ODs Fall to Comrades

In front of their largest crowd of the season, Berkhamsted beat their promotion rivals to move 4 points clear at the top of the table again after a fiery encounter at Broadwater, as the visitors finished with just 9 men.

The tone for the match was set in the first 10 minutes when the visiting keeper Nick Gardner just got to a cross ahead of Simon Carmichael who clattered into him with his head, leaving Gardner dazed and with an arm injury that meant a long delay followed by an ambulance trip to hospital. An outfield player had to go in goal but Berko did not really test him as their first half shots tended to be from long range.

Midway through the first half the mood deteriorated further when there was flare up at the canal end when Berko won a free kick. Dunstable’s Danny Ryan got sent off and Jamaine Hall was booked as all three match officials tried to sort out the fouler and who threw a punch for the visitors. Dunstable’s thou shall not pass us policy ensured they got four players yellow carded in the match. It also made for a stop start first half that ran on until nearly 4 o’clock.

Berko got their noses in front when Mark Welling crossed and Anthony Page headed into the top corner just before the interval and then Matt Wardle headed over from a James Armstrong cross. 10 minutes into the second half Lee Loadsby brought down Armstrong to earn his second yellow card and an early shower. Amazingly the 9 men then equalised with a thumping header from skipper James Baldry that gave Ed Farmer no chance.

Mick Vipond responded by sending on Tony Burnett, who seems to have finally shaken off an injury that has kept him out of the side in recent weeks. His dribbling got past the tiring Dunstable players but it looked like being one of those days for the home side as clear chances were not coming. Adam Mead was next to be thrown on by Berko, who cut their number of defenders. Dunstable also made regular subsititutions to compensate for being two players light. Danny Power, Matt Wardle and Steve Hawes all got booked as the game continued to be hard to control although at least a lot more football was played in the second half.

After incessant pressure finally Berko found a way through and scored three goals in a 7 minute burst in the last quarter of an hour to achieve a flattering scoreline. A cunning pass from Welling found Armstrong who turned and shot Berko into the lead. Within 5 minutes he scored again with a shot after turning to take his tally for the season to 33 goals this season, so the home fans could at last relax at 3-1. Burnett set up Page for his second of the game to make it 4-1 in the 82nd minute.

With Berko the only side in the top four to earn any points on Saturday they strengthened their position at the top of the table.

Team; Farmer, Power, Rodrigoe (Mead), J.Carmichael, S. Carmichael, Welling, Wardle, Page, Armstrong, Colman(Burnett), Hawes(Groves,). Subs. not used. Boad & Milner.

Berko’s reserves had a mixed week. They beat Chesham United 2-1 with goals from Kevin Lowe and Seb Smith in midweek but went down 2-1 to North Greenford United on Saturday. Scott McPherson getting a second half consolation goal for Berko who pressed hard for the equaliser.

Berko are hoping for another good gate on Saturday as they hope the townspeople will be out in force to see if the Comrades can reach their first ever cup final. They entertain Letchworth Garden City Eagles in the semif final of the Herts. Senior Centenary Trophy. The visitors have only lost twice in the league all season and top the Herts. Senior County League’s Premer division so it will be an interesting match. Aaron Usmani could be fit to return for Berko who may be at full strength if all the players can shake off a few niggles after Saturday’s bruising encounter. It is back to the search for more vital league points on Tuesday 22nd when Berko make the short trip to Harpenden Town.

Berko’s reserve team go to AFC Hayes in the Suburban League on Saturday. Berko’s under 18s are at Kings Langley on Wednesday 16th and Leverstock Green on Thursday 24th.

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