Berko grab a draw at the death

Berko in action during the pre-season. (Picture by Ian Randall Photography).
Berko in action during the pre-season. (Picture by Ian Randall Photography).

Berkhamsted’s preparations for the new season continued on Tuesday night when they took on Chesham United at Broadwater.

Berko, who will play in the Southern League Division One East this season after gaining promotion last term, were facing a Chesham side in the league above, the Southern League Premier South

After Berkhamsted’s impressive 5-1 victory over a depleted Hemel Town on July 14, they gained another positive result here, with a 2-2 draw.

The game started ferociously and Berkhamsted soon took the lead in the fifth minute after the Chesham keeper misplaced a long kick which went straight to The Comrades’ new striker Marcus Campbell, who finished first-time into an open net from around 35 yards out.

Not long after, a long punt forward by James Weatherall, Berko’s man between the sticks, caused panic in the Chesham defence as they failed to judge the bounce, allowing Campbell to nip in ahead of them and finish a simple chance. Amidst the mayhem, however, the linesman on the far side had already raised his flag for offside on Berko midfielder Dan Jones, disallowing a goal that would have put the hosts two ahead after only 12 minutes.

Chesham reacted strongly, immediately putting Berko on the back foot and forcing multiple corners. Chesham’s height in the box caused the Berko defence problems that they only just managed to deal with in the first-half.

As the opening period drew to a close, the tight encounter was almost reflected in the scoreline when Berko were sloppy in midfield, allowing Chesham to counter attack and have a shot on goal. However, the effort was tame and easily saved.

Soon after the referee blew the whistle for half-time and each side returned to the dressing rooms relatively pleased with their performances, despite not enjoying large spells of possession or creating too many clear-cut scoring opportunities.

Berko boss Steve Bateman used his broad selection of talent on the bench and changed all 11 players for the second-half. The pattern of the game notably changed as Chesham began to dominate and enjoy more possession. Berko struggled to keep the ball and they paid the price in the 59th minute when Matt Bevan hit a sweetly-struck half volley with the outside of his right boot which Berko net man Carl Tasker could not keep out.

Chesham’s confidence doubled after the equaliser and a Berko revival looked unlikely.

The visitors took the lead 2-1 in the 74th minute. Wide on the left, midfielder Oram Swales worked some space well and whipped a venomous shot around surrounding bodies to force a corner after a great save by Tasker. From the resulting corner, Chesham played it short, with the ball eventually ending up at the feet of Dave Pearce who slotted the ball under Tasker.

Chesham’s players sensed a solid victory was theirs if they held on for the final minutes but Bateman made a substitution, bringing back goal scorer Campbell in the hope he could bring more energy and quality to the Berko attack.

His impact was hugely significant as just a few minutes later, a pin-point pass was squeezed through to him and Campbell bundled his way past the Chesham defenders before side-footing the ball home to make it 2-2 with only a few minutes to spare.

Last night (Tuesday) Berko were due to travel to Leighton Town for their first away clash of the pre-season but Town have not been able to field a side so it has been called off.

Berko visit Bovingdon this Saturday (3pm) before hosting Hayes & Yeading next Tuesday, July 31. The club then wrap up their preparations with a game at Kings Langley on Saturday, August 4.

The new season starts on Saturday, August 11, against Tring Athletic in an FA Cup preliminary round clash.