Berkhamsted routed South Midlands Premier League strugglers Oxhey Jets 8-2 in an imperious display at Broadwater, with Alex Campana helping himself to a four-goal haul before half-time.
It was always going to be a long afternoon for the visiting Jets who are leaking goals and without a win in their last seven games.
Berkhamsted, on the other hand, are renowned for their goal-scoring prowess and are finding their way back into some consistency after a difficult winter.
The warning signs were there early on when Campana had a driving shot saved by Jets goalkeeper David Jacks, only for him to spill the ball and almost give the Comrades an early advantage.
The home side were rewarded for their persistent pressure after 15 minutes when Campana elegantly brought down Steve Hawes’ cross and produced a delightful turn and shot which left Jacks with no chance.
It doesn’t usually rain but pour when it comes to Berko’s goalscoring form, and that proved true once again when Campana made it 2-0 barely seconds after the restart.
Tyler Connor took too long to shepherd the ball out of defence, which made it all too easy for Campana to rob him of the ball and slot home.
Not too long after going 2-0 down, the visitors were given a lifeline when Luke Lloyd’s shot cannoned off Berko defender Dale Sears, causing the ball to flash past the wrong footed Carl Tasker and into the net.
Any hopes of this being the start of an Oxhey revival were short lived, however, when Lloyd brought down Campana in the box. The in-form striker duly stepped up and converted the penalty for 3-1.
It was then 4-1 on the half hour mark when Campana ran onto Hawes’ sumptuous through-ball and placed a shot past Jacks.
Oxhey came out with a bit more steely determination after the interval and their improved use of the ball was rewarded in spectacular fashion 20 minutes into the half.
Jets striker Ade Kilani showed audacious skill to turn in a wonderful bicycle kick that gave the defenders and the goalkeeper no chance.
The away side began to exert more and more pressure and it looked like they may find a way back into the game until Adiel Mannion made it 5-2 to the Comrades.
Sub Jordan Gilbert did well to lay the ball off to the on rushing Mannion, who powered down the right hand side, before cutting into the box and lashing a shot into the net.
Gilbert then turned from provider to goal scorer as he knocked the ball in from a corner to make it 6-2.
Mannion could have had a hat-trick himself were it not for the legs of Jacks, but he did help himself to a second when a set piece delivery allowed him to prod the ball home from close range.
Berkhamsted continued to pile forward and Josh Chamberlain’s shot was cleared off the line in the dying moments of the game, before Gilbert put the cherry on the already well-iced cake with a crashing shot from inside the area to make it 8-2.
Seconds later the beleaguered Jets were put out of their misery, having been put well and truly to the sword by the swashbuckling efforts of the Comrades.
Berko: Tasker, Mannion, Weeks, Baldry, Sears, Rodrigoe, Jowle, Hawes (Carbery), Frederick (Chamberlain), Campana (Gilbert), Carter. Subs not used: Canham and O’Donovan.
Sandwiched either side of this Saturday’s Vase game, Berkhamsted have first team league action with a trip to Holmer Green tomorrow and entertaining Leverstock Green on Tuesday, February 9.
Berkhamsted have appointed Darren Clarke as their new reserve team coach.
Meanwhile, tonight (Monday) sees the fourth attempt to sort out who comes to Broadwater to play Berkhamsted in the fifth round of the FA Vase.
After three postponements, including on Saturday, Morpeth Town have now lost home advantage.
There will be an afternoon inspection to see if the ground of their opponents, North Shields, is fit to host the game instead.
If that fails, the FA are switching the tie to Blyth Spartans’ ground – still playing the game tonight.
They have also ruled that there must be a result tonight, with extra-time being played and a penalty a shoot-out if necessary.
The quarter-final draw was made by the FA this morning. Whoever wins out at Berkhamsted on Saturday will play at home to Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday, February 20.
The Bristol team are currently second in the Western League Premier Division, the same step of the non-league pyramid as Berkhamsted. On Saturday they won through with a 3-2 victory at Sunderland RCA.
The eventual quarter-final winners face a two legged semi-final in March, before the final at Wembley Stadium in May.