Berko win again to stay top

MK Wanderers 1-2 Berkhamsted

by Grant Hastie

Berkhamsted got a vital away win to stay two points clear at the top of the division on Saturday.

Home keeper Tom Clark was kept busy all afternoon, tipping an early shot from James Armstrong over the bar and fielding a Lewis Rodrigoe shot.

Steve Hawes shot wide and a Rodrigoe free kick just cleared the bar after Lawrence Bunker was fouled as the Comrades applied the early pressure.

Mick Vipond had to rearrange his troops midway through the first half when Jamie Gavin pulled up with a hamstring problem and had to come off, with Colin Wilson shifting to right back and Adam Mead coming on in midfield. Against the run of play.

Matt Old opened the scoring for MK Wanderers with a shot from an acute angle as the ball fell nicely to him on the right of the penalty area.

The lead was short lived as just 3 minutes later, Hawes played in James Armstrong who was hauled down by goalkeeper Clark, who got a yellow card instead of a red one, on the grounds that Armstrong was being forced wide when he was tripped. Armstrong put the spot kick low into the corner of the net to level matters before half time and claim his 30th goal of the season.

Ill discipline cost Berko a couple of needless booking with Armstrong dissenting from a decision and Mead lobbing the ball into the net when the whistle had just gone. This was in addition to yellow cards for fouls by Hawes and Bartlett. The home side got three bookings for fouls, but the match officials missed a head butt by Wanderers.

The winning goal came in the 65th minute when Bunker latched onto a long ball and just got enough speed on the shot to net off the inside of the post, despite a despairing slide into the post by a defender trying to catch it up.

MK might have equalised but Luke Bartlett saved the day by heading off the line with goalkeeper Graeme Milner gratefully claiming the loose ball.

Tony Burnett came on for Bunker to get a run out after injury and he soon proved a handful for the home defence. He released Armstrong, who was again rounding the keeper but his shot hit the side netting as Clark did not bring him down this time. Clark saved from Burnett as the visitors looked to increase their lead in the closing stages but the goal never came leaving the fans biting their finger nails.

There was no change at the top as the leading three teams all took maximum points on Saturday. However, 4th placed Padbury United slipped further behind after a goalless draw at next to bottom Kent Athletic.

Berko are unbeaten in the league since August but will need to watch the teams with games in hand behind them, particularly Aston Clinton who have a congested final month of the season.

Team: Milner; Gavin (Mead), Bartlett, Chapman, Beamish, Gerrard, Wilson, Hawes, Armstrong, Bunker (Burnett), Rodrigoe. Subs not used: Hamilton, Ebi and Boad.

On Saturday top of the table Berkhamsted entertain Bletchley Town in Division Two of the Molten Spartan South Midlands League.

Mick Vipond has to do without Steve Boad who is suspended for one game for having too many bookings.

It is hoped that Jamie Gavin (hamstring) and Tony Burnett (groin) will be fit.

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