By Ken Gaunt
Binfield are back on the road tomorrow in the FA Vase semi-final, with a place at Wembley at stake when they face lower-league United Services Portsmouth.
Not that the Berkshire boys are that bothered with another away day, after they overcame long-distance journeys to win at Long Eaton United and Fakenham Town in recent rounds.
Joint-manager Carl Withers said: ”Of course we would have loved a home game, especially as the semi-final is over one leg this season.
“But on the other hand, we do not mind that much, as travelling together in the Vase has brought a special kind of camaraderie.
“It is a huge game, not just for the players and the coaches, but for all the volunteers here who give up their time so willingly.
“The players have been tremendous the last seven weeks in games and in training. Now they are getting their rewards.
“Getting to Wembley is something you dream about but we know this is going to be another tough game.”
Former Hungerford striker Liam Ferdinand scored a hat-trick against Long Eaton and joint-manager Jamie McClurg added: “It was a fantastic result against a very good side.
“They fought to the end and the result does not do them credit, but as they say, goals win games, and we took our chances.
“We believe in our squad and in our team. That’s why we are looking forward to heading down to face US Portsmouth.”
Binfield were unbeaten in the Hellenic League before lockdown and the managerial duo are not afraid to blood young players.
One such lad is 19-year-old midfielder Joel Valentin, who marked his return to the team at Long Eaton by playing a crucial role in a thumping victory.
It was his reward for loyalty, as he started the season making a near-300-mile round trip from Nottingham University – where he is studying business management – for matches and training.
But while he was racking up the miles, he was struggling to nail down a place in a winning team.
Now, though, he is back home in Bracknell studying online, and much more refreshed and ready to play.
Whether Valentin, who spent seven years in the Reading under-age teams, will retain his place remains to be seen, but he is certainly enjoying the ride.
Writing about their magnificent run in the Vase, he tweeted: “Unbelievable team to play in at the moment. We keep moving on to the next one.”