Stoppage-time winner frustrates playoff-pursuing Berko at Yaxley

Berko's leading scorer Matt Bateman was kept quiet against Thame United on Saturday. (File picture by Richard Solk).
Berko's leading scorer Matt Bateman was kept quiet against Thame United on Saturday. (File picture by Richard Solk).

A pesky Yaxley side completed the league double over Berkhamsted FC on Saturday by upsetting the form book with a 2-1 victory.

The 15th-placed hosts Yaxley were able to frustrate playoff-chasing Berko with questionable spot-kick and then a late winner.

Berko’s leading scorer Matt Bateman, returning from holiday, grabbed a late penalty to equalise for Berko but Yaxley got all the points with an even later goal in injury time.

A run and cross from Andrew Ofuso created Berko’s best early chance but Bateman shot wide from close range. Bateman also headed wide after an Antonis Vasiliou cross was only half cleared.

Winger Matt Sparrow was the home danger man and he went down theatrically midway through the first-half after a light challenge from Berko skipper Danny Murphy. After a lot of discussion with the assistant referee, the penalty stood and Yaxley skipper Dan Cotton dispatched the spot-kick.

Arron Butcher held a Vasiliou free-kick as Berko tried to strike back.

Neither side held possession for long on the artificial pitch, with Berko’s midfield struggling to build any platform for the strikers and many long balls were gobbled up by the centrebacks.

Sparrow hit the post for the hosts and put another shot across the face of goal.

Berko sent on Harry Scott and Lamaar Simpson to try to salvage a point. It was Scott who made a breakthrough when he was brought down by the Yaxley left back for the second penalty of the match.

Bateman netted his 37th goal of the season from the resulting spot-kick.

Berko were hoping to nick all three points and Bateman and Simpson bot put shots over the bar.

But the sting in the tail came from the hosts in injury time when a ball inside the full back freed Sparrow and he netted the winner with a shot at the near post.

Too many Berko players had an off-day with the consequence of a blow to The Comrades’ playoff hopes.

The defeat allowed Thame United to edge Berko out of the fifth and final playoff slot by two points, but both sides still have 11 games to go this season in the Evo Stik Southern League Division One Central.

Berko: Comas, Towell, Murphy, Farrelly , Kinnane, Toomey (Scott), Vasiliou (Simpson), Summerfield, Bateman, Ofuso , Lacey. Subs not used: Stevenson, Bircham.

Berko hope to have Ben Spaul back and possibly a new signing to unveil for the league game against fellow playoff contenders Bedford Town this Saturday.

The match pits the sixth and seventh-placed teams against each other.

Meanwhile, Berko’s development side have left themselves a lot to do in the second leg if they are to reach the League Cup final. On Saturday they lost the home leg 4-1 at home to Stotfold.

Berko’s under-15s side stretched their lead at the top of the Eastern Junior Alliance league with a comfortable 4-1 win at home to Barton Rovers.

Man of the match Georeg Wareham scored twice with Harley Muckell and Harely Sells also netting for Berko.

In midweek, Berko’s under-18s team came back well to earn a 1-1 draw at Leverstock Green with an equalising goal from Perry Heritage.

Tonight (Wednesday) Berko’s under-18s are due to host MK Dons SET. On Sunday, the under-15s visit St Neots, while the under-16s entertain Concord Rangers.