Late goal frustrates Berko but they remain at the top

The latest local football news.
The latest local football news.

A last-gasp equaliser deprived leaders Berkhamsted FC maximum points on Saturday as The Comrades were held 1-1 away at Barton Rovers.

Berko welcomed back two players who were unavailable last week, Josh Chamberlain coming in at left back for Danny Murphy and midfielder Ben Spaul replacing Connor Toomey, who has returned to Hayes & Yeading United.

The main action in the first-half was seeing Berko’s top scorer Lewis Toomey fouled repeatedly outside the box as Berko attacked.

Early on Barton keeper Kyle Forster came out of his area to stop Toomey firing through his legs but Berko earned a free-kick. The Barton defensive wall looked solid, so Berko kept crossing rather than try a shot, but Rovers were in a determined mood and even when Ryan Kinnane and Toomey won headers, Forster saved.

When Forster was beaten, defenders on the line cleared.

It was a similar story with a series of Berko corners, Jonathan Lacey whipping over deliveries to no avail.

Kinnane came up to the back post and got on the end of one Lacey cross, but a defender again cleared off the line.

Nathan Tshikuna headed over from a cross by Lewis Thomas for Rovers. He also hit a free-kick that was held by Berko’s keeper Xavi Comas.

A shot from Berko’s Saul Williams was stopped by a Rovers’ arm in the box but despite the summer law change to the handball rule, play was waved on.

It took 58 minutes for Berko to break the deadlock when a fine ball found Lacey in space on the left and he beat his man, scampered to the byline and crossed low for Toomey to net his 17th goal of the season.

Steve Hatch put a good chance over the bar as Berko looked for a second.

Another crucial moment arrived when the referee again waved play on when Lacey was tripped just outside the six-yard box, with the referee ruling there was insufficient contact to award a penalty.

Even so it looked as if Berko would play out time comfortably but deep in stoppage time ex-Hemel Hempstead Town striker Victor Osobu squeezed in a low shot from the edge of the area that went in at the near post to rescue a point for Rovers.

Berko remain unbeaten at the top the Southern League Division One Central summit but can now be caught if Corby Town win their game in hand.

On Saturday Berko are in FA Trophy action when they visit Hornchurch, who play one division above in the Isthmian League Premier and are in the play-off places in the early league table.