Second-placed Berkhamsted moved within two points of the leaders after coming from behind with only ten men to register a double over Holmer Green on Saturday.
Lewis Rodrigoe was fit to return in defence but leading scorer Stacey Field was unavailable and Alex Campana was at the birth of his son, so boss Steve Bateman again had to shuffle the pack,
The reshaped Berko side created enough chances at their railway end home to win many games.
A long ball released Sean Coughlan but his shot was deflected.
The corner count was heavily in the host’s favour but the ball would not go in the net, even from close range, as Green defended doggedly.
The match took a dramatic turn when Berko failed to clear their lines and a shot from close range was blocked on the goal line by Rodrigoe’s hand. The referee, who was close to the incident, waved play on but his assistant 30 yards away raised his flag. After discussion Rodrigoe got his marching orders for denying a scoring opportunity, even though most thought it was ball to hand, rather than deliberate.
Dean Powles placed the spot kick in the corner .
That meant Berko were a goal and a man down for 70 minutes.
The recalled Ashton Campbell beat keeper Luca Castor, but a defender cleared off the goalline as the Comrades forced a series of corners.
Castor saved from close range as Dan Jones brought the ball down at the back post when he looked certain to equalise.
At the canal end Jonty Summerell’s effort was saved by Berko keeper Carl Tasker.
A thumping header from skipper Jon Munday, who got on the end of a corner kick, levelled the scores before half time, with his sixth goal of the season.
Ten minutes into the second half, it was clear Berko were going to take the points, despite being a man short.
Jones broke on the left and crossed for Coughlan to run in and volley his sixth goal of the season.
The lead was stretched to 3-1 when Mead caught the defensive line too high with an early pass that Campbell ran on to and shot under Castor.
Ashley Morrissey was beating defenders at will and some of his crosses really should have been converted into further goals.
He was brought down in the box but penalty appeals were waved away.
Berko brought on three substitutes and made light of the sending off to clinch a comfortable win.
Berko: Tasker, Mead (Farrelly), Rodrigoe, Hawes, Munday, Deaton, Weeks, Jones (Jowle), Coughlan, Campbell (Cutler), Morrissey.
Subs not used Carter and B Bateman.
Berko now have a rest until Tuesday, October 3, when they entertain St Margaretsbury.
The gap arose because original opponents Sun Sports have now pulled out of the league.