Hosts Hornchurch advanced in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy at the expense of Berkhamsted FC after a close cup clash in driving rain on Saturday.
A goal deep in injury time finally clinched the tie for the Urchins but not before the Isthmian League Premier hosts had been tested.
Josh Chamberlain was recalled for Berko and he hit the opening goal on 12 minutes when Max Farrelly won the ball and slid it to Jonathan Lacey, who crossed from the right-wing low into the six-yard box. A defender, harried by Chamberlain, hit his own bar trying to clear and the Berko man was first to react to put The Comrades ahead.
Berko matched their higher-league opponents but it started to go wrong when Saul Williams was injured on the end of a bad foul. Lee Stobbs came on and played well.
Home keeper Joseph Wright pulled off a good save to keep out a 25-yard shot from Lacey.
Charlie Stimson equalised on 22 minutes with a great shot into the far corner of the net.
The home side got on top and ten minutes’ later Berko’s keeper failed to hold a low cross from the right by George Saunders and Stimson tapped in the loose ball from close range to make it 2-1.
It got worse for Berko when Danny Murphy went down with an ankle injury by the touchline.
Alex Taylor came on in midfield with Chamberlain going to full back – his third position change of the half.
Hornchurch passed round the Berko midfield and Chris Dickson fired in a couple of shots, hitting the side netting with one and was too high with a second.
Berko regrouped at the break and in the second-half looked the likelier side to get the next goal with Ben Spaul prominent in midfield and centre backs Ryan Kinnane and Steve Hatch keeping chances to a minimum.
Berko’s top scorer Lewis Toomey was wide with a shot on the turn and Lacey created another chance but a defender recovered well to keep out Toomey.
Lacey had a shot tipped over by Wright and a defender deflected a Toomey header wide after Lacey crossed.
At the end, Berko threw caution to the wind and sent keeper Xavi Comas into the opposing box for a series of corners, but he was still up there when with virtually the last kick of the game the home side scored a third via ex-Berko Town player Marvin Morgan.
Table-toppers Berko return to league action when they host 10th-placed Bedworth United this Saturday.