently on the score sheet.
Reds doubled their lead with an exquisite goal eight minutes later with Cain Pears and Hambling linking well down the left, culminating in Booty lifting the ball over David Ousby for a sublime finish.
And it was three nil after thirty eight minutes when overrun Athletic conceded a penalty. Houghton, who tormented the hosts all night, converted from the spot.
Athletic resumed as if they meant business, searching for an unlikely route back into the game. Tom Pardini headed against an upright in their first attack after the restart.
But Reds defended heroically and it was they who got the fourth goal of the evening, just past the hour mark, when Houghton’s blistering pace took him beyond Athletic’s back line. He rolled the ball across the face of goal and there was sixteen year old, Hayden Rae (inset), to score his first goal in senior football.
The hosts then enjoyed their best spell and Lumsden atoned for his earlier blunder by reducing the arrears with a harmless shot which a fit Paden-Gale would have probably saved.
Almost immediately, the Reds’ stricken ‘keeper conceded a penalty and Connor Hammell duly converted. Hammell was then denied another goal when his close range effort was deflected on to the woodwork and away by Paden-Gale.
But just when Athletic were gathering a bit of momentum, they conceded again with Booty making it 5-2 to the visitors after another effective counter-attack.
Lumsden scored his second in the ninetieth minute but Booty (pictured) had the final say by completing his hat-trick in stoppage time to go home with the match ball.
It was a great night for the striker who has missed most of the campaign through injury.
There were plenty of familiar faces in the Athletic squad with many having featured for Reds in the past, none more so than Phil McLuckie who turned out on his 33rd birthday.
If any of Reds talented youngsters enjoy a career half as successful as McLuckie’s, it will be some achievement!
Team: Scott Paden-Gale, Leon Dmytrowski, Dan Whitehead, Reuben Butterworth, Tom Skinner, Taylor Hambling, Hayden Rae, Cain Pears, Ciaran Booty, Liam Lightfoot, Tom Houghton.