Free-scoring Thatcham Town are hoping a nip of Bayley’s will spirit them all the way to Wembley.

By Ken Gaunt

The Hellenic League title-chasers are 26 games unbeaten in all competitions, winning 24, ahead of their all-ticket FA Vase semi-final first leg against 1874 Northwich on Saturday. Danny Robinson’s side have been scoring goals for fun – 98 in 31 league games – with his attacking players getting plenty of plaudits.

But the Kingfishers manager has made no secret of his admiration of the way central midfielder Harrison Bayley quietly goes about his business and breaks up the play. Bayley, 28, finds himself two steps from the twin towers after arriving at Waterside Park in the summer with a rich store of football memories.

A decade ago he was captain of Reading Under-18s and faced former Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge in the FA Youth Cup. When he was released he won a place at Glenn Hoddle’s Academy, which led to a three-year professional career with a couple of clubs in Cyprus.

On his return to England, he took up an offer from Hayes & Yeading, then in the top flight of non-league football before dropping down the pyramid. Now Bayley may be on the verge of something special with Berkshire club but he is refusing to get carried away.

He said: “We are having a good season and this is a big month with the Vase games and also a match against our title rivals Highworth. So we have to take it step by step.

“We are all fighting to keep our place in the team. You cannot get complacent.

“I was not quite sure what to expect when I arrived here. But I am thoroughly enjoying myself.

“It helps when you have a manager you can have a conversation with about all sorts of stuff.”

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