Brilliant Berko are promoted
Berkhamsted's 3-2 win at Edgware Town clinched promotion to step four in the football pyramid after they claimed the runners-up spot with a game to spare.
Kyle Anthony was fit and Berko boss Steve Bateman returned him to the defence in place of suspended Garry Jones for Saturday’s SSML Premier clash.
A point would have been enough to guarantee promotion but Berko raced into a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes to make sure.
Alex Campana crossed from the right and Ashton Campbell scored with a shot at the back post to catch up Adam Mead as the club’s top scorer.
Matt Bateman laid the ball back for Dan Jones to double the lead with a well-placed strike past ex-Hemel Town keeper Darren Bonfield.
Mead went back to the top of the scorers’ chart when he robbed his man and beat two defenders before scoring from 25 yards in the 17th minute.
It was the 111th league goal of the campaign for free-scoring Berko.
Bonfield did well to save a Matt Bateman header while Edgware skipper Dan Pett had a shot at the other end which was saved well by Carl Tasker.
Just before the interval Berko conceded a couple of free-kicks just outside the area in dangerous positions. But Christian Londono blasted the first over the bar while Martin Flanerry hit the wall with the second and put his follow-up shot too high.
Just seven minutes after the re-start substitute Mikkel James outpaced Berko’s defence with a run down the middle to score with a well-hit shot to pull a goal back for the hosts.
A Mead shot looked like a fourth goal for Berko but a deflection off a defender sent it on to an upright and bounced to safety.
Quite a lot of shots from Berko thereafter flew across the face of goal while a header cleared the bar as they attacked down the 3G slope.
A shot on the turn from Pett got the score back to 3-2 with 10 minutes left but that was the last threat from the hosts and Berko ran down the clock comfortably to claim the three points.
The final whistle sparked celebrations for Berko, whose fans formed the majority of the crowd. While boss Bateman and the players deserve huge credit, the club’s success is also built on the thousands of hours put in on a voluntary basis by The Comrades’ army of willing helpers.
There will now be a wait of a few weeks for The FA to announce the line-ups for the step four divisions next season, but Berko know they will definitely move up to FA Trophy standard, too.
The new club started nine years ago and they were SSML Division Two champions in their first season before following it up by winning SSML Division One the year after.
The latest step-up ends a seven-season spell in the Premier division. It is the club’s third promotion and a select few have been at the club for all of them, including players Steve Hawes and Adam Mead plus first boss and current assistant coach Micky Vipond.
Berko v Edgware: Carl Tasker, Adam Mead, Josh Chamberlain, Jack Stevens, Jon Munday, Kyle Anthony, Alex Campana, Steve Hawes, Matt Bateman (Ashley Morrissey), Dan Jones (Max Farrelly), Ashton Campbell. Subs not used. Ollie Cox, Ben Bateman and Frankie Jowle.
The Comrades’ league season ends this Saturday when they host relegation-threatened Oxhey Jets.