Bradbury braced for fight to keep Hawks terror
Alfie Rutherford is providing plenty of evidence he is fast becoming the hottest property in non-league football.
The teenage striker hit a stunning hat-trick as the Hawks cruised to a 5-0 win over Grays Athletic in the Ryman League premier division showdown at Westleigh Park on Saturday.
It took his tally to 10 goals in eight games as the Essex visitors had no answer to the teenage talent.
He terrorised the visitors until his 77th-minute substitution offered them some respite.
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury rates him as the best young prospect he has seen at this level.
His biggest worry is keeping hold of the 18-year-old after admitting clubs at a higher level will soon come knocking at his door.
Bradbury said: ‘Alfie is certainly the best youngster I have seen at this level.
‘There is no doubt he is a great young prospect and is proving what a good finisher he is.
‘The hat-trick was great for him. He seems to have that knack of being in the right place at the right time.
‘There is a confidence about his play and when he misses chances he doesn’t let that get to him.
‘He has that energy and desire to work hard and force opponents into making mistakes.
‘In recent weeks he has scored early goals, putting us on the front foot and more often than not he makes those goals himself.
‘He is willing to run and run which is a great asset to have.
‘When he gets a look at goal, he shows real quality.’
Of the three goals he scored against Grays, Rutherford’s hat-trick effort was the pick of the bunch.
A good pass found the striker, who did not rush to shoot – instead working a better position.
And once he’d done that, the former Bognor hitman gave the keeper no chance with a clinical finish.
Rutherford spent his formative years in the Pompey youth ranks.
He was offered a two-year-deal with the League Two outfit, only to have it withdrawn when they discovered he was playing with a heart condition.
In a routine medical, the striker was diagnosed with aortic stenosis – which decreases blood flow from the heart.
Despite the problem, Rutherford is determined to keep playing.
He went to Moneyfields, where he played under the watchful eye of his father Miles, who was manager at the Dover Road club.
Ryman League premier division Bognor signed him at the start of last season and he forged a potent strike partnership with Jason Prior.
They combined to score more than 60 goals before both moving to the Hawks in the summer.
Rutherford refuses to give up on his dream of joing the pro ranks – and in this form, it may not be too long before someone takes that gamble.