Late goals saw Berkhamsted into the next round of The FA Cup after beating local rivals Tring Athletic 2-0 in an extra-preliminary tie on Saturday.
The last time the two A41 neighbours met was in the FA Vase last term, when Tring came out on top and ended up marching all the way to a club-best fifth round appearance.
However, this time it was Berko that kept a clean sheet to progress.
The first-half was a dour struggle. Berko’s new forward from AFC Dunstable, Marcus Campbell, had a header saved from a Danny Murphy cross.
Campbell also went close when Tring keeper Mark Richardson kept out his shot and Courtney Massay’s follow-up effort.
James Weatherill got the nod from Berko boss Steve Bateman to start the season in goal, after a pre-season in which the duties were shared among three keepers. He pulled off the save of the game, by getting down well at his right post to keep out ex-Comrade Kieron Turner, who has dropped down a few divisions from Kings Langley. Turner also put a free-kick over the bar as the first-half closed.
Some head tennis ended with Luke Dunstan nodding over as Tring pressed uphill in the second period.
In the summer, Tring took Alex Campana and Ashton Campbell off Berko. Berko’s new full-back Danny Murphy took the captain’s armband and had a good tussle with Campana down the flank.
Campbell was top scorer for Berko in each of the last two seasons but could not find the target when he had chances in the second half. He put one over the bar from close range and shot wide when he was through as Berko got away with giving the ball away in a dangerous area and he got past Weatherill.
Dunstan had a couple of long-range efforts as Tring were on top.
It was the subs that settled the game in Berko’s favour. Billie Busari had come off the bench for Athletic and it was his challenge on the speedy Ibrahim Lukulay that earned him a booking and produced a penalty in the 83rd minute. Massay, back with Berko after a spell at AFC Dunstable, calmly tucked home his second spot-kick this week to put the Comrades in front.
Berko sent on Mileno Sanches and he held off three challenges in the penalty area and drew Richardson wide, so another player off the bench, Louis Austin, was able to net from the cross to make it 2-0.
Austin was scoring regularly at this level for Aylesbury United recently before a serious injury set him back.
It was Tring’s first defeat in their opening four competitive fixtures and a good scalp for Berko in their first non-friendly of the season.
Tring felt aggrieved as they believed they were the better side but did not take their chances and thought it was a soft penalty decision.
Berko will travel to Thame United in the next round on Saturday, August 25.
After promotion last season, Berko begin life in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central this Saturday at home to Peterborough Sports, who The FA transferred out of the Northern Premier in the summer.
Kick-off at Broadwater is at 3pm. Their first away game will then be the short trip to Dunstable Town on Tuesday night. Dunstable were relegated from the Premier division last term.
This Saturday Tring have a tough trip to Crawley Green, who have started superbly with two wins, so Athletic will have to be on top form.