Berkhamsted slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat when hosting Peterborough Sports at Broadwater on Saturday.
Both clubs were making a debut in their new league, Division 1 Central of the Evo-Stik Southern League, and the visitors took all three points with a first-half goal.
Berko made four changes from the team that knocked Tring Athletic out of the FA Cup in the extra-preliminary rounds last week. Andrew Ofusu made his debut up front and three of last season’s regulars, Max Farrelly, Garry Jones and Matt Bateman, were recalled by boss Steve Bateman.
The visitors had the better of the first period with Berko keeper James Weatherill doing well to tip a Mark Jones header onto the bar.
Sports’ new signing Jordon Brown was prominent and he was incensed when the referee would not give a penalty when he felt contact was made by James Towell in the box.
What proved to be the winning goal came in the 29th minute when Brown whipped over a cross and Lewis Hilliard was free at the back post to half volley the ball into the net.
For Berko, Bateman had a shot on the turn go just wide and keeper Lewis Moat saved his next-best chance.
Early in the second-half Kyle Anthony had to come off for the hosts, causing a reshuffle and a more attacking formation.
Josh McCammon cut in from the wing and shot wide for Sports, before Josh Moreman and Berko’s Courtney Massay got yellow cards following a tussle in midfield.
The Comarades were getting more into the game, but clear-cut chances were few and far between. Too often the visiting centre backs were able to mop up anything in the air.
A Bateman lob cleared the bar before Berko introduced Marcus Campbell and Will Summerfield, as they looked for the equaliser.
Ibrahim Lukulay had Berko’s best chance of the half when he was played in on the left of the box but his shot went just past the post after beating Moat.
A decent crowd at Broadwater saw that this division will be tougher for the Comrades to deal with.
It’s a busy week ahead for Berko with two league games sandwiched between an FA Cup preliminary tie in a seven-day period.
They were due to visit relegated side Dunstable Town last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press.
On Saturday they then travel to Thame United looking to get through to the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.
And on Bank Holiday Monday, Aylesbury FC will be the visitors Broadwater.