Berkhamsted progressed to the next round of the FA Vase thanks to a 4-1 victory over United Counties League side Woodford United at Broadwater on Saturday.
The Comrades had reason to be optimistic ahead of the fixture, having won the last two home matches at this stage of the competition in previous seasons. This optimism was well founded as a late first half blitz put the home side 3-0 up at the break.
The first 30 minutes of the match had seen the lower division team give a good account of themselves, always looking dangerous in possession of the ball with Aaron King looking especially lively up front and Greg Anoyoitos a constant threat down the left wing thanks to his pace and excellent first touch.
The gulf in quality was enough to tell in the end, however, as Berkhamsted’s passing and movement proved to be too much for the visitors.
This was none more evident than in the home team’s second goal – intricate passing play between Jude Eboji and Aaron Nash Barker saw the Comrades work their way into the Woodford penalty area with Frankie Jowle tapping in after Nash Barker’s lay off.
This came just minutes after Nick Jackson had put Berkhamsted in front after the referee played advantage.
Eboji and Nash Barker combined once again to lethal effect to make it 3-0. Nash Barker displayed typically excellent footwork to shift the ball onto his left with his whipped in cross prodded home by Eboji, who was lurking in the centre of the penalty area.
Half-time saw Bradley O’Donovan replace Nash Barker and Berkhamsted looked to add to their tally immediately.
Jowle once again found himself bearing down on goal after he wove his way in from the right, only to power his shot over the bar.
Woodford refused to lie down, however, and Carl Tasker needed to be alert as a speculative shot bounced awkwardly in front of him and was only just tipped over the bar.
The visitors did reduce arrears slightly and in spectacular fashion when Joe Henderson found himself in space outside the box. He took a touch to move the ball forward and then launched a thunderous strike that gave the Tasker absolutely no chance.
Thoughts of a Woodford revival soon disappeared when Jowle, so often effective throughout, received the ball wide right and, driving down the visitors left hand side, found himself with time and space to pick out O’Donovan who marked his return from injury by stroking the ball home with the deftest of touches.
Berkhamsted continued to press with Woodford called into some panicky rearguard action, but the visitors managed to see out the rest of the match and should leave with their heads held high after a contest which saw them really take it to the home side. Ultimately, however, the superior play of Berkhamsted saw them take their place in the next round.
Berko: 1 Tasker; 2 Edwards (14 Ward), 3 Weeks, 4 Baldry, 5 Hawes, 6 Farrelly, 7 Jowle (16 Trevillion), 8 Carbery, 9 Eboji (12 O’Donovan), 10 Nash-Barker, 11 Jackson.
In the next round on Saturday, October 3, Berko will entertain Northampton ON Chenecks who are another United Counties League Division 1 side, who caused an upset by knocking Berko’s SSML Premier Division rivals Sun Sports out 2-1 on Saturday.
Berko’s first team have no game for a fortnight as their scheduled trip to Welwyn Garden City on Saturday has had to make way for the Citizens’ FA Cup tie.
With 10 of the first team squad unable to play in the last Vase game, the gap will allow injuries to heal but may start a selection headache.
Berko’s reserves had a mixed week, winning a friendly at Stony Stratford Town 6-2 but going down 5-1 in the first leg of the Suburban Cup at Molesey.
Ben Gomm (2) Leo Hoxha, Glen Williams, Scott Cook and Dapo Akinwumne were on the mark in the friendly and Williams scored again in the cup tie.
This Saturday the Suburban League North match at Broadwater sees Berko entertain North Greenford United Reserves, k/o 3pm.