Muddy derby ends in a draw

Berko's players celebrate after scoring against Biggleswade in midweek (see report elsehwere on this website). (Picture by Ray Canham)
Berko's players celebrate after scoring against Biggleswade in midweek (see report elsehwere on this website). (Picture by Ray Canham)

Hosts Tring Athletic held on for a point after a 2-2 draw against Berkhamsted on Saturday in a muddy Easter derby.

Despite all the rain, the game went ahead with a very soft and sticky pitch but just about playable.

Tring may have hoped for more after going ahead with two headed first-half goals.

Playing down the hill, Tring had the better of the first period but were outplayed by promotion-chasing Berko in the second-half.

A sterling performance from the Tring back four of Ben Johnson, Jack Sunderland, Steve Nott-Macaire and Dave O’Connor helped them to secure a point.

Tring had early chances with Luke Little heading wide and Chris Vardy also off-target from a tight angle.

Athletic opened the scoring after half an hour, when Berko conceded a needless free-kick. Max Hercules picked out Mark Riddick, who headed home from close range.

Berko’s Dan Jones then set up Adiel Mannion, whose shot beat the keeper, but was kicked off the line by O’Connor.

Soon after Mannion had to come off after an ankle injury flared up again, Ashton Campbell coming on to replace him.

On 43 minutes Hercules was at it again, this time his corner was recycled to him on the right and his superb cross was powerfully headed in by Dave O’Connor to make it 2-0.

Within three minutes Berko pulled a goal back with Garry Jones scoring with a low shot when a Josh Chamberlain free-kick was not cleared to leave it 2-1 as the half-time whistle went.

Ten minutes after the re-start Berko were on level terms. Standing up in the gluepot bottom goal mouth had become tricky and a Dan Jones’s effort was cleared but Campbell managed to skip past a few challenges and fire in his 20th goal this term with a neat shot past Tring’s Lewis Todd.

It was largely one-way traffic down the hill for the remainder of the game with Tring confined to occasional breakaways.

Berko’s Matt Bateman shot wide from close-in and several Alex Campana corners caused problems. Chamberlain headed wide of each post when he got on the end of crosses.

Campana dribbled round two men and hit a shot that pinged back against the post, but that was to be a as close as Berko got.

Berko boss Steve Bateman sent on Sean Coughlan and Max Farrelly in a bid to clinch a win. Coughlan got most agitated when a Tring defender’s hand appeared to stop a cross, but the referee turned the penalty appeal down, ruling it was ball-to-hand rather than deliberate.

Tring: Lewis Todd, Ben Johnson, Jack Sunderland, Mark Riddick, Steve Nott-Macaire, Dave O’Connor, Max Hercules (James Shaw), Sam Joliffe, Chris Vardy, Luke Little (Tom Shaw), Luke Dunstan (George Carbery).

Berko: Carl Tasker, Ollie Cox, Josh Chamberlain, Steve Hawes (Max Farrelly), Jon Munday, Garry Jones, Alex Campana, Dan Jones, Matt Bateman, Adiel Mannion(Ashton Campbell), Ashley Morrissey (Sean Coughlan).

Attendance: 164.

Welwyn Garden City are now top of the SSML Premier League by four pints and have three games in hand over second-placed Berko. The point pushed Tring up to 15th place in the table.

Berko were due to entertain sixth-ranked Leverstock Green last night (Tuesday) in another local derby as the battle for the two automatic promotion places heats up.

On Saturday Berko then visit mid-table Colney Heath.

Tring were due to travel to 18th-placed Holmer Green last night (Tuesday) and then visit 17th-ranked London Colney this Saturday.