Honours even as Berkhamsted and Stotfold play out goalless stalemate
Berkhamsted failed to find the net for the first time at home in the league this season as a disjointed performance against a battling Stotfold side saw them held to a 0'“0 draw.
Nick Jackson and Alex Campana went close for the Comrades, however the home side’s normally fluid passing game was disrupted thanks to the high energy pressing of a Stotfold side whose organisation and desire belied their lowly league position.
Berkhamsted started with the usual early flurry and Campana was unlucky to send a shot just wide of the post.
The best of the early chances fell to the visitors, however. Tom Oram had the beating of left back Dan Weeks, giving the defender the slip and sending a delightful ball into the box only for Jake Long’s shot to whistle just wide of the post.
Soon afterwards, the home side should have been ahead when Eagles goalkeeper Adam Harpur came out to close down the onrushing Campana only to over commit and see the ball roll to Nick Jackson whose first time shot was cleared off the line by Michael Paine.
Stotfold were adventurous and inventive, constantly testing the Comrades’ backline, finding space and creating half chances.
Their high pressing and energetic tempo effectively disrupted the rhythm of the home side and it took some last ditch defending from Luke Ladyman to stop Drew Cardines from pulling the trigger after he had beaten the offside trap, running onto Oram’s well timed through ball.
Both sides worked hard to create chances, however Berkhamsted did little to truly test Harpur during the first half and they came out after half-time looking to be more fluid and try to exert some influence on the game.
It didn’t take long for tensions to escalate when Lewis Rodrigoe’s late challenge on Ben L’Honore caused a coming together between players of both sides – Rodrigoe booked for his mistimed attempt at winning the ball along with Ibrahim Kwegyir for his part in the histrionics.
Berkhamsted did come forward with more purpose and composure although they continued to be frustrated by the excellent pressing and tracking back of an Eagles backline who were looking to solidify after conceding seven goals in their last three games.
The Comrades did add more impetus into the game thanks to the introduction of Josh Chamberlain, Adiel Mannion and Adam Mead midway through the second half, with Mead testing Harpur with several stinging efforts from distance.
Mannion had the best chance of the half for Berkhamsted and should have scored a tap-in from four yards out, only for his effort to slip past the far post.
Despite this injection of energy it was Stotfold that could have won it at the end and the home side had Carl Tasker to thank after his strong hand turned away a curling effort from Cardines, who found himself in space just outside the box.
The last effort of the match also fell to the visitors; L’Honore’s swerving shot whistling inches wide of the upright with Tasker well beaten.
For Stotfold it was a fantastic point that was well earned, and one which will give them hope for the rest of the season. Berkhamsted will hope to regain some of the fluidity when they face Biggleswade United on Tuesday.
Berkhamsted: Tasker, Edwards, Weeks, Ladyman, Canham, Rodrigoe, Jowle, Frederick (Mead), Carter (Mannion), Campana, Jackson (Chamberlain). Subs not used: Jah and Baldry.
Berko face a busy week with three games in seven days. They are at home on Tuesday to Biggleswade United and entertain Tring Athletic on Saturday before going to Welwyn Garden City on Easter Monday, k/o 3pm.
In the Suburban League North Berko go to North Greenford United Reserves on Saturday.
In other news, Berko’s FA Vase conquerors Morpeth Town have won through to the final at Wembley Stadium where they will play Hereford.