Berkhamsted were due to play a replay at home in the FA Cup first qualifying round last night (Tuesday) after Saturday’s hard-fought tie at Coggeshall Town ended in a 1-1 draw.
If Berko win the replay, being played as the Gazette was going to press, they will host either Walton Casuals or Beckenham Town in the second qualifying round on Saturday, September 22. Walton are one division higher than Berko while Beckenham are in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division.
Saturday’s clash was the first meeting between the teams, who are at the same step of the pyramid after promotion in the summer.
Eastern Counties League champions Coggeshall, who are part-owned by pop star Olly Murs, went into the Isthmian League after their third promotion in a row, while Berko were allocated to the Southern League Division One Central after finishing as runners-up.
Liam McCrohan was recalled to the Berko midfield after injury and was fouled in the 14th minute. Another defender back after injury, Garry Jones, took the free-kick and it found Ryan Kinnane, who peeled off and nodded the ball back into the danger area from the far post to Manny Folarin who scrambled it in for 1-0.
To keep the lead Berko keeper James Weatherill twice had to come out and dive at Tom Monk’s feet.
Nnamdi Nwachuku went up the right and crossed but Rod Wall’s shot was saved by Weatherill. Monk then got past Jones again, but Weatherill saved to keep Berko in front at the interval.
Clear chances were few and far between as Berko played a tight game, deploying a few centre backs in midfield. The visitors made a good start to the second-half with a sweeping move started by Courtney Massay on the right ending with a left-wing cross from Ibrahim Lukulay that Matt Bateman headed over. Weatherill then fielded shots from Monk and Kevin Coyle.
A quality strike brought the equaliser when the ball bounced nicely for Tevan Allen who smacked a 20-yard shot inside the post in the 57th minute. He had begun the move in his own half and exchanged a couple of passes before his unstoppable shot.
The game began to open up with Bateman getting some help up front after boss Steve Bateman made several substitutions and took on a more attacking look. Berko might have pinched the win when Bateman headed over before getting clattered and he nodded the ball into the path of sub Adiel Mannion whose shot was saved at the near post.
On Saturday Berko host Kidlington in the league.