Berkhamsted avoided a Halloween fright at Broadwater thanks to a 5-1 victory over Northampton Spencer in the FA Vase on Saturday, writes Jordan Blaxill.
It had looked to be a promising start for the visitors when Liam Tuck thumped the United Counties League Premier Division side into the lead inside the first five minutes after some neat interplay and pressure in the box.
Spencer moved the ball with confidence – their movement and neat passing testing the Berkhamsted defence – but this attacking verve proved to be short lived as barely five minutes after taking the lead they conceded the equaliser.
Josh Chamberlain’s excellent delivery from a corner found centre-back Dale Sears who powered a header past Josh Thomson.
Berkhamsted have certainly not been goal -hy so far this season, with the Comrades’ strike force scoring seemingly for fun, however this match saw the defenders take their turn to get in on the action; Jim Baldry making it a brace of centre-back goals to put the home team ahead.
Adiel Mannion, fresh from his five-goal haul against Bedford, pinged the ball in from a corner and it was the Comrades skipper who rose highest to nod home.
The Millers had reason to be optimistic coming out after half-time as they had seen plenty of the ball despite not creating many clear cut chances, however this good feeling quickly drained away after the restart.
Aaron Nash Barker, on for the injured Bradley O’Donovan, ran at the Northampton defence and his excellent cross was headed over the bar for a corner.
It was another set piece and another goal for Berko, with Baldry adding his second of the game from Chamberlain’s delivery.
The visitors almost found a way back in soon afterwards, however Lance Allen’s powerful shot was well charged down by Sears.
That proved to be Spencer’s best effort of the half, and Chamberlain added a brace of goals to his two assists; the first an excellent demonstration of the exciting young forward’s pace as he beat the Millers’ defender and slotted coolly past the onrushing Thomson.
His second goal, in the dying embers of the game, owed much to the excellent play of Nash Barker who laid the ball off at the edge of the area for Chamberlain to arrow into the bottom corner for 5 -1.
These were two goals of real quality that capped a great individual display.
The post then denied the away side a consolation goal when Tuck’s free-kick smashed against the upright and away to safety.
It was another convincing performance from Berkhamsted who can feel confident going into two tough home games against Kings Langley and league leaders AFC Dunstable.
For Northampton Spencer it’s an opportunity to take stock on a match which saw them have plenty of the ball but coach Ben Stone will no doubt be worried about their lack of threat in front of goal.
Meanwhile the Comrades’ management team can dream a little as their team take one step closer to Wembley.
There was some bad news for Berko, however, as Dan Edwards cracked a rib and suffered internal bleeding in the match – meaning he will be out for three or four months.
O’Donovan’s ankle injury and Jude Eboji’s hamstring troubles are proving to be persistent, as is Adam Mead’s shin splints. The Comrades are optimistic that Nick Jackson’s hip will recover soon, though, to add to their options for a difficult month’s fixtures ahead.
On Tuesday Berko are at home to Kings Langley in the Herts Senior Cup, with the winners due to entertain Watford next month in the next round.
On Saturday Berko, who are third in the SSML Premier Division, take on top of the table AFC Dunstbale at Broadwater.
On Tuesday, November 10, Berko get back to league action with a trip to London Colney who are second. It is a massive week in the battle for the title and the single promotion spot from the Premier Division of the Spartan South Midlands League.
Elsewhere, Berko’s scheduled reserve game on Saturday was called off as their opponents Biggleswade United decided to switch their Vase first team game onto their own pitch, when it became clear Cogenhoe’s floodlights would not be fit to stage the match on their ground. Berko hope to play in the Suburban League North at Tring Athletic on Saturday.