Berkhamsted slump to a disappointing defeat to nine-man Harefield

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Berkhamsted were left wondering how they failed to score as they went down 1-0 at nine-man Harefield United in the SSML Premier Division on Saturday.

The Comrades conceded a sloppy early goal but had enough chances to net double figures in the first half alone.

Ed Canham was caught on his wrong foot trying to clear under a challenge from Harry Newman in the third minute and the ball fell to Tom Hunt, who gave the Hares a perfect start by shooting past debutante keeper Luke Midwinter.

The visitors then camped in the United half – first, Josh Chamberlain sent over a cross that Adiel Mannion put over the bar, before Lewis Rodrigoe came forward and crossed the ball across the face of the goal with neither Mannion or Frankie Jowle able to apply the finishing touch.

Chamberlain and Jay Canies fired over the bar from the edge of the penalty area and Max Farrelly also shot wide, before another Chamberlain shot was deflected for a corner and Caines set up Mannion who again shot wide as the home goal led a charmed life.

Early in the second half, Hunt put a shot over as United upped their game and looked more threatening.

Matthew Elston-Bull fumbled a Mannion shot at the other end, before Seldon Grant got his marching orders for an attempted headbutt on Max Farrelly to reduce the home side to 10 men with plenty of time remaining.

Caines shot over from a cross by the overlapping Courtney Massay, and he also hit the bar as it was clearly not going to be the Comrades’ day.

Late in the game there was a fracas 30 yards from goal, with keeper Elston-Bull becoming the second home player to see red after running a long way to enter the fray and attempting to throttle Caines.

After much discussion with his two assistants, the referee showed yellow cards to Caines and Mannion, as well as the home side’s Liam Hind.

There was plenty of stoppage time but, even with a two-man advantage, Berko only forced one real save from the stand-in keeper despite winning a number of corners late on.

It was manager Phil Granville’s last game in charge of United as he moves up to Southern League side Hanwell Town for next season.

Elsewhere, earning only a point on Saturday meant Ampthill Town were relegated from the Premier Division, along with Hillingdon Borough.

The promoted clubs from Division One will be Welwyn Garden City and either Hatfield Town or FC Broxbourne Borough, who still have games to play.

AFC Hayes finished bottom of the Southern League Central and, subject to FA adjustments, will be moving down into the Premier Division.

Berko: 1 Midwinter, 2 Massay, 3 Rodrigoe, 4 Baldry, 5 Canham, 6 Hawes, 7 Jowle, 8 Farrelly (Carbery), 9 Caines, 10 Mannion, 11 Chamberlain (To). Sub not used: Osborne.

On Tuesday night Berko go to Cockfosters for their final league game this season and should have BJ Christie back after suspension. Carl Tasker and Alex Foster should also be available to return.

Next Monday, Berko hope to take good support to play Colney Heath in the final of the Premier Division Cup at Oxhey Jets, 3pm kick-off. Ashley Morrissey faces a battle to get fit in time for the final.