We are top of the league! Berkhamsted 2 – 0 Pitstone and Ivinghoe

by Grant Hastie

A couple of goals in the last 5 minutes, enabled top of the table Berkhamsted to finally see off another determined challenge from Pitstone and take the three points at Broadwater on Saturday.

Berkhamsted came into the match full of confidence, not surprisingly fielding an unchanged team after their 10 goal haul last week.

However, some determined defending from the visitors confined the Comrades to shooting from long range in the first half. Ed Gerrard hit a couple, with one sailing just past the post and Paulo Aquila saved the other.

A fierce drive from top scorer James Armstrong whistled past the post too at the railway end and Aquila did well to save another one of his shots. However, it was the visitors that came closest to opening the scoring in the first half when they broke down the left and struck the foot of the post at the canal end.

Berkhamsted always seemed the most likely side to end the deadlock with a goal. Pitstone battled hard but picked up four bookings for their troubles, including one for a foul on Tony Burnett, who also got a yellow card for retaliation. Teenager Lewis Rodrigoe came up to take the resulting free kick and struck the angle of post and bar with a wicked curling shot at the canal end. Home player–coach Steve Boad should have put the Comrades ahead but he nodded wide from a cross.

Armstrong was denied when he broke free but the offside flag went up. Armstrong was brought down as he tricked his way close to the penalty area. Adam Mead crossed from the free kick and substitute Lawrence Bunker’s flicked header beat the keeper but just crept over the bar.

Another inspired substitution from Mick Vipond turned the game round and broke the deadlock with just five minutes remaining. Lee Groves came on, won possession in midfield and played the ball to Mead on the left. After his hattrick last week, Mead was brimming with confidence and he cut in from the left and from 20 yards unleashed a low shot that beat Aquila at the near post to make the home crowd happy.

Bunker, who had been struggling with an injury from last week, provided the icing on the cake against his old team by doubling the lead in stoppage time. He tricked his way past the right back and went into the area to calmly slot the ball past the outcoming goalkeeper.

It was the third time this season Berko have narrowly got the better of their local rivals but the first time that points were at stake as the previous victories were in cups.

There was more joy to come as later, Berkhamsted learned that the win meant they have opened up a three point lead at the top of the table, as Aston Clinton lost for only the second time in the league this season.

Third placed Padbury United also lost and were overtaken by their conquerors Wodson Park .

The club were very pleased with the size of the crowd after such a long break from first team football at Broadwater, with only Premier division Royston attracting more in the three divisions of the league.

As this was the first of a run in which nine of the next 10 first team games are at home, they are hoping it will become a habit, with locals cheering the team on in their quest for promotion in their first season and some success in cups where they are still in three competitions.

With accompanied children going free it is an economical way of spending Saturday afternoons.

Team: Milner; Wilson, Rodrigoe, Hawes, Beamish, Boad (Bunker),  J Gavin (Groves), Gerrard, Armstrong, Burnett, Mead.

Subs not used: Chandler, Chapman.

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