Berkhamsted coach Tommy Garratt has hailed the Comrades for their FA Vase win over Saffron Walden on Saturday - a victory which takes them through to the last-32 of the prestigious national competition.
Speaking to the Gazette, Garratt said: “On Saturday we progressed into the last-32 of the Vase which is a competition that started with over 500 clubs.
“It was a great win and huge performance by a massively depleted squad at the moment. For example, on Saturday we had 12 players unavailable through injury or suspension but no-one mentioned it once and rightfully so; for me it’s all about those who are fit and those who are playing.
“We’ve had young Josh Hart available to do some match analysis for the last couple of games and, after reading through what he’d produced, I realised that we were maybe playing to the conditions rather to than our strengths of late.
“I wanted the players to get the ball down and play a little more in the right areas and they did that superbly on Saturday.
“The pitch – being extremely polite – could have been better and, after Steve Hawes scored a long range opener, we struck the post twice before Alex Campana was fouled to allow Adam Mead to convert from the spot.
The whole team have got the bit between their teeth again which is great to see after a slight stumbleBerkhamsted FC coach Tommy Garratt
“We knew that a two-goal lead may not be enough as I’ve never known a game to be so affected by the wind in the second half.
“From the moment the whistle blew the boys were defending long balls coming out of the low floodlights fantastically well. I’ve never know us having to set up to defend like an in-swinging corner from their throw-ins from the halfway line.
“Fortunately (Hemel Town manager) Dean Brennan did us a huge favour by allowing us to play Jack Smith in this particular game and he showed why, in my opinion, he should be playing regularly at that higher level with some fantastic catches and clearances. The whole back five were fantastic.
“Although the boys deserve an awful lot of credit for coming out winners in conditions like that, I know that they want to publicly thank all the supporters who made the long journey over to watch. I think they’d also like to apologise for the awful singing on the way home…”
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Garratt continued: “The whole team have got the bit between their teeth again which is great to see after a slight stumble, which has to be expected after the huge amounts of unavailability we’ve had over the past month or so.
“I sat down with the players last Thursday and read them the player stats for the season; there were only three of the 29 players signed on that had been available for more than two thirds of the season so far.
“That’s a crazy statistic at this level but one that a lot of clubs have so we can’t moan about it.
“The players hopefully have realised that if injured they need to go straight away to a professional for assessment and then really work on their conditioning in order to get fit and playing again.
“We can’t carry those not fully committed to the fitness side of things and we won’t. Those who can get consistency in our league will be the ones up there at the end of the season.
“We’ve got some fantastic games in our calendar now and the home draw against Essex Premier side Hullbridge Sports on January 9 could turn into something very special for the club.
“But we’ve got to get back on track in the league and that starts with a very tough game away to Broxbourne on Saturday.
“Last Saturday was great but we’ve achieved nothing yet – as I’ve always said it’s a very long season and you get judged on what you’ve achieved at the end of it not half way through.”