Berko battle back to keep their FA Vase dreams alive
A fine second half comeback earned Berkhamsted a win over ON Chenecks and a place in the first round proper of the FA Vase.
Steve Hawes and Nick Jackson missed the midweek win over London Tigers but were fit to return to face the UCL Division One team from Northampton, and Jackson had a day to remember as he was named as skipper and hit the winning goal.
The first half was even with some neat approach play, but no clinical finishing until the opening goal. Midway through the half a solo runner dribbled past a few Comrades, but his progress was halted by Ed Canham, who conceded a free kick.
Chenecks’ Ben Foster stepped up to smash a 25-yard free kick past Carl Tasker. The Berko custodian then did well to keep out a Ben Lewington shot and Max Farrelly mopped up the loose ball.
Berko threatened more playing towards the canal after the interval. Frankie Jowle gave the visitors a warning with a low shot that was deflected for a corner, before a deep cross was met by Bradley O’Donovan who headed the equaliser - the sixth game running he has scored for Berko.
Within 10 minutes Berko had got the lead. Adiel Mannion had come on as a substitute for Jowle and he advanced up the right wing and his low flat cross was swept home by the arriving Jackson.
The burst of two quality goals in 10 minutes raised the home morale and they looked like increasing their lead. Jani Lausinieks saved well from Jackson and Mannion’s follow up effort was blocked as Berko pressed. He also stopped Eboji’s shot after the tall striker went past two men.
Chenecks kept trying on the break and centre half Sam Watkings ventured forward but headed over. A Jackson cross was volleyed goalwards by Ed Canham but the keeper saved. Josh Chamberlain came off the bench after a bout of flu and tricked his way inside the centre backs but his shot hit the side netting.
Foster had the last chance to send the tie into extra time as he arrived to meet a cross in the six-yard box but ballooned the ball over the bar at the railway end.
Berkhamsted pulled in their largest home crowd of the season to date for the game, and the larger audience witnessed an extension to their unbeaten run to seven matches.
Berko: Tasker; Edwards (Carbery), Weeks, Baldry, Canham, Farrelly, Jowle (Mannion), Hawes, O’Donovan (Chamberlain), Eboji, Jackson. Subs not used: Nash-Barker and Caines
Leverstock Green were 2-1 winners over Berkhamsted Development at Pancake Lane in the Suburban North on Saturday. The Comrades scored through Tom Garraway.