Berko triumph in six-pointer
Unbeaten league leaders Berkhamsted comfortably beat third-placed Harpenden 4-1 as they started the new year in style.
Berko manager Steve Bateman had to shuffle his side, making five changes from the team that drew at Leverstock Green.
Jack Pattison, a new signing from Kings Langley, started at right back and striker Adiel Mannion was returning to Broadwater after a spell at AFC Dunstable. Ben Bateman, Adam Mead and Alex Campana also returned after injury.
Berko were first out of the traps and had a two-goal lead after the first quarter of an hour. Mead opened the scoring with a great free-kick at the railway end while Ashton Campbell tapped in the second after good work by Campana and Ashley Morrissey.
A dubious free-kick let Harpenden back into the game. The ball rebounded off the foot of the post to Mike Davies and he tucked it away midway through the first half.
The reshuffled but experienced Berko defence were largely untroubled up to that stage while keeper Carl Tasker did have to keep out a few shots from Harry Hunt and Charlie Gould.
Berko were well on top and it was no surprise when they extended their lead to 3-1 after the break. This time Mead scored from open play with Bateman finding him free in the penalty area, but got injured in providing the cross.
Another Mead long-range shot struck the bar and Morrissey kept cutting in and firing fine shots but Connor Sansom made several fantastic diving saves in the Harpenden goal.
Mead, who has mostly played at full back this term, completed his hat-trick and added Berko’s fourth with another stunning 30-yard free-kick to take his goal tally for a season to a remarkable 17, making him the team’s joint top scorer with striker Stacey Field.
With the match in the bag Berko brought on three substitutes and continued to create chances at the canal end.
The victory enabled Berko to move six points clear of Harpenden at the halfway mark in the league programme.
However, second-ranked Welwyn Garden City had another big win at the weekend and are also unbeaten. It is likely that the eventual top two will both get promoted at the end of the season.
Berko: Carl Tasker, Jack Pattison, Tommy Williams, Max Farrelly, Jon Munday, Kyle Anthony, Alex Campana (Adiel Mannion), Ben Bateman, Ashton Campbell, Adam Mead (Frankie Jowle), Ashley Morrissey (Josh Chamberlain). Subs not used: Josh Thompson and Dan Jones.
Berko were due to be back in action last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press, where they entertain Royston Town in a re-arranged Herts Senior Cup tie.
This Saturday Berko will be looking to notch their second double of the season when they visit bottom club St Margaretsbury.
They then host Hadley on Tuesday, January 16.