Berko progress in FA Cup, and draw in derby-day clash
A goal in each half saw Berkhamsted comfortably through in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup at Thame United on Saturday.
And the club’s good week continued when honours were shared in the Bank Holiday Monday derby against Aylesbury that attracted a good crowd at Berko’s Broadwater home.
The sprinkler system ensured Thame’s grass pitch was in good shape on Saturday.
Injuries and unavailability meant Berko boss Steve Bateman changed nearly half of the side that won 4-2 at Dunstable in midweek.
Manny Folarin made his debut at centre-half and Mileno Sanchez got a first start up front. Danny Murphy was fit to return and Jack Stevens and James Towell got the nod, after coming off the bench on Tuesday night.
Berko had the better of the opening 15 minutes, seeming to be more up for the tie than the hosts, who played with a lone striker. Only the final ball and crosses going astray stopped Berko taking the lead. Sanchez was effective up front with a good first touch and some skill at evading challenges from defenders, who took it in turns to foul him.
Thame’s Ben Sturgess shot wide after pouncing on a misplaced pass from Folarin and a Marcus Mealing goal was disallowed for offside. A cross from Sturgess then found Mealing free but he headed wide of the far post.
It proved an expensive miss as Berko then took the lead. Courtney Massay broke from midfield and released Matt Bateman, who ran on to shoot the Comrades in front just before half-time.
Thame brought on two players for the second-half and pushed an extra man up front in a bid to rescue the tie.
But it was Berko who looked like they would get more goals and sub Sean Coughlan doubled their lead after Bateman had robbed a defender on the right of the area and played it into his path.
In three away games this season Berko have notched three wins, which is breeding confidence for the long season ahead.
The draw for the next round was due to be made yesterday (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press.
On Bank Holiday Monday, Berko picked up a 1-1 draw when hosting Aylesbury.
The opening goal came from the penalty spot when the referee’s assistant saw an Aylesbury hand ball five minutes before the break. Massay despatched the spot kick past Nick Bennion.
But Aylesbury equalised in the 86th minute when sub Josh Williams robbed a Berko defender and Aaron King bundled the ball home.