Match report: Berkhamsted 7 – 1- Wodson Park

Comrades in seventh heaven

By Grant Hastie

Berkhamsted produced their best home performance of the season to run out convincing winners over one of their promotion rivals at Broadwater on Saturday.

Top scorer James Armstrong and influential midfielder Steve Hawes passed late fitness tests, so Micky Vipond recalled them.

There was a dramatic opening to the match as Lawrence Bunker battled his way through and beat Dan Aldous with a fierce shot that rebounded off the post. Mitchell Hamilton was first to the rebound and a defender tripped him to concede a penalty. Bunker stepped up to put Berko ahead from the resulting spot kick after just two minutes. Hamilton was really on song and then smacked a 25-yard drive against the cross bar.

Home skipper Colin Wilson had to come off injured after just 14 minutes, so Ed Gerrard came on and with Hawes, dominated the midfield for the rest of the match. Bunker netted a second penalty in the 18th minute when Aldous came out of his goal and brought down Hamilton . Luke Bartlett came forward and headed over the bar as the home team kept the pressure up. Bunker and Armstrong combined and the cross bar again came to Wodson Park ’s rescue when the defence froze expecting an offside flag that was not forthcoming

Steve Horsey kept the result in doubt for a short while by heading a goal for the visitors in the 34th minute. However, Berko restored their two-goal advantage before the interval. Simon Carmichael netting his first since joining from Bletchley Town, with a thundering header from an Armstrong free kick after Lee Groves was brought down.

The Comrades extended their lead to 5-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Hamilton netted the 4th goal with a low shot and Bunker got his first hat trick for Berkhamsted with a header from an expertly flighted Lewis Rodrigoe corner. Tony Burnett came on for the injured Armstrong, but there was no respite for the visitors as a Bunker shot was blocked and then a defender had to kick off his own goal line when Aldous was beaten by a shot from Burnett.

Aldous twice pulled off fine saves to prevent Hamilton scoring. However he was powerless to prevent an exquisite chip from 25 yards out by Hamilton for the 6th goal. Burnett was then pulled down for Berko to get a third penalty of the match. With regular penalty takers Armstrong and Bunker having been substituted, Hamilton was given the chance to net a hat trick, but Aldous guessed right and dived well to save his spot kick. Burnett rounded off the scoring with a cheeky 7th goal when he flicked the ball up to create his own header that beat Aldous.

It was the 7th league win on the trot for Berko and has put them 10 points clear of Wodson Park , who before the game were equal second on points. Now Park only have four games left to play, so it virtually killed off the visitors’ title challenge.

Team: Milner; Groves, Bartlett, J Carmichael, S Carmichael, Wilson (Gerrard), Hawes, Hamilton, Armstrong (Burnett), Bunker (Mead), Rodrigoe. Subs not used: Boad and Hattan.

Berkhamsted have a run of four consecutive away games in April. On Saturday they go to Risborough Rangers and on Tuesday 20th go to 2nd placed Aston Clinton k.o. 6:30 p.m. The latter match will have a vital bearing on the destination of the title. On Saturday Aston Clinton won 13-1 to complete their 4th league win in 8 days. They are currently 7 points adrift of Berko but they do still have two games in hand, so the meeting of the top two is critical.

Berko’s reserve side are at Risborough Rangers on Thursday 15th and at home to Bletchley Town reserves on Saturday 17th April in their penultimate game of the season.

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