A flurry of first half goals saw Berkhamsted to a 4-2 win in the Challenge Trophy on Tuesday night against an Aylesbury United squad that included 10 of the 16 that played in their last Southern League match.
It was a frenetic start to the match which saw four goals scored in just over five minutes from the kick-off – three of those for the home side, which left Aylesbury shell-shocked.
Max Farrelly scored a well taken first goal, running onto the ball and slotting home after it was nicked in midfield by some tenacious Berkhamsted pressure.
The lead was not to last long however as barely a minute after the restart Aylesbury equalised when John Mulholland poked in an equaliser after some lax defending from a corner.
The relentless pace of the match did not let up, with both sides having a go at each other, showcasing their pace and power.
It was the Comrades who regained the lead when Bradley O’Donovan scored to continue his fine run of form. The home side hit a lightning counter attack and O’Donovan coolly placed the ball in the bottom corner after he was played in by a slide rule pass from the outstanding Frankie Jowle.
Moments later, the pair combined again as Jowle whipped in a cross from the right, only to see O’Donovan put his towering header over the bar.
Sensing blood, Berkhamsted continued to attack in waves and they soon had another goal to add to the tally.
Jermaine Mitchell showed great strength and determination to win the ball in midfield with an inch perfect tackle before playing in Nick Jackson who rounded the on rushing Aylesbury goal keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net.
The ensuing celebrations were slightly tainted, however, by an injury to O’Donovan who had to be replaced by Jude Eboji mid-way through the first half.
The home side continued to dominate and, with the Aylesbury defence all at sea, could have easily scored more.
One chance in particular saw Josh Chamberlain put through by a beautiful cross field pass from Eboji only to see his effort saved by the trailing leg of United goal keeper Alex Tokaiczyk.
The second half saw the visitors come out with a renewed sense of purpose and energy, looking to get the early goal that might rattle the confidence of the home side.
They didn’t have to wait long as Ashley Farmer’s spectacular lob reduced the deficit just after the restart; a special strike which had Carl Tasker grasping at air.
This gave United renewed optimism and a much more resolute defence kept Berkhamsted at bay, closing down the wingers and getting their bodies in front of shots. For all their neat passing play and movement around the box, however, they failed to create many clear cut chances.
The Comrades continued to look a threat whenever they came forward and they should have increased their one goal cushion, with Eboji heading over from close range and again putting the ball just wide of the near post after Jowle did well to beat his man and find the striker in the box.
What chances Aylesbury did create were dealt with well by a resolute Berkhamsted defence; Stacey Field saw his powerful shot sting Tasker’s palms and he was again called into action to save low down at the feet of debut making ex Comrade Ryan Lavelle after he was out through by a defence splitting pass.
The home side did increase their winning margin with the last action of the match, in what also proved to be the goal of the game.
Jowle and Jackson combined to great effect once again with a sublime one-two that allowed Jackson to get in behind a static Aylesbury defence who then slipped the ball to second half substitute Aaron Nash Barker who slotted home at the back post.
It was a goal of exceptional quality and one worthy of winning any game. The resultant jubilant celebration at the final whistle showed exactly how much this win meant to the players.
This was an excellent result which saw some high quality football played and one which means that Berkhamsted progress to the next round where they will face a trip to London Colney who knocked out Stotfold 2-1.
Berko: Tasker, Edwards, Weeks, Hawes, Mead, Farrelly, Jowle Mitchell, O’Donovan (Eboji), Chamberlain (Nash-Barker), Jackson. Subs not used: Carbery, Caines and Mannion,
Berko get back to league action with two Premier Division games this week. They are at Oxhey Jets on Saturday and at home to London Tigers on Tuesday night. Skipper James Baldry is expected to return after a ligament injury.
The action at Broadwater this weekend sees a Suburban League home game against Aylesbury Reserves on Saturday and a Sunday noon Womens’s Super League game between Watford Ladies and Reading.