Ten-man Berkhamsted see off Colney Heath in seven-goal thriller
Berkhamsted moved up three places in the SSML Premier Division table after a night of high drama in front of a small crowd at Colney Heath on Tuesday night.
Comrades boss Mick Vipond was forced into making four changes from the side that drew with Tring.
Both centre-backs were ruled out on the day, with Lewis Rodrigoe injuring his back at work and Ed Canham vomiting in the pre-match warm up.
James Baldry and Jamie Gavin took their places and reserve Che To came in for his second appearance of the season for the unavailable Max Farrelly.
Steve Hawes was not fully recovered from the injury he came off with at Tring, so Ashley Morrissey was recalled.
Heath, meanwhile, are now on their fourth manager of the season and brought in two new players to bolster their depleted squad.
It was an all-action start to the game, with a goal apiece and a sending off in the first 10 minutes.
Josh Chamberlain lobbed the ball forward and BJ Christie got past his man; goalkeeper Tom Blackman forced him wide, but Christie still netted from an acute angle out on the right.
Within a minute Colney Heath were level as Alex Foster lost the ball to Levi Gunn who ran deep into the penalty area unchallenged and shot under Carl Tasker.
Berko were reduced to 10 men in the 10th minute when Chamberlain got sent off. He had put in a couple of good tackles earlier, but this time he challenged for a ball that was bouncing above the knee with a high foot and the referee whipped out the red card almost before the man had landed.
The Comrades put in a great performance for the rest of the half, making light of the man disadvantage to get themselves 3-1 up by the interval.
Good work by Christie and Adiel Mannion was followed up by Morrissey, who curled home a good shot to put Berko in front again midway through the half.
It was end to end stuff, with Matt Standen missing a good chance and Mannion and Christie looking likely to add to Berko’s tally.
Just before half-time, Christie came down the left channel and squared for Mannion who struck a sweet shot to give Berko a two-goal advantage.
However, Colney Heath pulled level with two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
A deep free-kick to the back post was bundled home by Jack Grosvenor and the second came from Courtney Lawrence as he made the most of a defensive mix-up when two chances to clear were blown.
The referee got more cards out for a foul by Foster and dissent by Christie, while Heath got two including one that many thought might have been red for an arm to Gavin’s head.
Ben Hammond, Berko’s knew signing from Cockfosters, came on for his debut in place of Foster and the 10 men were grateful for fresh legs.
Often a team that comes from a couple of goals behind with a man advantage have the momentum to go on and win.
Instead, Berko defied the odds and when Christie was hauled to the ground and Courtney Massay put the visitors back in front with seven minutes left with a penalty that Blackman could not keep out.
The home side argued in the belief that Christie had committed the first foul as he tussled with a defender for the ball, more so when they were denied a penalty at the other end.
Berko were still creating chances, with Chtistie and Frankie Jowle going close.
The match ended in farce with Berko getting a free-kick when Morrissey ran up the touch line and was unchallenged when went down with a pulled muscle.
Berko: Tasker, Massay, Foster (Hammond), Gavin, Baldry), To, Mannion, Morrissey Christie, Jowle, Chamberlain. Subs not used: Hawes & Canham.
Berko go to Pancake Lane to play Leverstock Green on Saturday and hope that Canham, Rodrigoe, Hawes and Farrelly will be able to resume their places in the squad.
Their next home game is on Tuesday, March 3 when Hertford Town are the visitors to Broadwater.
Berkhamsted’s reserve side will be trying to reach their first cup final when they go to Sun Sports in the semi-final of the Herts Intermediate Cup on Saturday.
A date has yet to be set for Berko’s home Herts Senior Cup semi-final with Hemel Hempstead Town.